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

The Pilgrim - June 26, 2016

From The Senior Minister

Dear Church,

As many of you know from Sunday’s service, my father, Tom Larssen, did die on June 18th from advanced dementia.  He was blessed with a gentle and comfortable time of passing, at home with my mother and sister to sit with him; we are experiencing that strange mix of grief and release that comes when a person passes peacefully after years of declining health.

A service will be held at our home church, The Community Church of Sebastopol UCC, on Saturday July 2nd at 11:00 a.m.  If you are in the area, you are most welcome to attend.  That congregation is between Senior Ministers right now, so my spouse Mark Pettis will be officiating with their associate clergy; the Music Department is on summer hiatus, and Carver Cossey has graciously agreed to come and lead the congregation musically.  My mother is particularly touched by the symbolism of having both First Church and Mark’s church represented, as our whole family experiences the communities of the United Church of Christ as a network of koinonia.  It will be a celebration of a life that was filled with love and friendship until the very end. 

I will be away from the church from June 30 to July 5th.  Your kindness and tenderness have already been evident, and I thank you, dear Church.


Elena Larssen

From the Associate Minister

Compassion is one of the most critical pieces of life. It is important for us to live with compassion for others and compassion for ourselves. Compassion, like hate, is learned. Karen Armstrong, the scholar of religion, has done some amazing work creating what she calls "The Charter of Compassion." This document lays out a way all of us, no matter our religion background, can make our world a little better place by living with compassion. You can learn more by visiting the website www.charterforcompassion.org

This summer, our children are learning about the many facets of compassion in the Sunday school. Each week they spend time making crafts, dancing, writing, and hearing stories that teach something about compassion. Our prayer is that seeds might be planted, so as our kids grow they might live lives of compassion and make our world a better place. 

John Forrest


Summer Sunday School
By the Rev. John Forrest Douglas

Summer Sunday School is in full swing! We are in need of Sunday School teachers and helpers for July and August. Teachers will prepare the lesson and guide the ship during the time in class, while helpers will assist children with crafts, pass out snacks, and help manage the classroom. If you’d be willing to sign up to be a teacher or a helper, please click on this link to go to the sign-up page. You may also sign up after church on Sunday.


In this issue:

Christian Education

Momastery Live!

Help Fold Cranes

Walking for Health

Church Picnic

Titanic the Musical at First Church This Fall

Parish Concerns

For more information

The Pilgrim - current and past editions of the newsletter


First Church website

Contact us


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



Momastery Live!
By Katy Hyman

On Thursday, October 13, join us for an evening with Glennon Doyle Melton, founder of the online community at Momastery.com and author of the New York Times Bestseller Carry On, Warrior and the upcoming memoir, Love Warrior.

Admission for the event is $40 and includes a hardcover edition of Love Warrior. Doors will open at 6:15 for the 7 pm event. Additional tickets are available for $23 for an early reception with Glennon, which will begin at 5:30 pm. Tickets to this reception can be purchased on the registration page as you purchase tickets for the event.

The Board of Cultural Arts is co-sponsoring this event with Manhattan Beach Community Church and Bayshore Community Congregational Church. We have reserved 200 event tickets and 100 reception tickets for our members, and you can access the private sale here: http://conta.cc/1th3lNU.

We do expect this event to sell out, so buy your tickets now!

[Editor's note: The Pilgrim is coming out a day early this week so that you receive the link on the same day as the other sponsoring congregations.]


The Cranes of August Are Coming!
By Bob Kalayjian and Steve Schatz

We will continue to fold cranes this Sunday. We have over 1700 to fold and need help. This year the cranes will commemorate both the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the remembrance of 9/11 on Sunday the 11th of September.

Another aspect of the cranes that will be a little different is their disposition after they come down. Traditionally they have gone to the Children’s Memorial at Hiroshima as an offering to peace and nuclear disarmament. This year our cranes will go the Todd Cancer Institute Pavilion at Memorial Medical Center to be a part of their installation of 10,000 cranes in the lobby. We are asking everyone who folds a crane to write a few words of healing for family and friends on the paper before folding.

Join us this coming Sunday during the coffee hour and fold at least one or as many as you can. Packets of paper to take home will be available as well.



Let’s Go for a Walk: FCCLB Walking for Health
By Eillen Badilla

Join us for a sunset walk at the beach on Saturday, June 25. We will meet at Bixby Park (Cherry Ave and Ocean Blvd) at 6:30 pm.



picnic imageJoin the Fun at the Church Picnic!
By Jo Anne Jennings

Sign-ups for the Church Family Picnic take place on Sunday, and you don’t want to miss the fun and friendship. It’s $8 a person or $20 for a family, along with a donation of a salad or dessert. We’ll meet at El Dorado Park after church on July 31. There’ll be great burgers (including veggie burgers) and hot dogs. We’ll make giant bubbles and play games. What could be better than a Sunday in the park with friends!?!


Titanic the Musical at First Church in November
By Mark Wheeler

For the first time in 15 years we will be bringing the Broadway musical back to First Congregational Church!

Steaming its way into our Sanctuary this November — Titanic the Musical. This is a sweeping, historically accurate and extremely moving portrayal of the grandeur and misfortune of that fateful journey in 1912.

The critically acclaimed musical won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. It is in no way related to the James Cameron film, so if you are looking for Jack and Rose or the musical number “I’m the King of the World,” you won’t find them! But you will be enveloped by lush orchestration highlighting our Mighty Möller organ, the True Brass Ensemble, and a full orchestra under the skillful baton of Curtis Heard. You’ll be swept away by gorgeous melodies sung by a cast of 30 and our extraordinary Sanctuary Choir. You’ll voyage back to feel the excitement and ultimate tragedy aboard what was, at that time, the largest moving object in the world. And you’ll experience life on this “moving metropolis,” a microcosm of Edwardian society fraught with social issues not so different from those we struggle with today.

Titanic took to the sea in 1912 and our breathtaking sanctuary opened its doors in 1914. There are so many striking similarities between it and the opulent spaces aboard Titanic. Our beautiful sanctuary interiors will transport you to 1912 as a passenger aboard “The Ship of Dreams.”

We believe this will be a thrilling, meaningful, and compelling event for our church family, as well as the entire Long Beach community.

Perhaps you’re interested in becoming part of the team for this amazing event? Email Megan O’Toole at meganaotoole@yahoo.com or Mark Wheeler at markwheelerdesign@yahoo.com and we can chat about all the possibilities!

Titanic - coming this fall!




Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Marion Hinze; Mary Ann Johnson, upon the death of her mother; John Lashbrook; Rebecca Mellaci (Julie Ford and Eillen Badilla's friend); and Gloria Reed (Ruth Keller's mother).

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: office@firstchurchlb.org