The Pilgrim
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The Pilgrim - December 18, 2016


Sunday Celebration Notes

Celebrating God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am

Dear Friends and Members of First Church,

The most wonderful time of the year has come to the historic corner of Third and Cedar!

The five Christmas trees are covered in white and gold ornaments, and lovely handcrafted hearts are looped on the pews … Our landmark building rings with music rehearsals by local students, our bell ringers and choirs, and the cast of the children’s Christmas Eve pageant … The Board of Social Justice and Outreach holds their annual Fair Trade Gift shop, while preparing candles and placards for our Advent Vigil against Gun Violence … Small groups gather in Booth Chapel and Sacred Space to learn, discuss, and grow in spirit and mind … The Corner of Arts and Justice hums with activity.

This season has been challenging for many; the traditional words of Advent -  Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy - may seem fragile in the face of injustice and intolerance. But remember that these words lead us to the deep heart of human life, where we decide that the long shadows of winter will not last forever, and that the light of a star of Bethlehem is more visible against the velvet darkness of the compelling night. 
For … Hope reminds us that no lie is too smart to live forever,
Peace calls us to speak truth to power,
Joy sings to us that no injustice is too big to fail,
And Love teaches us that no prejudice is so convincing that it cannot be
overwhelmed by God’s love for all humanity.

Peace and blessings,
The Rev, Elena Larssen

Next Week's Newsletter the Last One in 2016

Please submit all items by Tuesday, December 20
at 1 p.m.

In This Issue

Sunday Celebration Notes
Music on Sunday
Christian Education
Warm Streets Coat Drive
Overlooked in Capital Campaign?
Love Warrior for Sale
Heifer International
Sanctuary Flowers
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

Written most likely between 1713 and 1718 while Vivaldi was the Maestro di Coro at a girls’ school in Venice, the Gloria in D major has become one of the most popular choral/orchestral works of all time, despite languishing for almost 200 years in obscurity until a performance in 1939 brought it into the forefront of classical music. It is a setting of the text of Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the hymn sung by the angels to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem. The twelve movements feature a great deal of variety in style, as well as solos by Megan O’Toole, Pam Chapin, and Lisa Bode-Heard. Accompanying the choir will be a string quartet, and of course, the mighty Möhler organ!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music

In Sunday School

Theme: Faithful Response
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

Adult Education

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

Warm Streets Coat Drive UPDATE

By Alison Morales, Urban Community Outreach
Greetings, Church! Thank you for your generous donations of warm coats to Urban Community Outreach during the first two weeks of December. We are continuing our collections through the holiday season! Do you have extra warm coats taking up space in your closets at home? Urban Community Outreach is hoping you’ll help us gather warm coats and jackets for our weekly guests at the UCO Drop-in Center. You’ll easily spot a UCO box on the Third Street landing. Please refrain from donating items other than coats in this box, or in the Third Street landing area, as we aren't set up for storage. We really appreciate your help. Together, we can help our beloved community keep warm this winter season!

Did We Overlook You?

By Steve Crow, Chair, Capital Campaign Committee
It is come to our attention that the Capital Campaign mailing lists came from membership lists, and we might inadvertently failed to communicate as we would want with people who attend First Church regularly and call it home but have chosen not to join. At least one such person came to a Commitment table recently and reported that she had not received full information about Preserving our Legacy and had no letter of intent to complete. Now that we have overcome our embarrassment and put the right materials in her hands, we want to know if any other people might want the campaign packet and a letter of intent. You can have both by contacting the church office or Steve Crow (562-343-1615).

Love Warrior on Sale This Sunday

By Pamela Chapin

The Board of Cultural Arts will be selling Glennon Doyle Melton's book, Love Warrior for $10.00 after church this Sunday in the Koinonia Room.  This book makes an excellent Christmas gift.

Our Ark Needs You!

By Miriam Seneviratne and Bob Kalayjian,
Board of Social Justice and Outreach

Our ark has ducks, chicks, two goats, one water buffalo, honey bees, an alpaca, and rabbits. Don’t miss a chance to contribute to Heifer and fill our ark even more. This Sunday will be the last chance to help us send aid to many parts of the developing world. See you in the Koinonia Room.

Flowers for 2017

By Pamela Chapin
Sign-ups for flower arrangements will be taken after church this Sunday. As a reminder, the cost is $110. You may also contact Pam Chapin at to reserve your date. Let's get January, February, and March booked. Thank you.

Celebrate the Preserving Our Legacy Campaign

By Steve Crow, Chair, Capital Campaign Committee 
On Sunday, January 8, the Capital Campaign Committee will host a post-worship brunch/lunch to celebrate the success of the campaign.  Everyone is invited, and we hope to fill the Peterson Room to overflowing.  Great food;  short program;   just celebrating together the commitment and generosity of this wonderful congregation.

United Church of Christ Scholarships

The UCC has a wealth of scholarships for individuals in the denomination who are engaged in education, leadership, and ministry. Scholarships are currently available in the following areas:

Ministry Education Scholarships
Scholarships for those preparing for ministry in the UCC and for support for ministers in financial or personal crisis.

Leadership Development Scholarships
Scholarships that help to support UCC undergraduate students, future seminary professors, African-American laywomen, and gifted persons with disabilities, among others.

The online scholarship application process is now open. It's safe, secure, and user-friendly! More info here. Application forms will close March 1, 2017 at 5 p.m.

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday, December 11 was the exemplification of Christmas love and joy! It put everyone into a heightened joyous spirit!

Angels from all walks of life came and blessed the day with gifts of clothing, blankets, shoes, and hygiene items. Nurse Ann came and gave her services. Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce and her staff came and prepared 500 envelopes for mailing our UCO Christmas picture greeting card. That’s a big task! It takes a stamp and two labels, so that’s 1500 motions! She said she is a pro since working on the election. I believe it! She is a pro in many loving ways!

Jessie Haase and her team from “I Own It” came with a truckload of clothing, hygiene items, and water bottles. They sorted and staged the give-away store, helped clerk, and then hauled the remaining items to Long Beach Rescue Mission as we don’t have much storage. They were so exuberant! Bethany Firmage came from board member Dr. Graves’ Sol Foot and Ankle Long Beach office with five boxes of shoes! They really made a hit with the guests!

We served a warm roasted chicken meal, which is always well received. Frank Schmidt from Performance Team and other student volunteers came and helped Melody Garrett make that. Guests thanked us for the wonderful food. They said we have “the best food in town!”

We happily donned Christmas hats and took a picture in front of the beautiful Christmas tree in Patterson Hall. Some of you will be receiving it because of your kind support of our efforts on behalf of the poor and homeless.

We have a possibility of three families getting an apartment before Christmas! That would be my best Christmas gift! Merry Christmas!


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Patrick O'Neal upon the death of his mother, Mary Ann O'Neal; and Barbara Farrell and Mary Cronin, family members of Marion Hinze.

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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