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The Pilgrim - November 20, 2016


Sunday Celebration Notes
Celebrating God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am

We are here to talk about the relationship humanity has with Mother Earth.

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director,
Indigenous Environmental Network

Dear Friends, 

As Thanksgiving approaches, let us pause and consider the situation at Standing Rock. Check out this video, which shows our wider church in action at Standing Rock: "We Stand with Standing Rock."

In the many sentimental depictions of Thanksgiving that exist, there are few that capture the complexity of this holiday's history. As you know, our congregation is a direct descendant of the Pilgrims, who came to this continent seeking religious freedom on the Mayflower. You are also likely aware that the survival of that struggling pilgrim settlement was due to the generosity of and alliances with the Native American people; the Wampanoag nation made a political treaty with England, providing protection for the travel-weakened pilgrim settlement. And as we watch the protest at Standing Rock endure, I cannot escape the disconcerting knowledge that our holiday symbolizes the beginning of colonialist expansion into a “New World” that was already fully populated.

I am very proud of the independent-thinking, civically-engaged, scholarly-faithful Pilgrim tradition that is alive at First Congregational and in our wider church denomination, the United Church of Christ, but any pride in our history must be tempered by honesty and responsibility for our contributions to the injustices perpetrated by ideologies of Manifest Destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery: "The Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery."

And one of the best ways to heal the wrongs of the past is to stand for justice in the present. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, consider how your celebration might show respect for the struggle at Standing Rock or support the healing of our earth. And give thanks with a joyful heart, knowing that the arc of the universe bends toward justice and wholeness for all of God’s creation.


The Rev. Elena Larssen

In This Issue

Standing with Standing Rock
Music on Sunday
Christian Education
Advent Workshop
Titanic: Two More Shows!
Winter Festival & Sparkling Reception
Capital Campaign Update
3rd and Cedar Blog
Poet's Notes
Gratitude for Youth Sunday
Quiz Answers
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

We humans like our stories. From ancient times to the present, in all parts of the globe, we have entertained ourselves by telling each other the tales of past events or imaginary creations that reflect who we are as people. The Bible, without its illuminating stories of kings and prophets and ordinary women and men, would be a dry tome, and would not have enjoyed the popularity and influence it has had over the centuries. Like many other good books, it has even inspired musicals. There’s something about a passage of text that’s sung that makes it stick with you. It’s definitely easier to remember or even memorize words that have rhythm and rhyme. (How did you first learn your alphabet?) A beautiful thing, though, about acting out a drama and singing songs for others is that the performers get even more out of it than the audience. Those of us in church last week got to enjoy hearing an excerpt from the current hit Broadway musical Hamilton excellently presented by Zoe and Eli Hedgepeth. The two of them, however, will have the benefit of knowing more about the history of early American politics than most of us, not to mention the thrill of the limelight! There’s a reason that actors and singers and dancers enjoy putting on a show, for no pay, and with much sacrifice, and that is because it feeds the soul. It connects them to the rest of humanity, both living and dead. It creates bonds among them that can last a lifetime. And yes, it is fun!  Why do you think they call them “players”?

All this rambling has been my way of expressing my thoughts about musical theater in general, and Titanic in particular. It has been an amazing journey, led by an extraordinary talented pair of directors and propelled by an amazing bunch of folks from within and without our church family. We are extremely fortunate to have the human resources to pull something like this off, and you owe it to yourself to see what all the fuss is about. The final two shows are Saturday and Sunday.

I’m proud of what our fledgling Musical Theater Ministry has accomplished, and look forward to more journeys in the future!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music

In Sunday School

Theme: Christ over Chaos
Scripture: Colossians 1:11-20

Adult Education

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

Advent WoAdvent Workshoprkshop This Sunday, after the Service

Please join the Board of Christian Education at the annual Advent Workshop on Sunday, November 20, right after the service in the Ramsay Dining Room. We’ll have the fixings for a self-made simple lunch and several holiday make-and-take craft tables. This is open to all church family and friends – we hope you’ll join us!

Titanic Sails on This Weekend! 

The final performances of Titanic!

 Saturday, November 19 at 8 pm
Sunday, November 20 at 5 pm

You may purchase tickets online here or at the door.

Winter Festival Concert and Sparkling Reception
December 4, 4 pm

By Nancy Valencia, Executive Director, DAYS Long Beach

The deadline to purchase Winterfest and Sparkling Reception tickets is fast approaching! I know you will not want to miss the California State University Long Beach’s Winterfest Concert and Sparkling Reception that comes but once a year. If you have not been, it is quite spectacular to behold. And if you have been, consider bringing your friends and family to the concert and reception. The concert will put you and your loved ones in the holiday spirit and the reception will be a lovely way to entertain your friends and family.
The concert begins at 4 p.m. with reception immediately following. Please make checks payable to First Congregational Church of Long Beach. You will not be disappointed. For more information or to reserve your tickets send an email right now to or call 562-234-2851.
All proceeds from the event will go directly to DAYS Long Beach. Your support is especially crucial at this time as we face a new administration and policies that are likely to threaten many of our youth and their families. We have already begun the work of keeping these families safe and together. Your contribution will allow us to continue to work with our partners to offer resources and much needed services to our community.

Capital Campaign Making Waves!

By Ruth Keller, for the Preserving Our Legacy Campaign Team

First Church members, the ship is not sinking ... that is what people on the Titanic want you to think! In fact, the Preserving Our Legacy ship has been moving full steam ahead since August. This Sunday will be our third commitment Sunday where you have the opportunity to pickup up your letter of intent and/or drop off your intent in the ship's treasure chest so to speak! The ultimate success of this campaign rest on you, the key members of First Church, who can get us to our goal, which is to preserve the rose windows and terra cotta surrounding the windows. We have not encountered any icebergs thus far!

Stained Glass Studio Tour

By Allison King
Check out the 3rd and Cedar blog this week for an exclusive tour of J. Michael Designs stained glass studio and a closer look at how the rose windows are being restored!

Poet's Notes

By Tina Datsko de Sánchez
As your Poet in Residence, I was honored when Steve Crow invited me to contribute a poem as part of the capital campaign. I put in a request to my muse, and the poem that showed up is called “Windows of Love.” The poem reflects on what the windows provide to this community and how they can inspire us. Jose Sanchez-H. created a video of the poem to be shared in the service this Sunday. The following people donated their time and talent to give voice to the poem: Heather and Lauren Chambers, Steve Crow, Mattea Fisher, Randall Goddard, Alison Mitchell, Melody O’Keefe, Jenny and Lily Penner, and Kirsten Pickus.  
The rose windows glow amber with morning light,
their many hues—yellow, red, blue, green—
make more visible to us the light of Creation pouring in,
enhance our awareness that God’s radical love
is right here with us.
Their beauty is a challenge to us
to be windows of God’s love,
to let light and warmth pour through us
in our brilliant diversity,
even in our fragmentation.
So that together we add up to a vision
much larger than ourselves, an eternal circle
of community, caring, compassion—
a glimpse of God’s extravagant welcome
as we light each other’s way.
And our hearts flaming together for justice
create a beacon for any who need hope
in our cherished city. Because only together—
each beautiful hue that we embody—
can we make God’s love visible for all.

Gratitude for Youth Sunday

By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas
This past Sunday was youth Sunday - our service of celebration was planned and led by our amazing youth. They did a wonderful job. I have heard from many of you that their message "Change Is Inevitable: Don't Lose Heart" was exactly the what needed to be heard on the Sunday after the election. 
Many thanks to Tracy Halter-Balin, Matt Balin, and Curtis Heard, who coordinated and led the youth and our congregation in music. I know this was another thing added to a very busy weekend for them. Thanks to Harold Sutherland for dressing the communion table with a fall harvest. To our youth Sunday School teachers and Zone leaders: Samantha Mouradian, Paul Boyd-Batstone, Ben West, Deb Buller, and Jeremy Morales - thank you for all the ways you empower our youth to be the creative, kind leaders they are. And finally, parents, thank you for showing up and encouraging your kids and teens to share their gifts and talents with the congregation. 

Thank You!

To the cast and crew of Titanic: Thank you all for such an amazing show! What a generous and wonderful gift you gave to us, your audience. FABULOUS!!!

Cara Varnell

Weekly Capital Campaign Quiz Answers

Rose Windows
1. How many angels are in the east rose window? You many need to find the window as captured in the Koinonia Room.
Answer: 16. Alternating round windows each have heads of two angels, both looking toward the center “in an attitude of praise,” explains the 1914 Guidebook.
2. Which rose window has the “endless knot,” symbolizing eternity, at its center?
Answer: West window
3. How many animals are depicted in the West Rose Window?
Answer: Three. Lion – Gospel of Mark; ox – Gospel of Luke; eagle – Gospel of John
4. How many teardrop windows are in each rose window?
Answer: 16. Compare the unrepaired and restored teardrop windows now on display.

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

We had three volunteer groups on Sunday, November 13. They came in shifts and supplied us with great volunteer support all day. Christina Le’s group came early from CSULB and stayed till 11:30 am. Alexandra brought a group from Eta Sigma Gamma Health Science Honorary Society from 10 am to 4:30 pm. At 2 pm Erika Azcue brought her ladies reading group and they also stayed till 4:30 to help. Volunteer Coordinator Katie Phillips came and worked with the children.

Coordinators Steve Leary, Frances Dumayag, and Ed Boyle helped direct the volunteers. Kyle ably set up and ran the computer lab, and Gary Shelton offered his support. Regulars like Frank Schmidt, Qua Redditt, Neil Simon, Gayle Taggart, Julie Lie, Megan Marriott, and Sandy Lemus are always a great help! Intern Stacey Berry and new hire Diane Gomez, Housing Case Manager, gave their excellent support. Operations Manager Cherry Bush and Chef Melody Garrett made an excellent chicken meal incorporating yogurt with sliced bananas instead of a fruit salad this time. Wow! Everyone loved that!

Diane Gomez shadowed me and we worked with client guests. We gave money for a white uniform shirt to one of our ladies who has just been hired by LBUSD and clothing for a new job to another young lady. We helped to pay the phone bill for one of our guests so she can communicate with our community partner, PATH, that is going to give her rental assistance. One young man’s birth certificate arrived, and now he’ll have it to take to show them at his new job. We gave him $60 for a one-month transportation pass till he gets paid. Another new guest needed some bus passes to go to Torrance about a job there. A woman needed laundry money to keep herself and her children looking and feeling clean.

It was a good day all in all and ran smoothly with each challenge being answered. May your week go as smoothly with enough help and resources.
DIC Volunteers

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Leslie Charles upon the death of her father, Lloyd Wright; Robert Enslin; David Plowman; Steve Hinze (Marion Hinze’s son; Joan Chambers (Cathy Chambers’ mother); James Datsko (Tina Datsko’s brother); Robert Rhyu (Tina Datsko’s friend); and Julio Yery (Tina Datsko’s friend’s husband).

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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