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

The Pilgrim - March 20, 2016

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

the Rev. Jim BurkloDear Friends,

I am so pleased to welcome The Rev. Jim Burklo to our pulpit this Sunday!

The Rev. Jim Burklo serves as Associate Dean for Religious Life at the University of Southern California, and is author of several books on progressive Christian thought.

A long-time friend and colleague of mine, you may remember Jim's sermon at my installation in January of 2014; he is a progressive and whimsical voice for peace and justice, bringing a rich and creative perspective to his reflections.

Rev. Burklo will teach on Sunday morning during the 8:30-9:30 hour in the Booth Chapel, sharing materials from his upcoming book Mindful Christianity, and will preach the sermon at our 10:00 service. I will preside, Alison Morales will give the Time with the Children, and Tina Datsko will present Palm Sunday poetry ... with Beloved Bells ringing this Sunday ... it will be a thoughtful and uplifting Palm Sunday full of celebration!

Children are invited to gather in the Koinonia Room before service to be a part of the Palm processional.

And don't forget ... complimentary parking for Sunday service and related activities (pre, during, post service) is available in our new parking home, the Civic Center Parking Structure at Cedar and Broadway. 


The Rev. Elena Larssen


In this issue:

Bread for the World Offering of Letters

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

BOCA Goes to Pygmalion

Youth Lock-In

Pick up Your Candy!

Easter Lilies

Poet's Notes

The "ZONE" Zone

Women's Retreat

Taizé at St. Luke's

Drop-In Center News


Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us


Bread for the World Offering of Letters
From Miriam Seneviratne, Board of Social Justice and Outreach
Adapted from the Bread for the World website

Bread for the WorldSince 1990, the number of people who are hungry in the world has fallen by over 200 million, even while the world’s population has increased. Bread for the World is so confident in this amazing progress over the past few decades that it is committed to helping achieve the goal of ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

It is possible to improve the nutrition and health of mothers and children and make strides in ending hunger overall. We know how important good nutrition is to the survival of mothers and children and to improving an individual’s health and productivity. It lays the foundation for a child’s future.

The US Congress can and needs to play an important role. Congress should increase funding to at least $230 million for programs for mother and child nutrition. The increase should happen in the State Department Foreign Operations Appropriation Bill’s Global Health Account.

In 2015, funding for nutrition in the global health account was $115 million, a slight increase from previous years.

Progress has been made! In 1990, more than 12 million children under 5 died from preventable causes. Today, that number has been reduced to 5.9 million. Each year, funding for US Agency for International Development programs (from the federal government) saves the lives of millions of children under the age of 5 with simple solutions and inexpensive ways to stop the top causes of death. These include diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, and complications during pregnancy and birth. There is obviously much more to be done, but this amazing progress should give us hope. We can keep the progress going. Watch the 2016 Bread for the World Offering of Letters video here.

On March 20, the Board of Social Justice and Outreach will provide a list of Congressional Representatives by zip code, and copies of letters to sign to that Representative, asking Congress to continue to act on this issue, and to increase funding. The letters will be mailed or hand delivered by the board. Please join us after church in the Koinonia Room.


Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

While there's a lot we don't know about the historical Jesus, one thing that scholars agree on is that he definitely rocked the Galilee, and the reverberations of his ministry are still felt in the world today. With this in mind, I can't think of a more appropriate anthem in honor of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem than "Rockin' Jerusalem" by Rollo Dillworth. Dillworth is a prolific and wildly successful composer and arranger of spirituals and gospel music. In the choral festivals I have attended in recent years, there have usually been several of his works on the program. I was introduced to "Rockin' Jerusalem" at last year's Los Angeles Master Chorale High School Choral festival, where my students participated in an 800-voice choir. For this piece, Grant Gershon, conductor of the Master Chorale, played piano, and the choir was led by Rollo Dillworth himself! It was a thrill to hear it at the Walt Disney Hall last year, and I am just as thrilled to lead the Sanctuary Choir this Sunday in our rendition! I'm sure you'll love it - you'll want to clap along, and maybe even wave some palm branches!  

The Beloved Bells will also play. See you on Sunday!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Palm, Passion Sunday
Scripture: Luke 19:28-40; Luke 22:14-23:56

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




BOCA Goes to Pygmalion
By Pam Chapin

If you haven't picked up your ticket, please do so after the service on Sunday. After the play, we will go next door to the Crooked Duck for refreshments.

