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

The Pilgrim - April 10, 2016

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

Dear Friends,

Is spring more beautiful anywhere than in California? Our courtyard is green and lovely at church, and as I drive around Long Beach, the OC, and the South Bay, I see blossoms of all kinds. It's probably my favorite time of year, and one that gives us so many special occasions and celebrations.

I am especially pleased that our Senior Minister Emeritus, the Rev. Jerry Stinson, is coming to teach and preach this Sunday! For many, this will be a wonderful opportunity to hear a well-loved voice of scholarly and prophetic challenge ... for those who aren't familiar with Jerry's preaching, you are in for a great experience. Rev. Stinson brings power and edge to his preaching, and will be sharing two of his greatest ministry priorities: an interfaith perspective, and a peace and justice agenda.

And don't miss his pre-service teaching in Booth Chapel at 8:30, on the painful and urgent issue of drone warfare, "Bug Splat – PlayStation Warriors and Targeted Drone Assassinations." We are grateful that Jerry and his spouse Kay Gault (look for her in the bell choir!) can be with us!

Blessing for a beautiful spring!

The Rev. Elena Larssen


In Sunday School

Theme: A New Vision
Scripture: Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

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

Bug Splat – PlayStation Warriors and Targeted Drone Assassinations
This Sunday at 8:30 am in Booth Chapel
Class on drone warfare, led by the Rev. Jerry Stinson, Senior Minister Emeritus


In this issue:

Christian Education

Faith Fair in Sunday School

Kid and Youth Movie Night

"Nordic Delight and Classic Rock"

DAYS Tribute to a Friend

Parents' Night Out Fun

UCO "Jazzy Lady" Gala

Drop-In Center News


April Birthdays and Anniversaries

Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us



BuddhaSunday School Faith Fair - This Sunday, April 10
By Jenny Penner

This Sunday, April 10, the Christian Education Board will host our third Faith Fair. This Faith Fair will teach the youth and children about Buddhism, and we have lots of great things planned! Bob Kalayjian will teach us about the Buddha and show some of his Buddhist collection, we'll practice "mindful eating," make prayer flags, and read Sitting Still Like a Frog. Instead of going to the Sunday School rooms, the children and youth will go down to the Ramsay Dining Hall after the Words with the Children.


Kid and Youth Movie Day This Sunday
By Tracy Halter-Balin

This Sunday, April 10, after our “Great Kapok Tree” rehearsal, we will be heading out to see “Zootopia”! We would love to have everyone in second grade and older join in our movie adventure. At the time this article is being written, we are still waiting to confirm the location and movie time, so watch for an email from Jeremy Morales or me.

Please send me or Jeremy an RSVP by Friday so we can get an idea for transportation details. Jeremy’s email is and mine is Please bring $10-15 to help offset the movie cost and if you’d like a snack.

Also, in case you’re reading this and have either AMC or Edward Theaters gift certificates or passes that you’d like to share, we can certainly put them to good use! Let us know.


Organ and Violin Concert This Friday, April 8
"Nordic Delight and Classic Rock"

Organ Recital


DAYS Long Beach: Tribute to a Friend
From the DAYS Long Beach Board

DAYS (or DAYS Long Beach, our official new name) has been serving the children of our downtown neighborhoods since the first Day Camp in the summer of 1970. Six weeks every summer, for nearly a half century, several hundred children participate in DAYS Summer Day Camp. Over the years the neighborhood’s demographics changed and along with that the needs of the local children. Recognizing these shifting needs, about 10 years ago we began to revamp our programming, and now DAYS Long Beach operates year-round, offering Summer Day Camp, after-school tutoring and mentoring, English language classes, parent engagement workshops, and Leaders Long Beach, a youth-led leadership program dedicated to working on community issues as well as developing summer camp curriculum.

The incredible work that DAYS Long Beach does would not be possible without the generous support in both time and treasure of many people. The last ten years have been uniquely challenging as we stretched ourselves to evolve into a larger, more dedicated organization. The DAYS team has moved through some difficult, uncharted territory, but along the way our growing pains were eased with the loving advice and ready support of two of our special angels: Bill and Betty Cole. The friendship between the Coles and DAYS began around 2004, when Bill and Betty first began the conversation. They invited us into their home for hours of discussion about what we were doing, what was working, and what was not. In memory it seems that those discussions usually started with tears of frustration, then went on to enormous amounts of laughter, but always ended with guiding wisdom from Bill and Betty. For many years they were DAYS board members, listening to stories of the DAYS children, asking questions, sparking new ideas, and offering solutions, love and encouragement. Bill used to say, DAYS is putting feet to Reverend Jerry Stinson’s sermons.

This week our heart is deeply saddened because we have to say farewell to one of DAYS' greatest friends. Bill Cole was not just a supporter, he was our cheerleader. A very wise cheerleader. He had the knack for pinpointing an issue, asking just the right question, gently pushing back when needed, and lastly smiling, without saying another word. Those conversations were always reinvigorating and deeply meaningful.

It is safe to say that thousands of children have come through the DAYS programs over the years. The children who have come in the past 10 may not have known Bill and Betty, but the ripple effect of their love and dedication will be felt for years. DAYS will miss Bill.


Parents' Night Out April Fun
By Tracy Halter-Balin

We had a romping good time last Friday night at Parent’s Night Out (aka Kid’s Night Out). It was one of our biggest turnouts in quite some time and we love that it is staying light later – much for time for outside fun! Some of our activities included playing with oobleck (a gooey combination of cornstarch and water), bubbles, sidewalk chalk, an all-age game of volleyball played with a huge beach ball, jump rope, and lots of arts and crafts.

We ranged in age from Thomas Pettis-Larssen (age almost 2) to our oldest youth helper, Ewan Scott at age 15 (and taller than all of the adults there). We ate our traditional yummy pizza and fruit and stayed busy til 9 pm. Curtis Heard even came and helped us rehearse our “Sound of Music” song for Sunday! So heartfelt thanks to Karen and Cheryl Mathieu for providing the pizza, and to helpers Marley Balin, Sean Balin, Nancy Boyd-Batstone, Paul Boyd-Batstone, Debbie Bond, and Sam Johnson.

We won’t be having PNO in May, but we are having a wonderful dinner for all ages on Saturday, May 7, as a fundraiser for the youth who are going to Florida in July for the UCC National Youth Event. Stay tuned for more information.

Parents' Night Out pictures


UCO's "Jazzy Lady" Spring Gala
By Alison Morales & UCO Board of Directors

Urban Community Outreach would like to invite you to attend our Spring Gala on April 23. We will be honoring vice mayor Suja Lowenthal and there will be delicious food stations, grand decor, and fabulous entertainment will be provided by a jazz trio. Proceeds from the dinner will support the Drop-in Center meals and services. To learn more about UCO and to buy tickets, please go to Click on"Donate" to purchase tickets, or contact Arlene Mercer at 562-582-1000 if you'd like to sponsor a table. Thank you for your support!

Jazzy Lady April 23


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

This weekend someone gave me an old Chinese proverb. You may have heard it before, but it gives us pause for thought.

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.

Roberta and I have been happy ever since Sunday, as we were able to speak with two men who have come away feel strongly about working to build a better life. Two men have committed to detoxification and changing their lives at our referral partner agency, Safe Refuge. One is young, and one is 56 years old and has been in the streets for several years. He lost everything through tax evasion. Police seized everything he owned. He had been working out of his house, running a successful insurance business. He has been homeless ever since; he says he kind of hid for two years, feeling ashamed. He since has given back to the community by working with gang members, and he has helped several get their GED and go to college. He dresses very well and says he just wants to fit in. That includes having some beers with people. Then he admitted to having too many beers, and that maybe he drinks too much and is not taking care of himself. He was coughing and kind of sick on Sunday. He has saved some of his SDI money, which he receives because he sometimes has mild seizures. Maybe it’s time to go to the DMV and get his identity back and move forward. He couldn’t understand why I picked him out of the big crowd at DIC to talk with. He said it made him feel special. He says no one ever notices him and he just has been existing. He forcefully said, “I’m going to do it! I’m going tomorrow morning to Safe Refuge!” Let’s say a prayer that these two men can come back to health and to looking for the good things in life, knowing that people do care.

Dr. Graves gave us a huge donation of great shoes and we just lined them up on the patio and gave them to the guests immediately to their delight. The shoes were a blessing. Thank you, Dr. Graves!

Sending best wishes to you as we work on our spring fundraiser “Jazzy Lady” to be held on April 23. We need your help to make it successful. Come join in the fun as we travel back in time to 1920! See www.urbancommunityoutreach or call with questions (562-582-1000).

Drop-In Center


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.



April Birthdays

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


April Anniversaries

2 Ray and Nicol Hedgpeth, 22 years
21 Jennifer and Brian Mota, 9 years
22 Edward and Veronica L. Bloomfield, 49 years
23 Brad and Kathryn Stevens, 40 years

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for the family and friends of Bill Cole, upon his death; Deanna Karafiath (Tina Datsko de Sanchez's sister); Lori Delaney; Matt Balin; and James Datsko (Tina Datsko de Sanchez's brother).

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.




Piccolo FlowersPiccolo Flowers

Piccolo Flowers provides the lovely flowers for our sanctuary
every Sunday at a very affordable cost.

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: