Small Groups at First Church
First Congregational Church of Long Beach is delighted to offer a variety of small group fellowship opportunities for church members and their friends. These groups are organized around themes and are designed to help us get to know each other better, forge new friendships, and deepen existing connections. Please take a look at the various groups described below, and consider whether any sound fun to you. You can contact Kirsten Pickus for more information or to get connected with any of the groups – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Book Club meets every other month on Friday evenings to discuss a shared read in a social yet thoughtful environment. Members must be adults (no childcare provided) and willing to commit to regular attendance and active participation to facilitate both depth of discussion and comfort in sharing one’s reading experiences. The group selects their next read at the end of each meeting. Members rotate hosting in their homes, and gatherings include potluck food and drinks. The maximum size for the group is 12 members. Leaders are Barbara de Jong and Jerry Mitchell.
Note: This group is currently fully subscribed, but there is interest in starting a second Book Club. Please talk with Kirsten if you would like to be a part of First Church’s second Book Club.
The Canasta Club meets monthly to get their fix of this fun card game that originated in South America. Players rotate hosting in their homes and enjoy a potluck lunch together mid-way through their play. Members are willing to teach and also welcome experienced players of this rummy variant. While gatherings are usually on third Fridays in members’ homes, the group is happy to meet at church to accommodate more players if there’s interest. Leaders are Bill Kuehl and Kirsten Pickus.
Drop-In Bible Study
The Drop-In Bible Study is a weekly group for First Church members and friends who are interested in reading and discussing a UCC Daily Devotional. The group meets on Sundays at 8:45 AM when there is not a conflicting adult education class. Participants gather in the Pownall Room and discuss the joys and challenges of a spiritual life, share concerns, and seek support in an atmosphere characterized by respect and compassion. Participants must be adults and able to follow the leaders’ guidance about the importance of creating a space in which everyone is able to contribute. Leaders are Dale Whitney and Chris Bobo.
The Golfing Group meets every Saturday morning at Recreation Park 9 Golf Course, also known as Little Rec, to golf and enjoy each other’s company. This group requires previous golf experience, as it’s not a substitute for lessons, but is welcoming of a variety of skill levels. Participants are asked to commit to golfing with the group on a regular basis, although it need not be weekly. Interested members will receive a weekly email asking for a commitment for the upcoming Saturday (usually around 9:30 a.m.) and will be responsible for paying the course the approximate $15 fee. The leader is Pam Chapin.
Guest Chef is a program in which First Church members prepare and deliver a hearty, nutritious meal to residents of the nearby Project Achieve Shelter in Long Beach. First Church has been involved with this program for over 15 years, and members of this small group have a lot of fun together while helping others. Participants gather at church by 4:30 p.m. on the third Saturdays of the month to cook and consort. They travel together to deliver the meal they’ve prepared and then serve the residents until about 6:45 p.m. before heading back to church to wrap up by 7:30 p.m. They celebrate their good works and friendship with a fun holiday dinner each year. Leaders are Martha Duncan and Ruth Keller.
Kids Book Club
The First Church Kids Book Club is a monthly group for 6th- and 7th-graders who are avid readers and enjoy engaging in thoughtful discussions that connect both fiction and nonfiction to real world issues. The group selects books based on a variety of social justice themes and welcomes adult guests who are passionate about particular issues and would like to explore relevant books with the group. Discussions are followed by a shared meal, and members are actively involved in selecting their next read. This group is currently at capacity. Leaders are Stephanie Fisher and Karen Carmean-Mathieu.
Parks and Picnics Group
The Parks and Picnics Group meets at various outdoor events in and around Long Beach to enjoy Concerts in the Park, Movies in the Park, Movies at the Beach, Shakespeare at the Aquarium, and other fun community events. Feel free to participate once or attend every event! The more, the merrier! For more information, please contact Kirsten Pickus.
Senior Coffee and Conversation
The Senior Coffee and Conversation Group is a monthly gathering of seniors who enjoy socializing with one another, as well as occasional field trips and special programming. The group meets on third Tuesdays at 10 a.m. in the Pownall Room and is hosted by the ministers.
Serendipity events are small gatherings centered around a meal at a member’s home in which the guests don’t learn the address of their event until 24-48 hours beforehand. Events are typically on Saturday evenings, but the summer months usually include a brunch. Guests also don’t find out who else will be present at their gathering until they walk into the host’s home. Events include a meal, a game to help everyone get to know one another better, a few pre-determined conversation starters suggested by our ministers, and hopefully lots of good times with good people!
Anyone who is interested in participating in a Serendipity Event as a host or guest will need to indicate their desire to participate each time an event is announced. First-time participants will need to complete a short survey highlighting food allergies and preferences. Everyone who is able to serve as a host (or co-host) is encouraged to volunteer, as we want to be able to accommodate all interested guests. Coordinators are Kirsten Pickus, Sara Schoenfelder, and Randall Goddard.
The Walking Group is a group for First Church members and friends who like to get out in nature and feel the warm sun and cool breeze on their faces as they get their heart rates up and enjoy each other’s company. This multigenerational group gathers on occasional Saturday mornings for a two- to three-mile walk in a beautiful or fun setting throughout the greater Southern California area. Everyone is welcome. Feel free to participate regularly or drop in when you can. Leaders are Eillen Badilla and Julie Ford.
The Women’s Group is a monthly gathering of multigenerational members who have a desire to deepen their connections with one another and create a space for sharing life’s challenges and joys. The group welcomes women who are mothers to young children and grandmothers to adult children, women who are nurturers and women who are creators. Participation requires a commitment to attend regularly in an effort to foster a sense of community and connection. The group does not have a spiritual focus per se, but is a sacred space for nurturing relationships. Meetings are on Zoom on the first Sundays of the month at 2 PM and the third Sundays of the month at 12 PM. Leaders are Kirsten Pickus and Miriam Seneviratne.
Women’s Spirituality Book Group
The Women’s Spirituality Book Group meets monthly at Clara Watson’s home in Garden Grove. Participants are adult women who read a chapter or two of a book each month and meet to discuss spiritual issues in a small group environment. Members commit to regular attendance in an effort to foster a sense of community and comfort in sharing experiences. Group size is limited, and gatherings include a potluck meal, followed by a time of personal sharing and a discussion of the book chapters. Meetings are currently held on second Tuesdays at 6 p.m., though the meeting time and day is based on members’ availability. For more information, contact Clara Watson or Miriam Seneviratne.