First Sunday of Advent at First Church!
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The Pilgrim - November 27, 2016


Happy Thanksgiving!

May this holiday be graced with blessings and gratitude, friendship and abundance. Some of you asked for the following information, so if you would like to learn more about Standing Rock and how to invite an informed spirit of solidarity into this occasion, check out these links:
The United Church of Christ in action at Standing Rock
The UCC’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
My November 20 sermon, “Preserving Our Legacy: “We Look to the West”
My Thanksgiving prayer for you is that you would always have something beautiful to be thankful for - and, even when times are troubling, the spirit of peace to recognize and enjoy those good gifts, 
The Rev. Elena Larssen 

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

The theme for this year's Advent season is "Season of Love." This Sunday, the first in Advent, the choir will sing "Seasons of Love" from the musical Rent. (What else are we gonna do?) With the recent passing of Leonard Cohen, Lisa has asked me to arrange his "Hallelujah" for piano and handbells. You'll get to hear that this Sunday too, with Tracy playing the bell part.

Finally, one last thank you to the cast and crew of Titanic - the sanctuary may look like it did before the show, but it will forever echo with the reverberations of our ship of dreams!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music

In Sunday School

Theme: God's Path of Peace
Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5

Adult Education

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

Office Closed

Please note that the church office will be closed Thursday, November 24, and Friday,
November 25.

In This Issue

Happy Thanksgiving!
Music on Sunday
Christian Education
Christmas Dinner
Winter Festival and Sparkling Reception
Fair Trade Market
Gifts to the Manger
Preserving Our Legacy
Answers to the Capital Campaign Quiz
Columbarium Update
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

The Christmas Dinner Is Coming Soon

By Jo Anne Jennings
It’s that time of year and the festivities are beginning. The First Church Christmas dinner will be on Saturday, December 10. There will be turkey and beef with all the fixings, starting with hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 followed by dinner at 6 o’clock. There will be entertainment and a special visitor. The cost is $25 per adult and $5 per child under the age of 12. Be sure to reserve your seat by signing up on the patio after church on the next two Sundays. You can also contact Debbi Lauderback at to ensure your spot and pay when you arrive at the dinner. Don’t miss the fun and friendship! We hope to see you there.

Winter Festival Concert and Sparkling Reception – Sunday, December 4

By Nancy Valencia

Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.
-Oscar Wilde

The deadline to purchase Winter Festival and Sparkling Reception tickets is fast approaching! I know you will not want to miss the California State University Long Beach’s Winter Festival Concert and Sparkling Reception that comes but once a year. If you have not been, it is quite spectacular to behold. And if you have been, consider bringing your friends and family to the concert and reception. The concert will put you in the holiday spirit and the reception will be a lovely way to entertain your friends and family.

Get yourself in the holiday spirit and support those who need it this holiday season with a ticket (or two, or six) to this year's Winter Festival Concert and Sparkling Reception. For more information or to reserve your tickets, send an email right now to or call 562-234-2851. The cost is $60. The concert begins  at 4 pm with the reception immediately following. Please make checks payable to First Congregational Church of Long Beach. You will not be disappointed.

DAYS Long Beach provides services in three key areas: Youth Education and Support; Leadership and Academic Success; and Parent and Family Support. Through a holistic approach to helping youth and families of Long Beach, DAYS Long Beach provides the needed support to build future success for the members of our community. All proceeds from the Sparkling Reception will go directly to DAYS Long Beach. To learn more about our work, please consider visiting our website:

Fair Trade Holiday Market - November 27, December 4, 11, & 18

By Steve Schatz
Hopefully more and more of us are becoming aware that the way we spend our money can have enormous impacts on many lives, and on the planet we inhabit. Our current national and global economic system is one wrought with grossly exploitive practices. It’s a system created, controlled, and maintained by the greed of unregulated national and multinational corporations.
This uncontrolled, profit-at-all-cost system results in the daily abuse, impoverishment, even enslavement of workers, artisans, and farmers, including children. It is also responsible for the large scale poisoning of our planet and atmosphere.
It is safe to say that none of us would support such a system of cruelty and exploitation. Unfortunately, without realizing it, we often do just that. A very large percentage of the products and services we purchase regularly support the the greed and predatory practices of our current economic system. And in so doing we unwittingly perpetuate this abusive, oppressive system.
With all this in mind, and the knowledge that so many of us will be significantly increasing our purchasing during the holiday season, we will continue our tradition of hosting a Fair Trade Holiday Market. The Fair Trade Market gives us the opportunity to purchase marvelous crafts and food items with the assurance that all artisans, laborers, and farmers receive a truly fair and living wage for their products.
I invite you to come and spend money in a way that supports empowerment and sustainability, rather than exploitation and environmental desecration. The Fair Trade Holiday Market will be held Sundays, November 27, December 4, 11, and 18 after the Sunday service of celebration.
P.S. It is indeed very hard to know all about the supply chain of products and services we purchase. Some help in this area can be found at Among other things, this website has a “Responsible Shopper” guide, and the “National Green Pages” directory.

Gifts to the Manger - Sunday, December 11

By Nancy Valencia, Executive Director, DAYS Long Beach
DAYS Long Beach will once again deliver holiday gifts and food bags to families in Long Beach. Join us in celebrating the holidays by contributing to our holiday gift program.
As in years past, we will collect food items for one complete holiday meal. To ensure that the gift bags are full and all the children receive a holiday item, we need your help. We will need the following items to help fill our bags:
100 shopping bags
Canned fruit and vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, and peas
Boxed stuffing
Cake and brownie mixes
Fresh bags of potatoes (5 or 10 lbs)
Fresh apples, tangerines, and oranges
DAYS Long Beach is introducing the Holiday Sock Exchange. All you need to do is purchase a pair of colored/patterned holiday socks and stuff them with an assortment of small treats. Suggested items may include pencils, playing cards, nail polish, bags of nuts, and gift cards. Tie them together with a bow and label the item by gender and age. This is an easy and wonderful gift for youth.

In addition, DAYS is collecting gifts for our children and youth. Our children appreciate all gifts received, but if you are struggling with ideas, please consider gift cards to local stores and the movies, games such as Candyland, Yahtzee, Checkers, Sorry, and Jenga, chapter books, and art and school supplies.
Gifts to the Manger will be dedicated during worship on Sunday, December 11. Please bring your food, unwrapped toys, monetary donations, and gift certificates on Dececember 11 and join us in celebrating the holiday season.
We plan to start wrapping the gifts the week of December 12 and will deliver on Saturday, December 17. If you are interested in helping to wrap presents, assemble and/or deliver the holiday bags, please contact Nancy Valencia at 562-234-2851. Give only what you can and together we can make a difference in a child’s life.
Happy Holidays and thank you,
DAYS Long Beach

Preserving Our Legacy – Full Steam Ahead

By Ruth Keller for the Capital Campaign Committee

First Church members, you are amazing! We are sailing closer to our goal of being able to continue the work on the restoration of the east rose window and terra cotta. The majority of members and non-members alike have returned their Letters of Intent in regards to giving over the next three years. We want all members to be able to commit to preserving the rose windows in the way you are able to assist. That is the why of the Letter of Intent. For the next two Sundays we will be in the Koinonia Room before and after worship to you to pick up or drop off your Intentions! Many of you haven’t attended church for awhile – come by and share with others we would love to see you! Next stop – phone calls and visits – oh no!

Capital Campaign Quiz - Answers

By Steve Crow
Allison King and I conferred on the questions, but we never fully agreed on the answers! I have stood across the street from the church many times trying to get an accurate count on a rather complex brick facade. So there is room for disagreement. The purpose of all of this is less to be accurate than to have you study the building!
1. I find 15 distinct brick patterns, some occurring more than once.
2. I count 16 crosses of one shape or another.
3. Aging and disintegrations makes this hard, but I think there are three distinct colors (see diamond pattern in the tower in particular).
4. I can see eight bricked up windows, all basement level, and Allison tells me this occurred during the earthquake retrofitting.
Note of correction: In locating the eternal knot in the rose windows, I relied on the 1914 Guidebook rather than actual inspection. Bob Kalayjian drew to my attention that in 1917 the center window of the west window—the eternal knot—was moved to the north window, allowing a memorial center honoring Jotham Bixby to take its place.

Columbarium Update

By Bob Kalayjian
I have made a preliminary investigation into ways to treat the bronze faceplates in the courtyard niches with a lot learned and some success. I will let the winter weather work on the faceplates as they are and get back to this cleanup next year. Please do not try to clean or polish the faceplates or nameplates. Thank you.

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Sunday, November 20 was colored with love! Our intern, Stacey Berry, began planning the Christmas festivities for our guest children. A group of about 40 bicyclists, Tour de Homeless, came bearing many gifts of canned food, dog food, blankets, clothing, and hygiene items. Dr. Sophia Momand came and gave her time to see patients. Our community partners, Vedanta, came and prepared delicious Indian food. Many students from CSULB and LBCC came, and even a group from Poly High School.

The rain came early and soaked the patio, but we had a fragrant, warm soup and chicken inside. Melody Garrett even made delicious peach cobbler. So it was cozy and happy inside. We sorted clothing and set up the patio under the overhang and gave away all the great stuff everyone brought to us. People loved the underwear and socks from FCC!

We spoke with a lot of clients. We put five families into a motel and helped one lady with getting her identity free from DMV and gave her a bus pass to get there. She was moved to tears by the love and generosity. An elderly gentleman talked with me for quite a while, and though I didn’t have an apartment for him he still was grateful to just be able to talk about his problems and have a sympathetic ear.

Monday our volunteer coordinator, Katie Philipson, started a movement to save a family from being evicted when the single mom was laid off. Within six hours we had all the $1200 rent money and were able to assist the woman, her children, and elderly mother with rent and avoided them being put out into the street Thanksgiving week! A miracle for sure! What a blessing you are, Katie Philipson!

May you have a loving Thanksgiving where family and friends gather and recognize that the gratitude that binds us together also shapes our lives. I am thankful for you!


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Robert Stapp and his family upon the death of his sister’s husband; Patti and Don Hulse (Kathy Young's friends); Leslie Charles upon the death of her father, Robert Enslin; Lloyd Wright; David Plowman; Bart Fulp (Kathy Young’s friend); and Steve Hinze (Marion Hinze’s son).

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.

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