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The Pilgrim - April 24, 2016

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

Keep it in the groundUCC ministers preach together to keep fossil fuels in the ground
By Barb Powell

As the “Keep it in the Ground” preach-in advocating keeping fossil fuels in the ground approaches, pastors from across the country are signing on, igniting a groundswell of support for the movement to bring fresh creative solutions to the threat of global warming. And their reasons for joining in are as varied as their geographic locales.

“I believe that I have a responsibility as a minister of the Gospel to preach the Good News and the uncomfortable truth,” said the Rev. Da Vita “Day” McCallister, associate conference minister of leadership and vitality for the UCC’s Connecticut Conference. “The Good News is we have the opportunity to change. The uncomfortable truth is that if we keep going at our present rate of consumption [of fossil fuels], we will no longer have that opportunity, and our children and grandchildren will pay the price of our arrogance and greed.”

The preach-in – scheduled for Sunday, April 24, in pulpits from Maine to California – is part of the UCC’s “Our Stillspeaking Voice” monthly multimedia event initiative. The April event is co-convened by the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister for environmental justice, and the Rev. Jim Antal, conference minister and president of the UCC’s Massachusetts Conference.

"In our city, you drive right past oil drilling; pumps are running at all hours of the day and night, right next to shopping centers and housing tracts,” said the Rev. Elena Larssen, senior minister of First Congregational UCC of Long Beach, Calif. “It takes courage for us to ask bold questions about creating a sustainable future because it will impact the lives of local people, including members of my church. My congregation will have divergent opinions on the whole subject. This is why the church needs to keep asking the complicated questions, because churches take the long view and will stand in support of workers and families as well as the environment.”

“Our local voice is larger and more diverse when we join with our UCC community to speak for justice, Larssen added. “When we join together and show that care for our creation is happening in lots of ways on the local level, we strengthen the whole witness of the church.”


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

Documentary Screening: Cowspiracy

Memorial Service for Bill Cole

National Youth Event Scholarships

Volunteer for Our Pride Booth

FCCLB Walking for Health

Thank You!

Drop-In-Center News

Tickets Still Available for UCO Fundraiser "Jazzy Lady"


Church Mouse

Parish Concerns

For more information ...

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us


Preach-in ministers photosClockwise from top left: UCC ministers McCallister, Gebbie, Hendler-Voss, and Larssen. Gebbie photo credit: Gracyi Mata @atnygem


The Rev. Eileen Gebbie, senior minister of Ames (Iowa) UCC didn’t want to participate, initially, because “global climate change leaves me feeling completely paralyzed by fear. However,” she said, “I know that such fear is the place I must go, the place God calls me to interrogate and move through with integrity.”

“I hope this effortwill offer the opportunity for collective confession that we have fallen short of living in right relationship with the Earth,” said the Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss, founding co-pastor of Land of the Sky UCC in Asheville, N.C. “I hope it will remind us that divine wisdom is sewn deep into the fabric of the landscapes and the wild communities in which we live.”

Land of the Sky UCC, located in the scenic mountains of Appalachia – parts of which has been strip-mined or demolished through mountain top removal mining – kicked off the April event this past weekend. “I hope it will spur creativity for new ways of working together to yield to the many teachings of the soil, green growing things, and animal lives so that we might be reconciled,” Hendler-Voss added.

In addition to the preach-in, Berndt also encourages local churches to hold house parties to explain why it’s necessary to keep 80 percent of fossil fuels in the ground. He said he uses Jenga – a tower building game using blocks – to illustrate the catastrophic consequences.“As anyone who has played the game of Jenga knows, a tower built with blocks will quickly fall if one messes too much with the blocks at the bottom,” Berndt said. “Likewise, there are parts of creation that we simply cannot continue to mess with if we do not want our present world to collapse.”

“A visual demonstration like the falling of a tower leaves an impression, so my suggestion is to have a ‘Jenga house party,’” Berndt added. “Eat some food, play Jenga, and explain why we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. You can then discuss what you and your guests can do to promote both energy efficiency and renewable energy. Finally, invite your guests to sign an online petition that urges President Obama to stop the extraction of fossil fuels on public lands.”

Many of the ministers participating in the preach-in hope the event will spur action in their local churches as well as contribute to regional and national conversations on global warming and climate change. Gebbie said she hopes her sermon will affirm the efforts of Ames UCC’s newly-formed Green Team, “and build on their momentum to be a place that inspires true stewardship, even when it is counter-cultural.”

“Survival is one thing thatunites all human beings, regardless of any of our social markers or statuses,” she said. “Nothing else matters if we cannot learn to control our energy usage and become more creative in its generation. In addition, we cannot allow ‘the market’ – as if it is an anonymous force within which we have no say – go unchallenged. We are the market. We have a choice.”


Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

There has been a lot of choral music written about the spring - for good reason! In the colder parts of Europe, the end of winter was a big deal - it was warmer, flowers were blooming, and nature seemed to cry out, come frolic and have fun! (Insert some fa la las here.) I would classify this Sunday’s anthem as a modern madrigal (written in 1939, as opposed to 1639). The words are by the great English poet Christina Rosetti, author of “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “Love Came Down at Christmas.” Here is the text:

All that we see rejoices in the sunshine,
All that we hear makes merry in the Spring:
God grant us such a mind to be glad after our kind,
And to sing God’s praises evermore for ev’rything.

Much that we see must vanish with the sunshine,
Sweet Spring must fail, and fail the choir of Spring:
But Wisdom shall burn on when the lesser lights are gone,
And shall sing God’s praises evermore for ev’rything.

Happy Spring! Happy Earth Day! See you on Sunday!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Tipping Point
Scripture: Acts 11:1-18

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




Documentary Film Showing This Sunday: Cowspiracy
By Steve Schatz

This Sunday, as part of our second Earth Day Sunday, all are invited and encouraged to watch the documentary film Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The film will be shown in Ramsay Dining Hall at 11:30 am.

The film uncovers crucial information concerning the devastating effects the animal agriculture industry is having on our planet - documented, peer-reviewed information, which sadly is not being addressed by many of our trusted environmental organizations. The filmmakers and experts interviewed, present a clear message that we can have a transformative impact on the industry's catastrophic effects, by making necessary changes in the way we feed ourselves.

We sure hope you can stay and view this important film.


Memorial Service for Bill Cole

The memorial service for Bill Cole will be in our sanctuary this Friday, April 22, at 2 pm, followed by a reception. There will be free parking in the Third and Cedar parking lot, and also in the lot at Third and Chestnut starting at 12 noon.


National Youth Event Scholarships Available

The Central Association, our UCC regional churches in covenant with one another, wants to assist our youth and especially our youth who need financial assistance to attend this event. Download the application here (pdf). Please note that you will need our Senior Minister’s signature, so please bring your application to church this Sunday for her to sign. Applications are due May 1.


Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival Booth
By William Kuehl

The Board of Social Justice and Outreach is sponsoring an informational booth at the Pride Festival in Long Beach on May 21 and 22. If you like to interact with people, you might like to volunteer in our church's booth. Basically, you will be informing people about our church by distributing pamphlets, answering questions, and welcoming them to attend services and concerts. You'll also be handing out stickers and temporary tattoos that encourage people to celebrate diversity. The days and times are listed below. We need two people for each time slot. Unfortunately, you are on your own for parking. The Board of Social Justice and Outreach has paid for wrist bands for two people for each time slot. This covers your admission to the festival and permission to work in the booth. If you are interested, please let me know what day and time you prefer. Providing me with an alternate day and time would also be helpful.

Saturday, May 21: 10:30 am - 2 pm, 2 pm - 5 pm, and 5 pm - 8 pm
Sunday, May 22: 10:30 am - 2 pm, 2 pm - 5 p.m., and 5 p.m. - 8 pm

Thank you,
William Kuehl; phone: 714-538-9508; text: 714-336-8187


FCCLB Walking for Health Group
By Eillen Badilla

We are planning to get together on Saturday, April 30 at 8:30 am at El Dorado Nature Center for one-hour walk. Carpool walkers meet at 8 am at church. I will put an announcement on Facebook next week. #FCCLBWalkingForHealth


Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

I wanted to express my thanks and appreciation to Tracy Halter-Balin, Curtis Heard, Chris Stevens, Ray Hedgpeth and Eddie Nazarro for pulling together the musical service for "The Great Kapok Tree." I especially want to acknowledge the work of Sean Balin and Todd Faux for creating the set with the large tree trunk and plants. You may not be aware, but my wife, Nancy Boyd-Batstone, made all the masks and coordinated the costuming. All I had to do was show up and sing with these amazing kids - thank you parents!

I hope that the musical planted a seed of wonder about our forests and sparked hope in how we can transform our destructive actions into life sustaining practices.

Paul Boyd-Batstone


Drop-in Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

I have to admit I wasn’t at the Drop-In-Center this Sunday. We went to a nephew’s wedding in Atlanta. I hear things went well, though. We have a dedicated staff and volunteer coordinators. We served approximately 300 and had 45 volunteers. Vedanta was our guest chef and sponsored a great Indian meal. Many students came to volunteer from Cal State Long Beach. The computer lab continues to run smoothly although very busy. Brand New Day Health Services was present and informed clients about their health plan and we also gave out hygiene kits and blankets donated by Tina.

Thank you for reading our article faithfully! Remember last week I shared that our printer/scanner wasn’t working at DIC? Because of this opportunity to let you know how things are going we have had an offer of a printer from Ron Ellwood! He even has a good supply of ink for us too! What a blessing!

We are having slow ticket sales this year for our spring fundraiser, Jazzy Lady, this coming Saturday, April 23. There are so many events going on around town including a BIG one for the Boys and Girls Club. As a result we have seats left! YOU can still come! We even have a few comp tickets available if you just can’t swing the cost for a support ticket but would enjoy coming. Let me know (562-714-1155). It will be a great evening with a jazz band and lots of food stations all night. Come help us honor some deserving ladies, Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal and Dr. Sophia Momand, who comes and works with us at DIC.

Here are pictures of our jazzy ladies.

Suja Lowenthal     Sophia Momand


1920s “Jazzy Lady” Event
Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal
~The Bee’s Knees of Downtown~
April 23, 2016
Reception 6 pm, Program 7 pm
Also recognizing Dr. Sophia Momand

Live Jazz Band, 1920s Attire
Secret Speakeasy Password
Refreshments, Food Stations, Prizes
Ramsay Dining Room - 562-582-1000
Tickets: $75 each, 2 for $140
Table of 8 for $550


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 MouseThe Church Mouse has heard ...

... Micah Turner has been selected to receive the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award for High School Seniors this year. He was chosen from his entire Civil Air Patrol Cadet Squadron. He was presented the award at a ceremony on April 18. Congratulations, Micah!


Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Gary Shelton; Jan and Paul Bode (Lisa Bode Heard's parents); Ed Zirbel (Lisa Bode Heard's best friend's father); and Nathan Moreno (Ruth Keller's newborn great-great-nephew).

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: