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Congo Beat
May 18, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

It's very fitting as we celebrate Bike Month during this month of May, that our newest shared space partner is going to be Bike Walk Tennessee - a perfect First Congo fit!

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:

Summer is here! It's always fun to celebrate our graduates and their accomplishments. And the summer opens up schedule changes for people that change the energy of our church ministries as well. 

If you have some time this summer to dedicate to helping at First Congo, let us know! We hope to do some building improvements-painting, tiling, clearing out . . . Let us know if you'd like to help! 

We could use volunteers at the Community Lunches on a regular basis. It takes a few weeks to really get "trained", but a couple days each week would be very helpful over the summer months. 
We also need help with our Clothes Closet! Let us know if you can be part of that outreach. 

Our coin-op laundry area for hostel guests creates a steady need for quarters around here -- if you tend to go to your bank regularly, maybe you are willing to pick up some rolls of quarters and exchange them for the church every couple weeks?

Bees . . . gardening . . . the choir . . . helping with visual arts . . . sorting and shredding papers . . . basic clean-up! There are a lot of places to put your gifts to work. 

Make your summer meaningful! Use this time to get more involved with some of the great things going on at First Congo!


A n n o u n c e m e n t s

Children's Nursery & Sunday School Rooms 
will be READY to use THIS Sunday!
Thanks to the planning & shopping of Marsha Walton & Vickie Vintner-Duffy, the furniture assembly team of Emma Wilson, DaMarco Randle, Keith Norman & Julia Hicks, and the "final touches team" of Sunday School teachers & Nursery folks this Saturday morning ... we'll be READY to welcome our children back into their fresh & beautiful rooms (Classrooms C and D) after 4 months of renovations from our fire in January - Alleluia! 

Please NOTE:  We need  books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers in our Nursery ... so if you happen have some books in good shape that your very young children have outgrown - we'll appreciate the donation!

Upcoming Topics for Adult Forums
Sunday mornings at 9:45 in Classroom B
On May  21st & 28th,  the topic is "Sabbath keeping" - a little history of the concept of Sabbath, followed by a discussion of how you might keep the Sabbath in today's world.  We'll be meeting in our newly renovated Classroom B (below) - which is the room right next to Pastor Sonia's office!

after church on THIS Sunday, May 21st, in Pastor Cheryl's office

Potluck, Movie & Discussion NEXT Sunday
We hope you'll join us in the large Conference Center meeting room after church next Sunday, May 28th, for our monthly potluck lunch and viewing the award-winning documentary featuring the late James Baldwin, "I Am Not Your Negro" with a short discussion to follow.

graduation_kids.jpg Who is Graduating?
Each May we like to congratulate the First Congo folks who have graduated from any kind of school, college, graduate studies, or trade schools!  If you know of a graduate - please reply and let us know ... and send a photo if you have one (if not, we might have a photo we can use).  We'll be publishing this in next week's Congo Beat.

Give Us a Break!
Clothes Closet volunteers are going on vacation during the summer and we need your hands and smiling faces to relieve our faithful few.  Please send an email to Pastor Sonia at if you can cover the 10:30 am shifts for these loyal folks:
Lora's shift - Tuesdays, June 1st - August
Mae's shift -  Tuesdays, July 1st - 31st
Nicole's shift - Thursdays, all of June, July & August

Next Newcomers' Gathering is June 4th
Due to scheduling conflicts, we will not have a newcomers gathering in May - but we WILL enjoy our next after-church luncheon for those who are NEW to First Congo right after church on Sunday, June 4th.  This is an opportunity for newcomers to meet and visit with our pastors and some of our church leadership ... to learn about First Congo ... and to introduce yourself to us!  No reservations needed, just save the date if you'd like to come. 


This Week at First Congo:

(above) As a project of our Task Force in support of Memphis immigrants, Mark Allen and Benjamin Liggett have installed additional signs to our "Resist" message on the north west lawn - to include "Immigrants are all WELCOMED" in Spanish and English.

