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

The Pilgrim - April 3, 2016

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

Dear Church,

What a terrific Easter!  Thank you to so many who made the day special:

  • The Christian Education Board and Jenny Penner for Breakfast and Sunday School
  • Bellissimo Bells for a hauntingly beautiful Maundy Thursday service
  • The Sanctuary Choir for the jubilant sounds of Easter with our friends from True Brass Choir
  • Easter Nibbles with the Parish Life Board and photography by the flower cross
  • Hospitality and behind-the-scenes coordination by the Diaconate and Treasurer’s team …
  • … and so many more!

This week, the Easter spirit continues with “Sound of Music Sunday” -  an upbeat Sunday with music from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic piece The Sound of Music. This is not a show; it’s a lively service with Communion for the congregation and visitors to enjoy the vitality of the Easter season, and all are welcome!

Speaking of lively music, I am delighted that the Church Council recently approved Carver Cossey to begin a gospel choir! This gospel choir is designed accept both churched and non-churched singers; as Mr. Cossey wrote on Facebook:

Hi Friends,
At the corner of Arts and Justice (3rd and Cedar), First Congregational Church will be the home of a Community Gospel and Inspirational Chorus. It is open to the entire community. All voice types and levels of talent are welcome. The first rehearsal will be Wednesday, April 6 at 7:15. Please join us and please share this announcement. Looking forward to sharing the joy!

May this and all of our ministries … both the ones designed for members and the ones designed for the wider community … reflect the justice-seeking joy of Easter!

The Rev. Elena Larssen


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

First Church Café

Community Chorus

"Nordic Delight and Classic Rock"

Scholarship Applications Available

Update on Bill Cole

Easter at First Church

UCO "Jazzy Lady" Gala

Drop-In-Center News


Church Mouse

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

“The Sound of Music” was the last show that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote for the Broadway stage. It is truly a masterpiece of musical theater and one of my favorite shows, filled with great songs. This Sunday, you will get to hear a few selections and sing along with others as we present “Sound of Music” Sunday at First Church. You may recall that the Sunday after Easter last year was Gershwin Sunday. By choosing another theme for this year’s Sunday-after-Easter service, we (the worship planners) have established a tradition, which means that a few years from now, we can say that we’ve always celebrated the Sunday after Easter with a musical-themed service!

Speaking of spring traditions, major league baseball begins soon, and some of my students at Wilson High School will be participating in “Choir Night” at Angels stadium by singing the national anthem with a three-hundred-voice choir on April 23! The game against the Seattle Mariners will be followed by a fireworks show! I have some tickets available for $20 if you’re interested. Talk to me, or see Lisa Bode Heard of the Board of Parish Life on Sunday!

See you there,

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Speak Out
Scripture: Acts 5:27-32

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




First Church Café This Sunday

It's the first Sunday of the month - time again for First Church Café, from Karen Cannon of Stars Catering. The cost for lunch is $9 for adults and $4 for children 10 and under.

All are welcome. If you or your family need financial assistance to be able to enjoy lunch, vouchers are available. A number of our boards will meet after lunch, but lunch is not just for board members. Here's the menu:

Sunday Springtime Brunch

Savory Breakfast Bake
A breakfast dish en casserole, with garden-fresh vegetables, eggs, cheese, cream and ham and bacon. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan versions as well.

Parsleyed Potatoes
Fresh Fruit
Breakfast Breads
Beverages: iced tea, iced coffee, fruit juice, and water


Community Chorus Starts Rehearsing April 6
By Carver Cossey

I want to extend an invitation to you to join in singing in a community chorus. We will be performing gospel and inspirational music. All levels of singing welcome. We will begin rehearsing on Wednesday, April 6 at 7:15 downstairs in the Ramsay Dining Room. Please join us.


Organ and Violin Concert April 8
"Nordic Delight and Classic Rock"

Organ Recital


First Church Invites Scholarship Applications
By Kirsten Pickus, Board of Stewardship and Finance

Did you know that First Church offers annual scholarships designed to supplement the financial needs of today’s student? Funding for this program comes from three sources: (1) The Kenneth Caskey Memorial Scholarship Fund, (2) The Harriett S. and Nancy A. Merritt Memorial Scholarship Fund, and (3) The Jerry Cannon Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Awards are offered every spring to college, university, technical and trade students at any educational level. Preference is given to applicants who are members of First Congregational Church of Long Beach. Additional qualities considered include: goals; grades; church, college and community service; financial need; and proximity to achieving degree objectives. Applications are available in the Members’ Area of the church’s website under the Awards tab. Applications are due no later than April 26, 2016, and applicants are encouraged to submit all materials electronically to


Update about Bill Cole

Long-time church member Bill Cole is now receiving hospice care at home. He would appreciate cards and short visits. Please don't call; feel free to just stop by between 11 am and 5 pm.


Easter at First Church

Easter at First Church

Photo from Jim "Woody" Woods - see his complete collection here.


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

Easter at the Drop-In-Center was good. There was a big “Happy Easter” sign, the Easter centerpieces and colored eggs provided by First Congregational Church looked special, and cheery handmade Easter placemats graced the tables.

Laura Greer, her son, and his middle school friends made 22 cute Easter baskets and brought them over. They thoughtfully tied the girls' baksets with pink ribbon and the boys' with blue so we could tell them apart. The children were happy! Some CSULB students came and were very helpful even though they are on spring break.

We had a big crowd. Many came in all dressed up for Easter, particularly the children and seniors. A lot of new people came, probably because of Easter. We didn’t get any hams donated this year. They are expensive right now so we had a nice chicken meal. They loved it! We actually ran out of food! We haven’t done that for a long time.

Of course people still had challenges and needed help. Ann Lampe helped interview again. I ran an apartment list for one small family to see that there were two reasonably priced studio apartments available this week.

There is going to be an LA Homeless Court this Thursday, and their office sent over flyers and train tokens so people could take advantage of it.

We had a lot of transportation issues this week. One single mom who was laid off needed to get her driver's license renewed and couldn’t afford it. We helped her with that and are working on a resume for her too so she can get back to work. Another lady needed gas to go to an interview. A disabled man needed a monthly bus pass to get to his two doctors and get around as someone stole his wheelchair and he was having a very difficult time. I found a nice cane for him, but I know it was a little too short. It wasn’t adjustable. He still thanked me and gave me a big hug for doing what we could.

All in all it was a nice Easter with hope for renewal and a brighter future.


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.




Church mouse

The Church Mouse has heard ...

... Akiko Dohi has recently released a unique CD: “Sakura – East Meets West – Pentatonic Music for Piano,” a collection of piano pieces written by eight classical composers using a variety of pentatonic modes and harmonies, based on a lecture/recial she gives. Since she will continue to give this lecture/recital, she would appreciate hearing your opinion about the CD. You can contact her at or 310-521-8590.


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Matt Balin; James Datsko (Tina Datsko de Sanchez's brother); Kim Anderson (Larelle Hendon's sister); Xander Bell; Bill Cole; Chris Bobo upon the death of his mother; Harold Sutherland upon the death of his mother; Judy Reeves; Mary Lou Klar; and Mary Martin.

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.




Akiko Dohi

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: