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

The Pilgrim - October 2, 2016

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

Dear Church, 

I took a knee during the benediction last Sunday.

The purpose? To show solidarity with the protest that is currently occurring in world of football.

Now I’ve never been a jock … but when 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernik knelt during the national anthem, I noticed.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL media in an exclusive interview after the [preseason] game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder" (nfl.com).

Something so simple, something essentially respectful but clearly critical … it was an elegant way to make a statement. Then I saw news coverage that collegiate cheerleaders from Howard University were also taking a knee.

When cheerleaders are protesting … it’s time to pay attention.

Now high school athletes are taking a knee, and putting out nuanced statements of respect for those who serve in uniform that simultaneously call into question police brutality. As you heard in my sermon last Sunday (click here to listen), I know that I am shielded from forms of violence that disproportionately impact communities of color. To take a knee meant to show, without wordy explanations and with humility, that I respectfully recognize the pain in our culture caused by racism and violence.

As a person of privilege, I took a knee to show that I stand for peace.

The Rev. Elena Larssen

Sermon Correction: In my sermon on Sunday I mentioned President Eisenhower threatening to beat up a reporter but the correct President was Truman: https://www.trumanlibrary.org/trivia/letter.htm. Kudos to three congregants who caught it right away!


In this issue

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

First Church Café

Sacred Practices

Parents' Night Out

Forum on Ballot Propositions

The Nominating Committee Wants YOU!

Titanic Sailing Closer!

Apple Pie Day at Pilgrim Pines


October Birthdays and Anniversaries

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 hesitate to get too political in my public postings, because I know that there is a wide range of opinions on the issues of the day, and I prefer to focus my energy on bringing people together through music. In the midst of this highly charged campaign season, however, I would like to share just a few thoughts.

  1. I love my country and think that it has provided millions of people the opportunity to achieve great things. I also think that there are some parts of our history that are shameful, and that there are many areas in which we can do much better. There is a lot to be admired in other countries as well – we are not exceptional, but we should aspire to be!
  2. It seems to me that a great number of voters simply refuse to let facts inform their view of what is going on in the world, and what needs to be done about it. I think the media is partly to blame for this.
  3. We must take the rest of the world into consideration in all our affairs. I believe that what is good for other countries is good for us!
  4. There is a great deal of beauty and kindness all around us. Some politicians would have us think that our future is bleak and that disaster awaits us. There are threats that need to be addressed, but there is also reason to be hopeful if we look for it.
  5. The governments of the world have a great deal of power, but the people of the world are just as strong. We, the people, need to take whatever action we can to make the world better, with or without our government’s support. Let’s face it – the government is not going to solve all our problems. That doesn’t mean we can’t.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one …

See you on Sunday!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Living Love Letter
Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

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




First Church Café This Sunday

It's the first Sunday of the month - time again for First Church Café, from Karen Cannon of Stars Catering. 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. A number of our boards will meet after lunch, but lunch is not just for board members. Here is the menu:

Marvelous Minestrone Soup
Tender pasta, a variety of beans and chickpeas, merlot-tomato sauce, garden vegetables and diced tomatoes, plus meatballs, chicken and sausage in a hearty homestyle favorite
Gluten-free and vegan soup as well

Caesar Salad
Freshly baked dinner rolls and butter
Dessert platters
(vegan and gluten-free versions of the above also)

Iced tea, lemonade, and water



Sacred Practices Meets Tonight, September 28, 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 28 at 7 p.m. in Sacred Space will feature guided meditation and Reiki sharing led by Tina Datsko (plus tea and cookies).


Parents' Night Out This Friday
By Tracy Halter-Balin

All kids up to the age of 12 are invited to join us for our first Parents’ (Kids’) Night Out this Friday, September 30. It’s a week early due to Family Camp and Apple Pie Day at Pilgrim Pines the following weekend. We’ll enjoy our normal great activities and pizza dinner with the trimmings along with some new stuff to try. Come anytime between 6 and 9 pm.

Youth who are 13 years and older (and some grown-ups too) are most definitely invited to join in and help us with all the activities. We will be playing volleyball in Patterson Hall, make bubbles and play games in the courtyard, and do something messy too. It’s always nice to know about how many kids are coming, so please RSVP to Tracy Halter-Balin at bellgirl99@hotmail.com. Thanks!


