The Pilgrim - April 2, 2017
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The Pilgrim - April 2, 2017


Sunday Celebration Notes

Celebrating God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am

Dear Community,

During service this Lent, you have seen images provided by our Worship and Arts Team as part of our Lenten series Who Do You Say That I Am?: Images of Jesus. Many thanks to Mel White and Robert Stapp and the whole team!

Television … smart phones … tablets and computers … electronic billboards … In a culture whose information is distributed by images on screens, congregations of all sizes and theological stances have found ways to use screens in worship. While First Church will likely never embrace “the Jumbotron look,” the tasteful and relevant images of Jesus we have seen this Lent have been eliciting positive responses:

     “I came down to the chancel after service to watch all the images up close …”

     “I’m such a visual person that I found watching them like a meditation …”

     “I love seeing the diversity of images from all over the world and throughout art history …”

When we ask Jesus’ question Who Do You Say That I Am?  we are also asking: how do we see Jesus? What is our perspective on Jesus and his ministry? Jesus had many faces: teacher, healer, human, divine … which leads us to see that all kinds of faces may embody the compassion of Jesus in our lives and experiences.

Who could have a face that shows us Jesus?  A young child whose parents are living in fear of deportation? A person whose only address is wherever their car is parked at night? The widow, the orphan, the person living with ill health, the person in grief?

Who do we say that you are, Jesus?  The stories of the Bible show us a person who laughed, prayed, wept, ate meals with friends and strangers; the stories show us that our personal ideas and images of Jesus reveal to us the holy in each person.

Who do you say that I am?

Maybe it’s not just that Jesus could look like us, but that we could look like Jesus, compassionate, loving, wise.

The Rev. Elena Larssen

First Church Café and Easter Bonnet Workshop in Patterson Hall This Sunday!

In This Issue

Sunday Celebration Notes
Music This Sunday
Sunday School
First Church Café
Lenten Class
Spirituality and Support Group
Poet's Notes
Easter Bonnet Workshop & Tea Party
Cookie Decorating Workshop
Easter Lilies
Women's Retreat
People's State of the City
UCO Gala
Worker Justice Passover Seder
Drop-In Center News
April Birthdays & Anniversaries
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

Heard's Words: Music This Sunday

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

I invited Harold Sutherland to write my column this week, because the anthem is one that he and Robert Stapp suggested: "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor," with words by Emma Lazarus and  music by Irving Berlin. Harold has worked on immigration, asylum and refugee issues for almost 38 years. The Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus’ poem mean a great deal to him. Here are his words:

In 1883, Emma Lazarus, a young, high society New York poet was asked for a favor. She was the descendant of Jewish immigrants, and the hope was that Ms. Lazarus would compose a sonnet to be sold at auction alongside the writings of Mark Twain and Walt Witman.  Writers and authors in New York were working to raise money to fund the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. The statue had been a gift from France, which paid for the construction of the monument, but many Americans found the statue uninspiring, and there were serious challenges to raise the money to build the pedestal.

Emma Lazarus was raised in privilege in New York, but her writings were about anti-Semitism and ethnic prejudice.  In the 1880s she became an ardent advocate for Jewish refugees fleeing massacres in Russia.  Her sonnet, “The New Colossus,” reflected her convictions to speak out for the immigrants and refugees. She imagined the Statue of Liberty reciting words from her poem.  Her sonnet was praised by other writers who said that her words gave the cold statue a spirited purpose.  Ms. Lazarus and women in general were ignored at the dedication of the statue in 1886, and the poet died tragically of cancer at the age of 38 in 1887, a year after the dedication of the statue.

In 1903 the poet’s powerful sonnet was discovered in a New York bookstore, and those words to her poem were inscribed on a plaque and mounted on an inner wall of the statue’s pedestal.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor the twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In Sunday School

Theme: Hope against All Hope
Scripture: John 11:1-45

Meet Melody Garrett, First Church Café's New Chef!

By Randall Goddard

This Sunday, April 2, First Church Cafe moves to its new home - Patterson Hall - and welcomes Chef Melody Garrett!

Chef Melody is a graduate of the culinary program at Long Beach City College. Upon graduation she was immediately hired by the Boy Scouts of America in Orange Country and worked there for six years, cooking meals for 400 people at a time. After that she worked for Christian Outreach before coming on board as the resident chef for Urban Community Outreach.

Come on over to Patterson Hall on Sunday to meet Chef Melody and enjoy a delicious lunch. The cost is only $8 per person or $20 per family, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Here is this week's menu: 

Chicken Alfredo
Sautéed broccoli
Green salad with Organic salad dressing
Assorted fruit
Dessert tray

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 Topics
April 2 - Incarceration Nation and the Invisible and Forgotten
April 9 - Real Victory

Sunday Morning Spirituality and Support Group

By Dale Whitney and Chris Bobo, Class Leaders

Starting on April 2, this Sunday 8:30 adult class will be held only when no other adult class is happening. When another class does occur, we will combine into that other class, but if there is no other, we will continue to use the "These Days" UCC-Presbyterian devotional booklet as a prompt for guided adult discussion.  This way  -  all year long, even in the summer  -  there will always be at least one adult class at 8:30 am, Sunday after Sunday.

Poet's Notes

By Tina Datsko de Sánchez
As your Poet-in-Residence, I am honored to participate in this vibrant creative community here at the corner of arts and justice. For the Lenten season, the Worship and Arts Ministry Team is collaborating with our ministers, the Rev. Elena Larssen and the Rev. John Forrest Douglas, to develop new elements for the services on the theme of “Who Do You Say That I Am?” Team members include Mel White, Tim Mountain, Robert Stapp, Harold Sutherland, Tina Datsko de Sánchez, Curtis Heard, Christi Gomoljak, and Alison Mitchell. Gratitude to Mel White and Robert Stapp for creating media slideshows with abundantly diverse images of Jesus!
For my contribution, I wrote a new poem meditating on the aspect of Jesus as a persecuted healer. For any who didn’t experience the poem in last Sunday’s service, it is included here.
Arise and walk, for God’s love heals
the heartbroken and binds up their wounds.
So says the rabbi to those unable to win
the competition to be cured.
And to those bent over and burdened
by years of pain or shame, he says, You’re free!
To the tired, worn-out, burnt-out, the rabbi calls,
Come to me and you will recover life.
Walk with me and work with me, to learn
to live in grace—living freely and lightly.
And to those who say God’s work can only be done
by following certain rules, the rabbi says,
What if the compassion you show to your pets,
even the care you give to your cars, were given also
to your sisters and brothers on earth?
Arise and walk, for God’s love heals
the heartbroken and binds up our wounds.
I was also asked to update the lyrics of a hymn to be sung during Lent. Originally titled “Just as I Am, without One Plea,” the text is by Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871). To help this gentle hymn connect better with our progressive theology, I crafted new words for verses 1 and 2, and made adjustments to verses 3 through 6. I look forward to us singing it together this Sunday. 

1. Just as I am, you set me free,
for now your love embraces me,
and yet you call me constantly,
O healing God, I come, I come. 

2. Just as I am, and craving Light
to heal my soul of ego’s blight,
to you whose love can make aright,
O healing God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, though tossed about 
with many a conflict, many a doubt, 
fightings and fears within, without, 
O healing God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, weak, wounded, blind; 
sight, wisdom, healing of the mind, 
yes, all I need in you to find, 
O healing God, I come, I come.

5. Just as I am, you will receive, 
will welcome, cherish, heal, relieve; 
for in your justice I believe, 
O healing God, I come, I come.

6. Just as I am, your love unknown 
has broken every barrier down; 
now, to be whole, my soul unbound, 
O healing God, I come, I come. 

"Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail …"
Save These Dates!

By Mary Flynn

The Board of Parish Life will be sponsoring two very exciting events leading up to Easter:

Easter Bonnet Workshop Sunday, April 2: The workshop will take place in Patterson Hall during First Church Café. We will supply the decorations and have a limited number of hats for sale. If you can, bring your own hat to decorate. The cost is $5 per person, and hats will be available for $1 per person while supplies last.

Easter Bonnet Tea Party Sunday, April 9: The tea party will take place in the Koinonia Room after the service on Palm 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
                            12 and under:  $5
                            Entire family:  $25

Proceeds benefit Downtown Associated Youth Services. Tickets will be on sale every Sunday leading up to these events. Just look for the Parish Life member sporting an Easter bonnet after the service and hippity, hoppity on over … 😊

Cookie Decorating Workship a Great Success!

By Kirsten Pickus, Moderator
The Baking Group, led by Sam Johnson and John Lockhart, recently held its first workshop, and it was FABULOUS!!! Fifteen First Churchers and friends gathered in Patterson Hall on a sunny Saturday morning to learn cookie decorating techniques from the extremely talented John Lockhart. For some of the multi-generational participants, it was a humbling experience (your moderator included), but as the workshop went on, it was clear that others among us have been hiding some pretty impressive talents!  Most importantly, the workshop gave us all a chance to come together around a topic of mutual interest and get to know one another better and have fun. Many thanks to John and Sam for their leadership!

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.

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

By Cheryl Doorbar

Our theme the year is balance. The Rev. Marlene Pomeroy of FCC of Pasadena will guide us through yoga practice for all levels of experience and discuss the use of the chakras as a tool to access balance in the many areas of your lives. She will also share stories from biblical sources as guides to finding the equilibrium between productivity and stillness. Drawing inspiration from the meditative aspect of yoga, there will be an opportunity to make mandalas, participate in a drumming circle, craft your own drum, and much more.

The cost for the weekend is $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, is $80.

UCO Gala April 22

You are invited to "Bright Lights & Dark Nights," a fundraiser to support the work of Urban Community Outreach on April 22 at 6 pm. For tickets, more information, or to make a donation please visit

Worker Justice Passover Seder

Tuesday, April 4, 6:30 pm
Temple Israel (269 Loma Ave, Long Beach)
Please join Rabbi Steven Moskowitz,
Temple Israel's Social Action Committee, and CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) as we retell the Passover story of the Jewish people's path from slavery to liberation, and explore the connection with workers, immigrants and refugees in their struggle for justice.
This event is free and welcome to people of all ages and faiths.
Space is limited - RSVP requested by Thursday, March 30 to Charmaine at

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

On Sunday, March 26, I needed to work on a grant that was due Monday. As I sat in the church office looking out onto the busy courtyard, I realized that sometimes it’s the little things people say or do that shape a life. Sometimes it’s the tone of voice or lack of a smile that nudges people in the wrong direction. Kind gestures can brighten the whole day!

It was “Make a Difference Day”! Volunteers of all ages in brightly colored tee shirts darted about handing out shoes, clothing, and socks. Children giggled in delight that they could help and adults directed store activity. We were lucky, as earlier in the day we had received two large donations of shoes. Bethany Firmage brought one over from board member Dr. Graves’ podiatry offices. The other donation came from volunteer Peter Janssens, so our shoe store was full! It was lucky we had lots of shoes as we had lots of people, it being the fourth Sunday of the month.

One of our client guests had an eightieth birthday. We sang to her, gave her flowers, and took her picture. It made the day special for her. One of our families, who is doing very well now, stopped in to say hello. Another resourceful client guest has been on her phone searching for an apartment or room for two weeks and finally found a newly decorated room. We rejoice with her! An FCCLB church member helped her move in on Tuesday. This week we signed up three more client guests to receive Rapid Rehousing funds through PATH. Now we have to actually find apartments … let us know if you know of any.

I managed to get the big grant application in on time to the city for an Emergency Services Grant. Let’s see what happens with it.

We are taking reservations for our April 22 roaring twenties “Bright Lights and Dark Nights” event! This one will be a real winner you won’t want to miss! It also supports our efforts to shape better lives, so come and join in the fun! Check it out at

April Birthdays

2 Steven Mota, Larry Forester
3 Janet Cooley
4 Jose Lopez
5 Linda Ramsay, Anna Brackett
8 Andrew Kirby
9 Savannah Nguli, Barbara Smith, Peter Kazeminejad
10 Gary Paredes-Tryan
11 Larelle Hendon
12 Roger Holman, Jason Hudson
14 Howard Williams
15 Vicki Young
16 Ellen Kameya
17 Roger Reid, Kai Hartert-Force
19 Claude Berry
20 Debra Buller, Patty Benner,Jeff Ford
22 Dorianne Campbell-Graham, Doug Jones
23 Melody O'Keefe, Dante Dobson-Wilson, Lane Shepherd
24 Jeff McFarland, Cynthia Snell, Christi Gomoljak
27 Mike Garrison
28 Beau Chandler, Cameron Silva
29 Margaret Brown
30 Donny Lara-Gagne

April Anniversaries

2 Ray and Nicol Hedgpeth
21 Jennifer and Brian Mota
22 Edward and Veronica L. Bloomfield
23 Brad and Kathryn Stevens
28 Mike and Sookie Garrison

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Isabelle Schading (Doug Schading's daughter-in-law); Joseph Vasil and his family (a colleague of Ruth Keller's); Frances (Georgette de Bruyn’s sister); Julie Norton and her family (Ruth Keller’s friend); and Jan Bode (Lisa Bode Heard’s mother).

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.

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