About Our Church

First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem is a warm community of faith with an
expansive welcome.  We’re part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Lehigh Presbytery.  We pride ourselves on trying new things to deepen our worship experiences,
nurture intergenerational relationships, cultivate spiritual growth, and
build meaningful connections to create change in our community.

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Mission Statement

As a diverse and joyful community of Christ’s followers,
we explore how God’s gracious love gives meaning to our lives and faith and inspires us to address the needs of our world. Through our worship, learning, and service, God fills us
with purpose, compassion, courage, and hope.

Congregational Core Values


In everything we do, we strive to follow Jesus Christ faithfully through the authority and insight of God’s Word and Spirit,
to imitate Christ in how we treat others.

Welcoming to All

Because our unity is in Christ, we strive to be a community of Christian faith where people of all backgrounds, identities, and orientations are welcomed, supported, engaged, and empowered in their individual faith and our common life
and ministry.

An Inquiring Faith

Following Christ’s example in Scripture, we believe that curiosity and questioning are essential practices of faith, and that
some of our most important work as a congregation is helping each other to ask better questions about faith and life,
and to seek more faithful answers together.

An Active Faith

We believe faith is not simply a set of beliefs, but a way of life. Faith is lived out in the daily practice of those beliefs through concrete actions of love, justice, mercy, kindness, repentance, reconciliation, and peace.

Pastor’s Message: Dec. 2, 2022

A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: THE POWER IS IN THE STORIES Earlier this week, a meme was circulating in pastor groups online that showed a video clip of a megachurch that had at least eight drummers practicing for a Christmas service in its worship space....

Who We Are


First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem is a ‘member-driven’ church, and as such depends
on the talents, time and commitment of numerous lay leaders. Along with a dedicated staff,
they assure that this congregation continues to grow and thrive.

Rev JC Austin

The Rev. J.C. Austin

Senior Pastor / Head of Staff


J.C. served the Presbyterian Church (USA) as pastor, educator, and leader at every level of the denomination for nearly twenty years before receiving his call to First Pres Bethlehem.

A lifelong Presbyterian, he was ordained to serve as Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Stewardship at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he helped lead a historic but declining congregation into its first experience of significant growth in vitality, resources, and size in several decades.

Following that experience, he was a vice president at Auburn Theological Seminary where he built a national reputation as an expert on innovative congregational leadership for the 21st century, conceiving and establishing a range of new initiatives to build personal resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and practical wisdom in pastoral leaders.

For the five years before coming to Bethlehem, J.C. served as a Parish Associate at
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he preached, taught, and provided pastoral coverage on a regular basis. In the Presbytery of New York City, he chaired the Presbytery Cabinet, task forces on the Presbytery’s mission statement and strategic plan, and the Grants Committee of the 9/11 Disaster Relief Commission following the September 11 attacks. At the General Assembly level, he was appointed to the Assembly’s Special Committee on the Belhar Confession.

J.C. received his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998, with concentrations in New Testament Studies and Homiletics. At graduation, he was awarded several prizes including the prestigious Graduate Study Fellowship in Parish Pulpit Ministry, which allowed him to spend a year as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cape Town, studying the theological dimensions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa.

Lindsey Altvater Clifton

The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton

Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice


Lindsey is a self-proclaimed nerd who enjoys life’s simple pleasures: hammocks, a good book, playing outside, Vietnamese iced coffee, laughing until it hurts, kayaking, board games, ice cream, and writing liturgy.  Before being called to serve as the Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice at First Pres in March of 2021, she served as Co-Pastor of Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in High Point, NC.

She was born and raised in Greensboro, NC, and is an alum of Elon University (B.A., 2009) and Wake Forest University (M.Div. 2016).  Her faith journey has been rather ecumenical (ask her about it sometime), so she has served as a lay leader and staff person in a few denominational traditions.  She also taught high school English for four years (and loved it!) before going to divinity school.  These experiences have taught her the value of curiosity and openness, humility and playfulness.

Since her ordination in 2017, Lindsey has served on the Executive Council and the Committee on Representation in Salem Presbytery.  She was a planning team member and primary worship leader for the Southeast Regional Festival of Young Preachers (Academy of Preachers) in 2018 and the Presbyterians for Earth Care Annual Conference in 2019.  Lindsey also had the privilege of being a Teaching Associate for the Introduction to Homiletics course at WFU’s School of Divinity in 2018.

Lindsey is happily getting to know the Lehigh Valley with her wife, Laura, and their sweet, goofy dogs, Maggie and Harvey.  She enjoys learning about new spiritual practices and exploring them with others.  Lindsey is passionate about creative intergenerational ministry and community engagement, faith formation and missional outreach. She loves worship planning and preaching, and she finds joy in helping folks of all ages connect to the life of the church – both within the congregation and in the wider community.  And she’d love to have coffee or lunch with you sometime!

David Macbeth

David Macbeth

Director of Music Ministries


David serves as the Director of Music Ministries and Choirmaster at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

He leads our Chancel Choir and directs the music for both traditional and contemporary services.

A founding member of the faculty at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School of the Arts, David is vocal department artistic director, conducts three of the school’s five choral ensembles, and teaches classes in advanced placement (AP) music theory, music history, keyboarding, and applied vocal techniques.

David holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in music education, vocal performance and choral conducting from Westchester University. He minored in piano and organ performance and graduated magna cum laude.

While at Westchester, David was awarded numerous merit and performance scholarships. In 2013, he achieved the American Guild of Organists Choir Master certification, ranking third nationally among that year’s applicants.

In 2015 David was awarded a choral conducting fellowship with the Yale School of Music Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, studying advanced choral conducting under Simon Carrington.  He has conducted choral ensembles at such world-class venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the National Cathedral in Washington, DC., King’s Chapel, Boston, and the Dome Cathedral, Riga, Latvia.


The Session is comprised of twelve Elders, who are nominated and elected annually by the church membership and serve as the decision-making body of the church. They recommend and approve all program and policy implementation and modifications in the church. These standing committees have been established by Session:

  • Finance
  • Stewardship
  • Endowment
  • Nominating
  • Personnel
  • Worship
  • Mission
  • Engagement

The Elders are elected for a term of three years; the current slate of Elders (and their term’s year of expiration) are:

Susan Farber, Clerk of Session
The Rev. J.C. Austin, Moderator

Jan Bickford
Jennifer Cole
Jim Halkins
Rich Hjorth
Kari Keyock
Dan Magocs
Kim Miner
Chris Moravek
Al Philpotts
Steve Samuelson
Donna Taggart
JoAnne Turcotte
Gail Watts


The Deacons are the caregivers of the church, ordained lay members of the congregation who are best described as the church’s ‘ministers of mercy.’  They minister to the individual members through home communion and visits, hospital and prayer ministries, and providing support to those in difficult situations. Deacons are under the supervision and authority of the Session.

    The Deacons are elected for a term of three years; those currently serving (and their term’s year of expiration) are:

    Jeff Csatari, Co-Moderator
    Phil Fair, Co-Moderator
    The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation & Justice, staff

    Alesia Dietrich
    Melody Engel
    Yvonne Green
    Barbara Hjorth
    Jane Mackie
    Jane Masters
    Pam Swank


    Trustees oversee all financial and property matters in the church including the budget, building renovations and repairs, planned giving, and investment funds. Trustees meet monthly and members also serve on one additional committee, such as the property or finance committee, which also generally meet monthly. 

      The Trustees are elected for a term of three years; the current slate of Trustees (and their term’s year of expiration) are:

      George Bickford
      Bob Hunsicker
      Maurice Kasmiroski
      Joanne Kelhart
      Belle Marks
      Susan Mowrer-Benda
      Bud Newton
      Melinda Stitt
      Mark Swank

      Let's Connect!



      2344 Center Street
      Bethlehem, PA 18017

      Call Us:


      Media Inquiries:

      Carol Burns
      Communications Manager
      610-867-5865, ext. 238

      Email Us:

      Senior Pastor/Head of Staff: The Rev. J.C. Austin
      Associate Pastor for Formation and Justice:
      The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton
      Director of Music Ministries: David Macbeth
      Weekday Preschool Director: Tracy Leszcynski
      Rentals/Facility Usage: Pam Marth
      Facilities Maintenance Manager: Kevin Konczyk

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