The Pilgrim - June 25, 2017
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The Pilgrim - June 25, 2017


Sunday Celebration Notes

Celebrating God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am

Dear First Church,

The summer solstice is upon us, and the summer schedule is shifting into place here at First Church. Deep cleaning is happening, the courtyard full of chairs being steam cleaned and drawers and closets emptied of their tired contents. We are taking a breath and preparing for the beginning of DAYS Summer Camp next week.

In just a week, John Forrest and I will be traveling with our spouses (and one preschooler with me and Mark!) to Baltimore, MD for the national meeting of the United Church of Christ, our Synod. This biennial meeting is a combination of conference, worship, business, networking and Old Home Week … a chance to reconnect with the wider church, understand the larger trends effecting all congregations, and hear about the direction of our shared life as a denomination.

Rev. Douglas is a member of the prestigious Next Generation Leadership Institute and will attend in that capacity, while I will be traveling as the Vice President of the Board for Ministerial Assistance and fulfilling obligations to the national church, as befits the minister of a local congregation. Leading service on July 2 will be Rev. Katy Hyman and Rev. Josh Morris, our clergy in the community, who will bring challenging words to us about moral courage and our own privilege.

But before next week, we have a beautiful Sunday planned: we will acknowledge our musicians and music staff, commission the new Theatre Ministry Team, and observe the sixtieth anniversary of the United Church of Christ with songs, bells, and words of gratitude.

Blessings as summer begins for us all~

The Rev. Elena Larssen

"White Privilege: Let's Talk" Continues This Sunday, 11:30 AM, in Klar Rooms 1 & 2

In This Issue

Sunday Celebration Notes
Music on Sunday
Sunday School
Kindred Spirits
Summer Camp Wish List
Significance of Our Cranes
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

In Sunday School

David Shows Kindness

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

I've been spending a lot of time at church lately! My recent calendar looks like this:

June 8      Choir practice
June 9      Wilson High School Choral Awards Banquet in Patterson Hall
June 11    Sunday worship and Young People's Concert
June 13    Rehearsal with the soloist for the Fauré concert and rehearsal for the upcoming Long Beach Landmark Theatre Company gala (July 15)
June 14    Full rehearsal with choir, soloists and instrumentalists for the Fauré concert
June 15    Choir practice
June 16    Concert featuring the Fauré Requiem and the St. Claire Mass for Social Justice
June 17    Rehearsal for theatre gala and DAYS Long Beach “Summer in the City” fundraiser
June 18    Sunday worship
June 19    Rehearsal for theatre gala
June 20    Rehearsal for theatre gala
June 21    Worship staff meeting

The common element in all these is, of course, music. Music, as you are well aware, plays a big role in the life of First Church, and I feel extremely fortunate to be one of the people leading this ministry. I am also blessed to have a talented and resourceful group of colleagues to work with: Dr. Marc Dickey - organist, Tracy Halter Balin - bells/youth choir director, Lisa Bode Heard - alto soloist, Carlos Carlos - tenor soloist, Carver Cossey - bass soloist, Megan O’Toole - soprano soloist and co-director of the Long Beach Landmark Theatre Company (LBLTC), Mark Wheeler - the other co-director of LBLTC, and Karen Miller – director of Una Voce. All these folks have job titles, but we work really well as a team, stepping in to support each other and bounce ideas around to keep the music ministry thriving. None of this would mean anything, however, if it weren’t for the dedication of the many volunteers who sing in the choir or ring in the bell choirs. Many of them have been at a lot of extra rehearsals and events lately too!

This Sunday, we will recognize the music department of First Church for the many ways in which it contributes to the life of the church. I personally send my thanks to everyone who participates and who appreciates our music program. Your support is what makes it all possible!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music and Composer-in-Residence

Kindred Spirits This Saturday, 4 PM

By Ron Ellwood

Kindred Spirits’ next meeting will be 4 pm on Saturday, June 24 at the home of Steve Crow and John DeCarvalho at 3061 East Second St (near Paloma) in Long Beach. Bring a dish that will feed several people. The last two meetings have had 20 in attendance. For questions or further information please contact Ron Ellwood (310-850-0594;

Summer Camp Wish List

By Tracy Halter-Balin

If you read the local Press-Telegram, you've seen the great "Send a Kid to Camp" articles that date back many years and have enabled many lucky kids to experience a life-changing opportunity. Our own camp, Pilgrim Pines, is just days away from our own awesome month of summer fun!  

In the past, our church has been very generous, with many of our small wish list requests, so here I am, once again with a few wishes to help offset the large cost of running a summer camp.  

  • Regular and postcard stamps for kids to write home and for us to send "glad to have you at camp" notes
  • Blue painters tape - we use lots!
  • Simple art supplies
  • Goldfish crackers

Thank you in advance! I'll be at church this Sunday to answer any questions you may have regarding this amazing ministry.

The Cranes of August: Vital Symbolic Expression, Not Decoration

By Steve Schatz

Over the past several years, many of us have experienced the hanging of origami cranes in our sanctuary in the month of August. This was first begun in 2009.The Board of Social Justice and Outreach wants to make sure that we never lose sight of the reason and important significance of doing this.

The initial decision to begin doing this stems from the story of 12-year-old Sadako Sasaki (“Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”). Sadako lived in Hiroshima, Japan, and was only two years old when the U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the city. The resulting destruction, death, and suffering was completely unconscionable; the likes of which had never been witnessed before. It seemed that Sadako and her family miraculously survived this devastating horror. But when this vibrant, lively, athletic 12-year-old girl fainted while practicing for her school relay race, it was soon discovered that Sadako had been stricken with the greatly feared “bomb disease” which had been taking the lives of countless people ever since the atomic explosion. Of course, this still not well understood “bomb disease” was radiation caused cancer.

While the terribly frightened Sadako was in the hospital, her closest school friend, Chizuko, reminded her of the legend of the Thousand Paper Cranes, which says that anyone who can fold 1,000 paper cranes, is granted a wish. Chizuko told Sadako that she could be healed from the “bomb disease” if she could fold 1,000 paper cranes. Even with all the terrible headaches and pain Sadako endured, she tirelessly folded paper cranes each day in the hospital. It is said that she folded 644 paper cranes before she died October 25, 1955. Her friends and classmates folded 364 more paper cranes, to make a total of 1,000. These cranes were buried with the beloved 12-year-old Sadako. Today there is a statue of Sadako at the Hiroshima Peace Park, with this inscription: “This is our cry, this is our prayer; peace in the world.”

When I look upon the vibrant, lively children who gather in the front of our sanctuary each Sunday morning, I see beautiful children like Sadako. I smile to these fun, free, curious spirits. They, like the children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the children all across this planet, must be made safe from the catastrophic devastation of nuclear weapons and war of every kind.

So no, friends, the Cranes of August are not simply a decoration. They are a vital symbolic expression - a prayer of remembrance, a prayer of hope, a call to work for a world of peace. We hope you’ll join in creating this expression!

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

On Father’s Day, Boeing employees volunteered at the Drop-In-Center. Melody Garrett and the volunteers served chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, vegetables, and dessert. A fitting dinner for Father’s Day! The TV was up and running, and the guests were happy to have it back. They stayed, watched TV, and relaxed out of the sun’s harsh heat. As the song goes, it was one of those “lazy, hazy days of summer.“ People gathered in the computer lab to check in with relatives, see the news, work on resumes, and google jobs and apartments.

An announcement was made at check-in and during the meal that Urban Community Outreach will be closed on Sundays during the month of July. I am reminding the Multi-Service Center today of the July closure. However, we will be working with clients during July and also doing deep cleaning of the kitchen, walk-in freezer, and refrigerator.

One of our clients has received section 8 and got into an apartment. We rejoice with him and also pray that he can stay clean and keep the apartment. We’ll be hovering and helping him as much as possible to make this upward transition last.

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the month. Volunteers will come from Molina to help, and we plan to hand out clothing, shoes, blankets, and hygiene items, so if you have anything we could give out, we would be very happy to receive it Sunday morning.

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Jim Snelling; Ivy Bottini; the family of Abraham Cervantes (Ruth Keller's student).

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.

Copyright © 2017 First Congregational Church of Long Beach, All rights reserved.

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