The Pilgrim - January 22, 2017
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The Pilgrim - January 22, 2017


Educational Opportunities at First Church

Dear Church,
Education and faith formation are important parts of our role as a church. You are invited to participate in some special opportunities for education, formation, and discussion over the next few months.
TED Talkback
8:30 am
Booth Chapel
Sundays, January 22 and 29
TED talks have become a cultural phenomenon. These short, engaging talks are given at conferences around the world by innovators and experts in their fields. Join us to watch one or more talks and discuss the content together as a community.
Finding God ... in Pop Culture?!
8:30 am
Booth Chapel
Sundays in February
This time of year is filled with opportunities to see great films! Go see the movie before Sunday and then join a discussion led by Rev. Larssen about the film and how it relates to faith. Watch upcoming editions of The Pilgrim for opportunities to go to the movies together.  See the list of films to be discussed below:
February 5 – Moana
February 12 – La La Land
February 19 – Fences
February 26 – Hidden Figures
I hope you will be able to participate! See you Sunday, if not before!
John Forrest

In This Issue

Educational Opportunities
Music on Sunday
Christian Education
Follow-up Discussion of New Jim Crow
Women's March This Saturday
CCEJ Breakfast
Nursery Needs
MLK Parade
Fair Trade Market
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

In Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 comedy Modern Times, his famous Little Tramp character tries to navigate his way through a society facing rapid change. You’ve probably seen clips from the film, and you are undoubtedly familiar with a musical tune that Chaplin wrote for it. It wasn’t until 1954 that the lyrics and title were added, and it became a hit for Nat King Cole. The name of the song is “Smile.” As lovely as the Puccini-inspired melody is, it is the words that make the song so appealing:

     Smile, though your heart is aching
     Smile, even though it’s breaking
     When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by
     If you smile through your fear and sorrow
     Smile and maybe tomorrow
     You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

     Light up your face with gladness
     Hide every trace of sadness
     Although a tear may be ever so near
     That’s the time you must keep on trying
     Smile, what’s the use of crying
     You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
     If you’ll just smile

I hope you will find inspiration in the song as you listen to Lisa Bode Heard sing it this Sunday!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music

P.S. Here’s a link to the ending of Modern Times:

In Sunday School

Theme: Re-Imagined Realm
Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12

Adult Education

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

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Continuing the Discussion, Sunday, January 22

By Steve Schatz
Last fall the Board of Social Justice and Outreach invited church members and friends to read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Law professor and scholar Alexander, with her exhaustive research, makes the indisputable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” She clearly shows how our criminal justice system acts eerily similar to the old Jim Crow, relegating millions of people of color to a permanent second-class status.
On Sunday, October 23, Chris Bobo led a tremendously well-received discussion of this powerful book. Chris’ summary and commentary, along with the “We Who Believe in Freedom” PowerPoint presentation, made for a remarkable learning experience. The personal sharing and commentary from the many gathered added to the ever so important experience of awakening to this issue.
Those gathered for this special conversation decided that the discussion should continue. So this Sunday, January 22, we will do just that. All are invited to the discussion. It does not matter whether you attended the first discussion or read the book. You will indeed learn something important. Please try to make plans to join in the discussion this Sunday, in the Pownall Room at 11:30.


Women’s March This Saturday!

By Bob Kalayjian, Board of Social Justice and Outreach
Thousands of people will gather in cities across the country this Saturday, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration - not just women, but all who care about justice, human rights, tolerance of diversity and compassion for our common community.
We will ride the rails from the First Street Blue Line station at 8 am this Saturday.  Park in the Chestnut lot at 7:30 and walk over to be ready, with ticket in hand, to join us for a great march and be in witness and solidarity for the values we fear lacking in our new presidential administration.  If you are fearful of our political future, join us!


Nursery Needs

By Sue Johnson

We are setting a goal to spruce up our lovely nursery. We are looking for any donations of gently used toys for ages infant to age 3. Please no stuffed animals or books, as we have plenty of both. We plan to have some fundraising in the near future.

Our wish list includes:
     A new toddler kitchen, with dishes and play food
     An area rug for reading books with the kids
     A rocking chair

If you have any questions or donations please contact Sue Johnson: or 562-833-2900.
First Church will have a table - please email the office if you're interested!

First Church at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade

By Adreana Langston - see her complete collection here

Fair Trade Holiday Market in 2016

By Steve Schatz
Members and friends of First Congregational Church purchased $2,662 of merchandise during our annual Fair Trade Holiday Market.
At a glance it may not seem like it, but make no mistake, this is indeed an act of social justice! Each purchase of a certified fair trade product ensures fair, living wages for the workers, artisans, and farmers who produce the items.
Two things happen when we purchase fair trade items:
  1. We say “No” to the global economic model which allows multinational corporations to keep people in abject poverty through unchecked, exploitive labor practices. (These corporations stock practically all the stores we shop in.)
  2. We say “Yes” to a new economic model which provides dignity, empowerment, and a more sustainable environment for the world's farmers, artisans, and laborers.
Here are a few places/organizations where we can find fair trade, sustainably produced items: (this organization produces an amazing "National Green Pages" directory);;;;
P.S. Please don't confuse “fair trade” with “free trade.” “Free trade” is a term used to describe a market system which allows multinational corporations “freedom” from regulations (labor, environmental, etc.) that they consider a hindrance to their profit-making.

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

While client guests at our UCO Drop-In-Center worry about getting their next meal and where they can lay their head, most of us worry about things like will the airlines raise their airfare before we can make our reservations? Life is full of twists and turns and we never know what’s around the corner. We do what we can for the less fortunate and then give it up to God, but we always wish it were more we could do. So the news I have for you that four of our client guests have become housed gives us a big joyful smile! Three have moved into small apartments and one is our first client in our new ENRICH SAMHSA program and has been admitted to the 90-day bridge program with counseling and psychiatric care! Praise God!

Today we are planning to go to our warehouse in Southgate and pick up household things for the three who have moved into apartments. We’ll bring them new dishes, bed linens, etc. They all still need beds. If anyone has any extra beds you want to donate, let me know. Money to buy new mattresses is also needed.

We still have several families ready for apartments, so if you hear of any affordable apartment inside or outside of Long Beach let us know. We are particularly proud when we have a family that we helped the parents with resumes and jobs, free childcare, counseling, and the whole way home.

So all along the way we provide small things that finally add up to stability. Sunday we provided two men with transportation money to get to a new job, a week’s motel stay for a family in financial trouble, and gas for a woman and her two kids to get to appointments.

The homeless count kicks off at our DIC next Sunday, when outreach workers will come to begin the count of homeless in Long Beach. The Long Beach official count day is January 26, and you can still sign up to help at

Have a fantastic week full of opportunity, good health and love!

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Ben Loa.

Names on the Parish Concerns list 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.

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