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

The Pilgrim - January 17, 2016

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

Dear Church, 

What’s your generation?

This Sunday is the beginning of our Winter Sermon Series: Gifts of the Generations. Are you a Boomer, or a G.I.? Maybe you’re a Silent or an Xer. Perhaps you’re a Millennial, or a young Homelander.

Generational theory holds that cohorts of people born in the same time period are shaped by historical patterns and events, with the result that people born in cohorts together share experiences and characteristics. I have found generational theory helpful in my ministry, as congregations hold more generations in one setting than is typical in our culture. Think about it … often, we are segmented - either intentionally or casually - by age: in school, by hierarchies in business and military. The places where age groups come together are very special, and our church is such a place.

The goal of this series is to gain some inspiration and insight: what perspective does our intergenerational community have to give to the wider world? How can we communicate across generations in an appreciative way? To draw on the wisdom of our faith tradition, we will be studying the Epistles to the Corinthians … ancient, first-century congregations that worked to bring together diverse people, just as we do today.

It must be said that generational theory is, by design, extremely generalized. Many people are exceptions to the generational categories, or find the categories clichéd or representative of privileged cultures. These are important factors to remember: not every person or every cultural group finds themselves shoehorned neatly into a cohort. Your personal reaction to “your generation” is valid and interesting; do you fit the general category, or not? Why? What unique aspects of your story are parts of the big historical picture?

This weekend, as we celebrate the gifts of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and generations of civil rights luminaries, let us remember that both the future and the past call us work together for justice and to live with loving kindness for all people.


The Rev. Elena Larssen


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade


Women's Retreat

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration

New Boiler Coming

Drop-In-Center News


Church Mouse

Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

This Sunday the choir will sing "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," by Irving Berlin. This song is from 1952, and it was part of the Fred Waring Choral Series. We sing it in honor of the Silent Generation. Lisa Bode Heard will be our soloist this Sunday.

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Pre-K - 5 Topic: Water to Wine
Jr. & Sr. High Topic: Overflowing Love

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



Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade – Saturday, January 16
By Vicki Doolittle

Martin Luther King, Jr.“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade is fast approaching! First Church has participated for many years and this will be no exception. “Infinite Hope” is the inspiring theme of this year’s march, and everyone is encouraged to join us on Saturday, January 16. The march begins at 10:30 am, and for those who will be driving, park in the lot at Long Beach City College-Pacific Coast Campus at 1305 East Pacific Coast Highway. The First Church contingent usually gathers on Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., near Anaheim Street, at the beginning of the parade. There will be members of the Board of Social Justice to welcome you and help you find your way. Please plan to meet around 9:30 – 10 am and help with the preparations - blowing up balloons, distributing signs, and entertaining the children! If you have questions or show up on Saturday and can’t find us, you can call these members of the Board of Social Justice: Chris Bobo 562-547-9032, Vicki Doolittle 562-714-2236, or Donna Hutt Stapfer Bell 310-427-5903.

Dr. King has always been for me the embodiment of infinite hope in the face of daunting challenges and grave disappointments. We at First Church have an opportunity to honor his legacy and further his work for justice and peace by joining in the march on Saturday. I hope to see you there.


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.


Women's Retreat - Save the Date!
By Deb Moore

This year's Women's Retreat will be March 11-13 at Pilgrim Pines. More information will be coming soon. I hope you can join us!


24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith & Intercultural Celebration

Sunday, January 17, 3 p.m.
Keynote Speaker: Bobbie Smith
Gospel Memorial Church of God in Christ
1480 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90813
Gospel Music * Interfaith Litany * Community Reception

Bobbie Smith is an African American leader who made noteworthy differences in the racial history of Long Beach. She was born in Mississippi in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression and the height of the Jim Crow era. But Bobbie Smith did not interpret her heritage as a misfortune, but instead calls it a blessing because it taught her about surviving the most impossible odds. She became the first African American Long Beach City College Librarian, the first African American LBCC Head Librarian, and the first African American LBCC Faculty Senate Member and President. The Long Beach Unified School District board voted unanimously in 2014 to recognize Bobbie Smith by naming a school in her honor. A dynamic role model to all, she is celebrated today as a pioneering civil rights leader who broke through racial and gender barriers and persevered to open up opportunities for those who came after her in education, social service, civil rights, public service, and community building.


Hot News!

The church's new boiler will be installed next week, so just one more Sunday to bundle up! We should have heat back in the sanctuary on Sunday, January 24.


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

Since the horrible El Niño storms have begun to arrive, there is a great sense of urgency to get the families into housing. They can’t go to the winter shelter as that is just for individual adults. Weeks and weeks of housing them in motels waiting for things to happen is just prohibitively expensive! We also have those with mental issues who feel they can’t go into the congregate type of shelter. Both the families and the mentally ill are so sincerely just crying for a roof over their heads. I so wish I could have enough apartments for everyone! It’s a painful situation to not have enough resources for them.

People are trying to give all they can give us and do what they can do to try to help those out in the cold. Denso has been generous again. They brought us 100 bags full of hygiene items. They quickly were offered to the Sunday guests and were scooped up.
Love in the Mirror came by with clothing again. The word is out that we need jackets and blankets. Each week they trickle in and are given out. Everyone, please keep those coming! 

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Domina Smith, came early and stayed late as she knew we were short of staff. The final number of unduplicated volunteers who volunteered in 2015 is in and that number is 1,711 volunteers! 2014 saw a jump in the number and this year it is even higher!  However, when the students are on break and are gone, we still get short on volunteers!

Other good news is that paperwork is progressing on an apartment for one of our families. Section 8 has approved the apartment and will come to inspect soon. I will sign the paperwork today for First Five for her too so she gets the deposit for it. If anyone knows of any apartments available please let me know. I have just been made aware that we have first choice on an apartment renting for $1,300. This can house a family with up to three children or be shared by two unrelated people as it has two bedrooms. Of course they have to have enough income to afford the rent.

We are working on furniture and household item sorting to make the best use of our storage space. We could use a couple of people to help this Friday, January 15, at 10 am. If you can move couches around or have a truck available, let me know.

Best wishes for you and your family to weather the storms safely!



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.




Church MouseThe Church Mouse has heard ...

... Dottie Polsey has just become a great-grandmother! Congratulations!


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Harold Sutherland's mother; Jim Snelling; and Rick Mills.

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: