The Pilgrim - March 19, 2017
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The Pilgrim - March 19, 2017


Sunday Celebration Notes

Celebrating God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am

Dear Church, 
This week we will continue our Lenten series, "Who Do You Say That I Am?: Images of Jesus" with a story from the Gospel of John. Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well and tells about living water that will never leave her thirsty. Samaritans were a religious minority in ancient Palestine. The Samaritan religion shares roots with Judaism, but has specific guidelines for worship that were not shared with the Jewish people. Samaritans are still a religious minority in Israel/Palestine -- with about 800 followers.
By sharing a conversation with this woman, Jesus models for us the importance of crossing and breaking down borders and divisions among groups of people. This Lent we certainly need to remember the importance of the hard work of stepping outside of our own comfort zones and understanding those who we consider "the other." Who is "the other" for you? Who is hard to love? How might you stretch yourself this week in the name of being in relationship? 
I look forward to seeing you Sunday! 

John Forrest

Baked Potato Bar after Church This Sunday!

In This Issue

In Church on Sunday
Music on Sunday
Sunday School
Lenten Class
St. Patrick's Baked Potato Bar
One Great Hour of Sharing
Easter Bonnet Workshop & Tea Party
Women's Retreat
Climate Change Lobby
Bridge Closure
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, the choir anthems that you hear on Sundays are selected with the theme of the service in mind, or at least some sort of obvious connection to that theme. Sometimes it’s a bit more random, although one can almost always connect various elements of the service with a few degrees of each other. (Let’s make this a game: how does this anthem connect to the sermon? Kind of like six degrees of Kevin Bacon!) 

This Sunday, the connection is fairly straight forward: the ongoing theme this Lenten season is “Faces of Jesus,” and the anthem this week is “A Song of Jesus.”  You may be familiar with the hymn  “O Sing a Song of Bethlehem” (it’s in our hymnal). You might guess it’s a Christmas carol, but guess what – it’s not! The first verse refers to the baby Jesus, but the second verse is about his childhood in Nazareth, the third is about his ministry in Galilee, and the final verse is about his final days. Since it’s not a Christmas carol, we don’t sing it at Christmas, but because of the title, is doesn’t get sung much the rest of the year either! The words are set to an old English folk song, harmonized by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and arranged by David H. Williams (no relation as far as I know). It presents many faces of Jesus, some of which may be a little old school theologically speaking, but remember, no matter where you are ...

Fans of the musical Godspell are in for a treat this week – Carver Cossey and Ray Hedgpeth will be singing “All for the Best”! I don’t know if top hats and canes will be involved – you’ll need to come and see for yourself. See you Sunday!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music and Composer-in-Residence

In Sunday School

Theme: Finding Refreshment
Scripture: John 4:5-42

Lenten Class Continues - Sundays at 8:30 AM in Booth Chapel

By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

During the season of Lent, Rev. Douglas is leading an adult education session on the book Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower by the USA Today columnist Tom Krattenmaker. Click here to order the book from Amazon. We also have a few copies available at church. While the discussion will be based around the book, reading the text is not a requirement to participate. 

Class Topics
March 19 - High Anxiety
March 26 - Saved from What?
April 2 - Incarceration Nation and the Invisible and Forgotten
April 9 - Real Victory

Come Eat at the St. Patrick’s Baked Potato Bar

By Jo Anne Jennings

The Board of Parish Life invites everyone to the St. Patrick’s Baked Potato Bar on Sunday, March 19, after the service in Patterson Hall. There will be lots of delicious toppings and a fun time for all. The luck o’ the Irish will shine down upon us. Don’t miss out on this fun event.

One Great Hour of Sharing

In an effort to lead the church into wider fellowship in the national and world ministries of the UCC, the Board of Outreach and Social Justice is encouraging members and friends to participate in the One Great Hour of Sharing offering during the service of celebration on March 26. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering reaches those near and far, sometimes changing the life of someone in distress in our congregation or community, and at other times impacting the lives of those we may never meet but who are in desperate need of our compassion and generosity. For almost seven decades, we have been making a difference through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering which funds relief and development all over the world and in the United States. Together, we can achieve a fair balance, bringing about a world the way God intended. Look for a letter with an offering envelope in your mail next week.

Yours in service,
The Board of Outreach and Social Justice

"Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail …"
Save These Dates!

By Mary Flynn

The Board of Parish Life will be sponsoring two very exciting events leading up to Easter:

Easter Bonnet Workshop Sunday, April 2, 2017: The workshop will take place in the Ramsay Dining Room along the back wall during First Church Café. We will supply the decorations and have a limited number of hats for sale. If you can, bring your own hat to decorate. The cost is $5 per person, and hats will be available for $1 per person while supplies last.

Easter Bonnet Tea Party Sunday, April 9, 2017: The tea party will take place in the Koinonia Room after the service on Palm Sunday. Please feel free to wear your Easter bonnets and feather boas. We will be awarding prizes for the best Easter bonnets too.

Tea Party fees:  Adults:  $10
                            12 and under:  $5
                            Entire family:  $25

Proceeds benefit Downtown Associated Youth Services. Tickets will be on sale every Sunday leading up to these events. Just look for the Parish Life member sporting an Easter bonnet after the service and hippity, hoppity on over … 😊

Women’s Retreat at Pilgrim Pines – April 28-30

By Cheryl Doorbar

Our theme the year is balance. The Rev. Marlene Pomeroy of FCC of Pasadena will guide us through yoga practice for all levels of experience and discuss the use of the chakras as a tool to access balance in the many areas of your lives. She will also share stories from biblical sources as guides to finding the equilibrium between productivity and stillness. Drawing inspiration from the meditative aspect of yoga, there will be an opportunity to make mandalas, participate in a drumming circle, craft your own drum, and much more.

The cost for the weekend is $140, and if you would like to make payments, that would be fine. Please complete the registration form (download here) and return it to the First Church office via email or regular mail. If you are unable to participate for the whole weekend, the reduced, Saturday-only rate, which includes three meals, is $80.

Where Is Environmental Justice at First Church?

By Bob Kalayjian, Board of Social Justice and Outreach

The activities and actions of the Board of Social Justice and Outreach can be very apparent, and many in our congregation join to support these events such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day  Parade, the Gay Pride Parade, the March to End Gun Violence, and the Alternative Christmas Market. There are other actions that are not as well seen, and Environmental Justice is one of those. Yes, we are planning offerings for Earth Day next month, but I want to tell you of the ongoing activities of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), an organization that the Board and Church have been supporting for going on two years.

CCL meets monthly at church and a few church members (Edric Guise, Julie Ford, Clayton Heard and I) are active along with 20-30 others. We are promoting education and political action to put a progressively increasing fee on fossil fuels and return all the funds to households as a way to address climate change (it is called carbon fee and dividend). Our promotion takes the form of meetings with members of Congress, letters to the editors of newspapers, educational presentations, and getting organizational endorsements for carbon fee and dividend. The church is one of our endorsers, and you may remember two years ago when Clayton Heard and I went to Washington, DC, to lobby in the halls of Congress. Edric Guise and I will be going again this June.

You might think, at this time, we are depressed about the direction of national politics, but we have been successful in moving the bipartisan dialogue, especially on the Republican side of Congress, to begin addressing this very important and threatening problem. There is an ever widening crack in the GOP wall of climate denial, and CCL has been directly responsible for that.
Our Long Beach/South Bay Chapter of CCL is grateful to be supported by the church with a place to hold our meetings and financial support for our printing and outreach activities. If you are interested in finding out more about us, we will have a table of information at our Earth Day celebration during coffee in the courtyard on April 23, or you can join our meetings on the second Saturday of each month from 9 am to noon in Klar 1.

Bridge Closure This Weekend

Folks who drive across the bridges from the west to get to the church may already be aware of the Gerald Desmond bridge closure coming up this weekend. 

From 7 p.m., Friday, March 17, through 6 a.m., Monday, March 20, these routes will close:

  • Westbound Ocean Boulevard at Golden Shore
  • Eastbound Desmond Bridge off-ramp to Pico Avenue
  • Pico Avenue at Ocean, both directions
  • Northbound SR-47 from Ocean
  • Westbound off-ramp from Ocean to SR-47

While most of these routes reopen Monday, March 20, a long-term detour begins, requiring motorists leaving downtown Long Beach going westbound on Ocean Boulevard to exit at Pico Avenue, and then use the Pico on-ramp to get onto the Gerald Desmond Bridge. This one long-term detour will continue until the westbound lanes of the new bridge are opened, which is scheduled in 2018.

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday came with an early surprise donation of Girl Scout Cookies from Kirsten Pickus’s daughter, Mattea Fisher. We had just enough volunteers to get the meals prepared and served. Food Finders had brought lots of food and several people donated hygiene items, toys, and clothing. Outreach worker Diane was able to gather up some pants for men in our ENRICH 90-day Bridge program to turn their lives around.

The young man going for an interview last week didn’t return, so I suspect he got the job. We had given him clothing and encouragement for his interview.

Move-in day for a mom and her kids made the week special. We brought household items from our storage for them.

We helped an abused young woman and her child move again to a safe hiding place in another city. Her abuser found her and gave her a concussion the first time. After the second move she had a great job, but the company lost their contract and she lost her job. This is the third move. I hope this is the charm for them! They are trying so hard and are beautiful people. She has an interview this week and a support system in this city. Please pray for them to be able to gain stability and happiness.

A woman we have been trying to help brought another disabled woman to us from her apartment building that has falling in ceilings and mold. We will try to help her too. She needs the deposit for making a move. She wants to stay in Long Beach because her doctors are here, but affordable apartments in Long Beach are practically non-existent.

One of the men we spoke with a few months ago came back to thank me for the advice and to ask for prayers and suggestions of what to do next. He has been in Project Achieve for 60 days and can only stay 90 days. He has a lot of health problems, but is feeling much better being indoors now since he is taking his medications. He was a facilitator at a drug rehab before when he was healthier. He has a lead on a converted motel in LA that is an SRO with a central kitchen. He would really like to be able to get in there and maybe get back to being a facilitator part time.

So many to help! I must remember to “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and God's righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Senior Minister on Vacation This Weekend

Rev. Larssen is visiting family this weekend and will return to the office on Tuesday.

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Delveta Murray; Ben Rockwell; and Rochelle and Remy Bell (relatives of Donna Hutt Stapfer Bell).

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.

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.

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.

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