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

The Pilgrim - May 1, 2016

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

Dear Church, 

All hail the purple one … the passing of musical artist Prince last week has caused a flurry of attention not only to his music, but to his faith and community contributions.

Having lived in Minneapolis, Prince’s beloved hometown, I can attest to the extraordinary impact that he had on his fans. He was truly community-oriented; for example, he was a huge fan of the women’s pro basketball team, the Lynx. His support for professional women’s sports – especially in a town where the NBA, NFL, men’s hockey, and University of Minnesota men’s sports are huge news – created great buzz for the team. When the Lynx won the championship, he held a big party at Paisley Park and played for the athletes and their guests.

During this Eastertide season, we are preparing ourselves for Pentecost by working through the Book of Acts. This Sunday we meet Lydia, an early disciple who was known as a businesswoman dealing in purple cloth. Lydia is an exciting feminist figure for progressive Christians, as both a key leader in the development of the early church and a woman of accomplishment. I couldn’t help but think that the gender-bending art of Prince and the gender-oppression-defying work of Lydia provide ancient and modern examples of ways people liberate themselves from gender norms to give unique leadership voices to the world.

And as we think and talk critically about gender, I’m pleased to announce that our Church Council has reaffirmed our commitment to having all-gender restrooms available throughout the campus. Those restrooms are located in the Pownall Room of the historic building and on the upper level of Pilgrim Hall near the elevator and Sacred Space. Please always feel free to use the restroom that is most comfortable for you … because no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

As you may know, I will be at an educational conference this week from Wednesday to Monday. I was honored to be accepted in the CREDO program of the Pensions Boards of the United Church of Christ, receiving full funding to attend this week of health and vocational guidance. I have been advised that conference attendees have little to no access to email or phone, so I’m guessing that we will be very busy! Many thanks continue to the Rev. Katy Hyman for providing pastoral coverage during my trip, and don’t hesitate to call the church office with questions about events and the campus.

I am also delighted that the Rev. Bear Ride will join Rev. Hyman to preach and lead service! Katy and Bear worked so well together in 2014 when I had family leave for the birth of Thomas that Katy said, “We’re getting the band back together!” How fun, and I hope you have a wonderful First Church First Sunday together!

Have a blessed week,

The Rev. Elena Larssen


In this issue:

Music This Sunday

Christian Education

First Church Café

National Youth Event Trip Fundraiser

Bricks Needed

Thank You!

From the Organ Bench

Seder at Temple Israel

May Day March

CSULB Campus Ministry Open House

Men Alive Concert

DAYS Fundraiser

Hollywood Bowl This Summer

Drop-In Center News


May Birthdays and Anniversaries

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

This week’s anthem, “With a Voice of Singing,” was composed by Kenneth Jennings (1925-2015). Jennings was an alumnus of St. Olaf College and choir director there from 1953 until he retired in 1990. He took over the renowned choir from Olaf C. Christiansen (son of founder F. Melius Christiansen). Olaf C. Christiansen was the director when Frank Pooler went to St. Olaf’s, and Frank Pooler was my choir director at Long Beach State, so I guess that would make Kenneth Jennings a sort of grand-uncle of mine in the choral director’s family tree. Jennings was the first to program accompanied choral music at St. Olaf’s – I can only imagine the scandal that must have caused! (For the non-singers – accompanied means choir with other instruments.) “With a Voice of Singing” is an unaccompanied composition (meaning for choir without any instrumental accompaniment). It has a percussive feel, however - the tempo marking is “With rhythmic steadiness and vigor”! The result is truly a joyful noise!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music


In Sunday School

Theme: Shared Ministry
Scripture: Acts 16:9-15

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 is the menu:

Chicken Chili Verde
A unique white and green chili, with white beans, chicken breast and sausage, tomatillos,
celery, sweet green pepper, chiles, onions and garlic – naturally gluten-free
Served with a toppings bar of shredded cheese, sour cream,
salsa and hot sauces with crispy tortilla chips

Rancho Garden Salad
Crisp lettuce trio with cucumbers, olives, grape tomatoes with pepita ranch dressing

Fresh Fruit Salad

Iced tea, lemonade, and water


The Happiest Fundraiser on Earth!
By Tracy Halter-Balin

You are cordially invited to join us for our last fundraiser to help us send eight of our youth to the National Youth Event happening in Lake Buena Vista, Florida this July. If you’d like to see more information about what lies in store for these excited kids across our nation, check out this website: http://nye.uccpages.org/.

Date: Saturday, May 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Where: Ramsay Dining Hall
What: Yummy spaghetti dinner with all the trimmings
Cost: $10 per person or $25 per family, payable at the door

Opportunity drawings and great entertainment including some of your favorite Disney music. Thanks for your support!


