The Pilgrim - March 26, 2017
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The Pilgrim - March 26, 2017


Dear First Church,

Spring is here … almost … tentatively, the weather lightens and darkens with clouds.

Tentatively, we begin our plans for Easter, even as we are in the midst of the contemplative shadows of Lent.

It really is a challenge to shake off the weight of this last winter, for so many of us. The news continues to sober and scandalize; we wonder and worry about the future. And all the while, our friends and families continue to need us, and our community continues to need us as a sanctuary, a sharing space, a place of service.

It really is a challenge to shake off the weight of this last winter.

I am grateful that we will gather on Saturday for our Prayer Retreat with Scott Landis, and I know that my prayers – whether they are verbal, or written, or walked out in the labyrinth – will be full of my hope for your well-being, First Church friends. To pray in my not-really-traditional-but-committed-to-trying-way, I’ll be praying that spring will begin to tentatively send a curl of fresh green life into your spiritual self.

Happy Spring, dear church~

The Rev. Elena Larssen

Prayer Retreat This Saturday

Info below.

In This Issue

Spring Prayer
Sunday School
Lenten Prayer Retreat
Lenten Class
One Great Hour of Sharing
What Is Sanctuary?
Easter Bonnet Workshop & Tea Party
New First Church Café April 2
Easter Lilies
Women's Retreat
UCC Desk Calendars
People's State of the City
Bay Shore Organ Concert
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

In Sunday School

Theme: Seeing with Heart
Scripture: John 9:1-41

Last Chance!

RSVP to the Church Office by Thursday

A Lenten Prayer Retreat for
People Who Think Praying Is Weird
with The Rev. Dr. Scott Landis


Does ‘prayer’ freak you out?

What is prayer anyway?

What about meditation?

What about meditation?

Saturday, March 25, 2017
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. @FCCLB

“Whether you are a social justice person or a worship-wonk, everyone has their own spiritual style, and there is a prayer practice that can help you connect with the Creator, Spirit, or ‘Divine Other.’” –Dr. Landis

Scott is a United Church of Christ minister, spiritual director, contemplative, and avid swimmer. He received his B.A. from Temple University in Philadelphia, M.Div. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and D.Min. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Ordained for over 35 years, he is currently the (Senior) Pastor of Mission Hills UCC in San Diego. Scott is faculty for UCC CREDO and our SoCal/Nevada Conference’s Communities of Practice programs. He is married to Randy Spicocchi and has three grown children and one granddaughter who has stolen his heart.
Experience guided meditation, reflective writing,
labyrinth walks in a friendly and non-judgmental environment.
$25 per person, includes morning coffee and lunch
No one will be turned away for lack of funds
RSVP required to the Church Office by March 23
Pay online here or reserve your seat at

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
March 26 - Saved from What?
April 2 - Incarceration Nation and the Invisible and Forgotten
April 9 - Real Victory

One Great Hour of Sharing Offering Reminder

In West Timor, a father is crying because his child is hungry. Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, you are here for that father with emergency food supplies and crop storage techniques.

In West Virginia, a family is crying because their home was flooded. Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, you are here with that family with support to rebuild their home.

In Greece, a young woman is crying because she is fleeing from war, but borders are closed. Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, you are here for her with medical and hygiene

In times of human suffering and need, you are here for our neighbors through your gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. This offering will be received on Sunday, March 26. You can give during the regular offering by using a special envelope designated for OGHS, or you can write OGHS on an offering envelope or on the memo line of your check. Children’s coin boxes will also be collected on this offering day.

Together, we can achieve a fair balance, bringing about a world the way God intended it to be.

Yours in Service,
The Board of Social Justice and Outreach

Dear Parents and Kids,
This week we will receive a special collection for One Great Hour of Sharing this Sunday. If you have been collecting coins in the banks given out during children’s time or Sunday School over the past few weeks, please bring them to church this week. We will collect them as part of the time with the children in our service of celebration.
John Forrest

What Is Sanctuary?

By Bob Kalayjian, Board of Social Justice and Outreach

Our Hispanic neighbors are being threatened by a new, aggressive federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service. Families may be broken up when undocumented parents are deported leaving their citizen children behind. These parents are afraid to walk their children to school. How do we as a faith community committed to social justice respond to this threat and fear? What is a “sanctuary church”? What are the ways we can be of help to our undocumented neighbors? How much of our “time, talent and treasure” will this take? Your ministers and our Board want to discern with as many folks as possible answers to these questions and hear more questions.

Join us in the Klar Rooms after you sign your letters to Congress for Bread for the World to explore this very timely and important issue. Snacks, fruit and veggies will be served.

"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 the Ramsay Dining Room along the back wall 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 … 😊

First Church Café Has a New Chef, New Location, and New Price!

By Randall Goddard

Mark your calendars for Sunday, April 2 to enjoy First Church Café in its new home -- Patterson Hall! Come and meet Chef Melody from Urban Community Outreach (UCO), who is taking over the helm in the kitchen to prepare us a delicious lunch.

Partnering with UCO in this manner will yield a number of benefits, including some economies of scale. As a result, the new cost is $8 per person or $20 per family. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Come out and join your pewmates for lunch in the sunshine before heading out to your board meetings - or wherever your post-service Sunday journeys may take you!

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.

2017-18 UCC Desk Calendars

If you’d like to have a 2017-18 UCC desk calendar, please contact Ruth Warkentin in the church office by Monday, March 27. We’ll be pre-order for shipment in June, and since we’re ordering multiple copies, your cost will be $16 instead of the usual $18. You can see the calendar here.

Organ Concert at Bay Shore Community Church March 26

Bay Shore Community Church presents a Lenten Organ Concert on Sunday, March 26 at 4 pm in the Sanctuary on the corner of The Toledo and Granada.

Join us as organist Robert York presents a celebration of the "Mysteries of Lent." Robert will be preforming the music of Messaien, Widor, Wagner, Hakim, Clérambault, Alain, and Duruflé. An original multimedia program will accompany this concert. This concert is part of the BayShore at 4 series. BayShore at 4 is a program of music intended to provide a wide variety of music to the community.

There will be a free will offering. Funds collected will be used for organ upgrades and fund future concerts. Information at BayShore Church is located at 5100 The Toledo, Long Beach, CA.

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday, March 19, was a day of exceptions. I personally didn’t get to be at UCO. I spoke at the National Council of Jewish Women’s Long Beach all day conference. It went well and I think we’ll get some more help from them. At end of the conference they donated sandwiches, salads, and cookies to us, which I quickly packed up and brought back to DIC just in time to be used at the end of the second meal serving.

It was a third Sunday and we had 249 people and only 17 volunteers, as many students are on spring break. Patterson Hall was in use so we operated out of Ramsay Dining Room. All combined it made for a challenging day, but staff did a good job.

Monday night I visited the UCC Neighborhood Church in Palos Verde. They had invited me to come and speak to their Board of Christian Action. We were warmly received. I’ll also be speaking briefly from their pulpit on April 2 at both services. They seem to be planning to give us some money. We are always struggling for funds so we are grateful they care.

Speaking of raising funds … tickets are available for our roaring twenties spring fundraiser, “Bright Lights and Dark Nights.” When you get a table of eight together, tickets are discounted. You’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll also help us honor our three Quality of Life Officers who work with the homeless and our Nurse Anna Herzog. Hope to see you there! We are still accepting gift cards and items for silent auction set up.

During the week Justin Rudd’s “Giving Project” he funds each spring to help others called upon me.  We set up two of our families to receive help, and they met with them and bought them food and diapers. Our families were very grateful!

So an eventful week has gone by and it is spring already! Happy spring! My you enjoy a personal rebirth as you experience the abundance of flowers and baby birds being born in new nests.  

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Frances (Georgette de Bruyn’s sister); Julie Norton and her family (Ruth Keller’s friend); and Jan Bode (Lisa Bode Heard’s mother); and Delveta Murray.

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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