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

The Pilgrim - October 9, 2016

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

Dear Church, 

This past week, I was in Leawood, Kansas (just outside of Kansas City) for the Leadership Institute of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. I participated as a part of the Next Generation Leadership Initiative, sponsored by the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ. NGLI places a group of young adult clergy into a cohort to grow together through continuing education and community over a ten-year period.

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection is a megachurch. In fact, it’s the largest United Methodist Church in the world. Their worship services are attended by 20,000 people each weekend! Can you imagine?! It was the first time I have ever been in a setting like that.

One of the things that stuck out to me was the way that every aspect of the ministry of the church was influenced around the clear mission and vision statement of the congregation. The congregation is clear about the folks they are looking to reach with their ministries and programs.

This summer we tried out a few different bulletin styles. At least two of those styles included our church mission statement. Our mission is: 

To be a visible and prophetic presence in the church and in the world; 
To steadfastly proclaim the radically inclusive love of God; 
To be open to, and celebrate differences; 
To honor thinking for oneself; 
To faithfully work for the inclusion of, and justice for, all people, regardless of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity or national origin, or any other particular element of a person's total humanity, and for all of God's creation. 
-Mission statement adopted November 1999

Some questions worth pondering: How do you see this mission shaping the ministries of our congregation? How do we internalize and act out this mission? How would you amend it to better reflect where we are right now and where we are headed?

Thank you for steadfastly embodying the inclusive love of God in all you do.

John Forrest


In this issue

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Cookies and Community Forum

Undies for Everyone

Momastery Live!

Book Discussion: The New Jim Crow

CROP Hunger Walk

Preservation Update

FCC Gives to Charities

Parents' Night Out

Parking on Sundays

From the Organist

Drop-In Center News


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

Our bass soloist, Leeav Sofer, is a busy guy. His band, Mostly Kosher, will be touring the southwest and the east coast in the coming months. They have also booked a gig at a very popular theme park in the area that I am unable to disclose at this time, although the church mouse has informed me that another mouse is a featured figure there! Urban Voices, a community choir/adult music education/music therapy program serving the homeless and disenfranchised in the skid row area, is about to become a stand-alone non-profit organization, thanks to the help of the L.A. Philharmonic’s Street Symphony outreach program. Leeav, who has been the founding artistic director of Urban Voices, will be the director of the new non-profit and serve on the board of Street Symphony as artist in residence. Long-term goals for the project include replicating the program in other cities. He also has a full-time gig at the Colburn School of music!

For the last few years, Leeav has been an outstanding soloist at First Church, and we have enjoyed his singing, clarinet and piano playing, and vibrant musicianship. Sadly, Leeav will be singing his last solo this Sunday. His schedule simply doesn’t allow him to stay with us, much as he would like to (and he would). He will continue to sing with the choir until the end of the month – and we might still see him occasionally – he’s not going to another church, and he’ll still be living in Long Beach. But for now, from all of us at First Church: Mazel tov, Leeav!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Reoriented toward Gratitude
Scripture: Luke 17:11-19

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




Cookies & Community Open Forum this Sunday
By Kirsten Pickus, Vice Moderator

Please stop by Klar 1 for a cookie and chance to share your input about the small group fellowship opportunities we are building for 2017. We want to know what activities, themes, and formats interest you. We were thrilled that so many of you completed the survey in last week’s bulletin! Now we want to hear more so we can be sure these efforts to create opportunities to engage more deeply with one another are well-designed. We’d love to hear your thoughts about what has worked well in the past. It would be great to hear more about some of your interests, too. For example, if you’re interested in a Cooking Club, what types of foods would you want to make? Do you have ideas for the Movie Club and whether it should be a “going to the movies together” experience or a discussion group for movies that participants see on their own? Is it important that there be separate groups for gay and straight couples, or would you be interested in a general Couples Group?

Please come by Klar 1 immediately after the Service of Celebration, grab a cookie, and share your interests, ideas and wisdom!!! Thank you!!!


Undies for Everyone“Undies for Everyone” in October
By Alison Morales, Urban Community Outreach

Greetings, Church! Urban Community Outreach is hoping you'll help us gather up new underwear and diapers for our weekly guests at the drop in center. We’ll be collecting and distributing these items every Sunday in October. We are most in need of men’s/women’s/children’s underwear, baby diapers of any size, and XL adult diapers. You'll easily spot a UCO box in the Donation Center on the Third Street Landing. Please refrain from donating other items in this box, as we aren't set up for storage.

We really appreciate your help. Together, we can help our beloved community feel fresher and happier!


Momastery Live! Parking and General Information
By Pam Chapin

Momastery Live! is coming to First Congregational Church on Thursday, October 13 at 7 p.m. This exciting event is co-sponsored by Manhattan Beach UCC and Bay Shore UCC. The event is sold out and we will be hosting 950 guests. The reception is a separate ticketed event and begins at 5:30 p.m. Regular parking is available in the Third and Chestnut lot, the Potholder lot after 3 pm, and available street parking. In addition, the church has made arrangements with the city for special event parking in the civic center parking garage on Broadway and Cedar for a reduced rate of $8 starting at 5 pm. You will be required to pay $8 when entering the garage. We encourage you to come early. Church members have reserved seating in the front of the sanctuary. For everyone else, it is general seating - first come, first served.


Book Discussion on Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, October 23
By Christopher Bobo and the Board of Social Justice and Outreach

Copies of Michelle’s Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow are still available for purchase. Copies can be purchased for $15 from the church office during the week and on Sunday in the narthex before church and on the patio after church. As Forbes magazine said, The New Jim Crow is a “devastating account of a legal system doing its job perfectly well,” and which, as the Daily Kos described it, lays bare “the labyrinth of propaganda, discrimination, and racist policies masquerading under other names that comprises what we call justice in America.”

Please plan to join other members of the congregation after church on October 23 in a discussion of this book and the light it sheds on how the United States became the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people, mostly of color, currently in the nation’s prisons and jails—a 500% increase over the last forty years.


CROP Hunger Walk, October 23
By Tracy Halter-Balin

The youth of FCC are joining in the fun of the annual 5k CROP Walk on Sunday, October 23, and we want everyone to join us! Our church has participated in this event for decades and we're keeping the tradition going. It's easy to sign up - just go to this link and join the FCC team!

I'll be walking again to honor my dad, Bob Halter, who walked in every CROP Walk. We're hoping to have a surprise at the end of the walk, so stay tuned for more information.

For any questions you may have, see Dale Whitney, John Forrest Douglas or me. And if you are unable to join us for the walk, you are lovingly invited to sponsor one of our walkers. Just go to the above website and you'll see how easy it is to provide your support in this way.


Preservation Update
By Allison King

This week the preservation team put together a new encasement for the Koinonia room. This one features a teardrop window that was removed from the east rose window. In it you can find examples of almost every kind of damage inflicted on the panes: cracking, broken pieces, soft/bent leading, chips, losses, a poorly constructed patch, and several BB gun holes to top it off.

Click here to go to the preservation blog, 3rdandcedar.com, to read more!

Presentation case with broken window


First Church Gives to Charities
By the Board of Social Justice and Outreach

Each year First Church donates from your giving to worthy charities. This year, the Board of Social Justice and Outreach worked with a reduced fund compared to last year, reflecting tighter church budgets, but nonetheless approved donations to nine amazing charities.

The board voted unanimously to donate a total of $6,000 to the following organizations, all of which reflect the congregation’s values as a liberal church, passionately committed to social justice: (1) The Edwin and Dorothy Baker Foundation, which operates the Downtown Associated Youth Services (DAYS), which serves low-income, under-served families in Long Beach through free educational and development programs and activities, $1,000; (2) Urban Community Outreach, which operates the Drop-in Center which feeds the homeless and needy, $1,000; (3) Food Finders, an organization that seeks to rescue food that might otherwise be discarded and provide it to those in need, $1,000; (4) Interfaith Community Organization, ICO–Greater Long Beach, an interfaith coalition of Long Beach-area congregations united in pursuit of social justice for all, $1,000; (5) Citizens Climate Lobby, an organization committed to combating climate change, $500; (6) Progressive Christians Uniting, a non-profit that engages people and communities to embody Jesus’ way of compassion and justice for our world, $500; (7) South Coast Interfaith Council, which is the oldest and largest interfaith council in Southern California, with a mission to promote mutual understanding, respect, appreciation and cooperation among people of diverse faiths in the Greater South Bay and Long Beach areas, $500; (8) Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice urging America’s decision makers to end hunger abroad and at home, $250; and (9) Muslim Public Affairs Council, which is a public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims, for integration of Islam into American pluralism, and for a positive, constructive relationship between American Muslims and their representatives, $250.

The Board of Social Justice and Outreach joins with all members of the congregation in the prayerful hope that our giving can extend God’s radically inclusive love throughout our community and our world. Thank you First Church for your generosity.


Parents' Night Out
By Tracy Halter-Balin

We had a very fun first Parents' Night Out of the year last Friday. We had 20 energetic kids (mostly boys) who were ready for their own kind of fun and fellowship. And for the first time, we had some visitors from the Viva school group, who saw the fun activities being set up and wanted to join in. We ranged in age from 14 months to 12 years old. The highlight of the evening was watching several tireless boys play crab soccer after a few rousing games of volleyball. Huge thanks to Julie Ford, Jenny Penner, Sarah Schoolcraft, Sam Johnson, and Matt Balin for spending their Friday night making memories for these kids! And thanks to Alison Mitchell for playing pizza delivery person – a very important job! If you would like to help out next time, save the date of Friday, November 4 – come join in the fun!

Parents' Night Out


Parking on Sundays
By Clarence Dendy

Hello, First Church attendees. Each Sunday most of you use the Long Beach Civic Center parking structure on Broadway to park your vehicles while attending Sunday church services. We validate, which is a great thing, but once you get that parking ticket stub, please do not store it near or next to your mobile smart phone, because the phone signals will wipe clean the data on the ticket’s electronic readout strip and that ticket will not be validated because the ticket has been deactivated completely.

Also, please remember that validation from the church is good only on Sundays from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. Outside of those hours, you will need to pay for parking in the structure.


From the Organist
By Dr. Marc Dickey

I am in Corvallis, Oregon this weekend guest conducting the Oregon State University Wind Ensemble as part of their commemoration of the 125th anniversary of OSU’s band program. In the 1980s, between my masters and doctorate degrees, I was on the faculty there and directed the marching, concert, and jazz bands. I feel honored to be included in their celebration along with all of the other living current and past directors. And just for clarifications, these are the Beavers, not the Ducks. I am taking my umbrella either way!


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday , October 2, was a really bustling Sunday! We had so many things we wanted to accomplish and so little time to get it all done. Thank God we had lots of volunteers and somehow we managed to get a tremendous amount of amazing things done!

Twenty-three CSULB students from Alpha Omicron Pi came. CSULB intern Stacey Barry was here, doing her usual magic, and several more students from CSULB have chosen UCO as their Service Learning Site this semester and some of them were here as well! About six volunteer coordinators were here, plus we had a good representation from people from all walks of life in the outside community giving their time.
We had lots of donations this week, so we sorted, set up a store, and gave away a mountain of clothing, hygiene items, and toys.

There was a woman and her children we had helped into an apartment. We had an offer of some furniture and household items that had to be picked up that day and delivered to her. No trucks in sight, so we transferred over quite a bit with two SUVs and a convertible! Can’t you picture us? Almost like ants carrying huge crumbs of food! We often need a truck, so if you know of anyone with a truck or big SUV who can help transport things let me know. We could probably get volunteers to help lift.

Ann Lampe was here to help me interview people. I began early with texts and phone calls from 7:30 am on. One family was giving up on their California dream and asked for help with gas to move back to Mississippi. One of our regulars who is in an apartment and doing well had had some additional expenses this month and needed just $55 more to help with rent. One large family needed help with a motel. We are trying to help so many more with ongoing case management and all that entails.

Tonight is the Study Session on Homelessness at the City Council Meeting. You bet I’ll be there working on the Long Beach homeless challenge from every angle! Hope some results can be seen on a greater scale very soon! It’s so heartbreaking to have this many families in the street!

Thank you for all the ways you are helping!

Volunteers with food    Volunteers with a children's desk

Volunteers coming back with the Westin donation of brunch food;
picking up a small desk for a family so the children can study


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 Kim Sutherland (Harold Sutherland's brother); Kathy Volk (Tammy McMaster's friend); John Glessner (Joe Ernst's brother-in-law); 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); and Jan Waggoner.

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