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

The Pilgrim - October 23, 2016

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

Dear Church, 

Something powerful is happening at First Church …

Last Sunday, the Board of Social Justice and Outreach hosted a forum with Interfaith Community Organizing that filled both classrooms Klar 1 and 2 beyond capacity.

This coming Sunday, the Board of Social Justice and Outreach will host an 11:30 hour discussion of The New Jim Crow. Listen to author and activist Michelle Alexander here to learn more.

And then, on October 30, the busy Board for Social Justice and Outreach will host a very special visit by the Rev. Traci Blackmon, noted preacher and Acting Executive of UCC Justice and Witness Ministries for the United Church of Christ. She became nationally recognized as a prominent voice for social change when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, just miles from her church, Christ the King UCC, in Florissant, Missouri.

Sunday, October 30, 2016
Rev. Blackmon preaches at 10 a.m.
Lunch at 11:30 am; Forum at 12:15
“How does FAITH propel us to do JUSTICE?”

RSVP to office@firstchurchlb.org to reserve your lunch
$10 for adults, $5 for children; dietary needs accommodated
Lunch includes a Pumpkin Decorating Party for Kids – Kids are invited to wear Halloween costumes for a parade during Words with the Children in the service.

Free Parking and Childcare, like all Sundays!

I am also deeply grateful that the Rev. Misi Tagaloa and Second Congregational Samoan (UCC) will be spanning the three blocks that separate our sibling churches and joining in service and forum with FCCLB, not only celebrating our UCC friendship and empowering our value of diversity but elevating the whole experience with a neighborhood spirit. 

Many thanks to the Board for Social Justice and Outreach for bringing us three solid weeks of Sunday morning programming, as well as their Mental Health First Aid training the first week of November. In the book of Romans, Paul writes, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”

During this critical and conflicted time in our nation, let us to continue to renew our minds in study and Sunday services, that we would continually be transformed for justice-making.


The Rev. Elena Larssen


In this issue

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Discussion of The New Jim Crow and Mass Incarceration This Sunday

CROP Hunger Walk This Sunday

Undies for Everyone!

Mental Health First Aid Course

Get Your Titanic Tickets Now!

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

This Sunday’s anthem is a nod to the CROP Walk which is taking place after church on Sunday. (Thanks for the idea, Tracy.) I Walk a Stranger on This Land speaks of the peace that comes with striving to “walk the walk,” as some say. The path can be lonely at times, and involve sacrifice, but is necessary if we are truly committed to making the world a better place.

Speaking of that, if you’d like an alternative form of entertainment to the third presidential debate, you are welcome to attend Wilson High School’s Fall Concert tonight, which is being held at First Church at 7 pm. (Yes, the Wilson Auditorium is still closed for renovation.) The theme of the concert is “Heal the World,” and every song is one that will lift your spirit, which I guarantee is more than can be said for the debate…

Finally, Lisa’s solo this week is the old Depression-era standard, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” The lyrics, by E. Y. Harburg, are just as timely today as when they were first penned. (Harburg is perhaps best known for his songs featured in “The Wizard of Oz”.) Lisa will be accompanied by Leeav on the clarinet – you won’t be seeing Leeav for a while, so come this week to hear him play one last time…

See you there!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Dance of Pride and Humility
Scripture: Luke 18:9-14

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




Congregational Conversation on Mass Incarceration This Sunday
New Jim Crow coverBy Christopher Bobo and the Board of Social Justice and Outreach

The congregational conversation on Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow will take place this Sunday, October 23, after the service, starting at 11:30, in Klar 1 and 2.

Last Sunday we celebrated the National Children’s Sabbath, and in last week’s Pilgrim John Forrest reminded us that Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, said that we should “put faith into action for children.” Ms. Edelman also recognized that The New Jim Crow is an “extraordinary book. … Michelle Alexander has placed a critical spotlight on a reality our nation cannot afford to deny. We ignore her careful research and stay silent about mass incarceration’s devastating effects at our own and our nation’s peril.” As we celebrated the blessings that the children of the First Church family enjoy by virtue of being involved in such a loving community of faith, we must also acknowledge that many other children in this nation are growing up in families and communities shattered by the loss of their fathers due to mass incarceration.

Bring your questions, comments and ideas for action.


Crop Hunger WalkCROP Hunger Walk This Sunday
By Tracy Halter-Balin

The youth of FCC are joining in the fun of the annual 5k CROP Walk this 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.


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

Greetings Church! UCO is so grateful for the new underwear and diapers you’ve been donating this month for our weekly guests at the drop in center. We are 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!


Mental Health First Aid Workshop – Sign-up Deadline Is This Friday

The Mental Health First Aid workshop will be taught by the LA County Department of Mental Health at First Congregational Church and is free of charge. The 8-hour workshop is being taught November 5 from 8:30 am to 12 noon and November 6 from 1 pm to 5 pm. Interested participants are asked to give their name to Ruth Warkentin in the church office. The workshop size is limited, and the sign-up deadline is Friday, October 21. Please don’t delay!


Get Your Titanic Tickets Now!

Titanic - Get Your Tickets Now!


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

We had a busy and exciting Sunday on October 16! Fifteen fifth- and sixth-graders and their parents came out from Temple Israel. They made great greeting cards and placemats! Many of our Service Learning Students from CSULB came and worked hard. The Delta Sigma Pi from CSULB also came in the afternoon. Dr. Sophia Momand and the HOPE students came.

Kyle set up new printers in both our offices! What a blessing that is! They work beautifully and even make copies! The computer lab was busy with several people getting the resume template and help to work on resumes.

With all this help we were able to sort and hand out clothing, make good meals, interview and be supportive to many clients, and inform the group about Lincoln Park’s closing at the end of the month, two job fairs, CROP Hunger Walk, flu shots, etc., and then we cleaned up all the doings.

Oh, the tangled webs of life! We worked on getting identity for some, a safe place for families with children to stay, a place to receive important mail, feeding the bogus system in Long Beach for making all our people seeking apartments pay for them to do a credit check each time though they have no intention of renting the apartment to our client. This is a new way of adding to their wealth. They won’t accept printed out credit check information. They say they have to run their own.

Surprisingly, we also are working with a mortgage broker to find a condo or mobile home for a client to buy. One of our guests has inherited some money and we are bound and determined that this senior woman will have a permanent place to stay where a landlord isn’t making her move out to renovate and putting her in the streets again.

We don't know what is coming next, but are just acting organically, accepting where God leads us to be of service.

DIC volunteers


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 Barbara Smith upon the death of her wife, Jan Waggoner; Suzanne Cole (Karen Miller's cousin); Patrick Malone (Larelle Hendon's brother); Robert Stapp; and Nik Johnson (Amy Peer's nephew).

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