CONGRATULATIONS to Rahn Marion ... 
Chosen Artist for  2017 Cooper Young Festival Poster!  

Press Release:  The Evolve Bank and Trust Cooper Young Festival is pleased to announce that Rahn Marion has been named the Poster Artist for our celebration of thirty years of the Cooper Young Festival. 
Rahn Marion is a native Memphian and graduated from MICA Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. He majored in painting with a concentration in film. Since 2012, while in Maryland, his work has been shown at MICA's Main Gallery and Lazarus Building as well as other places in Maryland such as Platform Gallery and Gallery CA. Since moving to back to Memphis, he has received five medals in the Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards Ceremony and has been in numerous shows. Rahn designed Memphis Tennessee's first skate park logo at Tobey Skatepark and is involved with the SkateLifeMemphis organization. He now works at First Congregational Church as a RA and in their Art Ministry Program. Rahn said "Through Art Ministry, I am able to keep my artistic practice fresh and freely spread my creativity throughout Memphis."

Bike Train to School - Celebrating May is Bike Month!
We had almost 60 people join us for Wednesday's Bike Train to Peabody Elementary! After 2 years of working with our neighbor school, Revolutions Bike Co-Op was pleased to have families join us who have never even ridden with us before! We set a schedule of six "stations" where families could join the "train." And we had people at every stop!  Sylvia Crum, Director of Revolutions, sends her thanks  to all the kids, families and community members who joined us for this super fun Bike Train!

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 
(above) Here's Danny Grubbs, Events Assistant, at the car shop last week getting new tires, a new battery, oil & fluids changed on our very nifty "little red truck" that was donated to the church several years ago by the Berghel family for our Food Justice Ministries. There are so many other helpful ways it serves our busy ministry needs:  two weeks ago it hauled 4 loads of storage clutter that had collected in the hostel, and in this photo we had just returned from filling this baby to the brim with new furniture for the children's rooms!  It runs like a top, the a/c is strong, and it's the gift that keeps on giving - thanks again, Jill & Bill! 

Thanks to our volunteer photographers & videographers:  
Mark Ratay, Roger Courts  and Chris Cooper!

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

(right) We are pleased to announce that Gary Williams, chef/owner of DeJaVu Creole Cuisine, has agreed to partner with our community lunch program. He is committed to preparing lunch on the fourth Wednesday of every month!   He is also going to contact other restaurants about helping us out, too.   Next week he is preparing jambalaya, salad, and bread pudding!  Mark Ratay reports that we now have 4 restaurant partners, and we have added  McDonalds on Poplar next to the main library as a contributor of leftover prepared food!
All Food Justice Ministries for the month of May are sponsored by an anonymous FJM volunteer in memory of a deceased loved one.
Also located in The Hub ...

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

Men's Batik Shirts at Global Goods
Every year we order some of these wonderful shirts - there are three patterns each year -- because they are much-loved by the men of First Congo (and beyond!!).  This year we want to be sure we get enough in the sizes and patterns you want.  SO - we'll be taking your requests after church for the next couple of Sundays.  They are all-cotton shirts, dress collar, button front with a front pocket and side slits.  We sell them for $36.50.   You can wear them almost anywhere and show off your global fashion sense!  Check in at the Global Goods store to make your request, or contact Jackie Nerren at  Perfect for Father's Day or your favorite graduate.
Here's What's Coming Up ...

Thursday, May 18:  
  • 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, May 19:  
  • 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, May 20:   
  • 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
  • Children's Church & Nursery Leaders "Final Touches Team":  10:00 - Noon
Sunday, May 21:    
  • 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 - 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
  • Mission Council Meeting:  after church in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, May 22:

  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
Tuesday, May 23:
  • 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, May 24
  • 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, May 25: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Mission Development Committee Meeting:  5:00 pm in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • 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 5


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
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: