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

Handprint in multiple colorsThe Pilgrim
September 18, 2016

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

Dear Friends,

If you can dream it, you can do it.

That’s what Walt Disney said, as he created a company based on the power of imagination.

But imagination is more than a tool; it is also a spiritual practice – a way to be a community.

This is the year when we will imagine:

Preserving Our Legacy ... as we restore our beloved stained glass windows
through the shared generosity and vision of our whole congregation.

Bringing Titanic the musical to our broader community, uplifting the value of our historic landmark building and the outrageous talent that lives here.

Immersing ourselves in the questions raised by Black Lives Matter, and empowering our community to respond to mental health crisis through the work of our Board of Social Justice and Outreach.

It’s time to come to church on Sunday mornings, returning from vacations and the hustle and bustle of the school year beginning. And remember, you don’t have to be perfect to come to church, because no one else here is perfect, especially the preacher! We get together to imagine the peace of God infusing our lives and the wider world with wholeness and justice, so no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

Because with God’s inspirational love, we can dream it and we can do it,

The Rev. Elena Larssen


In Sunday School

Theme: Storm Sunday
Scripture: Psalm 29

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


In this issue:

Christian Education

First Church Café

Moderator's Moment

Poet's Notes

CROPWalk for Hunger

Teachers Needed

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

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




First Church Café This Sunday

First Church Café celebrates Homecoming! The cost for lunch is $9 for adults and $4 for children 10 and under.

All are welcome. If you or your family need financial assistance to be able to enjoy lunch, vouchers are available. Here is the menu, from Karen Cannon of Stars Catering:

“People of the Pineapple”
The pineapple, a symbol of heartfelt welcome and hospitality, traveled from the Caribbean to Europe and back to the Colonies, and is still cherished today as a sign that the door is open to all, food and drink is ready, and the family is gathering! Truly welcoming all, First Churchers are the People of the Pineapple.

Chopstick Chicken Salad
Mixed greens with teriyaki chicken, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, mushrooms crispy noodles ... pineapple!
and more in a soy ginger dressing

Hawaiian Rolls with turkey, cheese and lettuce
Mayonnaise and mustards on the side
Lunchbox PB&J’s

Tropical Cole Slaw
Crisp cabbage and carrots with cilantro, crunchy peanuts and … pineapple!

LBP Pasta Salad
Created for the Poly football team, it’s mac ‘n cheese pasta salad, with elbow macaroni, celery, green onions, diced ham and shredded cheese in homemade ranch dressing – yum!

All American Potato Salad

Piña Colada Cake plus Pineapple Dump Cake with whipped cream
Triple fudge brownies, toffee blondies, piroulines, macaroons and more

Iced tea, lemonade, tropical pineapple punch, and water


Moderator's Moment
By Tim Mountain

Happy New Year! Yes, that’s right, the church’s new program year starts this Sunday, September 18, with Homecoming Sunday. I hope you all will make a special effort to be there and invite neighbors and friends too. It is always a memorable moment to start off a new year of efforts to expose the wider-community to a good dose of radically inclusive love.

These efforts include our Sunday School classes, Drop-In-Center, and various programs such as DAYS Long Beach and Pride that we participate in. To help things get off to a great start, come join us as we get ready for Homecoming by sprucing up the courtyard and preparing the Sanctuary on Saturday, September 17 starting at 10 am. Later that same day come and enjoy an evening concert sponsored by BOCA at 7 pm.  There is so much to enjoy and be involved with. See you in church.


Children and Youth Music Groups Are Back!
By Tracy Halter-Balin

Calling all children and youth! You are cordially invited to check out the groups listed below and see which one interests you. Just show up and see how much fun we have! Sign-up sheets will be available for the following groups at our Homecoming breakfast at 9 am.

  • All Seasons Choir rehearsals are on Sunday mornings from 9 to 9:25 in the Choir Room and the group is geared for children in Kindergarten (starting age can be flexible) through sixth grade. We learn some basic music skills and have fun singing all kinds of songs. We’ll start rehearsals on September 25.
  • The Charming Chimes rehearse on Sunday mornings at 9:30 in the downstairs youth music room. We’re looking for children from Kindergarten to fifth grade. Matt is so excited to get started on some new songs and beginning note reading! Our first rehearsal will be after All Seasons Choir on September 25.
  • Beloved Bells will be joined with our youth ZONE program on the first and third Sunday afternoons of each month and will rehearse at 5 pm in the Youth Music Room. This will be before our combined junior high and senior high dinner time. Regular attendance is required, and there are a few opportunities for performances outside of the regular Sunday mornings. There may also be some extra rehearsals based on our schedule. These will be right after church at 11:15 am. Dates TBA. This group is for sixth-graders through high school seniors.

We will also be rehearsing this fall for our Christmas Eve pageant and look ahead to another spring musical.

I’m looking forward to another terrific year of music, laughter and fellowship with you! If there are any questions, come see me or Matt this Sunday at our Homecoming breakfast.


Poet's Notes
By Tina Datsko de Sánchez

As your Poet in Residence, I am honored to be part of such a vibrant creative community here at the corner of arts and justice. For our Homecoming Sunday service, the Worship and Arts Ministry Team has collaborated with our ministers, the Rev. Elena Larssen and the Rev. John Forrest Douglas, to develop a fresh and imaginative approach to the liturgy. Team members include Mel White, Tim Mountain, Robert Stapp, Harold Sutherland, Tina Datsko de Sánchez, Curtis Heard, Christi Gomoljak, and Alison Mitchell.

The service includes a new musical composition by Director of Music Curtis Heard. This choral introit is a setting of one of my “Thirty-One Poems of Gratitude.” The choir will also be singing Curtis’s anthem based on my poem “Coming Home to Our Better Selves.” Both poems appear below.

Beloved, in morning stillness you are here.
Precious clouds diffuse the sun,
making soft and gentle your brilliance.

Jade green palm fronds ripple beckoning fingers.
A world of peace and joy awaits the attentive,
all whose hearts well sweetly with gratitude.


Coming home to community,
we come home to our better selves.
Coming together as community,
we can live as our better selves.

Creator, teach us forgiveness, teach us
the healing power of reconciliation.
Let your love pour out as a balm,
cleansing the old wounds,
releasing the poison of fear and hate.

Creator, teach us unity, teach us
to mourn with children of God in every nation.
Help us to learn from the heroes
who see brotherhood and sisterhood in others
and freely give their lives to save others.

Creator, teach us to build a better world,
teach us to work for justice.
Help us to live as peacemakers,
beating our swords into ploughshares,
creating the tools to live together in peace.


First Church to Join 40th Anniversary Long Beach Area CROPWalk for Hunger
By Dale Whitney, 2016 Long Beach CROP Hunger Walk Chair

Believe it or not, we have been participating in this annual community event since 1976, when FCC Senior Minister David Reed was the Walk Chair and I was just one of the foot soldiers - and I like that turn of phrase since "We Walk Because They Walk" is one of the recurring mottoes of the CROP Hunger Walks nationally, beginning in Bismarck, ND, in 1969.

This year's Long Beach event will occur on Sunday, October 23, with a 2:30 pm start time, beginning and ending at St. Joseph's Catholic Church at 6180 East Willow. It will be just a 5K course (about 3 miles) and as usual we will be looking for both walkers and sponsors (funders!) as that day approaches.  Here's how the walk will look at First Church this year:

1) Starting next Sunday, September 18 and every Sunday through walk day, there will be a sign-up table at the coffee hour where you can sign up to be either a walker or a sponsor or both. First Church will walk as a team, and sponsors can support either an individual walker, the FCC team, or just the Long Beach walk itself. Ordinarily, as in previous years, walkers will be issued donation envelopes for you to contribute to right when you are contacted by the walker, and not afterwards as it was for many years.  There will be helpful information at that table as well, including What Is Church World Service? and What Local Charities Are Benefitted? You will be happy to know that our own Urban Community Outreach (i.e., Homeless Drop-In-Center) has been added this year.

2) There is another whole dimension here that you need to know about: both CROP/Church World Service and the Long Beach Walk are trying to do as much online as possible this year, both in terms of registering walkers and collecting from sponsors using their credit cards. Here is what that means for you: log on to this URL: CROPHungerWalk.org/Long BeachCA. When you go there, you can immediately sign up to be a walker or a financial sponsor ... without having to find the CROP table after worship, although if you have any questions you can go there.

I plan to be at that table personally every Sunday coming up, so perhaps I will see you there!


Sunday School Teachers Needed

Sunday School teachers needed


Sacred Practices Meets Tonight, 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.


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

The 15th anniversary of 9-11 was spent at UCO’s Drop-In-Center dealing with another kind of tragedy in life ... where so often the money in your pocket isn’t enough to cover daily necessities. When you don’t know where to find a safe place to lay your head, feed your family, or to get uniforms, shoes and supplies for your children to go to school.

I spent most of my day dealing with those kind of things, spreading the word where they could get school uniforms. Three families needed help with a motel and gas to tide them over. One gentleman and I sorted out that he couldn’t afford to live here, but he had a home to go to in Maryland. Greyhound tickets were purchased and Tuesday he was on his way back home. It’s a three-day bus ride, but that’s all we can afford to provide. We are working with two families moving this week into housing and hopefully a third family that has been waiting for quite some time.

Thank God for a strong staff, donors who care, and volunteers to help. With God’s planning we made it through another long day and managed to fill some major needs.

At the end of day we celebrated sous chef Melody Garrett’s birthday with a delicious cake and an oversized card, and then began clean up and what we could do to protect food and appliances from the early Monday morning fumigation to take place.

May you have a blessed week ahead. Keep all those who need our help in your heart.

Access Dental volunteers Computer Lab
Melody's birthday


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 ...

... The Sunday coffee service table has a nice new oilcloth cover, donated by Pat Green. Thanks, Pat!


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Bill Simpson (Carol Van Alsten's brother); Barbara Tornberg (Deb Buller's former sister-in-law); Logan Ernst (Joe Ernst & Jim Snelling's grandson); and Dona Garrish (a friend of William Kuehl).

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