Tuesday, January 5, 2021
A Message from the APNC Committee
Regarding the Call of our new Associate Pastor

We will meet as a congregation this Sunday (January 10) at 9 a.m. via Zoom*

It is with great pleasure, excitement, and pride to write to the congregation about the journey of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) that began in April 2020. 

With God’s hand guiding our journey the APNC navigated the obstacles and challenges that COVID brought to the call process. We were blessed to receive and review about 80 applications and had the pleasure to speak and meet many outstanding candidates.

We are starting 2021 as we ended the old one, with Tidings of Great Joy. Your APNC has completed its search.

On November 22 we voted unanimously and joyfully to extend a Call to our candidate to become our Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice. This position will focus on three strategic mission priorities: justice; ministries for children and families; and engaging people, beyond our current membership, in the life and ministries of our church.

We believe our candidate will lovingly fulfill the expectations of this position, and feel at home, valued and loved by the congregation. The Lehigh Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry has interviewed and resoundingly approved our candidate. 

Our next step is the congregational meeting this Sunday (January 10) for hearing from our candidate, voting to concur with the recommendation of the APNC, and approving the terms of call.
As per the tradition of the call process and respect to the candidate’s current congregation, we are unable to share identifying information at this time. A full bio, along with a video of our candidate, will be provided via email on Sunday morning (January 10) for you to review prior to the congregational meeting. You will also have the opportunity to hear from our candidate during that meeting.
We can, however, share with you why we chose this candidate and about her many gifts. Our candidate is an exciting and creative individual with a deep and steadfast faith. She is dedicated to the vision of creating a church environment truly welcoming to all.  She has an entrepreneurial spirit that will certainly lead to exciting new ideas and programming at the church.

While many candidates expressed concerns of the breadth of this position, she showed excitement and inspiration in the position. Our candidate also brings a strong desire and commitment, along with experience, in reaching out beyond our church doors to engage with the many opportunities to serve in our community. She shows a passion that will help our congregation convey Christ’s call to love our neighbors in actions that address social justice with compassion. 

The candidate has incredible intelligence and emotional maturity.  Her warmth and relatability led us to wonderful, inspiring conversation. This new family member will enable First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem to expand and deepen its commitment to growing and developing our members in their life-long faith journey. She shared with us many innovative ideas and tech savviness. 

Froy Thompson, member of the APNC, shared the following thoughts on our candidate:

“I felt an excitement and a personal connection and was astounded by her naturalness, and the depth and conviction of her faith. When she came for the personal interview, and shared more about her faith and her ideas for carrying out Christ’s mission, I was more certain we had been led to the right person.  She is caring and put us all at ease, a quality I value.”

The members of the APNC are Kristen Benway (Chairperson; pictured below), Rich Gorton, George Maunz, Don Robertson, Blaine Sheppard, Froy Thompson, and Gail Watts. We had great support from Marsha Heimann as the Committee on Ministry Representative. Her guidance, knowledge and advice was priceless through this process. Presbytery Transitional Leader Rhonda Kruse was also available to us as needed. 

We offer our wholehearted thanks to these wonderful people for their hard work, faithfulness, and support.  Our time together has been uplifting and inspiring. Through both times of joy and challenge, the APNC came together in faith, love, and commitment. 
I personally would like to take a moment to reflect on this remarkable journey with the APNC.  The second time I ever spoke with JC, we walked casually together through Fellowship Hall. 

As we spoke, I said that I wanted to be involved in the church but I did not know where I fit.  I was not brought up in church and unsure what the “right” way to get involved would be. 
He told me that God would call me to it and smiled knowingly. Since that conversation, I have become involved in various ways. Each time questioning, if I am the right person.  When asked to join the APNC, I said “yes”, as I am a serial “yesser”.  I had no idea what I was actually signing up for and the work that it would entail.  

I became the Chair of the APNC, founded on the faith of a group of people that did not know me well but who would later become my partners, confidants, mentors and most importantly, friends. I have had the honor of journeying with incredible people who lift me up, challenge me, and have been paramount in taking my faith to new depths.  

The path to finding our pastor was not always easy.  We had many ups and downs and sideways turns. I would not change any of those bumps as they led us to where we are today. We had each other to laugh with, cry, and vent, and most importantly, those moments reminded us to slow down and listen for God’s whispers.   

Being involved in church does not depend on “knowing” what to do, how deep your knowledge of the bible is, or that you live a perfect Christian life.  Being part of the church is coming as you are, showing up for others, and allowing them to show up for you. I encourage you to say “yes” to something new and trust God will put you exactly where you need to be.   

We hope you will join us this Sunday at 9 a.m. via Zoom* to meet our candidate. Please look for an email prior to that meeting with detailed information on our candidate. 

In the meantime, feel free to enjoy this video of reflections from the APNC committee members, about this journey we have been on!
In faith and hope,

Kristen Benway
APNC Chair
*Zoom instructions and schedule for this Sunday

  • To join the 9 a.m. Congregational meeting via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.(NOTE: You will use this same sign-in for the 11 a.m. Combined Worship service and the Hospitality Time at noon.)

  • The 11 a.m. Combined Worship Service will be offered on Facebook Live, and our website homepage.

  • After the worship service ends, we will return to the same Zoom sign-in for a Hospitality Time, until 12:30 p.m.

Please join us Sunday for an important day in the life our church!