INTRODUCING: An Active Faith

To feature ongoing ministries of FPCB, our new series, An Active Faith, will occasionally highlight some of the projects and partnerships that our church and its members are nurturing beyond our walls. 

These might include one-time endeavors, opportunities made possible by our church Endowment, or ongoing commitments to serve others in our community.  It might be something you and your family are doing together, it might be organized by a K Group or other informal group of FPCB friends, and some might also be ministries of the church that we’d love for more people to know about and get involved in. 

We hope these snapshots will inspire you to look for and engage in new ways to love God and love neighbors!

Supporting NCC Students

“We’ve got to continue some kind of outreach,” said Vince Stravino from his gallery box on the Zoom screen. It was the start of the pandemic, and our K group was ‘remote.’

Our small group chose a service project every year. In 2020, there would be no visits to food pantries or serving at soup kitchens. The world had changed.

Vince proposed we raise $5,000 to support needy students at Northampton Community College and invited Sharon Beales, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, to our Zoom. She reported that more than 52% of their students receive scholarship assistance annually to the tune of one million dollars. She explained that our pledges could be paid over three years. In days, we had a ‘contract’ and pledge cards. (Right: Vince Stravino, scholarship recipient Yanni Barrios, and Evelyn Stravino)

Our K group’s first decision was that no one should pledge any amount that would decrease a pledge to the church; this giving would be the icing on the cake – community outreach. To our surprise, Sharon announced that the group went far above the goal (none of us knew what the giving amounts were). Then Steve Simmons’ K group asked to join. Then other church members wanted in.

Suddenly, a permanently endowed fund looked possible. If we raised $20,000, the new fund would support scholarships forever. We asked our Session for permission to name this experiment “The First Presbyterian Church Bethlehem Fund at NCC”. We celebrated on Zoom when we hit the $20,000 marker.

We met our first scholarship recipient, Yamirelys Barrios, on Zoom in 2021. In the fall of 2022, several of us attended a scholarship luncheon with Yanni. She works four days a week in a bakery while studying health sciences and plans to enroll in a nursing program with a pediatrics specialty when she completes her associate degree at NCC.

We fondly refer to Vince as our resident ‘lefty’ and we love his passion for the less fortunate. We all love that Yanni is the first of countless NCC students who will benefit from the First Presbyterian Church Bethlehem Fund.

Linda Robertson