ICO LogoGather Our Wits about Us for November 8
By Gary Shelton

All those California propositions … want to know more?

Maybe they’re all a mystery, or some still just a big question mark? Gain the vocabulary and insight needed to enter the voting booth on Election Day confident of knowing what you’re about to vote for!
Long Beach Interfaith Organization (ICO) is partnering with the Board of Social Justice and Outreach invites all to an informative Gathering of Wits.

Sunday, October 16 at 11:30 (following fellowship)


We Need You! It's Nominating Season!

This is the time of the year when the nominating committee recruits members for the church’s various boards and committees. The boards and committees carry out the work of the church and we need your gifts! Do you like to cook? March in parades? Read financial balance sheets? Serve communion? We have a spot for you! If you know of a particular board on which you’d like to serve, or, if you are game for anything, please let Deb Moore know at debmo4111@gmail.com.

Thank you,
Deb Moore, Nominating Committee Chair


Titanic Is Sailing Closer!
By Mark Wheeler

Tickets went on sale for our upcoming production of Titanic: The Musical last week and already 200 tickets have been grabbed up by folks eager to see this amazing upcoming production! If you were at the 60th Anniversary Concert with Temple Israel last Sunday, you got a sneak peek of the talent and beautiful music awaiting you – if you missed it, ask someone who was there! Performances will be November 12, 13, 19, and 20 here in our historic sanctuary. Tickets are available online by going to the church website and clicking on the Titanic banner across the top of the page. We’ll be available after services each Sunday between now and the show selling tickets if you’d rather purchase them live and in person.
Buy yours now to get the best seat selection. See you at the show!


Apple tree imageCelebrate Fall with Apple Pie Day at Pilgrim Pines Camp!
By Tracy Halter-Balin

… Or plan to spend the whole weekend in the mountain area of Oak Glen – the place of many apples. An opportunity to take a quick get-away is available thanks to our Outdoor Ministries Team of the SoCal-Nevada Conference of the UCC.

Fall Fun for All is one week away and we want you to join in the fun. Dates are October 7-9 for our All Ages Intergenerational Camp, or come up for one day Saturday, October 8 to enjoy Apple Pie Day! This year is an extra-special year to join us as we will celebrate paying off our mortgage and honoring the many contributors and volunteers who have helped to make it possible for us to continue to enjoy Pilgrim Pines Camp and our conference’s Outdoor Ministries.

Click here for more information(pdf), and click on this link to register.


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.



October Birthdays

1 Danica Witter, Ivan Whatley
2 Pat Green, Beth Whitesell
3 Bruce Woods
4 Tracy Sachtjen, Carver Cossey, Marsalee Malatesta
6 Todd Faux
7 Alida Montanez-Salas
8 Janet Harrington
9 David Clements, Zachary Nielson
10 Robert Stapp
11 Zane Witter, Zoe Hedgpeth
12 Elias Barth
13 Mary Lou Klar
14 Bill Armstrong
15 Hopeton Dias
16 Matt Jaeckel, Alex Ritchie
18 Isaac Hanna
19 Trystan Scott, Kathleen O'Neal
20 Ray Hedgpeth
21 Milo Penner, Jim Miech, Ginger Heil
22 Doug Ramsay, Alison Morales, Virginia Dickey
23 Susan Dorsey
24 Gil Griego, Juan Brown
26 Terry McKiernan
28 Nancy Boyd-Batstone
29 Sarah Estes, Jeremy Gomoljak
30 Leonie Baliscao, Tom Penner, Dorothea MacNeil
31 Dominique Barth

October Anniversaries

1 Miguel Criado and Paul Mclain, 11 years
8 Debra Klar and Scot Bond, 22 years
14 Ron Nelson and David Schnur, 39 years
18 Raj and Sasha Advani, 13 years
19 Marsalee and Brent Malatesta, 14 years
23 Bill Gamble and Alima Sherman
30 Linda and Jim Booth, 26 years
31 Rick Wilmouth and Eric Shull, 8 years


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Mary Martin; Julia Rhyu (Tina Datsko's friend's mother); Jerry Blum (Georgette DeBruyn's friend's husband); Jan Bode (Lisa Bode Heard's mother); Jan Waggoner; and Veronica Wiggins (Yvonne SaMarion’s cousin).

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