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

The Pilgrim - September 11, 2016

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

This Sunday marks fifteen years since the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. How our world has changed in those 15 years! This Sunday, we will commemorate this anniversary with song and prayer. We will remember those who were killed and injured on that day, and we will consider the ways we learn from and move on after tragedy. Perhaps we have learned to move on all too well. This special service will feature the original poetry of our own Tina Datsko de Sánchez, a solo by Lisa Bode Heard, and interactive elements. I am happy to have the opportunity to plan and lead this service with the Rev. Katy Hyman. I hope that you will make plans to attend this week! 

The Rev. John Forrest Douglas


Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

For this Sunday’s remembrance of the 9/11 tragedy, the choir will be singing “The Awakening” by Gilbert Martin. This is a piece I have conducted several times in my career, but I never knew the actual story behind its composition until it was brought to my attention by one of our choir members, Scott Juhl. When the composer was in middle school, he found a home, as so many young people do, in the choir room, with his beloved music teacher, Doris Clark. She made the choir room a sanctuary for Gilbert and others from the violent streets of the inner city in which the school was located. During his final year at the school, following one of their concerts, his teacher was murdered in that very same room. “The Awakening,” written many years later, tells of Martin’s journey from utter anguish back to joy. It is a testament to the power of music to heal, and also paints music as a metaphor for life. In response to the tragedies of life, we owe it to the “Giver of Song” to “let music live!”

Lisa Bode Heard will be singing a solo this Sunday as well. She has selected the opening song from Spring Awakening, “Mama, Who Bore Me.” In the musical, the character who sings this song feels unprepared for the realities of life, just as none of us can ever be prepared for the senseless acts that wreak havoc on our sensibilities. Again, while there are no easy answers to today’s conflicts, we can always find solace in gathering as a community, singing and celebrating the power of music, and renewing our strength for our own personal journeys.

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Fauna and Flora Sunday
Scripture: Psalm 104:14-23

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


In this issue

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Cranes in September

Poet's Notes

From Our Senior Minister

From Our Organist

Teachers Needed

Teacher Orientation

Sacred Practices

Homecoming Concert

Register Children for Sunday School

Youth Go Kayaking

Pool Party for Kids

Concert to Celebrate with Temple Israel

Congregational Care Committee

QFilm Festival

Drop-In Center News


Parish Concerns

For more information

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us



The Cranes of August? It's September!
By Bob Kalayjian

Yes, the Cranes of August are still up and will be for the service this week remembering the events of 9/11. Elena asked that they be left up specifically for this service, and it seems fitting this expression of peace and our commitment to peace and non-violence be there on Sunday.

The cranes will come down on Sunday after the service and coffee, and all of you are invited to help with this closure of our offering for peace. Come to the balcony and send our cranes on to their next destination – the Todd Cancer Center at Long Beach Memorial – and their bringing of peace and healing to the patients there.


Poet's Notes
By Tina Datsko de Sánchez

This coming Sunday marks fifteen years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The following poem was originally written to commemorate 9/11 at its tenth anniversary. As part of our Service of Commemoration on Sunday, Worship & Arts Ministry Team Chair Robert Stapp has adapted the poem into a litany.


Together we remember, we commemorate,
the lives that were taken,
the souls that were taken.
They did not evaporate into air.
They are with us still
in the choice we make to remember,
to hold up with love and honor
those who died in two great glass towers,
who represented the world and its connections,
those who died at the Pentagon,
those who died on Flight 93
in sacrifice that others might live.

Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted.

We remember the heroism of firefighters,
seeing brotherhood and sisterhood in others
so clearly that they freely gave
their lives to protect others.

Blessed are the pure in heart:
for they shall see God.

We remember the acts of kindness,
those who baked cookies to show their love.
We remember the global mourning,
the declaration: “We are all Americans.”

Blessed are the merciful:
for they shall obtain mercy.

Standing in this place of remembrance
and honor, our hearts full,
not only with sadness but with hope,
we send forward our loving commitment
to live as peacemakers,
to seek always the path of peace,
the path of justice,
the path of love for our
sisters and brothers in every nation,
the path of forgiveness,
knowing that every time we open our hearts
to forgive, we are opening the door to God,
letting love pour in to push out
the poison of fear and pain.
Beating our swords into ploughshares,
we make the tools to live together in peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.


Jeff Williams, Elena Larssen, Larry ForesterFrom Our Senior Minister
By the Rev. Elena Larssen

I have been accepted to the Leadership Long Beach, year-long leadership development program; I will be in Big Bear this weekend for the mandatory orientation. I am pictured here with member Larry Forester and program director Jeff Williams. I am the only minister in this group of executives and am looking forward to connecting within Long Beach and its leadership circles on behalf of the congregation.


From Our Organist
By Dr. Marc Dickey

I am away this weekend attending the 21CMposium at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. I will be interacting with 300 emerging musical artists, seasoned administrators, out-of-the-box educators, and curious students at DePauw, engaging in conversation about our shared future as musicians.


Sunday School Teachers Needed

Sunday School teachers needed


Sunday School Orientation September 11
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

A brief Sunday School teacher orientation will be held in Klar 1-2 this Sunday, September 11, at 11:30. Those who plan to teach in the fall should make plans to attend.


Sacred Practices Meets September 14 at 7 PM
By Tina Datsko

Sacred Practices, founded by Bob Kalayjian, is a time for seekers to gather and share spiritual practices, including meditation, Taizé, yoga, chi gong, reiki, chant, ecstatic dance, poetry, etc. Everyone is welcome and no prior experience is required. The next gathering on Wednesday, September 14 at 7 p.m. in Sacred Space will feature guided meditation and reiki sharing led by Tina Datsko (plus tea and cookies).


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. We hope to see all of you there for an evening of musical classics!


Register for Sunday School

Register for Sunday School

Click here to register children for Sunday School.


Youth Go Kayaking September 18

Kayaing for Youth September 18


Pool Party September 24

Youth Pool Party September 24


Celebrate Our History with Temple Israel September 25

Concert with Temple Israel September 25, 4 pm


Join the Congregational Care Committee September 25
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

Are you interested in making caring visits, sending cards, making phone calls, or praying for members of our congregation? If so, please plan to attend a meeting of the Congregational Care Committee on Sunday, September 25, at 8:30 in the Pownall Room.

Men in Briefs

QFilm Festival: "Men in Briefs"

We’re excited to collaborate with the 2016 Long Beach QFilm Festival! On Sunday, September 11 at 12:30 pm, join us for a screening of “Men in Briefs” (men's short films) at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. Tickets on sale now at qfilmslongbeach.com!


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

On Sunday just under 200 people came for help because many had received checks that week. We served hamburgers with a special sauce and all the fixings in keeping with a festive Labor Day weekend. We gave out clothes and shoes for the kids for school and their parents too. Nurse Ann saw a lot of people.

I got to thinking about the “law of progress.” It always feels good to be making progress on what you are trying to accomplish. So I did a little assessing of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last six weeks. A few things came to mind. Because of our work three families have received school uniforms for the kids. We’ve been able to reunite three families and get them housed. Another abused woman moved out of Long Beach and hopefully is a safer distance from the abuser, and I communicate with her daily, helping her along.

We’ve bought books for a homeless college student, encouraged him to keep up the good work, and put him in touch with someone about housing. We gave nice clothes to a young lady for an interview and boosted up her self-esteem and she got the job! We gave transportation money to a man who needed to see a specialist about a huge hernia and hopefully he has had successful surgery. I haven’t heard yet.

We gave motel vouchers for a hard working mom with a disabled husband. The family has been sleeping in their car every other week because they don’t have enough money for an apartment till the father’s disability comes through.

These things do count. Though we have three families still waiting for apartments, we have been able to make progress in some other lives. May you have progress on the things you are trying to accomplish this week!


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 Logan Ernst (Joe Ernst & Jim Snelling's grandson); Dona Garrish (a friend of William Kuehl); and Carole Crawford (Cathy Flynn and Mary Flynn's mother).

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