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

The Pilgrim - August 28, 2016

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

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to announce that we will be celebrating our interfaith partnership with Temple Israel this fall!

On Sunday, September 25 at 4 pm, the Music Departments of First Congregational and Temple Israel will join together to present a celebration in music to recognize our sixty-year history of connection and collaboration.

It was in 1956 that, after a year of planning, Temple Israel came to hold their High Holy Days services at First Church. Generations of young people grew up at Temple Israel thinking of First Church as their spiritual “home away from home” and loving our windows, organ, and welcome. Now, this Reformed Jewish congregation has significantly rebuilt their Belmont Shores facility, including an expansive space that will accommodate the biggest crowds of the year, at High Holy Days.

But Temple Israel has continued to spend time with us, serving Christmas Day lunch to our Drop-In Center friends and clients every year. In fact, everyone attending the concert will be asked to bring canned goods to supply the Drop-In Center’s chef.

Would you like to help with this special event? If so, please meet me in the Koinonia Room at 11:30 on Sunday – after the service – and we will begin our discussion of how to make sure this event is a highly-attended celebration of interfaith friendship and collaboration.

I am also pleased to welcome a familiar face to the pulpit this Sunday! The Rev. Katy Hyman, a member of our congregation and ordained United Church of Christ minister who coordinates the Palliative Care program at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, will join me in preaching a dialogue sermon about a topic that is stirring conversation among our clergy peer group: in today’s changing world, how shall churches minister to polyamorous families? It’s a topic that may fall outside the comfort zone for some but will address the lives of some of our own members, so I invite you to bring your brain and heart to worship and we will join the dialogue as a congregation. I believe that church is a place for caring people to come together and share their perspectives in a safe and respectful environment, and am glad to have Rev. Hyman join me this Sunday!

The Rev. Elena Larssen


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Youth News

Apple Pie Day & Fall Fun 4 All at Pilgrim Pines

UCO Summer Snack Drive

Antioch University Bridge Program Open House

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

The word “fight” has at least three definitions: 1. to use physical force to try to defeat another person or group of people, 2. to use a lot of effort to defeat or achieve something, or stop something from happening, and 3. to argue. In a perfect world, the last two definitions would be the only definitions. Arguments can lead to greater understanding and peaceful resolution. “Fighting for what you believe in” is a noble effort, but sadly, we don’t all believe in the same things, which can lead to definition number one. I am proud that at First Church, we strive to educate all of our congregation in the ways of peace and justice, and encourage the “good” fight through non-violent means. This Sunday, Lily Penner and Lisa Bode Heard will be singing “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, a double platinum hit from 2015. Hearing the positive lyrics from two generations of singers will encourage all of us to keep up the good fight and join in the refrain: “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me!”

Also singing this Sunday will be Tina Datsko de Sánchez. She’ll be doing an arrangement I wrote of “Morning Has Broken.” See you on Sunday!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: In Your Place! What Place?
Scripture: Luke 14:1, 7-14

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




Youth News
By Tracy Halter-Balin

Lily Penner was recently chosen as a member of the 2016 Youth Round Table, the youth leadership organization of our SCNC-UCC Conference. The Youth Routh Table is comprised of youth grades 9-12 and adult advisors from the four different associations of our conference. Congratulations, Lily!


Apple Pie Day and Our Fall Fun 4 All Intergenerational Camp Are Coming
By Tracy Halter-Balin

Come help us celebrate the exciting news that the long-standing Pilgrim Pines mortgage has been paid off during the upcoming Fall Fun 4 All. The dates for Intergenerational Camp (Family Camp) are Friday, October 7 through Sunday, Oct 9. If you can only join in for Saturday, Apple Pie Day, that's great too. We'll have a yummy lunch, fun activities, Summer Camp Volunteer Appreciation and a grand thank you ceremony for the churches that helped make the mortgage burning a possibility!

Registration information will be available very soon - stay tuned. And feel free to find me if you have any questions. Thanks!


UCO Summer Snack Drive
By Alison Morales, Urban Community Outreach

Thank you, Church! Urban Community Outreach is so grateful for the nourishing summer snacks you've been donating this month. We are collecting throughout August. Suggested items are 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 is a large box for donations in the narthex. We really appreciate your help!

peanut butter crackers     protein bars     tuna salad


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

Bridge Open House


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

On Sundays at our Urban Community Outreach Drop-In Center you will see quite a cross-section of humanity. Taxaudit.com employees came early bearing gifts: huge boxes of backpacks filled with hygiene items, and also some gently used clothing. Now they had come to share, not only of the items, but of themselves as volunteers willing to do any task. They hauled things, chopped, cooked, and sorted. It was evident they truly wanted to help!

One of our previously homeless women who comes to volunteer now still must live on a tight budget, but she wanted to help too. She insisted I take a $10 donation to pay us back for times when she had to ask for bus fare.

A veteran’s wife came to ask for help in finding an apartment. Her husband suffers from PTSD and she suffers from mental health issues too.

We saw families who shared a lot of love among them, and we saw disjointed families pulling in several directions.

We saw those who really wanted off the streets and helped them set some goals and steps how to get there.
We saw a handsome elderly gentleman who said he used to know the Pattersons after whom our Patterson Hall is named. It makes you wonder what happened to bring him to the status he is in. He is homeless. I reminded him that the cold weather is coming and I’d like to help him seek shelter. He told me he never is cold. He just bundles up in a blanket and puts a sheet of plastic over the blanket. He is one who is not eager to find housing like most of them are. He wore a mint green dress shirt and had a huge white pearl stickpin in the shirt collar. He had a class of his own and he smiled broadly.

The Curtis and Lisa Bode Heard family made their usual wonderful donation of a batch of plump, gorgeous brownies they had hand baked for our volunteers to eat while they worked.

I think the thing most evident in that room was love and caring hearts. We went to new heights to be a supporter of those needing a boost! Be it a former homeless person giving back or volunteers of good means wanting so desperately to make a difference.

We looked different, but somehow we all were kin.

Taxaudit.com volunteers

Volunteers and donations from Taxaudit.com


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 ...

... Jonathan Fowler, son of Chuck Fowler, married Lisa Marie McCarthy on August 6th.  The ceremony took place in Babylon, Long Island, NY.  The couple honeymooned in Florida. Jonathan is a professor at St. John's University.


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Marylyle Martinson (Ruth Keller & Larella Hendon's neighbor); Priscilla Norris (Teri Brewster's sister-in-law); Janet Waggoner; Matthew Duncan (Martha Duncan’s brother); Jerry Blum (Georgette De Bruyn’s friend’s husband); and Therese (Judy Crawford’s college roommate).

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