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

The Pilgrim - January 3, 2016

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


I pray that your continued celebrations of the twelve days of Christmas are exciting and blessed. Before we gather this Sunday, we will bid farewell to 2015 and usher in 2016. The new year is always a good time to take some time to reflect on all that has happened in the year that has passed and to lift up our hopes, prayers, and (maybe even) a few resolutions for the upcoming year.

I hope that this week you will take some time to reflect on this year past. It might event be helpful to do this in writing. Here are some thoughts to consider:

  • What were the most memorable experiences of 2015?
  • When did you experience great joy?
  • When did you experience heartache, hurt, and difficulty?
  • What new relationships did you form in the past twelve months?
  • What are those things that you would do again in a heartbeat?
  • What are those experiences you would rather forget?
  • How have you experienced God’s presence with you this year?
  • Were there times when God seemed to be silent?
  • What are your hopes and dreams as we move into the new year?

This week we will look at the ways God calls us to look toward the past and journey with the assurance of God’s presence in the future.

John Forrest


Music on Sunday

The Sanctuary Choir will sing "Christian Open Up Your Door" by Stan DeWitt.


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education This Sunday

First Church Café

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade


"Gifts of the Generations" Sermon Series

Christmas Photos


Book Reading at St. Luke's

Long Beach Area Peace Network New Year's Eve Party

Drop-In-Center News

January Birthdays and Anniversaries

Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us

In Sunday School

Pre-K - 5 Topic: A Comforting Message
Jr. & Sr. High Topic: Pilgrims to Sacred Places

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




First Church Café This Sunday

It's the first Sunday of the month - time again for First Church Café, from Karen Cannon of Stars Catering. The cost for lunch is $9 for adults and $4 for children 10 and under.

All are welcome. If you or your family need financial assistance to be able to enjoy lunch, vouchers are available. A number of our boards will meet after lunch, but lunch is not just for board members.

Join us for a wubby winter family buffet, with just enough spice to refresh post-holiday tastebuds!

Chillin’ Chili Bar
Tasty turkey chili with a host of flavorful toppings: Fritos, shredded cheese, sour cream, crispy onions, crackers and green onions, with hot sauce on the side! Vegan chili too!

Ranch Salad
Crisp romaine, spinach and four-way lettuce with house-made ranch dressing, garlic croutons, cucumbers, tomatoes and black olives – gluten-free and vegan version also

Banana Trifle
Delicious layers of vanilla wafers, cinnamon whipped cream, fresh bananas,
ginger banana cake and more! Fresh fruit as well.

Iced tea, lemonade, and water


Mark Your Calendar and Save the Date!
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade - January 16

Every year First Church marches in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, and this year will be no different. Detailed information about how to join the First Church contingent will be coming soon, but for now, put it on your calendar. The parade will start at 10:30; we will gather prior to that.


Undecorating the Church - Also January 16

We will take down and pack up the Christmas decorations on Saturday, January 16 between 9 am and noon, and we will need help! If you're planning to go to the MLK Day Parade, you can come to the church first and undecorate for a while, then carpool over to the parade.


"Gifts of the Generations" Sermon Series
Sundays, January 17 - February 7

By the Rev. Elena Larssen

Baby Boomers … the Greatest Generation … Gen X … Millenials … the Digital Generation … More than ever before, long lifespans mean that multiple generations are living, working, and being church together. How are generations unique? How can they share their gifts with each other?

The Church, as an institution, brings different age groups together unlike any other part of society. This four-week series will look at ancient church of Corinth as an inspiration for today’s intergenerational church.

January 17: The Rev. Elena Larssen, preaching
January 24: The Rev. John Forrest Douglas, preaching
January 31: Elena Larssen and Mark Pettis, Duet Sermon 
Rev. Larssen and her spouse, the Rev. Mark Pettis, will preach together at FCCLB for the first time! Rev. Pettis serves at Manhattan Beach Community, UCC.
February 7: Quinquagesima! Annual celebration of Mardi Gras, with special music from recent decades. Come dressed as your favorite decade!


Christmas Eve at First Church
Pictures by Jim "Woody" Woods

Christmas Eve

See more on Woody's public Facebook page! (No Facebook account necessary.)


Fourth Sunday of Advent at First Church
Pictures by Jim "Woody" Woods

Fourth Sunday of Advent

See more on Woody's public Facebook page! (No Facebook account necessary.)


Pilgrim and Bulletin Deadline

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


Book Reading at St. Luke's Episcopal Church

To celebrate the release of their priest’s new book, If Only We Could See: Mystical Vision and Social Transformation, St. Luke's Episcopal Church is hosting a book reading and signing on Sunday, January 10, at 5 pm. All are invited to an engaging evening with Gary Commins, who will read passages from his book about "the intersection of the mystic path and the long road to social change." Light refreshments and drinks will be served.

Gary leaves St. Luke's at the end of January, so this will also be a farewell evening. Limited copies of the book will be available for purchase the night of the event, but feel free to bring your own copy for the author to sign. You can order your book from Amazon here. Please RSVP by Sunday, January 3, at this link.


Long Beach Area Peace Network

Long Beach Area Peace Network works to connect many of the social justice organizations in Long Beach. They have supported many of our projects over the years.  They are having their annual New Years in Havana awards to recognize folks who have done good works. FCCLB church member Bob Kalayjian is receiving one of those “Peacemaker” awards this year.


Drop-In-Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Urban Community Outreach has been in holiday mode, just as the rest of the community inhabitants! Of course that means different things to different people. However, most of the community has been feeling loving and generous at this time of year. They are the people who have been bringing gifts of new socks, underwear, scarves, hats, hygiene items, and sleeping bags. Also donations of gently used clothing, shoes, blankets, monetary gifts, and canned goods have rolled in to help us make the season special for our client guests. They have been so grateful! Heartfelt “thank yous” have been received countless times these last couple weeks as they’ve received the bounty!

Requests for help have been sincere and attached to a promise to do the things on their to-do list to make 2016 a better year for themselves and their families. I received a gift on Christmas Day when I spoke with one of our clients and he shared the good news that he now has a permanent full-time job and that this would be his last request for rental assistance. He is a determined young man with a beautiful wife and two children he wants to support with the things families need.

We have 10 families I can think of we are trying to help get on with life in a better, more secure way. Two of these are large families with six and seven kids. It is very hard to find affordable appropriate permanent housing for such large families. The third only has two older children and a working husband, but the income is still too low for housing in Long Beach. So we made a resume for the mother and will do all we can to help her find work to supplement their income so they can support their family. They have run out of relatives to stay with. I gave them some motel help and referred them to the City of Long Beach Multi-Service Center for the Homeless to seek Goodwill Job training for the mom. Another family has a young veteran struggling to get full time work and his spouse works full-time. The rest are single parents.

While some families are celebrating Christmas in a warm home with a Christmas tree and gifts, others are outside struggling to stay warm and find enough food till they can rise above their hurdles. Most have challenges because of lack of skills and parental role models and guidance to help them learn as a youth. They are the throw-away kids no one cared about and now they are adults with all kind of needs.

Thanks for your kind support so we can try to rectify the past lack of attention given to them and to teach them what it takes to make a go of it in the world on their own.
Happy New Year to you and please join me in prayers for a happy new year for those we serve!



January Birthdays

1 Richard Berryman, Charmaine Charles, Rene Quiroz
2 Debra Moore, Billie Pownall
4 Steve Crow
5 Jim Segura
9 Audrey Arnaut, James Penner, Matt Wilson
13 Chan Brainard
14 Ella Gulius, Sam Johnson
16 Dayne Navarro, Timothy O'Keefe
17 Chuck DeBruyn, Michael Gardner
18 Frances Reed
19 Laura McCrary, Marion Nguli
20 Dan Mahoney
21 Harold Kameya, Deanna Melzian, Margaret Mendenhall, Kirsten Pickus
22 Joyce Cannon, Madison Solem-Kuehl
23 Tina Datsko, Nancy Harris, Hannah Pearce, Cynde Soto
24 Louise Diefenbach
25 Richard Castle, Mary Flynn, Spicer Ramsay
26 Charleen Mullen, Chase Solem-Kuehl
29 Jim Comoe
30 Wally Hoeger


January Anniversaries

3 Margaret and Ken Jones, 19 years
3 Bret Witter and Anne Simoneau, 29 years
4 Loren and Dean Solem-Kuehl, 24 years
5 Ginger Heil and Larry Monahan, 3 years
10 Terry O'Neill and Dan Mahoney, 24 years
14 Julie Ford and Eillen Badilla, 10 years
14 Sara and Ken Schoenfelder, 32 years
26 Melody and Kevin O'Keefe, 36 years


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for the family and friends of Robert Garstang, Kirsten Pickus's uncle, who has passed away; the family and friends of George Pfrimmer, Rob Daniel's cousin, who has passed away; Harold Curtis; and John Duncan (Martha Duncan's brother).

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.


Online Calendar

Don't miss out! Check the online church calendar 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 more information.




Piccolo FlowersPiccolo Flowers

Piccolo Flowers provides the lovely flowers for our sanctuary
every Sunday at a very affordable cost.

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



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