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

The Pilgrim - January 10, 2015

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

Dear Church, 

Happy Epiphany! Today is the 12th day of Christmas, and this celebration marks the aspect of the Christmas story when the magi visit the Holy Family with gifts; indeed, we have experienced the gift of a full and rich Christmastide at First Church. We even had our own “partridge in a pear tree” in the form of an enterprising pigeon who made her way into my study via the chimney! Epiphany turns us from the feasts of Christmas and confetti of the New Year toward the ongoing work of the church, to our year-round commitments of justice and community. To engage us in important upcoming events, today’s lead article is by Chris Bobo for the Board of Social Justice and Outreach. 


The Rev. Elena Larssen


Mobilize First Church! Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade - January 16
By Christopher Bobo

Martin Luther King - Infinite HOpe


In this issue:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade Next Saturday

Music This Sunday

Faith Fair in Sunday School

Undecorating This Saturday

From the Associate Minister

Taize at St. Luke's

Drop-In-Center News


Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us


“Marches must continue in the future, and they must be the kind of marches that bring about the desired result. But the march is not a ‘one shot’ victory-producing method. One march is seldom successful … it can serve merely to let off steam and siphon off the energy which is necessary to produce change … when marching is seen as a part of a program to dramatize an evil, to mobilize the forces of good … and to generate pressure and power for change, marches will continue to be effective.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom

The theme of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade is Infinite Hope. We at First Church embody infinite hope and so have turned out a large contingent for the MLK, Jr. Day Parade every year since I joined the church in 2008. As Bob Kalayjian has said, we should not lose hope, succumb to disappointment, or fail in the trials of life! In one’s struggles to negotiate the trials of life, having infinite hope in the face of disappointments, while not an easy thing to do, will result in achieving worthwhile goals when all is said done, if one only stays the course!

One thing about First Church is that we stay the course! Participating in the MLK, Jr. Day Parade is a magnificent way to express our commitment to social justice. The march begins at 10:30 a.m. and lasts for about twenty minutes. If you’re driving, park in the lot at Long Beach City College-Pacific Coast Campus located at 1305 East Pacific Coast Highway. First Church usually gets an assembly point on Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave somewhere near Anaheim Street, at the front of the parade. Those planning to participate in the march should gather with the First Church contingent between 9:30 and 10. We should have some folks from the Board of Social Justice there around 9, so there will be members of the Board of Social Justice to welcome you and let you know where we are in the line. We will be the group blowing up balloons, receiving children and raising the rainbow balloon arch.

If you’re planning to attend but have question, or if you’re at the parade and wandering around lost, you can reach members of the Board of Social Justice at the following numbers: Chris Bobo 562-547-9032, Vicki Doolittle 562-714-2236, or Donna Hutt Stapfer Bell 310-427-5903.

Last but not least, if you’re thinking about sitting this march out because you believe it will leave you hungry, thirsty and tired, rest assured that the Board of Social Justice will provide refreshments and water. And for those who want to hang out at the park at the end of the march, there will be church family to hang out with, food booths of every variety, informational kiosks, and entertainment to nourish you on the way to peace, justice and joy.

Hope to see you there!


Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

Happy New Year and all good things! (Thanks to Stan DeWitt’s anthem, which the choir sang last Sunday, I’ll probably include the appendage “and all good things” whenever I say “Happy New Year” from now on!) I hope that the beginning of 2016 has been good to you so far, and if not, that things will improve shortly. The choir folders, as I write this article, are empty, but will soon be filled with music for the next few months of worship services, including a celebration of the various generations that make up our congregation. If you’ve been thinking about joining the choir, this would be a great time to do so, because we’ll all be learning new music, or at least re-learning old favorites.

This Sunday, Epiphany Sunday, we’ll be singing, appropriately, “An Epiphany Prayer” by Gilbert Martin. The text, by 19th-century poet John Mason Neale, beseeches God to grant us a pure heart, so that even though there may be no star to guide us, we may still find the Divine in our midst. May 2016 prove to be a fruitful year for you, wherever you are on life’s journey!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School - Faith Fair
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

This Sunday our children and youth will gather in the Ramsay Dining Hall together during the Sunday School hour (beginning after the Time with Our Children) for the second Faith Fair. Through crafts, story, and snacks, participants will learn about the faith and practices of our Muslim neighbors. In addition to learning about the Islamic faith, they will be creating cards of support and love that will be sent to mosques in our area during this time of increasing Islamophobia and vilification of the Muslim community. Families with children and youth should make a special effort to attend this important event. 


Adult Education
Sundays at 8:30 am in Klar Room 1, upstairs in Pilgrim Hall




Undecorating the Church - This Saturday, 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.


From the Associate Minister

Dear Church, 

Greetings from rainy Carefree, Arizona. This week I am attending a continuing education event in conjunction with my participation in the Next Generation Leadership Initiative, a program of the Pensions Board of the United Church of Christ. As a part of this program, I have the privilege of being a part of a cohort of young clergy who serve local churches throughout the UCC. My learning this week is focused on the importance of family systems theory and the ways a deeper understanding of myself can enhance my functioning as a minister. In addition to those learnings, it is always refreshing to have the opportunity to spend time with colleagues. I just wanted to write this note to say that I am exceedingly grateful for the ways that you support my personal and professional growth. See you Sunday. 

John Forrest


Taizé at St. Luke's

Taize at St. Luke's


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

A new year is here! It came gently with 100 backpack gifts of love and concern from Colin Geer and his fifth-grade book club and an angel of a nurse caring for those who can’t care for themselves.

It brought a computer lab full of seekers and all enjoyed chicken enchiladas with beans and rice, vegetable soup, fruit salad, and dessert. I hear that volunteer June Board made a wonderful iced tea flavored with fresh lime. It was all so good we had many guests saying how much they enjoyed the meal and beverage.

It brought two families, working with us, motel shelter with our vouchers. One family is about to move into a permanent apartment next week and one family has a way to go yet. But we won’t rest till they too are going home. We are working to get job training and a resume for the mother so she can help shoulder some of the living costs. The father already has a full-time, responsible job, but just is not making enough money for housing in Long Beach, and their family is tired of squeezing them into their already tight quarters. Love in the Mirror brought more socks and hygiene items and distributed them a second week.

UCO’s Alvin Lim, who manages the demographics, IT Manager Kyle Kawakami, Terry Mercer, the Volunteer Data Base Manager, and I worked on a year-end report to be given to the Ahmanson Foundation and others. It wasn’t a big surprise to find that we have grown in the services we provide, the number of volunteers and volunteer hours given, the number of community partners we work with, and for the first time we have placed people in permanent housing with case management and services! 2015 has definitely been a year of growth and good things for Long Beach people!

Happy New Year! I’m breathless with anticipation of what, with your help, we will be able to bring to the community in 2016!



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.




Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Jim Snelling; Rick Mills; 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.



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