Got Bricks?
By Cynthia Snell

The Historic Preservation Committee is looking for a few good bricks! We need to find about 50 or so bricks for repairs to the exterior walls of the main building, and we hope to find them amongst the bricks folks "bought" years ago when the old Pilgrim Hall building was torn down, because they would have a much better chance of matching the existing bricks. If you have any of the red/pink historical bricks and would be willing to part with them, please contact anyone on the committee.


Thank You, First Church

We want to thank all of you for your expressions of sympathy in the passing of Bill. Your cards, phone calls, attendance at his memorial service and your prayers, have all been a source of strength and an wonderful example of your love. You all mean so much to us and we need and appreciate you.

See you in church!
Betty Cole


From the Organ Bench
By Marc Dickey, Church Organist

First, I want to thank everyone for their prayers, cards, and other forms of support, and especially your patience during my elongated recovery from the heel surgery I had last July. My foot is finally fully heeled! No wait, I mean healed!! For those of you in church last Sunday, you witnessed the Return of the Left Heel and Toe in a big way during the postlude, as I played Bach’s "Prelude and Fugue in c minor" with its extended pedal solos at the beginning and throughout. It felt great to give both feet that workout!

Second, I wanted to let you know that there will be a special event in the sanctuary next Tuesday, May 3, at 7:30 pm, and you are invited to attend and participate. The Long Beach American Guild of Organists chapter has asked us to host their annual installation of officers service this year. The brief installation takes place within a service of celebration, very similar to our Sunday morning service. Elena has graciously agreed to lead the service and preach, and the Sanctuary Choir, Bellisimo, and Megan O’Toole will all be performing in the service as well. We will be singing some favorite hymns (with all of the organists in Long Beach and the South Bay joining in song, so we’ll be able to raise the rafters). I will be at the organ of course, and I will also be installed in my second year as an AGO board member. Please know that you are very welcome to come and join us, and help us show the Long Beach AGO first-hand what First Church is all about.  


Workers Justice Passover Seder at Temple Israel Thursday

Temple Israel's Social Action Committee invites you to a Workers Justice Passover Seder on Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. Please join Rabbi Steven Moskowitz, Cantor Sara Hass, Temple Israel's Social Action Committee, and CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) as they relate the Passover plight to freedom with the current fight for workers justice. This event is welcome to people of all ages and faiths. RSVP requested to Charmaine at clw@tilb.org.


May Day Is Coming
By Nancy Valencia, Director, DAYS Long Beach

Over ten organizations have worked tirelessly to coordinate a march and rally to celebrate International Worker’s Day and immigrants’ rights. Please join DAYS Long Beach on Sunday afternoon, May 1, as we honor May Day.

May Day


Campus Ministry Open House This Sunday, May 1
By Dale Whitney

Did you know that the United Church of Christ (UCC), the Disciples of Christ, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have been sponsoring a Campus Pastor at CSULB for almost 50 years now? It's true, and you can find out more about this dynamic ministry by attending a special event this Sunday, May 1, from 2 to 4 pm on campus. It is called a "Housewarming Open House" and will take place at the Soroptimist House on Beach Drive just east of Bellflower Blvd.

As you drive east on Beach Dr. from Bellflower you will come to a Visitor Center kiosk - just stop there and tell them why you are there and they will tell you where to park and direct you to the Soroptimist House. There will be refreshments for you to enjoy, and I believe that there will be identical introductory presentations at 2:30, 3 and 3:30 if all goes according to plan. The admission is free of course!

The current Campus Pastor is the Rev. Adele Langworthy, a Presbyterian, but there have also been UCC campus pastors like the Rev. Dick Duncan (probably in the 1980's) during my 40 years as a member of that advisory group. Current UCC involvement includes the Rev. Dave Clark, Pastor of Bay Shore UCC, and Dr. Tracy Maples, a member of Bay Shore who is a professor of computer science on campus.

The ministry is very interfaith-cooperative, working very closely with the Hillel Jewish campus ministry, and is student-services-oriented as well, as they started the campus food pantry for students which is now also headquartered at the same location.

Come on by on Sunday afternoon and see what the ministry is all about!


Men Alive at First Church, May 21 Men Alive 2016 flyer


Save the Date
You're Invited!

DAYS Long Beach
cordially invites you to attend our annual
Summer in the City “Fun” raiser

Saturday, June 4, 6 to 9 pm
Hors d’oeuvres at 6 pm, buffet dinner follows at 6:45 pm
Patterson Hall
$50 for an individual ticket or $375 for a table of eight

Tickets may be ordered online at www.dayslb.org. For checks: Please make checks payable to DAYS Long Beach and mail to 1230 E. Wardlow Road, Long Beach, CA 90807. For further information please feel free to contact Nancy Valencia at nancy.a.valencia@gmail.com or 562 234-2851.

