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

To welcome an inclusive and joyful community of
Christ’s followers into actively exploring how God’s gracious love gives meaning to our lives and faith, and inspires us
to address the needs of our changing world. Through our learning, service, and grateful worship, God fills us with purpose, compassion, courage, and love.

Congregational Core Values

Christ-Centered

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.

Expansively Welcoming

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. We affirm LGBTQ+ individuals and celebrate their full participation in the life and leadership of the church.

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: Feb. 23, 2024

A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: RECONNECTING WITH GOD “I feel kind of… disconnected from God.” “I want to be more intentional about my spiritual life.” “My faith seems too compartmentalized from the rest of my life, and I don’t like it.” “I want to learn more...

Who We Are

Leadership

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


Contact J.C.

J.C. has served the Presbyterian Church (USA) as pastor, educator, and leader at every level of the denomination for nearly 20 years before receiving his call to First Presbyterian of Bethlehem. He has been serving our congregation since November, 2017.

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 Vice President for Christian Leadership Formation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, 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.

He 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.

J.C. is the devoted father of one college-aged son. In his free time, he is an adventurous cook and a barbecue chef, realizing a long-held dream to have his own backyard smoker after moving from Manhattan to Bethlehem. He is an avid lover of movies and appreciates a wide range of musical genres. He is also an enthusiastic (if not particularly talented) guitarist.

Lindsey Altvater Clifton

The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton

Associate Pastor for Justice and Community Impact


Contact Lindsey

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  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 dog, Maggie, and new puppy, Augie.  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!

The Rev. Suzanne Trump, Associate Pastor of Formation and Compassion

The Rev. Suzanne Trump

Pastoral Associate for Formation and Compassion


Contact Suzanne

Suzanne was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley and now lives in Fogelsville. She graduated from Easton Area High School and Temple University with a degree in Occupational Therapy.

A lifelong Lutheran she was encouraged at an early age to pursue a call to ministry, but it was not until she meet a female pastor that she could see herself as a pastor. So, after a few years of practicing occupational therapy she entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, now Union Lutheran Seminary and graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1992.

Still not quite sure that she was called to ordained ministry, Suzanne returned to practicing OT and taught at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. At the university her career track changed to include chairing the academic advising center and the student success initiatives. She also completed a Master of Religion at Temple University.

Still feeling a call to ministry, she was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2007, which is not the longest time between seminary completion and ordination in the Lutheran church, but close to it! Suzanne served Grace Lutheran Church in Allentown and St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. And upon retiring from the Lutheran church, she joined First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem in April of 2023.

Suzanne is an avid golfer, often playing at the Bethlehem Golf Course, and enjoys several forms of exercise including talking walks with her German Shepard dog Fiona. She spends free time serving as a chaplain and scholarship committee co-chair for the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council and serves as a committee member for She Nailed It for Habitat for Humanity Lehigh valley.

She is passionate about helping a people to live out their call as Christians in the world. She is deeply concerned with making sure that everyone has stable housing, nourishing food to eat and the opportunity to live their best life.

Suzanne was married to a former Vietnam and Med-evac pilot, Doug, who entered the church triumphant several years ago. Her mother and her brother and his wife all live in the Lehigh Valley. And although she is too young, she has seven grandchildren and three (step)children from her marriage to Doug.

David Macbeth

David Macbeth

Director of Music Ministries

 

Contact David 

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.

Session

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:

Jennifer Cole, Clerk of Session
The Rev. J.C. Austin, Moderator

Class of 2023:
Kari Keyock
Kim Miner
Alvin Philpotts
Steve Samuelson
JoAnne Turcotte

Class of 2024:
Jan Bickford
Jennifer Cole
Jim Halkins
Donna Taggart

Class of 2025:
Jon Conrad 
Linda Filipovits
Ted Masthay
Jim Tintle

Deacons

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, Moderator
    The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation & Justice, staff

    Class of 2023:
    Melody Engel
    Phil Fair
    Jane Masters

    Class of 2024:
    Alesia Dietrich
    Yvonne Green
    Jane Mackie

    Class of 2025:
    Jeff Csatari
    Marie Rosenthal
    Doreen Sheppard

    Trustees

    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:

      Mark Swank, President
      Belle Marks, Vice-President

      Class of 2023:
      George Bickford
      Bob Hunsicker
      Mark Swank

      Class of 2024:
      Joanne Kelhart
      Belle Marks
      Melinda Stitt

      Class of 2025:
      Sue Nelson
      Bud Newton
      Jack Walker

      Let's Connect!

       

      Mail:

      2344 Center Street
      Bethlehem, PA 18017

      Contact Us:

      610-867-5865
      info@fpc-bethlehem.org

      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 Justice and Community Impact:
      The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton
      Pastoral Associate for Formation and Compassion:
      The Rev. Suzanne Trump
      Director of Music Ministries: David Macbeth
      Weekday Preschool Director: Tracy Leszcynski
      Rentals/Facility Usage: Carol Burns
      Facilities Maintenance Manager: Kevin Konczyk

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