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

The Pilgrim - May 8, 2016

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

Dear Church, 

This week, I want to share something simple that celebrates how our connection to the earth can mean that spring liberates us with its bursting beauty … a poem from popular American poet, Billy Collins, who served two terms as US Poet Laureate:

Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

May you have a liberating and beautiful Today; I look forward to seeing you on Sunday and celebrating together~

The Rev. Elena Larssen


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Happiest Fundraiser on Earth - Saturday

Brass and Organ Concert - Sunday

Capital Campaign News

Pride Parade - May 22

Hygiene Items Needed

Summer in the City - June 4

Church Picnic - July 31

Hollywood Bowl Trips

Los Altos UCC Golf Tournament

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

It’s a busy week at First Church. Last night, the choir sang at the Long Beach Chapter of the American Guild of Organists installation and worship service. Saturday is the spaghetti dinner fundraiser (featuring Disney-themed entertainment) for our youth trip to Florida. Sunday evening there will be a concert of organ and brass put on by Dr. Marc Dickey and the Cal State Fullerton Brass ensemble. And of course, there is our Sunday morning worship celebration!

Sunday is also Mother’s Day, and while this week’s anthem has nothing to do with that occasion per se, it is certainly one that feels right musically. It is a beautiful setting of Psalm 40 by Felix Mendelssohn called “I Waited for the Lord.” It features two sopranos singing a lovely duet – Megan O’Toole and Pam Chapin will melt your hearts! The choir and organ, meanwhile, provide a luscious backdrop. The piece is from a larger work called Hymn of Praise that was written in 1840 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of printing. Because of the historical context and classic nature of the work, I have decided to leave the original translation intact, so we will be using some masculine language in reference to God. I hope that will not interfere with your enjoyment of this lovely piece! The service will also feature a selection by Beloved Bells, and a solo by Leeav Sofer. Happy Mother’s Day!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: For the Common Good
Scripture: Acts 16:16-34

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




NYE logoCalling All Princesses and Princes!
By Tracy Halter-Balin

Our last fundraising event for National Youth Event is this Saturday, May 7, and we need you! When is that last time you had a yummy spaghetti dinner with all the fixin's and supported a great cause at the same time? Come join us this Saturday night at 6:30 pm in the Ramsay Dining Hall for fun, food and fellowship! Our theme is "The Happiest Fundraiser on Earth" in honor of the 11 people who will be heading to the National Youth Event at Disney World, Florida this July. We will have wonderful entertainment provided by a few of our very talented choir members and to make it even more fun for children of all ages, we are asking you and encouraging you to dress Disney! Cinderella, Snow White, Prince Charming, Mickey or Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Ursula or a pirate … the list is endless!

This event is for the whole family. $10 per person or $25 per family payable at the door. Dinner will be served at 7 pm followed by dessert and a Disney musical extravaganza. What a fun way to start off your Mother’s Day celebrations! If you have any questions, please contact me at bellgirl99@hotmail.com. Hope to see you there.


Music for Brass! Music for Organ!! Music for Brass and Organ!!!

Cal State Fullerton Brass Ensembles
Todd Miller and Steve Mahpar, conductors

Marc Dickey, organ

Sunday, May 8, 7 p.m.

Free-will offering will be collected.


Update on Capital Campaign for the Historic Church Building
By Steve Crow

Thanks to the groundwork laid by the Historic Preservation Committee over the past couple of years, the Church Council approved a recommendation from its Capital Campaign working group that we move forward with major exterior building projects funded by a capital campaign. Here is the progress to date:

  • We have a detailed bid on restoring all three rose windows.
  • We have a detailed consultant’s report on needed exterior work for all terra cotta and brickwork. We are receiving bids for that work.
  • We received a Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association grant of $50,000 toward a portion of this work: restore the east rose window and the terra cotta tracery around it. This work needs to be completed by April 2017 if we hope to apply for a second grant.
  • We are doing the legwork on ways to finance these projects even as we conduct the Capital Campaign to cover all costs we incur. The work must be done on a schedule that assures cost efficiency and minimal disruption; the Capital Campaign will extend over three years.
  • We are searching for a general contractor to coordinate all of the exterior work, including getting all necessary permits.
  • The anticipated costs based on bids received so far: $700,000-$750,000. Goal of a capital campaign:  $800,000.

After worship on May 15, the Historic Preservation Committee will make a presentation on the imperative for this exterior work.

After worship on June 12, a Congregational Meeting will be held to gain formal congregational approval of the Capital Campaign strategy and goals.


Pride Parade Update
By Bob Kalayjian, Board of Social Justice and Outreach

The 33rd Annual Pride Parade kicks off after church on Sunday, May 22. As usual we will be toward the back of the parade in order that those who wish to join in the fun and march (everyone!) will have time to come down to East Ocean Blvd after church. 

The following needs and suggestions should be noted:

  1. Exact location/cross street on Ocean will be announced at the church service.
  2. Marchers will be blessed and empowered by the clergy at the service.
  3. We need families and children, wagons, strollers, trikes and bikes, etc.
  4. Anyone not able to walk the parade should contact me to secure a seat in our two convertibles (robkal@me.com or 562-754-5334).
  5. Water and orange slices provided.
  6. Arrange for car pooling and shuttling from church to our location. Anyone who can shuttle folks to the site on their way home from church should contact me at email/phone above.
  7. Anyone interested in helping staff the booth at the festival Saturday or Sunday should contact Bill Kuehl (wokuehl@yahoo.com or 714-538-9408).

Our church has been in 32 of the 33 parades and we have a booth in the festival area to promote our very early, strong and continued commitment to embracing members of the LGBT community. Please come down and march in support of that beautiful heritage.


Spring Hygiene Drive
By Alison Morales, Urban Community Outreach

Greetings Church! Urban Community Outreach is hoping you'll help us gather up a few specific hygiene items for our weekly guests at the drop in center. We're collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, and baby wipes every Sunday in May. You'll easily spot a box for donations in the narthex and we'd really appreciate your help. Together, we can help our beloved community feel fresher and healthier!

toothbrushes toothpaste baby wipes


It’s Time To Celebrate “Summer in the City”
By Nancy Valencia, Director, DAYS Long Beach

DAYS Long Beach is pleased to announce its 47th year providing a free summer day camp to children and youth in Long Beach. DAYS Long Beach cordially invites our wonderful First Church community to our annual “Summer in the City” event on Saturday evening, June 4.

Join us Saturday, June 4
Patterson Hall
6 PM to 9 PM
Hors d’oeuvres at 6 PM, dinner follows at 6:45 PM
Entertainment by our very own DAYS campers

Tickets: $ 50; $375 for a table of 8

Go to www.dayslb.org to order tickets and/or make credit card payment. To pay by check mail to DAYS Long Beach, 1230 E. Wardlow Road, Long Beach, CA 90807. Please make checks payable to DAYS Long Beach.

Summer in the City


Save the Date
All Church Family Picnic
Sunday, July 31

Put it on your calendar now. There’s food, fun and great community for people of all ages on this Sunday afternoon at El Dorado Park. It’s an event you don’t want to miss!


BOCA Goes to the Hollywood Bowl - Twice!
By Mario Coello

This summer come join the Board of Cultural Arts on two enchanting excursions through the world of classical music at the Hollywood Bowl. On July 21, pianist Yuja Wang plays jazzy classics by Ravel and Gershwin, conducted by Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel. The $35 ticket also will include the park and ride shuttle, a seat cushion and a boxed dinner. The shuttle leaves at 5:30 pm from the Lakewood Mall. Also mark your calendars for August 14, when Mexican guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela join the orchestra for a magical collaboration incorporating influences from the worlds of Latin, jazz, rock and heavy metal. The $40 ticket includes the park and ride shuttle, a seat cushion and a boxed dinner. The shuttle leaves the Lakewood Mall at 5 pm. Tickets for both concerts will be on sale throughout May and June in the coffee area after Sunday service.


Los Altos UCC Announces
The Pilgrim Pines Campership Golf Tournament and Bar-B-Que

To raise money for Pilgrim Pines Camperships

Sunday, May 22, 2 PM
Bixby Village Golf Course, Long Beach, CA

At Pilgrim Pines a few years ago, a counselor and their campers were walking near the creek. One camper asked what a sound was and the counselor responded that it was a frog. The camper laughed and said that frogs were not real. They were mythical creatures just like unicorns. The counselor caught the frog and showed it to the camper. That same week, that same camper ate a strawberry for the first time. That true story helps to understand the importance of sending a child to camp.

Each year Pilgrim Pines Camp receives requests for camperships from campers with financial needs. We are asking for your help to be sure that each of these campers with financial needs has the opportunity to attend this wonderful experience! Camp is so very important and every little bit helps! Members of the Los Altos UCC have created the Pilgrim Pines Campership Golf Tournament and Bar-B-Que to raise money to support this fund. This will be a 9-hole golf game with a bar-b-que afterwards.

The tournament is Sunday, May 22, at Bixby Village Golf Course (6180 Bixby Village Dr., Long Beach, CA 90803). Bixby Golf Course features 1,795 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 30. The course rating is 57.5 and has a slope rating of 87. Golf and BBQ is $50. BBQ alone is $25. Tee times will start at 2:00 PM with the bar-b-que starting at 3:30 PM. If you cannot attend the event, donations in any amount are welcome.

Registration for the tournament must be made using the form found at http://bit.ly/1Cgg9Cr by Wednesday May 18th. Your payment can be made via credit or debit card at http://www.pilgrimpinescamp.org/camp-payment.html. Just enter your first and last name, your email address and LAUCC Golf Tournament as the event. Donations paid with cash and check will be taken at the event.

If you have questions, please contact Dave Lampert at davelampert3@gmail.com or by phone at 310-907-6936. Special appreciation to the Bixby Village Golf Course for supporting this event.


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday, May 1, was the first Sunday of the month. Most people had received their monthly checks, and attendance is less when they have money. It was a beautiful day weather-wise, not too hot or cold and raining, so our guests were in a good mood.

Nurse Ann was on her first cruise and not at DIC. I’m happy for her to be able to take this cruise. She gives so much of herself to help others all the time.

I had nominated one of our great young volunteers for an award at the Los Alamitos Youth Center, and Saturday night we went to present him with an award and $200. He had commendations from President Obama and Congress and all down the line to some local politicians. It was a very positive event and a joy to present our Dominic Cashiola and also hear of other young volunteers doing great volunteer work in the community.

I interviewed some of our guests Sunday and was able to help one with a bus pass and one with the use of our address because at his group living situation people are stealing his mail.

Then I spent a long time with one couple. The woman was in tears almost the whole interview. This year she has had a heart attack and a stroke and can’t work anymore. They knew they needed help, but the man with her gave me “reasons” why they couldn’t do things I suggested to start building a better life. They had been living at a company where he is paid under the table from time to time to do some work. They let them sleep there. Though it was not ideal, just their blankets on the floor, they at least had a safe place to sleep with a roof over their heads. Now the company has said they had to leave, and stark reality hit them. They wanted me to house them right away!

DICI gave them one night in a motel to shower and shave and get some sleep and begin their fresh start in life. I told them it was my vote of confidence that they could do some things to make their life better. I told them we only can give motel vouchers to people who are working to change their situation. I gave them some focus and referrals and hope they can move forward.

We announced that Section 8 was opening up on Tuesday, May 2, and where to go to sign up for that. It hasn’t been open for about 8 to 10 years. This gave hope to many people. They won’t have housing overnight, but at least it is an opportunity and a posibility.

So though we had a calm first Sunday, we still made a difference in the world. Thank you for your kind support so we can do that!


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 Steve Hinze (Marion Hinze's son); Jim Barg (Doug Schading's cousin); Therese Patsel (Judy Crawford's friend); Gary Shelton; Jan and Paul Bode (Lisa Bode Heard's parents); and Ed Zirbel (Lisa Bode Heard's best friend's father).

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