font heading
Congo Beat
February 16 , 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

Our monthly gatherings for newcomers have been growing in the new year.  Last Sunday our pastors and Moderator Teddy Crum met with ten church visitors, and heard their unique stories about finding First Congo at this time in their lives.  We look forward to our next gathering, right after church on March 12th.

We worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. 
We Believe ...   
  • That God created the world - and that every single one of us has good work to do in life.  
  • Our "good work" has to do with living in ways that reflect God's agenda of love, joy, compassion and hope for the world and all its creatures, even in the midst of struggle. 
  • Jesus showed us how to do this.  He had radical trust in the Goodness of God and our ability to share God's agenda of life for the world.  We can have this trust and share this agenda too, by following in his way.
  • We feel more alive when we're living from our sense of connection - with God, with each other, and with life itself.

A Note from Our Senior Pastor:

You may (or may not!) be aware that our denomination, the United Church of Christ, has a partner relationship with the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church).  Two of our neighborhood DOC churches are Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and Lindenwood Christian Church.

We were honored to host the quarterly gathering of DOC clergy yesterday in our sanctuary.  Pastor Sonia has "dual standing" in the DOC and the UCC - meaning that her ordination is recognized by both denominations - and she facilitated this meeting.  Folks walked the labyrinth, accompanied by the beautiful music of Larkin Bryant, and learned a little bit about how our ministry has evolved here at First Congregational.  And then, we joined the Community Lunch in the Hub!  

We've been so blessed by the volunteer help of Joe Pfeiffer and Bill Tupis.  They're our Treasurers, and they're helping us with weekly deposits and money management each week.  Joe, additionally, has taken on daily office management tasks for us.  It's a huge help, and we're so appreciative of his presence and steady help!

Have you noticed all the beautiful daffodils on the north and south sides of the building?  They look gorgeous.  Hutton Easley planted these a couple years ago, and each spring, we see the joyful blossoms!

A n n o u n c e m e n t s 

Adult Sunday School 
For the next two weeks Gail Murray (who was our layreader at worship last Sunday) will lead our Adult Sunday School Class on "A Prophet for Today" with readings from the Prophet Amos.  Our class meets on Sunday mornings at 9:45 am in the Conference Center.  Grab some coffee and join us!

INTERSECTIONS Potluck & Meeting
We're meeting NEXT Sunday, Feb. 26, after worship in the Conference Center, and our program will feature a conversation with our First Congo Youth Group about race and justice issues in their lives, their schools, their friendships. 


Looking Ahead to the Season of Lent: 
  • Ash Wednesday Evening Service, on March 1st at 6:00 p.m. The season of Lent begins this night, designated as "Ash Wednesday", as we remember that "from dust we come and to dust we will return".  This service includes the Imposition of ashes.  Ash Wednesday is a time when we remember the power that death carries on us - and we confront this power directly as a way of knowing the experience of resurrection. 
  • First Congo's Human Library - Wednesday evenings, 5:30 - 6:30 (beginning March 8th):   Based on a project that started in Denmark, a Human Library consists of "books" that are human!  Each week, we'll hear a different story from one of our church members that will help us understand each other better.  This Lenten season, our "books" will be (not necessarily in this order!):  
Transgender in Memphis 
Ghost Whisperer 
A Child Evangelist 
My Life as a Missionary 
Living Positive (HIV)


Celebrating a 140-year Legacy:

Rev. Dr. Alvin Jackson (right), former pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church here in Memphis, will be our guest preacher on Palm Sunday - as we celebrate two significant April birthdays:  Pastor Sonia turns 80 and Pastor Cheryl turns 60!
After a special worship service, we'll join in a celebratory lunch!

Attorney Sterling Owens is providing free and professional assistance at First Congo for folks needing help with filing their income taxes:
Tuesdays at 4:00 - 8:00 pm 
Saturdays by appointment only 
For more information or to schedule an appointment, email 


Check out this exciting concert in our Sanctuary THIS Saturday afternoon at 3pm!  It's at a family-friendly time of day ... the music will be outstanding ... and you'll be free to dance to some of your favorite Earth, Wind & Fire tunes! 

font heading

This Week at First Congo:  
(left) Sally DiScenza was last Sunday's candle-lighter as we began our worship service.

If you'd like to listen to our worship music, click here:
Blessings, sung by Catherine Dixon and Brennan Villines
Speak to My Heart, with solo by Katy Musolino

(right) Jeanine Hill, with her darling daughter, Lusa, asked our congregation to offer prayers to add to her prayer project that will be a part of an upcoming art exhibition at Elon University in North Carolina - and several folks participated!  

Here's this week's progress on the aftermath of our fire ...    
(left) It was remarkable to see the thickness of soot as it was cleaned off the office window blinds, and (below) the nursery has been totally cleared out of soot-covered toys and furniture.  There will be more abatement this weekend and next week.

   We're hopeful to be able to begin planning our renovations to begin by the end of the month.  
. Look what's
happening in

Our free Community Lunches are served at Cafe Congo on weekdays at 11:00 am till 1:00 pm.
    • The Food Pantry is open on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays during lunch hours.
  • The Clothes Closet is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays during lunch hours. 
We are looking for help preparing and serving the weekday
community lunches and for assistance with stocking a nd staffing the food pantry on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In order to make volunteerin g a gratifying experience, we are asking that new volunteers attend a brief orientation session before committing to the program. The sessions last 30 to 45 minutes, and are conducted in The Hub on Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. or other days/times by mutual agreement. For more information and to sign up for orientation, contact Mark Ratay, Director of Food Justice Ministries:

(right)  Here's "Master Chef" Fleetis Hannah putting his special seasoning touch on the chicken he is baking for Friday's community lunch (photo by wife, Janet Todd).

First Congo Staff:

Senior Pastor:
Rev. Cheryl K. Cornish
901-278-6786 ext 1 

sonia staff shot
Associate Pastor:
Rev. Sonia L. Walker

Director of Mission:
Office Manager:   
Brenda Nichols
901-278-6786 ext 107 

Bookkeeper:  Nikki Jones

Director of Food Justice Ministries:  Mark Ratay

Revolutions Bicycle Co-op  
Director: Sylvia Crum    

Art & Design Ministries:
Sam Griffin
Minister of Music:
Dennis W. Darling

Music Ministry Team:
Tamar Love

Music Ministry Team:   
Brennan Villines  

Music Ministry Team:   
Chris Burgess

Music Ministry Team:
Lisa Gaddy
Custodian: Juan Salter   
Maintenance: Mark Allen

Events Assistant:
Danny Grubbs 

Custodial Assistant: 
Bryant Wilhite

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Child Caretakers: 

Xan Lester  

Anitra Higgins

Pilgrim House Hostel Staff 
Kim Kamga
River Park
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach
MaryPat Harris
If you'd like to help provide groceries...
please pick up the following items that are regularly needed for preparing the Community Lunches: 
- plastic grocery sacks
- 10 ounce coffee mugs
- 2-ply paper napkins
- red and green bell peppers
- celery
- yellow and white onions

(left) Nicole Davila preps USDA chicken from the Mid South Food Bank .... providing for our community lunch on Friday!       
 The Food Justice Ministry for February
has been given by a generous and anonymous donor. 
Also located in The Hub ...
Fair Trade Store
is OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
and after church on Sundays. 
The Week Ahead at First Congo 

Friday, February 17:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • MAGY Meeting:  7:00 - 10:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall
Saturday, February 18:   
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN:  9:00 am - 3:00 pm in The Hub
  • "No Hungry Seniors" Food Pick-up:  9:00 am at the back entrance of The Hub
  • "Positive Vibrations Concert" in the Sanctuary at 3:00 pm
Sunday, February 19:    
  • Adult Sunday School:  9:45 am in the Conference Center
  • Children's Sunday School:  9:45 am (new temporary location on 2nd floor)
  • Nursery:  Childcare is available for babies & toddlers in new location on 2nd floor from 9:45 till noon
  • Coffee & Fellowship:  9:45 am till 10:30 am in the Commons
  • Worship:  10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary
  • Children's Church:  After the children's sermon at worship, our leaders will take the children to their classroom where they will have their own "church" and activities.  Parents may pick up their children here after worship.
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN: after Church in the Hub
  • Mission Council Meeting:  gather after church in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Women's Bike Chat:  (Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op)
Monday, February 20:

  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Basic Bike Assessment Class in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
Tuesday, February 21:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance:  4:00 - 8:00 pm in the Hub (come to the front door on Cooper Street)
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, February 22
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Thursday, February 23: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Mission Development Committee Meeting:  (Pastor Cheryl's office)
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Bike to Dinner at Phoung Long  (gather at Revolutions Gate)
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm

Looking a bit Further Ahead -  

Mark Your Calendars for these upcoming events in the next few weeks & months :
    Congregational Quarterly Meeting & Potluck Lunch   
    Sunday, March 19th in the Fellowship Hall right after morning worship 

    Pastors' Birthday Celebration! 
    Sunday, April 9th

    Easter Sunday (with Children's Egg Hunt and bringing our favorite flowers!)  
    Sunday, April 16th


First Congregational Leadership 2017:


....   ....     ....       

     Moderator,                     Co-Moderator,                      Secretary,                       Treasurer,          Assistant Treasurer, 

    Teddy Crum                    Kevin Williams              Angela Richards                  Joe Pfeiffer                 Bill Tupis                                       


Committee Chairs:
 Ushers                       Hospitality               Finance                Christian Education         Facilities                Nominating
 Caroline McCraw     Angela Moore       Janet McCraw            Joe Hawes              Sammye Hudgens      Carla Orr
  Rubenstein                                             Rubenstein 

Mission Development Committee:
   Judy Drescher   Cecelia Johnson-Powell    Joe Pfeiffer     Carla Peacher-Ryan    Jackie Nerren         Keith Norman

Special Ministries & Program Coordinators:
vernessa sonia marsha
Sung Prayer & Circle of Trust, Rev. Catherine Dixon
Good Books Good Friends, Sue Westmoreland
Global Goods, Jackie Nerren
The Pilgrim Center Director, Dr. Joel Chapman
Children's Sunday School, Dr. Marsha Walton
Yoga for Everyone - Nicole Davila
MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Interim Advisory Board Chair - Tim Combs


  First Congo Quick Links
First Congo Website & Online Donations: 

First Congo FB Link   

Freedom Journeys: 
Freedom Journeys for Youth, College & Adult Groups 

Pilgrim House Hostel & Retreat Center: 

Cooper-Young Conference Center:
Global Goods Fair TradeGG on Facebook 
The Pilgrim Center for Counseling:  901-844-HELP (4357)   901-278-6786 ext 8
 Revolutions Bike Co-Op: 

MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth)  MAGY on Facebook
Cooper Young Community Farmers Market:

font heading