Empowering Children    Supporting Families    Building Communities


BOCA Goes to the Hollywood Bowl - Twice!
By Mario Coello

This summer come join the Board of Cultural Arts on two enchanting excursions through the world of classical music at the Hollywood Bowl. On July 21, pianist Yuja Wang plays jazzy classics by Ravel and Gershwin, conducted by Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel. The $35 ticket also will include the park and ride shuttle, a seat cushion and a boxed dinner. The shuttle leaves at 5:30 pm from the Lakewood Mall. Also mark your calendars for August 14, when Mexican guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela join the orchestra for a magical collaboration incorporating influences from the worlds of Latin, jazz, rock and heavy metal. The $40 ticket includes the park and ride shuttle, a seat cushion and a boxed dinner. The shuttle leaves the Lakewood Mall at 5 pm. Tickets for both concerts will be on sale throughout May and June in the coffee area after Sunday service.


Drop-In Center News
By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

It was a time travel weekend for UCO. We went back in time to 1920s era on Saturday night with our benefit fundraiser, “Jazzy Lady.” It was an enchanted evening in a beautiful room (Ramsay Hall all dressed up) with plenty of excellent food, music, and prizes. We honored two deserving ladies and told our story. Then everyone went home and we cleaned up till 1:30 in the morning.

Sunday we had a little jet lag traveling back to now and finding that almost 400 people had come to us for help! It was the fourth Sunday of the month and many families had run out of money. There were at least 12 children to work with. Luckily our Volunteer Coordinator Katie Philipson was here to do that. We were so busy we didn’t even have time to be tired. We just moved forward with feeding, giving resources and a listening ear.

One man who comes to us each week is the son of an Olympic gold medal winner, but he himself is very vulnerable. Just recently out of a wheelchair, but still weak and with mental deficiencies, he has been targeted and beaten and robbed in the street twice now. This time he had a concussion and was sick. We called paramedics to take him for medical treatment. Some bully has discovered he has money and he is easy to handle, I guess. I’m trying hard to get him into housing and the safety it provides.

We actually set a record Sunday, needing to call the paramedics three times in one day. I was so glad Volunteer Coordinator Samantha Mouradian was here to work with the paramedics. We had two others who were in withdrawal from some substance or combination of prescription drugs and needed medical attention. One we know has a history of mental health issues and we aren’t sure about the other.

We were able to help one woman who has recently been hired by the Villages of Cabrillo and asked to get her food safety handling certificate online before reporting to work. She needed money to get it and to have gas to get to work till payday. I hope this helps her and her husband into a more stable life.

We had two single moms needing help, one with rental assistance and the other with referrals to partner programs for help in keep her apartment. We are happy to make it possible for them to stay in their homes! The streets are too rough out there when you are so vulnerable!

Thank you to all of you who came back to the 1920s with us Saturday night! The fundraisers and contributions are what enable us to continue this work.



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.



May Birthdays

3 Barry Hill, Craig Thorsen, Gloria Vargas
4 Miriam Seneviratne
6 James Booth, Karen Miller
8 Andrea Gulius, Melissa Hill, Ewan Scott, Leland Vail, Ben West
9 Scott Ramsay
10 Jim Lumen, Joe Mulhern, Linda Plexico, Zander Taylor
11 Aimee Cherry, Michael Powers
12 Alice Koerner, Kyle Wilkinson-Sweet
13 Gladi Adams, Max Malatesta
15 Kathryn Boyd-Batstone, Maureen Coleman, Michele Dobson, Edric Guise, Robert Hildebrand, Fran Williamson
16 Joycelyn Scott
17 Briana Mendez-Arroyo
19 Jennifer Mota, Bill Pratt
20 Michael Orlito
21 Tim Orchard
22 Alexis Nielson, Claudia Orpin
23 Aida Porteneuve
24 Edward Bloomfield, John Hayman, Ken Schoenfelder, Donna Stewart
25 Ron Ellwood, Lloyd Wright
27 Alex Gomez, Alima Sherman
28 Bryn Turner
29 Liam Paredes-Tryan, Logan Paredes-Tryan, Sophie Paredes-Tryan

May Anniversaries

5 Christi and Jeremy Gomoljak, 11 years
9 Robert and Karen Cannon, 35 years
15 Lisa Davis and Linda Plexico, 23 years
21 Barry and Melissa Hill, 38 years
29 Thomas and Jennifer Penner, 17 years

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Jim Barg (Doug Schading's cousin); Therese Patsel (Judy Crawford's friend); Gary Shelton; Jan and Paul Bode (Lisa Bode Heard's parents); and Ed Zirbel (Lisa Bode Heard's best friend's father).

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