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Congo Beat
June 8, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

Thanks to these Art Studio Volunteers (Kelsey Bastian, Addison Combs, Dawson Nicholson and Jess Steenbergen) for their help in creating our beautiful Sanctuary Art for the Season of Pentecost.  We're also very grateful to our neighbors across the street, Wilson Babb Upholstery, for sewing our canvas together for us!

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:

I had a great "It's a Small World!" experience last Sunday night. 
As you may remember from Mark Ratay's announcement at our morning worship service, we were blessed to receive a wonderful donation of food from Masjid Ar-Rahman, a mosque that has been conscientious about reaching out to the wider community of Memphis and the Christian faith community. 
That evening, Mark and I attended the 11th Annual Memphis Interfaith dinner.  At our table was the imam of Masjid Ar-Rahman, Anwar Arafat.  It was a delight to be able to thank him for the way his mosque reached out to us-and he was delighted to be able to know that the food was so greatly appreciated!  

Just another way that food brings people together!


And from our Associate Pastor:

Dear First Congo Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for all of your encouraging and loving messages via cards,texts, emails and conversations. 

The start date for my cancer treatment is approaching as I check off each assessment appointment.  The beginning date is still, Monday, June 26. That will be a challenging week with radiation and chemotherapy simultaneously.

Patient care at West Cancer Center is amazing!  Each location is staffed with wonderful, compassionate and helpful people.  Even the unseen, telephone appointment schedulers are personally engaged.  

This experience reminds me how powerful it is to do what you do with excellence at ALL times.  That includes all staff, volunteers, donors, and consumers. Excellence is very transferable to all our experiences.

In this season of the exuberant Season of Pentecost, I am moved to ask you, "What can excellence look like at First Congo in 2017?  Feedback?

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Kristina Luckett 
Mandi Balduf
who were married June 3rd!

Friends and family traveled by plane, car, and RV from Memphis, Denver, New Mexico, Pittsburgh, and several other places to a small town in Northern Ohio last Saturday to celebrate this joyous wedding day.  In their own words, "Everything was perfect!"

Adult Forum Topic for THIS Sunday
at 9:45 a.m. in Classroom B  
We will have a special guest this coming Sunday (June 11) -  Ron Serino, who recently was a guest preacher, will lead a discussion on "Race and the Bible".

Immigrant Allies Workshop
First Congregational has an active support group for immigrants who may be facing deportation or stresses related to the deportation of others.  We're partnering with folks from Binghampton to offer support.  Our first training for this work takes place Saturday, June 24th at 10:00 a.m. at Caritas House (corner of Merton and Everett) for a "How to be an Ally" workshop.

After church on Sunday, June 25th, in the Hub

Summer Trivia Night
Be sure to mark your calendar and plan to attend our next Trivia Night event on Saturday, July 29th.  This is a very popular fundraiser and fun evening - hosted by our fantastic Question Master, Sherrie Walker.  It's not too early to form your team of six players and register by filling out your yellow sheet or emailing Julia at  Tables are assigned in order of your registration - so if you'd like to sit up close, be sure to register early!

MANY THANKS to our hard workers this week!
The new ceramic tile floor in the Hub is looking beautiful and will be a fantastic improvement to our Cafe Congo Dining Hall!

We are so grateful to Mark Allen (above right, cutting tiles) and his dedicated helpers:  Stephanie Stowe, Benjamin Liggins, Tim Allen, Bryant Wilhite and Danny Grubbs.

We're all excited to see the finished floor - but there's a lot more work to be done.  (above) Tim Allen and Benjamin Liggins learn the painstaking and back-stressing work of laying tiles while (left) Bryant Wilhite mixes batch after batch after batch of grout!

This Week at First Congo:

On Sunday morning, Joy Winkler (left) enjoyed sharing with the congregation the many art ministry volunteers who worked together to create our stunning Sanctuary Art for the Season of Pentecost.  It was a busy art studio (above) for several weeks as the designs of Sam Griffin and Rahn Marion were actualized, and here's the final installation (below) with Rahn. 

(right) Joy and Sam set up our "Strength in Numbers" board, inviting our donations for celebrating the Season of Pentecost ... known as the Birth of the Church!  Please think of a meaningful number between 1 to 250 and pull that envelope from the board, and return it with your donation of that amount.  The collection of these special gifts is surprisingly helpful for supporting our many ministries of justice and service together! 

Marsha Walton, made sure that some of the liturgical art of Pentecost is also enjoyed in our Sunday School Room.

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 

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 Team:
Tamar Love

Music Ministry Team:   
Brennan Villines  

Music Ministry Team:   
Chris Burgess

Music Ministry Team:
Lisa Gaddy
Juan Salter   
 Bryant Wilhite
 Mark Allen

Events Assistant: 
Danny Grubbs 

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 

  As worship began on Sunday, Bryant Wilhite and Arnie Ellison lit the many
candles on our Communion table.  

Pastor Sonia offered a special blessing to Mark Berghel (left), who is leaving Memphis to take a new job in Seattle, Washington, and to Lora Chatfield (right) who is leaving to spend her summer in Vermont, along with her friend, Elizabeth.

Gretchen Winbigler and Catherine Dixon found the Pentecost backdrop to be a perfect photo-op for capturing their long-time friendship!

Thanks to Tim Manness for serving as our layreader for worship last Sunday.

Thanks to Mark Ratay for capturing many of our 
Congo Beat photos this week!

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

We are grateful to Rachel Oberg, here with her son, Gilbert, and the whole Food Pantry team of volunteers for huge job of moving the pantry to the fellowship hall so that we can continue to serve our Cafe Congo guests during this time of tiling The Hub!

Our Food Justice Ministries for the month of June have been given by Keith Norman, in memory of his father, Paul Norman.

Also located in The Hub ...

Fair Trade Store

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

Here's What's Coming Up ...
*Please NOTE that events in The Hub will be held in the Fellowship Hall until our floor renovation is complete. 

Thursday, June 8:  
  • 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

Friday, June 9:  
  • 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, June 10:   
  • 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, June 11:    
  • 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
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, June 12:

  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry: 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
Tuesday, June 13:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, June 14
  • 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, June 15: 
  • 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

Congregational Potluck & Quarterly Meeting
After church on Sunday, July 25th

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:  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: