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Congo Beat
June 29, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

Labyrinth Choices
Most folks choose to walk the labyrinth in First Congo's sanctuary, but there are those who prefer crawling ... like 
Alegria Lopez-Kelly,   shown  here with her mother, Gio!

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.

Notes from our Pastors: 

Prophetic Patriotism

I grew up in Nebraska's designated "4 th of July City" - and I loved it!  My sisters and I sold fireworks.  We marched in the town parade.  We loved the band concert and the watermelon and the fireworks display at the end of the day!

But I'm older now, of course, and the times seem more challenging.  Living as a Christian in the United States doesn't feel so easy - and in fact, it seems downright complicated many days.  We are an immigrant nation, now persecuting immigrants.  We watch the healthcare options for our poorest citizens sacrificed to provide greater financial enrichment for our wealthiest.  Our rejection of the Paris Climate Agreement means that we no longer lead the way in terms of caring for the planet God gave us.

Which is why I was so delighted to receive a book from a dear friend -  On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder.  It is very short and absolutely readable.  Snyder is a Holocaust scholar, and he's put his scholarship to work in a very practical way, naming plain and decisive actions that we can take to fight repression and oppression in our civic life.  Most of his recommendations speak to a way of living that is conscientious and determined - making eye contact, saying "hello" to strangers, being thoughtful about language . . . As he says, "The minor choices we make are themselves a kind of vote.  Our words and gestures, or their absence, count very much."  

I love this book!  And I'd like to discuss it this month as a way of celebrating our nation's birthday.  Join me for 2 Saturday morning discussions - 10:30 a.m. in Classroom B - on July 8 th and 15th.  I have a few copies of Snyder's book ($6 each) if you let me know you want one or you can access your own.  You can also participate without having the book.   See you then!  And . . . Happy 4 th of July!

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Dear First Congo Family and Friends,

Life, like a river, is always moving, ever changing, even, when we don't know why.  So it is with carefully planned medical plans and procedures.  My chemo was rescheduled to redesign the radiation map. My "store bought" hips weren't factored.

By the time you read this update, I will have had two radiation treatments and (1) two hour chemo infusion.  If you see me Sunday, I will be "wearing" a "chemo pack."  I don't have it yet, so I fantasize, like a kid, based on what I have experienced.  I just say it must be a little like wearing a heart monitor, taking sponge baths and giving gentle hugs.

I am so thrilled that this experience is falling within the liturgical Season of Pentecost!  It marks the arrival of The Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised the presence of The Holy Spirit as a guide to us in his earthly absence. and  it was given like a legacy gift.  Suddenly, people were able to speak in their own language to others of different languages, and be understood without translators!  Surely they were speaking the language of love.

All kinds of people are speaking and praying for me in their own way.  I am receiving   Gifts of the Spirit, (I Corinthians 12:4-13) and Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) from you and others outside our fellowship daily.  High energy and anticipation surround me as healing power.  

My sister, Janet, has arrived for the summer with herb sprouting pans, a healing diet plan, and a monitoring eye over everything I put in my mouth.  Oh, brother!

God IS good, and so are you.  THANKS!

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Our beloved trees are losing leaves.
 Anyone with knowledge or suggestions about care please contact us by replying to this newsletter.  You can see (at left) that the leaves are falling off, and (at right) that t here are small white insects on the leaves.   They are currently being sprayed with 3-in-1 natural insecticides, and we could use any additional expertise that the community may have.  Thanks in advance from our volunteer waterer, Keith Norman!

Adult Forums 
Sund ays at 9:45 a.m. in Classroom B
The topic for this  Sunday's Adult Forum is  "Wearing Skin, or Flesh and Blood in the Christian Tradition."   Pick up a cup of coffee and join us!

Good Books, Good Friends
We'll gather at 5:00 pm on THIS Sunday, July 2nd, at the home of Sue Westmoreland (1589 Goodbar) to enjoy a discussion on Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada.  For more information about this monthly reading group, contact

Newcomers Gathering 
If you're new to First Congo and would like to meet our Pastors and some of our church leaders, and to learn more about this church, please plan to join us for a short meeting right after church on Sunday, July 9th, in Pastor Cheryl's office.

Immigration Support Meeting
Our next gathering to discuss ways we can be supportive of the Immigrant community will be on Wednesday, July 12th, at 6:00 pm at Caritas Village, 2322 North Merton.

Summer Trivia Night

We have 5 teams registered so far!  Make YOUR reservations for our ever-popular Trivia Night on Saturday, July 29th.  Put together your team of six players, or register to be added to growing team by emailing replying to this newsletter or email The cost to play is $20 per person & bring your own snacks & beverages!

Strength in Numbers! 
Offering special gifts during  Pentecost

Pentecost is the season when we celebrate the Holy Spirit that we experience through our connections with God and each other ... our inspiration to live and work together in love, joy, compassion and hope - right here at First Congo!

In our sanctuary is the large Strength-in-Numbers board, covered with small envelopes numbering 1 to 250.  We're all invited to think of a number that is special to us:  maybe the ages of our grandchildren, a house number for a place we loved; the date of a wedding anniversary or our parent's birthday ... and not to worry if someone else took your number - you can take several envelopes that add up to get to your total.  Please put your gift of this amount in the envelope(s) and place them in the offering plate at church - or you may mail-in your gift, or even make your donation online at - just be sure to note "Strength-in-Numbers" so we'll know your intention. 

Last year our Strength-in-Numbers added up to more than $11,000!  It was such a happy birthday gift that aided our pledged gifts for supporting another year in the busy life and work of First Congo.  We'll find out in August what THIS year's Strength-in-Numbers gift will be! 

This Week at First Congo:

Pastor Cheryl offered a summer update (above) at the well-attended Congregational Potluck Lunch & Quarterly Meeting last Sunday!

(left) Julia Hicks suggested these thoughtful yard signs for "whatever donation you'd like to give" last Sunday - and we quickly raised over $300!  We still have about a dozen signs left that we will offer this Sunday.  Thanks so much to our anonymous donor who offered the signs as a meaningful fundraiser!

You can enjoy last Sunday's worship music by clicking on these links:

Our worship leaders this week included layreader, Jan Alderman, and soloist, Terry Clark:

THANKS to our volunteer photographers & videographers, Mark Ratay & Roger Courts.

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

Artist Intern: Ron Marion

Minister of Music:
Dennis W. Darling

Music Ministry:  Tamar Love

Music Ministry:
Brennan Villines

Music Ministry: 
Chris Burgess

Music Ministry: Lisa Gaddy

Custodian:  Juan Salter 
Custodian:  Bryant Wilhite

Maintenance:  Mark Allen

Events Assistant: 
Danny Grubbs

Housekeeping: Amy Shaw 

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Nursery Care: 

Xan Lester  

Anitra Higgins
Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga, 
Resident Manager 

Hostel Resident Advisors:
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach
Brandon Lever 

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 from 11am till 1pm.
The Clothes Closet is open Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11:00 am till 1:00 pm.  

If you'd like to help provide groceries - please pick up the following items that are regularly needed for our lunches:

- olive oil           
- regular Ranch Salad Dressing
- stick butter      
- plastic grocery bags
- milk                 
- yellow or white onions
- celery             
- tomatoes

Chef Gary Williams of DeJavu Restaurant (in blue shirt) served a hearty and very tasty community lunch yesterday!  We are so grateful that DeJavu provides for our lunches on every 4th Wednesday.
Our Food Justice Ministries for the month of July 
has been gifted by Janet Todd & Fleets Hannah
in gratitude for another birthday!

Also located in The Hub ...

Fair Trade Store

OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
& after church on Sundays. 

Here's What's Coming Up ...  

Thursday, June 29:  
  • Cafe Congo:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm

Friday, June 30:  
  • Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall
  • MAGY Meeting:  7:00 - 10:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall

Saturday, July 1:   
  • 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
Sunday, July 2:    
  • Adult Forum:  9:45 in Classroom B
  • Children's Sunday School:  9:45 am in Classroom D
  • Nursery:  Childcare is available for babies & toddlers from 9:45 till noon in Classroom C
  • 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 Classroom D where they will have their own "church" and special activities.  Parents may pick up their children here after worship.
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN after Church
  • Youth Group Meeting:  Gather after church with Julia & Angela in the office hallway.
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Good Books, Good Friends:  5:00 pm at the home of Sue Westmoreland (1589 Goodbar)
Monday, July 3:
  • Cafe Congo's Community Lunch is CLOSED for the Holiday
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio is CLOSED for the Holiday
Tuesday, July 4:  
  • Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet are CLOSED for the Holiday
  • NO Tuesday Evening Prayer tonight - we'll reconvene next Tuesday at 6pm
Wednesday, July 5
  • 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, July 6: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm

Trivia Night!
Saturday, July 29th

    Cooper Young Festival   

Saturday, September 16th
Taste of Cooper Young
Thursday, October 5th


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

Tuesday Evening 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
MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Chair, Board of Directors - Maria Hubbard


  First Congo Quick Links
First Congo Website & Online Donations: 

First Congo FB Link   

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

 Hostel Memphis & Retreat Center: 

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

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