Two tickets are available for the play, which begins at 2 p.m. If interested, please contact Pam Chapin (562-438-0112 or


ZONE Lock-In This Saturday
By Tracy Halter-Balin

This Saturday is our ZONE Lock-In! We'll gather at 5 pm for a Beloved Bells rehearsal and follow that will 13 hours of food, fun, games, more food, behind-the-scenes tours, movies, sleep(??), snacks, huge pancakes for breakfast at the Potholder, palm cross making, and more! One thing is for sure - you won't go hungry!

Anyone sixth grade and older is welcome! Contact Tracy or Jeremy now if you are able to join us.


Pick Up See's Candy
By Tracy Halter-Balin

Don't forget to pick up your See's candy this Sunday after church. And thank you so much for helping us make this a successful fundraiser for our July trip to the National Youth Event  happening at Disney World in Florida! 


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, March 22.

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.


Poet's Notes
By Tina Datsko de Sánchez

This final poem in the series explores the transcendent aspect of the Easter story through the archetype of Christ consciousness. Like the previous installments, “Passover/ Gethsemane” and “Be as a Rock,” this section uses the techniques of found poetry. Found poems take pre-existing texts and through selection and arrangement form a poem. Here, elements of the post-crucifixion gospel stories of Jesus appearing to his disciples are shaped into a poem.

For Palm Sunday, Rev. Elena Larssen has invited me to speak the poem “The Colt,” and Director of Music Curtis Heard has written a piano accompaniment.


                        For Elena and John Forrest


Peace to you.
Just as the Creator sent me,
I send you.

Love one another.
In the same way I loved you,
love one another.

This is how everyone
will recognize you
as my disciples—
when they see the love
you have for each other.

I will be with you
as you do this,
day after day.

Peace to you.
Peace to all creation.


The "ZONE" Zone (AKA Youth News)
By Tracy Halter-Balin

Here are some highlights of what's going on with some of our kids:

Kelsey Scott (11) plays rugby with the Belmont Shore Rugby Club and his team, Sharkfest, came in first place in their March 12 tournament.

Annaliese Guthmann (14) plays with the Long Beach Volleyball Club and her team came in first in their tournament on Sunday, March 13. After the tournament, she came to bell practice and ZONE for more volleyball!

Ewan Scott and Madi Miranda will both be playing in the Southern California Band and Orchestra Association Festival being held at Millikan High School this week. Ewan will also perform at an upcoming jazz festival in Irvine.


Women's Retreat Last Weekend

Women's Retreat

At Pilgrim Pines March 11-13


Holy Week Taizé at St. Luke's

Taize at St. Luke's


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Without our community partners Urban Community Outreach could not exist! This is so evident from the partnership we share with First Congregational Church for space, equipment, friendship and resources to the many caring volunteers who come in to give of their time. Community partners we share resources with to provide more services. The supporters who donate their financial resources and the supportive political people and grantors we can’t do without. So many puzzle pieces to make up a picture where people are treated with respect and helped up the ladder out of the pit of despair. All have been extremely helpful this week!

Westerly School teachers, parents and students came and really pitched in this Sunday, as did a fraternity and another college group. Thanks to the Methodist Church in Torrance, we had 400 sack lunches for the guests to take with them when they left.

We hope you liked the cookies we baked to thank FCC for your donation of warm jackets and continued support of UCO. The kids made the cutest St. Patrick’s Day decorations for the cookie table too!

We got out a huge grant proposal two days early with the aid of our lead agency in the grant, Safe Refuge. When County Supervisor Don Knabe heard about it, he wanted to send a letter of support, so we spent some time Tuesday making sure it would be attached to this federal grant that had already been submitted online. I also thank Connie Sziebl, his long- time deputy who serves in Long Beach area, as she took extra effort to make this happen.

It’s very heartwarming that we have so many good people who stand with us in the battle against poverty and homelessness! Thank you!

Drop-In Center


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 Marisa Rose Cherry (Margaret Cherry's daughter); Rip Loizedis (Sonia Gallardo's friend); Doris Sutherland (Harold Sutherland's mother); Kat Meyer (Lisa Bode Heard's friend); Randy Heinrich, Yvonne SaMarion's son, upon the death of his sister Melody; Steven McVicar; and the family of David Cosyns, Georgette DeBruyn's cousin, upon his death.

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: