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

The Pilgrim - June 12, 2016

From the Historic Preservation Building Preservation Committee
Mission Moment from Sunday, May 15, by Allison King

I am here today on behalf of the Historic Building Preservation Committee. As you may have noticed in the bulletin we will be meeting after service today in the sanctuary to talk about the next stages of the preservation of our beautiful church. Right now, however, here in the middle of worship, we wanted to invite everyone to take a moment to really look around and appreciate the beauty of our sanctuary.  Consider, if you will, how this unique and warm place has influenced or supported your own spiritual journey.

The designers and creators of this building intended this sanctuary to be a place where each person could feel free to connect with God. Its beauty is meant to be awe-inspiring and I’d say it does a very good job at that.  

But how is that feeling created? 

We know the warmth and peacefulness we feel when we come in on Sunday mornings. But have you ever thought about why we feel it? I know, it is easy to take it all for granted. This room, like the entire building, is a work of art. There is nothing that we see that happened by accident. 

Each Sunday we say “all are welcome here,” but, funny as it may sound, our building was designed to say it every single day. The warmth of the gorgeous wood used to create this room is illuminated by the rich colors of the stained glass windows. Soft, simple designs trim the walls to create subtle visual interest. Thematic motifs like the four-armed Greek cross unite the building, echoing in the windows, the pews, even in the overall shape of this room. All of these details create an inviting feeling within the walls of our sanctuary. And it has for over a hundred years. 

The creators of this building built it for us, though they only knew us as a hopeful idea. They built this sacred space to last, and they built it with craftsmanship and care that is near forgotten. Recreating this building today would be almost, if not entirely, impossible.

Our congregation decided before I was born to retrofit rather than demolish this building. If we are to honor their legacy and save this beautiful space for “future generations” we have some serious work to do. Our building is in dire need of extraordinary care, and it is going to demand extraordinary action by all of us.

Our challenge is not expansion or development, but preservation. Repairing, restoring, fixing, and cleaning, not just as maintenance but as our gift to the future. It is my hope that we can all work together to save this building so my grandchildren can come and worship here in this holy place.

Complete cost estimates are on the members area of the website.


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Congregational Meeting This Sunday

Sunday School Faith Fair: Hinduism

Church Picnic July 31

Conference Annual Gathering

First Church Pride

Taizé at St. Luke's


Parish Concerns

For more information

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us


Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

Lisa, Clayton and I will soon be taking a vacation to celebrate Clayton’s graduation and Lisa’s retirement from 32 years working for Nordstrom’s. Where to? Here’s a hint: the prelude and postlude are both piano pieces by one of my favorite composers – Claude Debussy. Here’s another hint: the prelude, from his second book of preludes, is subtitled Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P. P. M. P. C. The frequent shifts of mood, and the musical quote of “God Save the Queen” are an aural depiction of the main character of Charles Dickens’ novel, The Pickwick Papers

The anthem and offertory, which offer no hints to our travel destinations, are both by another of my favorite composers – J. S. Bach – although the anthem, For God Is Our Refuge, from a cantata that was once considered an early work of J. S. Bach, is now believed to have been written by his cousin Johann Ludwig Bach. This edition has ditched the original words for an adaptation of Psalm 46. 

This will be my last column for a few weeks – I leave the choir in the capable hands of Tracy and Marc until July 10! One last hint: if you know any useful French phrases, please pass them on!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Faith Fair on Hinduism - see complete information below.

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




Congregational Meeting
This Sunday, June 12, after the service, in the Sanctuary

A Congregational Meeting will be held to gain congregational approval of the preservation plan and Capital Campaign strategy for repairs and preservation.


Faith Fair: Hinduism
From the Board of Christian Education

The Board of Christian Education is continuing its Faith Fairs with an exploration of Hinduism by the children this Sunday during Sunday School. We would love to have volunteers assist in the Faith Fair. Interfaith education is so important because children are fresh. They come with no prejudices. So it is easier to reach out to them, and then to teach them. There will be multiple stations and each will be lead by a member of the Board of Christian Education. Volunteers can be there to assist and will have the time of their life as First Church Children learn about another faith tradition.

We will have a bindi station for the children. In a spiritual view, bindi plays the most important role in Hindu culture. Every morning a Hindu takes a bath and sits in prayer just to seek the absolute truth through every prayer. However, it is true that one cannot sit in prayer the whole day. So when you leave the prayer room, you are expected to put some mark on your forehead, to remind you throughout the day about all the activities and the purpose of life. It is obvious you cannot see the mark on your own forehead every time so whenever you see it on another face, you will get a chance to recall the purpose of your life. The idea is to remember that all the things you are doing are dedicated towards the achievement of this supreme goal of self realization.

Our next station will be the Diwali station, allowing the children to try Indian food. Diwali is the festival of lights, crackers and sweets. Days before the festival, the females of the family start preparing traditional delicacies for the family and friends. On Diwali, there is a custom to exchange sweets to the friends and neighbors that is why Diwali can’t even be imagined without sweets and savories that are specially made at home.

Our next station is the reincarnation station where the children will explore their past lives and their next life by drawing and coloring their past lives and their next life. The Hindus believe that the soul went through a series of rebirths as it strives to obtain a oneness with the universal spirit, or Brahman Nerguna. They believe that when a person dies, they will be reborn again, living many lives, until they perfect themselves. This state of perfection is called Moksha. They believe that how a person lives their current life determines the form they take in the next life. If they live a good life, and fulfill all their dharmas or duties, they might be born into a higher varna or class in the next life. If they live poorly, they might be born into a lower life, or even into a lower lifeform, such as a beetle or snake. When one obtains this state of Moksha, their cycle of rebirth after rebirth finally stops, and they live in eternal happiness at oneness with the Brahman Nerguna.

The final station is the exploration of the Hindu gods and goddesses. In this station, the children will watch a seven-minute movie from Pixar, “Sanjay's Super Team,” an animated film directed by Sanjay Patel. It premiered on June 15, 2015 at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France and accompanied the theatrical release of Pixar's “The Good Dinosaur” on November 25, 2015. Inspired by Patel's own childhood when he felt conflicted by the modern world and the Hindu traditions of his family, “Sanjay's Super Team” follows the daydream of a young Indian boy, bored with his father's religious meditation, who imagines Hindu gods as superheroes. Here, you only need to start the movie.

Please contact the chair of the Board of Christian Education, Jenny Penner at raremama@gmail.com to volunteer, and we will see you this Sunday in Ramsay Hall for the Faith Fair.


picnic imageJoin the Fun at the Church Picnic!
By Jo Anne Jennings

Sign-ups for the Church Family Picnic begin this coming Sunday, and you don’t want to miss the fun and friendship. It’s $8 a person or $20 for a family, along with a donation of a salad or dessert. We’ll meet at El Dorado Park after church on July 31. There’ll be great burgers (including veggie burgers) and hot dogs. We’ll make giant bubbles and play games. What could be better than a Sunday in the park with friends!?!


Annual Gathering Last Weekend

Annual Gathering participants

Pictured are some of the First Church representatives
to the UCC So Cal/Nevada Conference Annual Gathering.


First Church Pride

Pride marchers commissioned

First Church marchers are commissioned in the service.

Bill Kuehl at Pride booth

Bill Kuehl staffs the FCCLB Pride Festival booth.


Taizé at St. Luke's

Taize at St. Luke's Tuesday, June 14, 7 pm


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.




Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Gloria Reed (Ruth Keller's mother); Jim Deaton, upon the death of his sister; Carol Van Alsten, upon the death of her mother, Jean Simpson; and Ivy Bottini.

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.




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