Palm Sunday at First Church!
View this email in your browser

The Pilgrim - April 9, 2017


Sunday Celebration Notes

Celebrating God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am

Dear First Church,

Holy Week is upon us; this most special week of the year is filled with times for reflection, action, and celebration.

This is also the time of year to bring a friend to church; remember that ~80% of new members join a church because they are brought by a friend, and the top three services for visitors are Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day (Lifeway Research, 2006). Especially if your friend had a bad experience with religion in the past, think how much it could matter to be invited, accompanied to the service, and to have Easter Nibbles afterward as the kids play and Easter Bonnets parade in the courtyard?

Here is an overview of Holy Week:

Palm Sunday: Festival Service at 10 am with Easter Bonnet Tea to follow.

Maundy Thursday: 7 pm service with symbolic foot washing, Communion, and Tenebrae … a truly unique and stirring service which walks us through the events of Holy Week into Good Friday.

Easter Sunday: 9 am Continental Breakfast for all, hosted by Christian Education. Do you have extra flowers? Bring some to place in the flower-filled cross in the courtyard.

9:30 am Egg Hunt for Kids in the Courtyard

10 am Service of Celebration in the Sanctuary, featuring the Sanctuary Choir singing Handel's "Let Their Celestial Concerts All Unite."

11 am Easter Nibbles in the Courtyard, hosted by Parish Life with photo opportunities in front of the beautiful flower-filled Easter cross on the grass.

Sunday, April 23: Earth Day Celebration featuring Leeav Sofer, guest musician! Earth Day Fair in the courtyard, hosted by the Board of Social Justice and Outreach with activities for all ages.

Free Church parking in the City Garage and Church’s Chestnut Lot, and nursery care for little ones will be open for all of these services and events.


The Rev. Elena Larssen

Easter Bonnet Tea Party  after Church This Sunday!

In This Issue

Sunday Celebration Notes
Music This Sunday
Sunday School
Lenten Class
Easter Bonnet Tea Party
Women's Group
Parents' Night Out
Youth Spring Lock-In
Kindred Spirits
Women's Retreat
Easter Lilies
Serendipity Suppers
Send a Kid to Camp
Announcements in Church
People's State of the City
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

Heard's Words: Music This Sunday

There is power in numbers. A cliché, perhaps, but true nonetheless. The recent gatherings of people to protest (or support) our government’s policies are a testament to the basic human impulse to band together for a cause. I imagine the same could be said for the people who gathered in Jerusalem to witness Jesus’ entry into the city. There were undoubtedly many supporters, but probably some protestors as well, along with the just plain curious. In any case, there was certainly an energy that can only be generated by huge crowds. This Sunday’s anthem captures that energetic feeling. Brazililan composer Ernani Aguiar has set Psalm 150 in a rhythmically pulsating composition that features rapid articulation of the Latin text. (The Latin they use in Brazil is slightly different than what we’re used to – in case you’re a Latin scholar.) The solo this week will be “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” from Jesus Christ, Superstar, sung by Lisa Bode Heard.

On an unrelated note, I’ll be playing with the Pacific Symphony this weekend on a program called “Ellis Island: The Dream of America.” I’m only playing a keyboard on a selection by John Adams, but the concert will also feature a beautiful work by Peter Boyar that highlights the stories of seven immigrants who entered America through Ellis Island. There is a video about the concert on the symphony’s Facebook page. Considering what is happening in our world, this concert is a testament to the importance of the arts in illuminating the need for kindness and justice for all.

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

In Sunday School

Theme: Passion Amidst Palms
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11 / Matthew 26:14-27:66

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 Topic on April 9: Real Victory

Easter Bonnet Tea Party This Sunday

The Easter Bonnet Tea Party will take place in the Koinonia Room after the service this 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; children 12 and under: $5; entire family: $25. Proceeds benefit Downtown Associated Youth Services.

Women’s Group Begins This Sunday

By Kirsten Pickus

If you are interested in nurturing relationships with other women, please consider joining us for the first meeting of the First Church Women’s Group this Sunday, April 9, from 11:30 am to 1 pm in the Pownall Room. This multigenerational group will focus on deepening connections and creating a space for sharing life’s challenges and joys. The group welcomes women who are mothers to young children and grandmothers to adult children, women who are nurturers and women who are creators. The group will meet the second Sunday of every month, and regular attendance will facilitate comfort among participants. Please feel welcome to come try it out this Sunday and see if it’s the right fit for you. Kirsten Pickus and Rev. Katy Hyman will facilitate.

Parents' Night Out This Friday

By Tracy Halter-Balin

All kids up to the age of 12 are invited to join us for Parents’ (Kids’) Night Out this Friday, April 7. We’ll enjoy great activities, fellowship and pizza dinner with the trimmings, along with some new stuff to try. Come any time between 6 and 8:45 pm. We’ll be in the Ramsay Dining Room.

Youth who are 13 years and older (and some grown-ups too) are most definitely invited to join in and help us with all the activities. Please RSVP to Tracy Halter-Balin at or at 562-754-3324. Thanks!

First Church Youth Spring Lock-In This Weekend!

When: Saturday, April 8 at 5 pm -- Sunday, April 9 at 11 am
Who: 6th-12th grade youth
Dinner!  Games!  Sardines!  Wii tournament!
Late night movies! Dessert!  And more!
What to bring: Sleeping bag, pillow, pajamas, tooth brush/paste, and
$12 cash for breakfast at Potholder before church!

Event hosted by Jeremy Morales.
Rsvp to
Questions? Call Alison Morales at 562-756-2166.

Kindred Spirits

By Ron Ellwood

The next meeting of Kindred Spirits will be Saturday, April 22 at 4 pm at the home of Rick and David Travis Bourassa. Their address is 21207 Avalon Blvd Space #119, Carson, CA 90745. Parking is directly across the street at the clubhouse.

Please bring your favorite dish large enough to serve 8-10 people. Flatware, paper goods, cups and drinks will be provided, as well as an entrée. Please direct any questions and/or comments to Ron and Perry Ellwood: 310-850-0594 or

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

By Cheryl Doorbar

If you have been feeling stressed and burdened by politics, come to the politics-free zone of the Women’s Retreat. The Rev. Marlene Pomeroy of First Congregational Church of Pasadena will be leading us to restore balance through breath, chakras and spirit. There will be a sunset labyrinth walk, drum-making, drum circle, s’mores around the campfire, and rejuvenating massages (for an additional fee) in the peaceful and restorative mountains of Pilgrim Pines. The cost for the weekend will be $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, will be $80. The deadline for registration is April 17.

Easter Lilies

To contribute toward the lilies that will adorn the sanctuary on Easter Day, please send the information below to the office and then send a check made out to First Congregational Church, or print the info and mail it with your check to First Congregational Church, 241 Cedar Ave., Long Beach, CA 90802. The deadline is noon on Tuesday, April 11.

Daytime phone number:
Number of lilies ______ x $10 per plant = $ ________ enclosed
In memory of:
In honor of: 
I will take ______ plant(s) home.
Please take ______ plant(s) to shut-ins.

Serendipity Suppers Bring People Together for Food and Fun

By the Serendipity Suppers Team

Last Saturday night was filled with yummy food and a chance to connect with new and existing friends for nearly 40 First Church members and their guests. At four homes from Tustin to La Mirada to Long Beach, groups gathered to play fun games, enjoy delicious wine and cocktails, and break bread together. Participants shared meaningful conversation and enjoyed opportunities to socialize and deepen their connections with one another.

A Serendipity Brunch is planned for Saturday, July 15, and all are welcome! If you haven’t yet completed a survey, please click HERE to download a copy that you can print and return to the office.

Help Send a Kid to Camp

By Tracy Halter-Balin

A few people have asked me about Pilgrim Pines Summer Camp and how much it costs for a week. I love to talk about camp and all the amazing things that happen there! The main thing to share for the purpose of this article is how you can help provide a camp experience for the kids and youth at First Church. While the cost for a week (Sunday through Saturday) hasn't gone up very much over the past several years, it is still quite steep … especially for families with two, three, or four kids. Pilgrim Pines delivers high-quality food and experiences for $435 a week. There are many camps for kids to choose from each summer, and yet First Church has a history of sending many campers and volunteers to this special place where the mantra is "The Mountains Shall Bring Peace to the People." I dream that this experience will be a reality for many decades and generations to come. If you would like more information about helping out with a donation, please see me or John Forrest. Thank you!

Announcements in Church on Sundays

Hello, Church. As a Member-at-Large of our Church Council, I’ve been asked to write a short piece with some reminders and advice about announcement time during our worship service. An article I read on this subject said, “People multi-task and can’t remember squat.” Another article claimed that too many announcements at a time reduce the likelihood of any of them being remembered. It says that two announcements reduce effectiveness by two-thirds, and three announcements are 90% less effective than one.

So, here goes:

1. Elena asks that you send an email to her by 1 pm on Tuesday, requesting to be on next Sunday’s list of announcers. It’s her job to control this list.

2. Introduce yourself, every time, and explain the purpose of the announcement. Not everyone in the congregation knows you or what committee, cause, or outreach you represent. Be prepared and write it out; don’t try to wing it.

3. Try not to use “insider language.” Work hard to use plain language, make it short but include necessary details, and also explain why this is important to you, and why you think it’s important to the congregation, and how they can specifically use the information. Refer to articles or announcements in the bulletin, The Pilgrim, or a sign-up or information table for more information. Short means about 30 seconds!

4. Be sure the announcement is important and of interest to at least half of the people in the room. If it’s meant for a more restricted audience, please ask that it be published in The Pilgrim or the Sunday bulletin, or use email, phone calls, etc. to reach your intended audience.

5. Please make your announcement timely enough so as not to have to come back and remind people of the event too often.

If we can follow a plan like this, announcement time will be more interesting, more relevant, and more timely.


Karen Miller

People's State of the City - Tonight - Wednesday, April 5

5 pm - Community Fair on Cedar Avenue
6:30 pm - Program in the First Church Sanctuary

Take action with the Long Beach community to hear how workers, families, and residents are taking a stand to fight for inclusion and justice in our city. Visit for more information.

Free food, childwatch, Spanish and Khmer interpretation, bike valet, and parking in the civic center parking structure (332 West Broadway); take Long Beach Transit or Metro Blue Line to Downtown Long Beach station.

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday, April 2, was serene and pleasant. Chef Melody and volunteers served enchiladas, beans, salad and desserts to First Church members first and then to our guests in need. Nurse Anne Herzog came and cared for the over 200 client guests in the courtyard here at FCC. It was a big crowd for a first Sunday. Bottles of water, peanuts, and granola bars were donated and handed out.

I was invited to speak about Urban Community Outreach at the Neighborhood Church in Palos Verdes’ services and then attend their patio receptions after each service. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed meeting the people and being with them.

One of our clients found an apartment, and it is being held with a deposit while we work to get money from Rapid Rehousing for her. Another client has moved into a room. We are working on getting several other families stabilized. I have a single parent father and his four-year-old son in a motel while we try to work on things for them. Our 80-year-old birthday lady I talked about last week has become temporarily housed at Project Achieve. We are glad of that. That gives us 90 days to work together to try to find something permanent for her.

I can’t believe it’s April already with Easter and our roaring twenties event both just around the corner! Such a busy, but special month! May you enjoy it all to its fullest!

Pictured at left are First Church members Steve and Heather Chambers and Doug Emslie at the UCO "Jazzy Lady" Gala in 2016.

This year's event, "Bright Lights & Dark Nights," is Saturday, April 22. Information and tickets are available on the Urban Community Outreach website.

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Marjie McMillin; Iris Esquivias upon the death of her mother, Mable Carter Blackard; Scott Thompson (Amy Peer's brother); Nik Johnson (Amy Peer's friend); Isabelle Schading (Doug Schading's daughter-in-law); and Joseph Vasil and his family (a colleague of Ruth Keller's).

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.

Copyright © 2017 First Congregational Church of Long Beach, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp