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

The Pilgrim - May 15, 2016

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

Dear Church, 

'Tis the season! Not of Christmas or Easter, but the season of Pentecost, which begins on Sunday. Pentecost is the celebration of the inception of the church and one of the great holidays of our tradition. The Worship and Arts team has some special moments planned, and suggested that we all wear red to celebrate.

Why wear red?

The color red is associated in the Christian tradition with celebrations of the church ... Pentecost, ordinations of ministers, consecrations of new congregations or special anniversaries ... and symbolizes the red flames of the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples on first Pentecost.

Not surprisingly, 'tis also, therefore, the season of church meetings. I am currently in New York City for the annual meeting of the Pensions Boards of the United Church of Christ, as I sit on the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance, which raises and distributes the Christmas Fund (supporting disabled and impoverished clergy in their retirement) and manages other programs of support and enrichment for ministers, including the Next Generation Leadership Generation Program for clergy new to ministry, like our own John Forrest Douglas. In June, the South California Nevada Conference will have our annual meeting at Chapman University.

Our congregation will also have an important meeting on June 12; come this Sunday for an after-church forum to learn about the proposed preservation project for our historic building and stained glass windows and related capital campaign fundraising. It's an exciting time to vision the unfolding future of our mission on the corner of arts and justice.

Our prayers for John Forrest's recovery continue with some very good news: Rev. Douglas has been approved to return to work! You will receive an email later this week with more details as they unfold, and thank you for your endless support to him, Ben, and the church staff.

The Rev. Elena Larssen


Shofar Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

This Sunday (Pentecost) will feature a smorgasbord of music: there will be organ music, chanting, a contemporary classical anthem, handbells, hymns, a pop tune by Burt Bacharach, and a shofar!

The anthem’s title sums up the theme of the service nicely – it’s called “The Day of Pentecost” and will feature solos by Lisa Bode Heard and Megan O’Toole, as well as more languages than you can count. Lisa will also be singing “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” assisted by our resident vocal group Just Cuz and Ewan Scott on the trumpet. The bell choir will be playing a fantasy on Hyfrydol. (Hyfrydol is the name of a popular hymn tune – you may know it as Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, but there are many texts set to this tune.) And then there is the shofar – a musical instrument made of a ram’s horn, used for Jewish religious purposes.

So – put on your red shoes (and other red attire) and enjoy this Sunday's celebration!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Poet's Notes

Workshop on Beyond Resistance

Church Booth at Pride Festival

MenAlive Concert

Hygiene Items Drive

Summer in the City

NYE Fundraiser a Success!

Remembering Global Missions

UCC Global Ministries Trip to Tijuana

Pilgrim Pines Camp Seeking Donations

Drop-In Center News


Church Mouse

Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us

In Sunday School

Theme: Pentecost Sunday
Scripture: Acts 2:1-21

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




Poet's Notes
By Tina Datsko de Sánchez

This Sunday we celebrate the birth of the church at Pentecost with imagery of fire and wind as metaphors for the Spirit of God moving among us. Since fiery red is the color of the season, the Worship and Arts Ministry Team will be offering a multi-sensory experience with visual elements and a responsive reading of the poem “Pour Out My Spirit.” In 2014, Rev. John Forrest Douglas asked me to write a poem for Pentecost and this is what showed up. So on Sunday, let’s all show up (wearing red) and be the church!


Within the walls of our imagined isolation,
God bursts in like a roaring wind.
Even in our baptisms by fire,
the Spirit of God touches us gently
and brings her cooling balm.

I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people.

Sacred Wisdom opens us to understanding,
to comprehend each other’s languaging,
across gender, age, ability,
national origin, sexual orientation—
who we are born as and who we love.

I will pour out my Spirit
on those who serve me,
men and women both,
and they will prophesy.

We are not drunk on new wine but on new life.
We are born anew into community,
sisters and brothers sharing a common life,
sharing in meals and sharing in prayer.

And whoever calls out for help
to me, God, will be transformed.

In our turning to God,
uniting our hearts and hands,
the gifts of each flow together as a spring

where all can drink and be nourished.


Workshop This Sunday on Beyond Resistance

The Rev. Jake Pomeroy of First Congregational Church of Pasadena will lead a workshop on John Dohrhauer's book Beyond Resistance at 1 pm this Sunday, May 15, in the Pownall Room. Please RSVP to the church office (office@firstchurchlb.org) AND to Jake Pomeroy (jpomeroy@cst.edu) so that they can plan appropriately.


Church Booth at Long Beach Pride Festival

The Board of Social Justice and Outreach is sponsoring an informational booth at the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival on May 21 and 22. If you would enjoy informing inquisitive people about our church and its activities and events, then you would probably like to volunteer in our booth. Besides informing and welcoming festival goers to our church, you will be handing out temporary tattoos, stickers, and pencils. The days and times are listed below. Please contact me and let me know what day and time you prefer to volunteer. (I’m flexible.)

Saturday, May 21: 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 22: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.; 5 – 8 p.m.

Thank you,
William Kuehl
714-336-8187 (mobile) 714-538-9508 (landline)


MenAlive at First Church - Saturday, May 21, 7:30 PM

Men Alive

No charge; a free will offering will be taken.


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


Florida, Here We Come!
By Tracy Halter-Balin

On behalf of the eight youth heading to Florida this July, Disney-sized thanks to everyone who joined us last Saturday night for our last National Youth Event fundraiser. It was a wonderful evening, and your support really makes a difference. There were some great costumes, the food was delish, and the entertainment was festive! I was over the moon that all eight of the youth were there to participate and share their appreciation with you. As you heard that evening, they are a very busy bunch of kids! We’ll look forward to a full report about their adventure after they return (and recuperate from Florida in July!). The following will be heading out on a red-eye flight July 25: Scarlett Johnson, Madi Miranda, Annaliese Guthmann, Lily Penner, Ewan Scott, Trystan Scott, Spencer Charles, and Max Charles, along with three amazing adult chaperones – Sue Johnson, Jeremy Morales, and John Forrest Douglas.

Special thanks to the parents who shopped, cooked, decorated, planned, and executed the event, and to our talented entertainers: Curtis Heard, Lisa Bode-Heard, Todd Faux, Megan O’Toole, and Mark Wheeler.

Cuties at the NYE Fundraiser

Future National Youth Event attendees Mason and Thomas


Remembering Global Missions Ministry Team
By Bob Kalayjian and Chris Bobo

The Global Missions Ministry Team has been very quiet since the passing of Bob Stiles. It is under the umbrella of the Board of Social Justice and Outreach, and some of us have been continuing our support of global missions in a personal and quiet way through our donations to and relending of funds in our Kiva accounts. There is a First Congregational team at Kiva that has made 156 micro loans all over the world. Perhaps more members of the congregation would be interested in joining us. If you are, go to https://www.kiva.org/about to make a donation and lend money to an enterprising person in the developing world. Remember to join our First Congregational of Long Beach Team when you sign up.

Kiva and First Church


UCC Global Ministries Visit to Tijuana
By Randy Romine and Chris Bobo

The United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ Global Ministries is organizing a mission trip to Albergue Las Memorias Hostel, which was founded in Tijuana, B.C. Mexico on January 4, 1999. The Las Memorias objectives are to assist and attend to adults and minors living with HIV/AIDS and addictions, as well as their family members. The mission of Las Memorias is to provide quality care and human warmth to those living with HIV/AIDS and to conduct educational activities for the prevention of HIV/AIDS. The vision of Los Memorias is to strengthen, expand and establish new shelters and offices for care and counseling.

Albergue Las Memorias Global Ministries visit will take place Wednesday and Thursday, June 1 and 2, 2016. The plan is:

June 1 Noon - Gather at Church of the Foothills 19211 Dodge, Santa Ana, CA 92795 to carpool to the Tijuana Otay Mesa border entry. 
3 p.m. - Meet Rev. Jerri Handy, Las Memorias, cross border and check into Hotel 
Gamma Tijuana. Valid passports are required.*
4 p.m. - Las Memorias tour and orientation. 
6:30 p.m. - Light Dinner and Bible Study Tijuana DOC church.
8:45 p.m. - Return to hotel. 

June 2 
7 a.m. - Morning coffee and HIV Group Therapy presentation at Las Memorias.
9 a.m. - Breakfast with the residents and making one on one connections. 
10 a.m. - Learning about and helping with daily tasks of a resident.
1 p.m. - Reconnecting with our group and setting up desert and activity areas.***
2 p.m. - Lunch with residents.
3 p.m. - Group activities with residents. Bingo, nail salon, massage, quilting table,
games and art projects for kids and adults, yoga and Japanese exercise. 
6 p.m. - Return to Otay Mesa Crossing.

Cost: Hotel - Approx. $65 one or two people. Las Memorias program donation $20. Food at Las Memorias $15.

For more information in English on Las Memorias visit globalministries.org and search Las Memorias or go to the Spanish website lasmemorias.org to see their photo gallery. If you would like to join our group, contact Randy Romine (Irvine UCC Member) at 949-378-9032. 

* You will be sent a link for booking your room. 
** If you are coming from the San Diego area, you can meet us at the Otay Mesa crossing and leave cars in the lot there for $8. 
*** We will be providing dessert for lunch and will ask our churches to help with sweet breads, brownies, and lemon squares. You will be contacted about what to bring. 


Pilgrim Pines Camp Starts with You!

Pilgrim Pines is looking for caring, wonderful individuals to help support this amazing camp! You can help by donating your time, treasure, or prayers. Simply visit their 123 Go! page for more details. Our Conference Board has agreed to generously match any donations to the Pilgrim Pines Mortgage Termination Fund! Donations must be received by June 3, 2016. Also, for every $25 donation that you make to the mortgage or campership funds, you get one vote for the Hair Dye Challenge! Pick the hair color you would like our Conference Minister Felix to dye his hair at our Annual Gathering!


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Mother’s Day dawned on May 8 all spring-like and full of memories - mostly good memories for us, but more sad memories than good ones for a lot of our guests. We worked to make the day joyful and bring out the good. Vedanta began cooking delicious and fragrant Indian food early in the morning. They even had young Girl Scouts join them.

The week before, preparation of Mother’s Day placemats had begun. You would be surprised to see what lovely placemats can be made with just some crayons and marker pens! We had a winking girl, families, rainbows and sunshine, flowers, smiling fish, and many good and happy wishes! We brought out lots of spring color silk flowers and bright pink cloth napkins for the center of each table. Pink sparkling decorations, crepe paper, and white toile left from a wedding gave a very feminine Mother’s Day look to Patterson Hall. Special gold silk bags were filled with pretty cookies and candies and Fir Church’s leftover roses were given to the women. Heck, either you are a mother, have a mother, or wish you had someone like a mother!

Great hygiene items First Church had collected for us were brought in by Alison Morales and put with some other donated hygiene items and together we came up with enough to hand out hygiene items to everyone. Nurse Ann was back from her cruise and gave our guests her attention, shots, wound care, vitamins, and a caring ear. Even the office was shaped up with the newer printer donated to us. It was brought in and set up and we made copies when we needed them! Yeah!

I talked with people and we worked on challenges that had stumped and vexed them. I gave one young mother gas and helped a gentleman with “a dream come true!” He had been saving for months to get his computer and guitar out of the pawn shop. He just needed $35 to make this a reality so he could get his resume out of the computer and could play his guitar with a small band he had found and perhaps make a little more money. He cried tears of joy and we made a thankful prayer to God. It didn’t matter that it was a prayer from a Catholic and a Protestant. It was heartfelt!

May your week be full of joy and thankful unified prayers.



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.




Church Mouse imageThe Church Mouse has heard ...

On Thursday at 11 a.m., Jim Deaton will be one of four community leaders whose names will be added to plaques in the Equality Plaza at Harvey Milk Promenade Park. The plaza recognizes local LGBTQ community leaders. The ceremony will be at the park (212 E. Third St.). See the Press-Telegram article here.


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Jan Waggoner, Gary Shelton, and Steve Hinze (Marion Hinze's son).

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.



Akiko Dohi

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