• Pastor’s Message: Sept. 4, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: IN PERSON AS WELL AS IN SPIRIT Last Sunday was a new experiment for us as a church, as over 70 people gathered outdoors in front of the church building for our first in-person worship service since early March! If you were not able...

  • Pastor’s Message: Aug. 28, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: LOOKING AHEAD TO SUNDAY People have asked me from time to time what’s the hardest part about digital worship, and for me, the answer is very clear: I’m preaching to a camera instead of to people in the room. I don’t mean it’s hard...

  • Pastor’s Message: Aug. 21, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: The dog days of summer We are in what is sometimes called “the dog days” of summer. I always assumed that was just a colloquial expression, probably from the American South, about the hottest part of summer because it drove dogs mad or something....

  • Pastor’s Message: Aug. 14, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. SUE BENNETCH: AT THE TOP OF OUR LIST During the last five months, the Covid-19 virus has been utmost on our minds and hearts. Pennsylvania has approximately 118,000 confirmed cases.  With this number climbing, we all probably know someone who has come down with the disease,...

  • Pastor’s Message: Aug. 7, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. SUE BENNETCH: CALMING THE DISTRESS Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he...

  • Pastor’s Message: July 31, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: GETTING IN GOOD TROUBLE As I’ve mentioned in a few sermons, the concept of “home” is a little complicated for me. I was born in Tennessee but have no memory of those years; I moved around several times in my preschool years. I spent...

  • Pastor’s Message: July 24, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: The Work Continues On Tuesday evening, we concluded the initial offering of our 21-Day Racial Justice Immersion Project with a Zoom gathering of participants to reflect on what they had experienced, and to consider possible next steps in their own ministry of antiracism and...

  • Pastor’s Message: July 17, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Advent in July This has been a particularly difficult week for many people, which is saying something, given the challenges of an average week these past few months. The recent resurgence of the virus throughout most of the country has been disconcerting, particularly since...

  • Pastor’s Message: July 10, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Catching a Second Wind Today is more or less the halfway point in the inaugural period of our 21-Day Racial Justice Immersion Project, which we launched on July 1. This project is the next step in our congregation’s racial justice ministry, which really began...

  • Pastor’s Message: July 3, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM ELDER PHYLLIS WALKER: 224th PCUSA GENERAL ASSEMBLY Phyllis represented our congregation at the most recent gathering, and shares this report. If you would like to read more about their work, visit this page for a number of interesting articles. The 224th PCUSA General Assembly was to have...

  • Pastor’s Message: June 26, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: MOVING TO GREEN As you probably have heard, Northampton and Lehigh counties have been designated by the governor of Pennsylvania to move to the “green” phase of the state’s Process to Re-Open Pennsylvania today, June 26. That move is significant in that it allows...

  • Pastor’s Message: June 19, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Staying Experimental and Nimble I have said many times in the last three months, “I don’t know how we would have managed the pandemic 20 years ago,” before there was social media and videoconferencing platforms like Zoom. That technology has been essential to allowing...

  • Pastor’s Message: June 12, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: “All of the Above” Today I filled out a survey from the Log College Project, the program of Princeton Seminary that we are part of, that is trying to cultivate new ways of doing ministry with young people. The survey was to help them...

  • Pastor’s Message: June 5, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Re-centering ourselves A little over a year ago, the Session approved a new set of core values and a mission statement to articulate our deepest identity as a congregation and the particular calling that we have discerned from God for us to answer as...

  • Pastor’s Message: May 29, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Bound together by the power of the Holy Spirit It has become a cliché of this quarantine period of the pandemic that it is difficult to keep track of time: telling the day of the week is hard; things that feel like they happened...

  • Racial Justice Ministry

    FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF BETHLEHEM’S RACIAL JUSTICE MINISTRY Rev. J.C. Austin’s special message of June 6: Opposing Racial Injustice Spotlight Newsletter Article: “More Than Good Intentions” We are undertaking an active response to the ongoing reality of systemic racial injustice in our country. These actions include: The 21-Day Racial Justice...

  • Children’s Sunday School

    Many thanks to our Sunday School teachers and friends for bringing our Sunday School experience to us at home! Please share this with a friend who may like it too. In addition to these prerecorded videos, we offer an “in person” Sunday School experience via Zoom, each Sunday between 10:15-10:45...

  • Pastor’s Message – Nov. 27, 2019

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: ALREADY BEGINNING TO HAPPEN When I was a child, Advent always made a lot more sense to me than Lent. In the Christian church, we typically talk about Advent as a season of waiting, and that’s exactly what Advent felt like: waiting for Christmas...

  • Pastor’s Message – Nov. 22, 2019

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY This coming Sunday is the last Sunday of the Christian year; “New Year’s Day” on the Christian calendar is the first Sunday of Advent, which is December 1 this year. But it is not simply the last Sunday of the...

  • Thanksgiving Eve Service

    Wednesday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Eve Service, 7 p.m. On Thanksgiving Eve, we gather together in worship to celebrate the many ways God has blessed us to be a blessing. This is a joyous service of music and praise, with heartfelt testimonials from members sharing stories of thankfulness.

  • Pastor’s Message: Nov. 15, 2019

    This Sunday (Nov. 17) First Pres is hosting an event by the Bethlehem Interfaith Group from 2:30 – 5 p.m. The event is focused on the theme of stories of immigration, and will include several people from different faith traditions sharing their own immigration story, an opportunity to reflect on...

  • Pastor’s Message: Nov. 8, 2019

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: PLEDGE DEDICATION SUNDAY For the last few weeks in worship, we’ve been exploring the mission priorities that the Session has identified for First Pres over the next couple of years: engaging new people and nurturing their faith and discipleship; ministry with children, youth, and...

  • Pastor’s Message: Nov. 1, 2019

    As you know, this year our annual stewardship campaign is focused on the mission priorities the Session has identified for our congregation over the next few years, and on an ambitious and exciting plan to help us answer God’s call to us through those priorities. If you haven’t already received...

  • Pastor’s Message: Oct. 11, 2019

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: BUILDING OUR CAPACITY Last week I spent three days at the “Stewardship Kaleidoscope” conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA). I’ve taught and/or spoken at the conference since it was created about a decade ago, and it is still one of my favorite dimensions of...

  • Pastor’s Message – Oct. 4, 2019

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: WORLD COMMUNION SUNDAY What unites us is greater than what divides us The first Sunday in October is celebrated by many different Christian denominations as World Communion Sunday. We observe World Communion Sunday as a way of lifting up Christian unity and the commonality...

  • Presentations: “How to Support LGBT Spirituality”

    NEW LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: “How to Support LGBT Spirituality” Wednesday, May 8 6:30 – 8 p.m. in Fellowship Hall NOTE: You are welcome to come to the May 8 session even if you did not attend the one on May 1. Join in two lively and engaging presentations on supporting the...

  • Community Lenten Suppers

    As we did last year, we will be offering a Community Lenten Supper series, beginning Wednesday, March 13 through Wednesday, April 10. All are welcome. We’ll gather at 6 p.m. for a simple meal. This will be followed by a brief reflection, led by one of the pastors in our church, focusing...

  • Funds Available through McKnight Scholarship

    Jim and Minnie McKnight were Presbyterian missionaries who served for 15 years prior to World War II in the Sudan region of Africa. Their family and friends established an endowed fund at First Presbyterian to honor the McKnights and to encourage individuals to participate in the life-changing experience of visiting...

  • Hearts and Minds

    HEARTS AND MINDS will start this year in room 400 with an examination of Quaker author Philip Gulley’s provocative and engaging classic, “If the Church were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus.”  As Gulley notes, “It is apparent, after several millennia of experimentation, that the Ten Commandments we Christians all know and...

  • Mission Notes: La Entrata, Honduras

    By Leslie Pohl FPCB Elder Imagine for a moment that you have to walk two hours just to get to a doctor’s appointment.  Imagine for a moment that your children can’t go to school because you can’t afford their uniforms, books, or lunch.  Imagine for a moment that your cataracts are so...

  • Pastor’s Message: Sept. 25, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: A new option to connect One of the blessings that has emerged for me in the midst of everything that is so painful about the pandemic has been groups of pastors from across the country (and actually, across the world) who have connected online...

  • Pastor’s Message: Sept. 18, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Exploring and evaluating ‘in person’ options “Are you open?” This question has been floating around church circles (and, indeed, faith communities beyond Christianity) for several months now, as states began lifting some of the restrictions on public assembly and organizational operations. When it comes...

  • Pastor’s Message: Sept. 11, 2020

    A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: CALLING OUR LEADERSHIP Before I left for a short vacation in August, I told you that the Session would be calling a Special Congregational Meeting in the early fall to recommend some changes to you about the “terms of call” for me as your...