A Liberal Church, Welcoming of All, Passionately Committed to Social Justice

The Pilgrim - September 29, 2013

Sunday Celebration Notes
Lifting Up God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am.

Dear Church Friends,

Happy fall!

As the season begins to change, the fall program of the church is also gaining momentum and giving us cause for celebration here at First Church. I especially want to extend thanks to all who made Rev. Douglas’s installation last Sunday such a lovely occasion! We had many guests from our neighbor United Church of Christ congregations, and it was a great reminder that his ministry among us is a reflection of the larger commitment he has made to a life of service in the UCC.

It seems to be installation season; as many of you know, my spouse, the Rev. Mark Pettis, is being installed this coming Sunday at the Manhattan Beach Community Church, United Church of Christ. The Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs will be preaching; Dr. Cribbs is the Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California (CLUE), an organization with which First Church has connected often over the years. This is an open event to all, and you are invited to join us at 3 p.m. at MBCCUCC!

All of these installations bring to mind the importance of good relationships -  relationships between pastors and their congregations, between members and one another, and, of course, between ourselves and the divine, however we experience the divine. This Sunday we will be inspired by Psalm 91, which is warmly thought of as the "eagle's' wings" psalm, and is source material for "On Eagle’s Wings," a very popular devotional song from 1979. This scripture and song both depict the relationship of humanity with the divine as caring, protecting, and personal; together we will spend time reflecting on the relationships in our own lives, considering how we can strengthen and risk vulnerability in our relationships, and celebrating the ways the Spirit is revealed through relationship. It will be a very special Sunday musically, as well, but I won’t give away any surprises...!

Have a blessed week,

The Rev. Elena Larssen


Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

This Sunday we will be celebrating the power of relationships of all kinds. There will be two solos reflecting that theme, by Lisa Bode Heard and Carlos Carlos. You can read more about Lisa’s accomplishments below. She has also been our alto soloist for over 25 years! Talk about a long relationship! You’ll find out more about Carlos in next week’s Pilgrim. The choir anthem is an arrangement of a Shaker Hymn by Sid Davis called "More Love." The text rephrases the great commandment we have been given, to love our neighbors: "If ye love not each other in daily communion, how can ye love God, whom ye have not seen?" This Sunday should definitely bring more love into our little corner of the world!


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Adult Education

Cupcake Reception

Global Mission Book Club

Neighbors in Need Offering

Centro Shalom Honoring Dale Whitney

Zone Sign-Ups


Nominating Committee


And More Thanks!

In Memoriam

October Birthdays

October Anniversaries

Church Mouse

Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us


Lisa Bode HeardLisa Bode Heard was in the Ovation Award-winning "The 99 Cent Only Calendar Girl Competition" and "Peace Squad Goes 99" at the Bootleg Theater. Regional credits include the west coast premiere of "Stellaluna" at the Carpenter Center, "Pilgrim" in New York/Los Angeles, and "Last Resort" at the REDCAT/Disney Hall. Lisa has performed with Theatre League, Los Angeles Theater Center, South Bay, Fullerton and Long Beach Civic Light Operas, International City Theater and the Pasadena Playhouse. Lisa can be heard on the recordings of "The Great Kapok Tree" and "Reason for a Flower" by Paul Boyd-Batstone and Stan DeWitt. "The Great Kapok Tree" was selected for a grant from Public Corporation for the Arts for musical performances to school-age children. Lisa has appeared in numerous TV commercials and the wildly popular video "Modern U.S. President," the Gilbert and Sullivan Barack Obama parody. She is also a proud and founding member of Orphean Circus/Three Special Girls (orpheancircus.com). Lisa is married to Curtis and they would both agree their best production to date is that of Clayton Paul Heard!

- Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: New Directions
Scripture Focus: Luke 16:19–31


In Adult Education
Sundays at 8:30 am in the Klar Rooms, upstairs in Pilgrim Hall
By Chris Bobo

This week in Adult Education we will discuss chapters 21 to 23 from Lillian Daniel’s book When 'Spiritual But Not Religious' Is Not Enough. Chapter 21 ("Immigrants Like Us") takes up the theme that we all have a personal history and family background and suggests that there are things in our immediate and extended past that we may not be proud of and we have all immigrated to our home here. In chapter 22 ("Borne in Perplexity"), Lillian suggests that we should "take perplexity out of the old broom closet, dust it off, shine it up, and put it out on the mantelpiece in the middle of the ecclesiological living room, because a little perplexity can be a wonderful thing in the life of faith." In chapter 23 ("Inconsistent on Jesus"), Lillian poses the question: "Is it wishy-washy to perceive Jesus in many different ways? To experience him at one moment as your best friend and another moment as the mysterious peace that passes all human understanding?"

So come and be perplexed with us, share your thoughts on immigration, your faith journey, where you’ve come from and where you’re going, and let us know who you think Jesus is. We are all ears and we’re looking forward to sharing our faith journeys and perplexities with you.

We hope you'll plan to join us at 8:30 a.m. in the Klar classrooms, to share your insights and perspectives, even if you haven't read the book. Coffee is provided, and child care is available, so bring your breakfast and a friend!




Cupcake Reception - This Sunday, September 29
By Jim Snelling

The sanctuary over the past century has witnessed many marriages for straight couples and some for TV and film episodes. Five years ago on June 21 the first same-sex couple was legally married here. On Saturday, September 27, 2008, another first occurred when six same-sex couples exchanged their wedding vows.

A celebration of their anniversary will be held in the Koinonia Room and Kilsby Courtyard following the Sunday service to thank you, the congregation, for your love, support and attendance at that momentous event.


Global Mission Book Club Meeting - Monday, September 30, 7:30 PM
By Cathy Clay

The Global Mission Book Club will discuss, at our gathering on September 30, Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Amazon describes the book this way: "Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together." The novel is set in Chechnya during the wars of the 1990s in which the Russian army fought Chechen guerrillas who were aided at times by Arab jihadis. The New York Times says of the work: "While reminding us of the worst of the war-torn world we live in, Marra finds sustainable hope in the survival of a very few, and in the regenerative possibility of life in its essential form, defined by a medical textbook passage... 'a constellation of vital phenomena — organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.'"

We hope you will join us next Monday evening, September 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pownall Room at First Church, as we meet and wrestle with the global implications of this work.


Neighbors in NeedNeighbors in Need Offering - Sunday, October 6
By Teri Brewster, for the Board of Outreach

The United Church of Christ's Neighbors in Need program had a record-breaking year in 2012, with the highest number of grant recipients and the most money distributed to congregations and hunger-related ministries than ever before. "Many of us wonder how can we really make a difference in the world," says Bernice Powell Jackson, the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries Executive Minister. "How can we work for world peace? How can we help end hunger? How can we support justice and fairness? Well, a gift to Neighbors in Need is something concrete that we all can do. It allows our church's voice to be heard and our caring to be felt." On October 6 First Church of Long Beach will be taking our offering for this ministry. Let us continue to be the generous church that reaches out to others in need through our contributions to NIN.


Centro Shalom to Honor Dale Whitney

On October 26, Centro Shalom will honor First Church member and Harbor Area Farmers Markets Director Dale Whitney for his many years of service to the local community. A dinner will be at the Petroleum Club at 6:30 p.m., preceded by a reception at 6. The early-bird price for tickets is $60, and it would be lovely to have a table of First Church folks together as Dale is recognized for all the work he has done. If you would like to attend, please contact Ruth in the church office by 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 3 (firm deadline!); if ten people respond, we will have a First Church table.


Zone Sign-up and Dinner Sign-up
By John Forrest Douglas

Zone for all 6th-12th graders will begin on Thursday, October 10 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.in the Ramsay Dining Room. All youth must be registered, please go to this website to register. That means it's also time to sign up to bring dinner, help with set-up, or clean-up. Please go to this website to see the available dates and to sign-up for dinner.


CROP Walk Coming Up on Sunday, October 20
By Dale Whitney, CROP Hunger Walk Chair

The 38th annual CROP Hunger Walk will take place on Sunday, October 20, starting and ending at Bay Shore Congregational Church (5100 The Toledo in Belmont Shore). Registration will begin at 1 p.m., with a charity bazaar and live music until the pep rally at about 2, and the official walk willstart at 2:30. Last year the walk attracted over 200 participants and raised over $20,000 for Church World Service (CWS) and six local charities.

Starting this coming Sunday, September 29, I will personally be staffing a sign-up table at the coffee hour for those who wish to walk the 5K (3.1 mile) route on October 20. Walkers get an envelope to collect money into directly, but there is also a way to recruit sponsors (people whose money supports the walkers and the cause) online. Unlike the pattern of many years, all collections are made in advance of the walk now, instead of just pledges. If you want to support the effort but a walker has not approached you yet, you can make a direct contribution at the table as well.

CWS is supported by One Great Hour of Sharing as well as by the nearly 2,000 CROPWalks all over the country each year. Information on CWS as well as the six local charities benefitted by the Walk will be available at the sign-up table. For more information, phone me at 562-301-3202.


The Nom Com At Work
By Cathy Chambers, Chair

The Nominating Committee is responsible for compiling the slate of officers, delegates, board and committee members that will be presented for congregational approval at the business meeting later this year. One the most challenging parts of that task is recruiting new members for the six boards that help us all realize the greater purpose of First Congregational Church. And what is that, you ask? As given in Article II of our Constitution, "The purpose of this Christian Church is to be a faithful community of seekers and learners; to be a place where the Word and Wisdom of God are preached, celebrated, and symbolized in the sacraments and in worship; and to be a place where people are encouraged to grow in the knowledge and love of God, and to be of service to all creation" (p. 1).

Brief descriptions of the boards follow, and in reviewing each, perhaps you'll find "way opening" to new involvement.

BOARDS 101 Fall 2013
General Information (More complete descriptions of the boards and committees may be found in our by-laws [p. 15-21] available on the Members Area of the church website or by request through the church office.)

  • All boards meet monthly, usually the first Sunday of the month following the community meal known as First Church Café.
  • New board members are recruited for a three-year term unless filling a vacancy (replacing someone who left before completing the three-year term).

Board of Christian Education (CE)

  • Works with the Associate Minister to coordinate the educational activities of the church (for adults, children & youth)
  • Selects Sunday School curriculum
  • Often plans and facilitates the following
    • Easter egg hunt and Easter activities, i.e. bubbles
    • Youth Sunday
    • Inter-generational “Vacation Church School”
    • Homecoming registration
    • Advent workshop

Board of Cultural Arts (BOCA)

  • Works with the Director of Music to plan and supervise outside-of-worship monthly cultural events that draw on and appeal to both the church family and community
  • Recent activities include
    • Hollywood Bowl excursion
    • Organ concerts
    • Sing-along during General Synod
    • Young Peoples’ Art Exhibition
    • Fencing demonstration and renaissance costume display


  • Works with the ministers to advance the welfare and enhance the worship life of the congregation
  • Keeps official register of church members and information pertaining to membership, births, marriages and deaths
  • Lead Deacon assists in the smooth functioning of Sunday service
  • Collects the weekly offering
  • Assists in preparation and serving of the sacraments
  • Maintains liaison with the Congregational Care Committee, Sacred Practices, and the Worship and Arts Ministry Team (WAMT)

Board of Outreach and Social Justice

  • Leads the church into wider fellowship in the community, the national and world ministries of the UCC
  • Educates members about UCC missions and ministries and is responsible for allocating funds voted for missions by this church
  • Generally responsible for organizing
    • Events for Outreach Sunday
    • Participation in the Martin Luther King Jr. and Gay Pride parades
    • Habitat for Humanity build days
    • After-church informational forums

Board of Parish Life

  • Plans activities that foster fellowship and play
  • Major annual events are
    • Easter Brunch
    • Church Picnic
    • Harvest Hoedown
    • Christmas Dinner
    • Other church-wide events, such as the Golf Tourney, planned periodically

Board of Stewardship and Finance (Stew & Fin)

  • Responsible for the stewardship education, long-range financial planning, and supervision of the care and maintenance of the church and its properties
  • Major projects include the recommendation of the budget and the fall stewardship drive
  • Sub-committees include the Audit Committee, Endowment and Special Gifts Committee, House and Interior Design Committee, Insurance and Contracts Committee, Investment Committee, Memorial and Recognition Committee, Scholarship Committee, and Stewardship Committee


Special Thanks to the Installation Reception Planning Committee and Others

The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, friendliness, and fun. In that spirit, Harold Sutherland did a masterful job of decorating the John Forrest Douglas Installation reception with a pineapple motif. Gail Schwander rallied the Church Hostess Committee to bring in an avalanche of freshly baked brownies. Marion Nguli and Kirsten Pickus purchased a vast array of fruit and dips and finger food; and Matt Balin added a Filipino twist with lumpia spring rolls. Jim Deaton shepherded the set-up and clean-up. And Savi Nguli did everything too!

The installation service was inspirational, reminding us of John Forrest's calling, and our obligation to care for him. Dr. Rev. Robert Maddox, an open and affirming Baptist sage and mentor of John Forrest, flew across country from Maryland to share his insights into the vocation. Deanna Melzian, our Moderator, ably represented our congregation and provided oversight in the background. Curtis Heard and Marc Dickey guided the choir as they sang two anthems that resounded through the sanctuary.

One of my favorite moments was when we instituted the ritual check of the final box on the Search and Call poster. The final box marked a successful installation. That box had remained unchecked for six months, and John Forrest checked it off with gusto.

What an amazing church! Like the pineapple we show hospitality, friendliness, and fun. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people. Please take a moment to thank these good folks as we move forward with a newly installed Associate Pastor, John Forrest Douglas.

Paul Boyd-Batstone

P.S. Our Senior Pastor, Elena, will be installed in January.


Thank You!
By John Forrest Douglas

Thank you so much for all you did to celebrate my official installation as the Associate Minister of this wonderful community. The service and the reception were memorable events that I won’t forget anytime soon! I’d like to offer a special thank you to Curtis, Marc, and the choir for providing such beautiful music for the occasion. I’d also like to thank all those who planned the fabulous reception afterwards. I am certain that our guests from other churches and from the community felt your extravagant welcome!

Rev. Robert Maddox spoke about Abraham who followed God’s call to take a journey. I am grateful that you all have welcomed me with open arms to be a part of the journey of this church and each of your individual journeys.  I look forward to continuing the journey of living out God’s call together.


In Memoriam

The Rev. Grace Jones Moore died on September 17 after a long illness. She was a member of First Church (along with her husband, Dick), although they’ve lived at Pilgrim Place in Claremont for several years. A committed feminist and an accomplished musician, she wrote several of the musical responses that have been used at First Church over the last decade.

Her memorial service will be Thursday, October 3 at 3:30 pm at Pilgrim Place.


Pilgrim Deadline

The deadline for submitting items for inclusion in the newsletter is Tuesday at 1 p.m. The Pilgrim is emailed every Wednesday.



October Birthdays

1 Ivan Whatley, Danica Witter
2 Pat Green
3 Bruce Woods
4 Marsalee Malatesta, Tracy Sachtjen
6 Todd Faux
7 Alida Montanez-Salas
8 Janet Harrington
9 David Clements, Zachary Nielson
10 Robert Stapp
11 Zoe Hedgpeth, Zane Witter
12 Elias Barth
13 Mary Lou Klar
14 Bill Armstrong
16 Matt Jaeckel
18 Isaac Hanna
19 Kathleen O'Neal, Trystan Scott
20 Ray Hedgpeth
21 Ginger Heil, Jim Miech, Milo Penner
22 Alison Morales, Doug Ramsay
23 Susan Dorsey
24 Sonny Brown, Gil Griego
26 Terry McKiernan
28 Nancy Boyd-Batstone
29 Sarah Estes
30 Leonie Baliscao, Dorothea MacNeil, Thomas Penner
31 Dominique Barth


October Anniversaries

1 Miguel Criado and Paul Mclain, 8 years
8 Debbie and Scot Bond, 19 years
14 Ron Nelson and David Schnur, 36 years
18 Raj and Sasha Advani, 10 years
19 Marsalee and Brent Malatesta, 11 years
30 Linda and Jim Booth, 23 years


Church mouseThe Church Mouse has heard ...

... Jerry Kulhavy could use some help:

Help Wanted


Sign Up for Coffee Hour

Individuals or boards may sign up to bring coffee hour snacks by visiting Signupgenius.com. That's a direct link, but if it doesn't work for you, click on "Find a Sign Up." Enter Irishrows@aol.com. Click on "Coffee Hour," and it will take you to the available dates. Thanks in advance for "treating" us.


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Annalyn Rae Black (daughter of Alison Morales's friends); Ernest Lacy (Jim Deaton's friend); Paul (Marc Dickey's friend); Steve Chambers; Betty Cole; Nancy Fox (Cynthia Holt's neighbor); Joyce Koendarfer (Martha Duncan's co-worker); Montague (Tina Datsko's friend's son); Ruth Paddon (Jim Snelling's cousin); José Sánchez-H.; Doris Sutherland (Harold Sutherland's mother); and Bryn Turner.

Names on the Parish Concerns lists appear in two consecutive editions of the newsletter. To share a Parish Concern or a Parish Joy, put a note on the board on the Third Street landing or contact Ruth Warkentin in the church office.


Becoming a Member of First Church

Whether you have been attending for a few weeks, a few months or several years, we would like you to consider becoming a member of First Church. When you are ready to take that step, please contact the church office (office@firstchurchlb.org or 562-436-2256, ext 221).


Online Calendar

Don't miss out! Check the online church calendar at www.firstchurchlb.org/calendar.html for details about all church events. You can use the online calendar to email invitations to friends to church events and to set up emailed reminders to yourself. Just click on any event to see information about it.


To place an ad in this newsletter, please contact Ruth Warkentin in the church office.

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First Congregational Church - 241 Cedar Avenue - Long Beach, California 90802
562-436-2256 - Fax: 562-436-3018 - E-mail: office@firstchurchlb.org