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The Pilgrim - January 24, 2016

Faith and Film: FCCLB Boes to the Oscars!
February 7 to 29: Sundays, 8:30 a.m. and Mondays 7:30 p.m.

By the Rev. Elena Larssen

February is time for Faith and Film! This class with Rev. Larssen will analyze current, Oscar-nominated films for their theological themes and religious metaphors. The same film will be discussed on Sunday morning and Monday evening; see the movie on your own (or grab a friend from FCCLB) or if you have not, come ready to hear spoilers.

Come, listen, discuss!

February 7 and 8: The Big Short
In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting. Burry bets against the housing market by throwing more than $1 billion of his investors' money into credit default swaps. His actions attract the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and other greedy opportunists. Together, these men make a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America.

February 14 and 15: Carol
Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department store. The two women develop a fast bond that becomes a love with complicated consequences.

Feb 21 and 22: Spotlight
In 2001, editor Marty Baron of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter "Robby" Robinson, reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll and Sacha Pfeiffer interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

Feb 28 and 29: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. When a defector named Finn crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey (Daisy Ridley), a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last of the Jedi Knights.


In this issue:

Faith and Film

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

New Members Orientation

Warm Streets Coat Drive

Moderator's Moment

Note from Rev. Larssen

CCEJ Intercultural Interfaith Breakfast

Drop-In-Center News


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

I am often asked “how old are you?” by my students. My usual response is “why do you want to know?” or “old enough.” I like to keep my age a secret from them in order to maintain my aura of mystery, but I’ll confess to readers of this column that I am a Baby Boomer, albeit only by a few years. I haven’t read up on the generational theory literature like Elena, so maybe there is a special category for “cuspers.”

When it comes to music, however, I have found great inspiration from every generation, including those from previous centuries. (This is a big shout out to classical music!) That being said, I feel lucky to have been a teenager during the progressive rock/punk/new age era. My record collection included albums by the Beatles, Yes, Devo, Kansas, Boston, The Clash, and Elvis Costello, among others. Because I teach high school singers, I am exposed to a lot of music that they listen to, and I must say that a lot of it does not impress me. There are still good songs being recorded, but there’s also, in my opinion, a lot of garbage! I’m sure my parents felt the same way about some of the music I used to blast from my bedroom – there really is such a thing as a generation gap! I don’t write off any genres of pop music, though – in the words of Frank Pooler, my college choir director, “there’s only two kinds of music – good and bad!” I encourage my students to keep an open mind when it comes to what they like – familiarity often leads to greater enjoyment, and every style, just like every generation, has something to offer.

The musical selections you’ll hear from the choir and soloists during this series of worship celebrations are by no means meant to sum up or represent each generation. They are meant to evoke an era, stimulate good feelings, perhaps provoke some questions, and somehow relate to our worship service. Also, they were in the Wilson High School music library. This week, the choir, in honor of the Boomers, will sing “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” from the musical Hair, and for the Millennials, Carlos will sing “Everything Is Everything” by Lauryn Hill. See you Sunday!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Pre-K - 5 Topic: One Body, Many Parts
Jr. & Sr. High Topic: Proclaimed Jubilee

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




New Member Orientation - January 24 and 31

How long has FCCLB existed? What is a “BOCA”? How can this congregation be part of your life?

Learn more about FCCLB (“First Church”) at 11:30 am on January 24 or January 31 at in Booth Chapel, near the Sanctuary. The sessions are identical and will provide introductory information for those interested in joining FCCLB, or who simply want to learn more. New members will join during the service on Sunday, February 21.

Please RSVP to the office ( or 562-436-2256 x100), letting us know if you would like to come to the session on Sunday, January 24 at 11:30 a.m. or the one on Sunday, January 31 at 11:30 a.m.

Warm Streets Coat Drive

Warm Streets Coat Drive – Update
By Jenny Penner

Thank you all so much for your generous donations to Warm Streets Coat Drive! To date, I have taken five loads of coats from our bin over to the Drop-In Center. They and the people they serve are very grateful.

The last time I dropped off coats, I was able to chat with someone to ask about any other specific needs they have for items to donate. She expressed that they could really use items that are waterproof - jackets with a waterproof outer layer, or ponchos (you can sometimes find these at the dollar stores!), or umbrellas.


Moderator's Moment
By Tim Mountain

Happy New Year! I want to thank you all for the opportunity to serve as your Moderator for 2016. I will try my best to be present for the after-service Coffee Hour each Sunday to greet everyone, especially those visiting First Church. You are welcome to contact me anytime you have a question or concern about our faith community. My email address is or you are welcome to call my cell/home number at 916-281-8089. I welcome your input.

This last Sunday I was delighted to be able to, with the help of Curtis Heard, present the Herrington Pathfinder award. Later this month I will be meeting with many of you to discuss the issues of First Church at the monthly Church Council meeting. I am really enjoying the sermon series on the generations and hoping to be able to invite friends to come hear them. See you in church.


A Note from Rev. Larssen about Rick Mills

Rick Mills and David Cavanaugh have asked me to share difficult news with you; Mr. Mills’s cancer prognosis is very serious, and he has been given nine months life expectancy.  While they appreciate your good thoughts and prayers, please direct any correspondence to Mary Flynn (in the directory), as they are not ready to receive calls or cards at this time. Thank you for your sensitivity, and for your caring thoughts for these dear friends of First Church.


California Conference for Equality and Justice
25th Annual Interfaith Intercultural Breakfast
Wednesday, February 24

Long Beach Convention Center
Registration and Boutique: 6:45 - 7:30 am
Program and Breakfast: 7:30 - 9 am
Boutique and Book Signing: 9 - 9:30 am

The keynote speaker will be Prof. Margaret Burnham, the founder of Northeastern University School of Law's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, which engages students in legal matters relating to the 1960s U.S. civil rights movement. In 2010, Professor Burnham headed a team of outside counsel and law students in a landmark case that settled a federal lawsuit: Prof. Burnham's team accused Franklin County Mississippi law enforcement officials of assisting Klansmen in the kidnapping, torture and murder of two 19-year-olds, Henry Dee and Charles Eddie Moore.

Please join us at the First Church tables! Tickets are $40. To reserve your space, contact the office: or 562-436-2256 x100.

CCEJ - 25 Years Under One Sky


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday the 17th was a third Sunday of the month, so Dr. Sophia and the HOPE students from CSDH came down to help us. It was lucky Dr. Sophia was here as we had two people who had nasty cuts that needed attention.

The colleges and universities aren’t back in school yet and so the volunteer numbers for the day were low. However, Teer Strickland gathered up friends and neighbors and brought out a crew of 15 adults and children to help us. Though we didn’t have many volunteers we hurried and gave out the warm jackets you at FCC had collected for us. They were really thankful! We thank you too for being so thoughtful!

We had some good news from one of our men: he was hired at the LA Convention Center. He doesn’t get paid for two weeks though, so we helped with bus and train fare so he could go up to LA.

One of the young single moms we helped go into an apartment got sick, was hospitalized, and couldn’t work for two weeks. This cut her paycheck and she couldn’t cover utilities, so we helped with that. She also needed lamps and small tables for her apartment, and we were able to give her those too. She was really happy.

We had a visit from a young man and his partner who had come out from the east coast in search of good weather. However, to their dismay they found that things are expensive here and it’s not as easy to find work as they thought. One partner’s mom sent money for the flight home for him. But one of them is stuck here and homeless till he can find work and save up for his plane fare back. I gave him information on places he could get food and shelter and possibly some assistance with his trip to the east coast. He is a massage therapist and has food service experience too. If you know of job openings, let me know.

We are pleased with our growth in 2015 and all we’ve been able to do to change lives. Thank you for your support that helps make it possible!


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 the Ludwig family upon the death of Father Gordon (Ruth Keller's uncle); 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: