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

The Pilgrim - August 14, 2016

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

Dear Church,

I am so pleased that Clayton Heard, a member of our congregation and recent graduate of Chapman University (a church-affiliated college), will be preaching this Sunday!

We welcome his perspectives on religion and the environment, and will hear his words as we sit under the Cranes of August which remind us of the human impact not just on human life, but on the natural world, as well.

Looking ahead to next week, First Congregational Church is hosting a powerful opportunity to learn and organize with CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice). In keeping with our past history of activism on behalf of hotel workers in Long Beach, we now turn our attention to questions about the safely of female workers and the unique vulnerability they experience as housekeeping staff. I will be the emcee of this panel, which takes place in our own Koinonia Room; this event may merit a “trigger alert” for survivors.

Claudia’s Law: Public Policy Briefing
Wednesday, August 17, 5:30 pm, doors open at 5
Refreshments provided; no cost
Parking: free event parking for church members in all spaces in the Potholder lot

In addition to questions about safe work loads, we will learn how sexual harassment is a reality for many hotel workers, especially women. CLUE provided the following data:

  • 85% of Long Beach’s hotel housekeepers are women.
  • According to recent studies, 82% of hotel employees have been subject to verbal aggression and incidents of “deviant customer actions” on the job.
  • Sexual assault victims in the hotel industry have reported “detrimental physical and psychological effects” including “anxiety ... sleep problems, weight loss, depression ... and nervous breakdown.”

CLUE is gathering people to ask the City of Long Beach to adopt a new policy that would provide safety measures for housekeeping staff, as follows:

  • Workers shall be provided with a portable panic button, and security should respond within three minutes.
  • Workers shall have a right to be re-assigned to an area other than the area where the assault occurred.
  • The hotel shall post signs alerting guests that workers have a panic button and are protected by law from sexual assault. Signs shall be posted in hotel guestrooms, bars, and hallways.

I’ll see you Sunday under the cranes!

The Rev. Elena Larssen

Clayton HeardClayton Heard recently graduated from Chapman University with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy and will be reflecting on several principles of "Deep Ecology" through personal  experiences and various faith perspectives. Throughout his education he has been involved in many local and international environmental causes, including meeting with Members of Congress with Citizens Climate Lobby, attending the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, organizing students in support of divestment from fossil fuels, and leading volunteer events in the Newport Back Bay. He is very excited to be giving his first sermon in the church that shaped many of his viewpoints today. 


In this issue

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Confirmation Information Meeting

Sunday School Clean-up Day

Sunday School Teachers Needed

Homecoming Concert

Music at the Aquarium

New Nursery Staff Member

Pilgrim Pines News

Claudia's Law Flyer

UCO Summer Snack Drive

Preservation Project

Antioch University Bridge Program

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

When it comes to social justice, you won’t find a much better song than “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. It’s been performed by many singers since its original release in 1964, and seems to be rediscovered by every new generation of singers. This is because even though we have made great strides in civil rights and other issues since the 60s, we still have work to do to create a world where justice prevails for all. This Sunday, we will hear from one of the voices of the future, our own Ben Bond, singing one of the great anthems of the civil rights movement. The service will also feature a duet by Carver Cossey and Aaron Palmer.

Finally, if you haven’t already made a note of it, First Church will be presenting Titanic the musical, November 12, 13, 19 and 20. We have been rehearsing for almost a month now, and I am amazed at how great the cast is! Many of our choir members and some of our congregation will be in the show, along with a dozen or so from the greater community. Most of you are probably not familiar with this musical, but take my word for it – it’s got a great score, and a moving story. I hope you will all try to come, and tell your friends – it will be a show not to be missed!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Faith: Against the Odds
Scripture: Hebrews 11:29-12:2

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




Confirmation Class Informational Meeting: August 21
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

Confirmation Class will begin in the fall for 9th- through 12th-graders. This ten-month course will provide a safe space for teenagers to explore our progressive Christian faith and consider the ways that faith may play a role in their life. An informational meeting will be held in Klar Rooms 1 and 2 on Sunday, August 21 at 11:30. Please email Rev. Douglas to RSVP.


CE/Sunday School Clean-up Day: September 10
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

Believe it or not, the 2016-2017 Sunday School year is right around the corner. We will kick off the regular program year on Homecoming Sunday (September 18). To start Sunday School on the right foot, we need to clean and organize the Sunday School classrooms. You are invited to come lend a hand on Saturday, September 10, from 10 am to noon. This is a great way to share a little time to support the CE programs of First Church. Email John Forrest to RSVP.


Sunday School Teachers Needed
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

The 2016-2017 program year is nearly here. We are in need of Sunday School Teachers for our children and youth programs. Would you be willing to teach? Please email Rev. Douglas if you would be willing to volunteer.


Homecoming Concert Celebration
Angelica Strings Quartet
Saturday, September 17, 7 pm

Come celebrate Homecoming with a wonderful concert on September 17! Sponsored by the Chuck Murphy and Al Barney Fund, this free event features the Angelica Strings quartet, a symphony-caliber group, playing Baroque favorites by Corelli, Vivaldi, and many more. The reception begins at 7 pm in the Kilsby Courtyard with beverages and desserts provided by your Board of Cultural Arts, followed by the concert at 8 pm in the Koinonia Room. We hope to see all of you there for an evening of musical classics!


First Congregational Church Spontaneous Meet-up for Summer Music at the Aquarium of the Pacific

The Board of Cultural Arts recommends that you create a spontaneous meet-up at the best kept summer secret for music lovers in Long Beach, Voices on the Veranda. Each Wednesday night, 6:30-9 pm at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, there is a terrific outdoor concert. Why not plan to meet up with members and friends of First Congregational Church to enjoy music together? (This is not a church-organized or sponsored event; just a good time to get together with friends.)

For $20 a ticket, you’ll have an up-close seat on a rattan couch on the aquarium’s veranda overlooking the Rainbow Lagoon. You’ll listen to a wonderful array of musical groups from Celtic, rock roots, and Latin instrumental to cool jazz. You’ll meet the musicians and even be able to enter the aquarium at night. The proceeds for the concerts go to educational programs for the aquarium.

To see the programs and purchase tickets for a concert, click here.

Here is the schedule for the rest of the month:

  • August 10 - Craic in the Stone - Celtic folk rock band named after the Irish expression for fun times
  • August 17 - The Americans - Original rock and roll with roots in traditional American music
  • August 24 - Quetzal Guerrero - Multi-instrumentalist and performer expressing passions for love, life, and dance with his voice, violin, guitar, and percussion
  • August 31 - Kiki Ebsen & Friends - Kiki Ebsen is an accomplished singer and songwriter and is known for her work with Christopher Cross, Wilson Phillips, Boz Scaggs, Michael Bolton, Tracy Chapman, Belinda Carlisle, and more.

Invite a friend to join you. Hope to see you there,
Paul Boyd-Batstone, Representing the Board of Cultural Arts


New Nursery Staff Member
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

Our prayers and well wishes go with Ginna Solano as she and her daughter, Sofia, move to be with family on the east coast. Ginna has been a wonderful part of our nursery childcare team over the past year.

This week we welcome Natalia Albinski-Euler to the nursery team. Natalia is known to us through her participation in the programs of Pilgrim Pines. She comes to us with extensive experience caring for young children and glowing references. We’ll let Natalia introduce herself:

Natalia Albinski-EulerHello! My name is Natalia Albinski-Euler and I'm thrilled to become a part of First Congregational Church of Long Beach. I connected with the church when I met Elena and John Forrest at Pilgrim Pines Camp while a counselor there this summer. I was so moved by their messages and could tell that they were a part of a wonderful community when they spoke about First Congregational. This past May I graduated from Marymount California University with a B.A. in Liberal Arts. I'm currently aspiring to become an elementary school teacher, and am planning on starting a credential program next summer. I was a teacher's assistant this past semester at Parmelee Avenue Elementary in Los Angeles and immediately knew teaching early elementary was my path! I also worked at Woodbury Preschool in Altadena, where I cared for children ages four months to five years. I've also been a babysitter for six years. I absolutely love working with children and the joy that they bring! I look forward to meeting you all personally! 


Pilgrim Pines Summer Camp Wrap-Up and New Activities!
By Tracy Halter-Balin

Summer Camp is now a just a memory for many of us at First Church – a wonderful one! The Outdoor Ministries Team would like to thank everyone involved for their support. From our summer camp staff, to our cooks in the kitchen, to all of our directors, counselors, and those behind the scenes making things happen, all sorts of memories and happiness were created with your help and support. Thanks to everyone for all of your efforts, and we hope to count on everyone to make things happen again next year!

And as we close this chapter for camp, several others are opened! Our next camp activity is a favorite for everyone: our Fall Fun for All! This amazing weekend involves both an Intergenerational Camp as well as Apple Pie Day, where you can spend an afternoon exploring Pilgrim Pines and greeting new and old friends on the mountain. Be sure to save the dates for Fall Fun for All - Friday, October 7 through Sunday October 9, with Apple Pie Day on October 8 - and watch for more information by email and for registration on our website soon!

Finally, we are excited to announce our Second Annual Camp Logo Contest! Our 2017 logo design competition is happening right now - all campers are invited to submit designs to pilgrimpinessummercamp@gmail.com by August 12. Designs should be in black/white and include the 2017 theme: “"Branching Out - Connecting through Christ."

Spread the word to friends; we'd love to have lots of great artwork to use in next year's brochure and publicity! Good Luck!


Claudia's Law

Claudia's Law flyer


UCO Summer Snack Drive
By Alison Morales, Urban Community Outreach

Greetings, Church! Urban Community Outreach is hoping you'll help us gather up some nourishing summer snack items for our weekly guests at the Drop-In Center. Suggested items would be peanut butter crackers, single serving tuna/cracker sets, and protein bars. These things can be easily found at local grocery stores and places like Dollar Tree. There will be a large box for donations in the narthex throughout August. We really appreciate your help!

peanut butter crackers     protein bars     tuna salad


Photos of the Preservation Project

Here are just a few of the photos Jim "Woody" Woods took when the east rose window was removed. See them all at Woody's Facebook page (no Facebook account required for viewing).

rose window removal

The east rose window, midway through the removal process.

window replacements

The amber replacement windows

One piece of the east rose window

One section of the east rose window, being prepared for transport


Antioch University Bridge Program Open House and Info Session
Wednesday, August 31, 6 pm
Klar Rooms 2 and 3

Antioch University is hosting an open house at First Church to showcase its Bridge program.

  • Open to potential interested students
  • Experience Bridge for one night.
  • Ask all your questions.
  • Complete an application.

The Antioch University Bridge program is preparing for the new academic year which runs October 2016 through June 2017.

Key points about the Bridge experience:

  1. Bridge is free
  2. Earn 12-15 college accredited units from Antioch University
  3. Written evaluation feedback ... no tests, no gradesNO TESTS - NO GRADES
  4. Judgement free zone – open to everyone
  5. Monday and Wednesday evening classes 6:30 – 9 pm
  6. Bus and train transportation support available
  7. Students to be able to read a paper in English
  8. Students income less than $25k annually

For further information, call 562-283-8553. Click here to download the application.


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

The first Sunday in August was full of happy blessings! Tim Stieg brought over the Employees Community Fund of Boeing gift of $3,000. By coincidence we had a team of nine Boeing employees volunteering Sunday, so it was a great picture opportunity! Some of our board members stopped after church to join in the gift-giving picture. Board members Teri Brewster and Martha Duncan were also helpful volunteers all day.

Thursday, August 4, we had a committee from Performance Team, a company from El Segundo, come to DIC bringing gifts for our program use. They donated a big new electric knife sharpener, a blender, some cutting boards, new knives and also small knife sharpeners. They stayed and worked with our staff cleaning out the pantry and walk-in refrigerator and sharpening our old knives. Some of the Performance Team staff come and help us in the kitchen almost every Sunday.

We placed a young single mother and her six-year-old son into an apartment on Saturday. What a joy to be able to do that! It is so hard to find affordable apartments. She has a new supervisory position, and when she starts getting paid it will help a lot. However, she was in a car accident last week and has a $1,400 car repair to pay for, or must buy another used car. So we are not out of the woods yet, but have made a great deal of progress!

This Sunday I was given a great picture of one of our Antioch Bridge Program graduates! He and his family are so proud. He would like to be a police dispatcher, and this will help him on his way to being eligible for that position.

Nurse Ann Herzog came and provided her services, and we gave out clothing and shoes that had been accumulating in our office and storage room. Nancy Valencia from DAYS Long Beach also gave us some children’s clothing left from a donation she received. The families were very grateful!

Our new staff people jumped right in and did a good job and we are very proud of them.

The FCC August donations of snacks and hygiene items are starting to come in and will be given out starting next week. Have a fantastic week!

Boeing and DIC

Tim Stieg from Boeing presenting the check to Urban Community Outreach on August 7, with nine Boeing employees volunteering and DIC Executive Director Arlene Mercer, and Urban Community Outreach Board Members Doug Emslie (President), Teri Brewster (Treasurer), and Martha Duncan.


Performance Team volunteering with the Drop-In Center


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 ...

... If you are going to see "Raiders of the Lost Ark" this Saturday at Verizon Amphitheater, look for our choir director Curtis Heard at the keyboard with the Pacific Symphony. The movie screening will be accompanied by a live orchestra.


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Tim Mountain upon the death of his father; Jim Heard (Curtis Heard's father); and Priscilla Norris (Teri Brewster's sister-in-law).

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.




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: office@firstchurchlb.org