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Friday, May 10, 2024 Newsletter

For Sunday
9:00 a.m.: Holy Ground Contemporary Worship Service
in Fellowship Hall (in person only)

11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service in the Sanctuary
(in person and livestreamed on Facebook and our website)

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. For many people, it’s a beloved day in which we celebrate the mothers in our lives, especially our own mothers. We give thanks for their dedication, their love, their strength and tenacity and sacrifice, and their grace in raising us. We give presents and have special recognitions or rituals as part of that celebration. And often people make a special point of attending church with their mothers, so in many congregations there is a “Mother’s Day spike” in attendance. All of those things are good and beautiful in and for their own sake.
But Mother’s Day is also a complicated and even difficult day for many people. For some, it is a day when grief makes a special and pronounced visit, as they remember their mother or the mother of their children who has died. For others, it is a day of particular pain, because they are children estranged from their mothers, or mothers estranged from their children, or because they have wanted so badly to become a mother and have been unable to do so for various reasons, or because they are the mother of a child who has died.
I have talked to many women who actually avoid coming to church on Mother’s Day for some of those very reasons. 

And, interestingly enough, Mother’s Day has its roots in celebrating mothers not in and of themselves, but rather around mothers engaging in issues of justice, mercy, and peace. Anna Jarvis, the woman generally credited with getting the official U.S. holiday established, did it to honor her mother, who was renowned for caring for wounded Civil War soldiers regardless of their allegiances, and for establishing “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” as part of a public health movement advocating for improved sanitation and reducing infant mortality. 

So this Sunday, as we worship together, I invite you to be mindful of all those dimensions with yourselves and with each other, knowing that we will hold space for everyone, whatever this day may mean for them. So, whatever Mother’s Day brings up for you, there is a place for it in our worship this Sunday. I hope to see you there, whether in person or online!

Grace and Peace,

  • This week’s sermon: The Gospel is a Group Project by the Rev. J.C. Austin

  • We post the video of each week’s services and sermon text on our website: fpc-bethlehem.org
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper:


Beginning on Sunday, May 19, we will begin offering one worship service at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary. This schedule will continue through the summer, at least through Labor Day weekend.

Fellowship Lunch: Green Card Pizza Party!

After worship on Sunday, May 19, you’re invited to come enjoy a belated celebration alongside our Afghan family, who successfully completed the Green Card process to become permanent U.S. residents in the fall! 

Baz, Mursal, Taib, Bahar, and Ayaz (the tiny American) will be with us for a pizza party. If you’d like to bring a side dish to contribute, that would be great! We have plenty of frozen desserts, so no sweets this go-round, please. 

To help make sure all the sides are halal for our Afghan friends’ religious dietary needs, please avoid bringing anything with meats or gelatin. Anything else is fair game! We look forward to hearing a bit from them about their experience of the Green Card process and how they’re settling into American life.
The next Community Meeting to share updates on the “Building Community” initiative will be Thursday, May 23 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This will be an open house-style event, held outdoors – so wear comfortable walking shoes (in case of inclement weather, we’ll meet indoors).
See your design feedback reflected in a revised campus concept and learn more about the next steps of the planning and design process. For additional information, we encourage you to check out the updates at fpc-bethlehem.org/campus-vision.

Our big sale is coming on Saturday, May 18 from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Kirk Center (gym). Preparations are moving right along, thanks to our many volunteers.

We’re now looking for additional volunteer help for Wednesday evening, May 15, and Thursday, May 16 to help us ‘stage’ the selling area (putting items out for display, and tagging them for sale).
On Friday, May 17 we’ll offer a “Preview Sale” for church members, Preschool families, and volunteers – this will be offered from noon-2 p.m., and again from 6-8 p.m.

And then our big sale will be in the Kirk Center (rain or shine) from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Doing some spring cleaning of your own?

We’re offering you an opportunity to bring your own items for sale – you can reserve an outdoor space for $10 (table provided) or $5 (bring your own table). These will be located on the east lawn; you must staff your own table, and remove all unsold items. (The sale date is rain or shine.)

ALERT! We have lots of old hymnals! We’ll put them out in the North Link and Narthex on Sunday – if you’d like to take one/many, you are welcome. If you won’t be coming to the building on Sunday, contact the church office and we’ll get one to you.

To volunteer and/or reserve your own space for the sale day:

The weather is getting better for gathering outside for lunch, so our popular “Lunch Bunch” is back for the summer. 
Bring your lunch and come join us for some fellowship and fresh air this coming Wednesday, May 15 starting at noon at Water Street Park in Hellertown. There is plenty of parking, a shaded pavilion, and bathrooms. We met there a few times last year and it was wonderful.  

Join us as you are able and invite a friend to come with you. 
In case of inclement weather, we will postpone it (if we need to postpone, we will put a message on our website and the church phone, 610-867-5865). If you have any questions or need directions, contact us at info@fpc-bethlehem.org or 610-867-5865.

The Hearts N Minds adult education class will meet this Sunday, gathering from 9:45 - 10:40 a.m. in room 212 (note the new location). If you attend the 9 a.m. Holy Ground service, you are welcome to leave early to attend this class.

The group will discuss Fr. Richard Rohr's Falling Upward, “New Problems and New Directions.” All are welcome to attend – you do not have to have done the reading to enjoy the discussion.

NOTE: Due to the worship schedule change for Sunday, May 19, on that date the class will meet at 9 a.m. in room 212. That will be the last meeting before resuming in the fall.
For this Monday (May 13), Hi Neighbors will offer a special field trip during its regular meeting time. Those who have a confirmed reservation* will meet between 9:15-9:30 a.m. at the front of the church building to travel by bus to Bethlehem’s SteelStacks for a narrated bus tour. The bus should return between 11:15-11:30 a.m. 
*We have contacted you if you signed up, and confirmed your reservation.
The spring series of programs will conclude on Monday, May 20 when we welcome Dr. John Kincaid, who was part of the defense team for Daniel Ellsberg at “The Pentagon Papers Trial.”
Dr. Kincaid is a professor at Lafayette University – you might recognize him from the political commentary he gives on WFMZ news programs. Get the inside details of what it was like to rub shoulders with Ellsberg, Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda and other peace activists in the early 1970’s.

A social time begins at 9:30 a.m. and the free program starts at 10 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. We hope you will join us as we conclude another successful, interesting series of programs!
Our team in Monday’s “She Nailed It” fundraiser for Habitat Lehigh Valley showed their stuff while raising over $3000 for local housing needs. They were among 70 teams of four women each who competed at Dimmick Park in Hellertown.
Many thanks to Tracy Samuelson, Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Kari Keyock, and Donna Taggart for representing us so well! And to Suzanne Trump, who served on the organizing committee.

Also to the many members of our community who donated to this fund raiser and/or who came out to cheer on our team – they made it to the third of five rounds. Well done for first-time competitors!

Our Preschool is offering a big basket raffle beginning today (Friday) - be sure to get your tickets for these fun prizes!
Tickets will be sold this Sunday morning in Fellowship Hall. Cash only: 1 for $1; 6 for $5; or 15 for $10.

Pictured is a basket filled with “Spa Day” goodies which includes a gift card for a one-hour massage. Other baskets include family game night, summer fun, gardening, sports, children's book baskets, arts and crafts, “support local” basket, Crayola basket which includes two free passes to Crayola Factory, and more fun-filled baskets!

WITH A REMINDER that you are welcome to attend the Preschool Spring Fling TODAY from 10 a.m.-noon on the East Lawn and in Fellowship Hall.
Picnic food, hands-on activities for all ages, and fun - hope to see you!
If you are hospitalized, please tell the hospital our church code is 724. Also, please call the church office at 610-867-5865 to let us know as the hospitals do not always collect this information.  After hours, leave a message or call our answering service at 610-778-7003.

Send any prayer requests to prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org or call 610-867-5865 and leave a message.
Send us your news and photos to share:
**Deadline for the next newsletter:
WEDNESDAY at noon**
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  • Visit our Facebook page and look for the post with our live feed
  • If you don’t have a Facebook account, go to our website to view the service - click on the "Watch the Service" button
  • Please check in with a comment so we know you’ve joined us!
  • Captions will now be available on our livestream, for those who would like to use that feature
To watch a video – available after the services have aired: Visit our website archives

  • Child care will be available from 8:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. this Sunday morning; please ask an usher for directions.

  • Your children are a joy in our worship services, and should the need arise, “kid bags” are available for their use while they are visiting. They are in the Narthex.

  • We offer nametags for folks to wear – these are for everyone! You can pick up as you enter the worship space; please clearly PRINT your first name.

  • 8:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.: Child Care (ask ushers to direct you)
  • 9:00 a.m.: Holy Ground Contemporary Worship service, in-person in Fellowship Hall
  • 9:45-10:40 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult ed class, Room 212 – all are welcome
  • 10:10-10:45 a.m.: Current: Seeking Justice Together!, an intergenerational faith formation offering, Fellowship Hall – all ages are welcome!
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship service, in-person in the Sanctuary and livestreamed on Facebook and on our website

WEDNESDAYS: 7 p.m. - Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom.com (meeting #: 868 2214 2960; passcode: OO-Beth)


Regular office hours are Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Many of the office staff are working remotely for some of the time, so please make an appointment if you need to see someone specific. The answering service (610-778-7003) can take your urgent pastoral concerns, 24 hours a day. 

IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER: Look for updates on our website (fpc-bethlehem.org), Facebook page, and WFMZ (channel 69 and wfmz.com). We will also put the info on our church phone message, 610-867-5865.
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 610-867-5865 | info@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. J.C. Austin, Pastor/Head of Staff: ext. 213, JAustin@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor for Justice and Community Impact; LClifton@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. Suzanne Trump, Pastoral Associate for Formation and Compassion; STrump@fpc-bethlehem.org

David Macbeth, Director of Music Ministries: ext. 202; DMacbeth@fpc-bethlehem.org

David Crook, Director of Church Administration; ext. 210; DCrook@fpc-bethlehem.org

Kevin Konczyk, Facilities Manager; KKonczyk@fpc-bethlehem.org

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238; CBurns@fpc-bethlehem.org

Tracy Leszcynski, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956; TLeszcynski@fpc-bethlehem.org

Brenda Robinson, Bookkeeper; BusinessOffice@fpc-bethlehem.org

Marianne Zarillo, Finance (interim); ext. 211MZarillo@fpc-bethlehem.org

Website:  www.fpc-bethlehem.org