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Congo Beat
April 20, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

Here's Pastor Sonia serving Communion on Easter morning, and you can enjoy our Easter music by clicking on these links:  

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:

What a celebration last Sunday!  Thanks to everybody who made this a wonderfully joyous day -- colorful, happy, and full of life!

And now, we continue into the 50-day season of Easter.  I am seeing signs of resurrection and new life all around!  

Our First Congo Task Force on supporting immigrants is moving forward.  We'll be supporting the "Week without Immigrants" action, beginning with a rally on Monday, May 1st at 5:00 p.m.  We'll march from Clayborne Temple to the National Civil Rights Museum that day, remembering the incredible impact that immigrants have in our community.  

We are also working towards the formation of partnerships with other groups in our community who are working to support immigrants who live among us.

We have several new volunteers  who are going to help with food pick-ups on Sunday morning from Whole Foods!  Hallelujah!  

And a small group of folks are gathering soon to talk about ways we might encourage more groups to use our Retreat Center and Hostel.  We're fortunate to have some very talented members who can help us see ways to strengthen our outreach in this way.

You may have seen Benjamin Liggett 
helping Mark Allen with some building repairs and "fix-its"!  Benjamin wants to learn more about carpentry and building repair --and we've got places where his skills and interest can be put to good use!

Pastor Sonia and I will be attending a clergy training  in Washington DC on Friday with Dr. William Barber.  This is part of the MLK50 event, looking ahead to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in Memphis and planning for meaningful ways to remember and live King's legacy.

Signs of life, hope and renewal are all around us.  And remember, you won't want to miss Sunday's worship service.  We have some great music planned and it will be a wonderful time to gather as a Resurrection Community, celebrating our Resistance to powers of death and destruction!


A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Birthday Gifts - a Happy Report
     Our church members and the dear friends and families of Pastors Sonia and Cheryl gave generously to First Congo in honor of their birthdays, which we celebrated on Palm Sunday!  Thus far we have received $11,586  in gifts  for the Mission & Vision Fund, and an additional $2,000 was given for the costs of our celebration and the travels of our guest preacher, Rev. Jackson, for a total of $13,586!  
     Gifts continue to arrive - and are very welcome - in celebration and support of Sonia & Cheryl's hopes and prayers that First Congregational Church will continue in vitality and loving service for many more years beyond their years as our pastors!
     And if you'd like to see a video of the 2nd half of the special birthday celebration, click here:

NO Children's Sunday School This Week!
Ms. Marsha is not available to teach our Sunday School this week - so we will NOT have the Children's 9:45 Class this Sunday.  We WILL have Children's Church after their special sermon during worship!  

We have a couple of special equipment needs ... and before we buy them, we're checking to see if anybody happens to have one of these they're not using.  Just reply to this email if you can donate ...

1)  Washing machine for the church's housekeeping needs (cleaning rags, mop heads, kitchen towels & mitts, table cloths, retreat center linens & towels, etc.)  The donated machine we've been using for over 12 years finally conked-out!
2)  Electric blower to make it MUCH easier and quicker to clean our busy church entryways :) 

What better way to spend Earth Day than learning to ride a bicycle! Bring your kiddos and their bicycles and helmets to the Cossitt Library Downtown, on April 22 at 2:00 p.m. We'll have a Bicycle Storytime and then head outside to learn to ride. This class is geared towards Kindergarten to 2nd graders, but older children are welcome. More details here.

Adult Forum Topic for April 23 & 30 
Join the Adult Forum for a two part discussion on the intersection of faith and popular culture. On this Sunday 4/23 we will watch Lady Gaga's performance of "Born This Way" during the 2017 Superbowl halftime show and read an article from The Washington Post  Washington Post Article on "The provocative faith of Lady Gaga." The discussion continues on Sunday 4/30 as we talk about where God is still speaking to each of us in our everyday lives. We meet at 9:45 a.m. in Conference Center in the north building.

Family Potluck Supper 
on Saturday, April 29th at 5:00 pm
Families with babies, toddlers and Elementary-age children are invited to Ms. Marsha Walton's house next Saturday for a potluck supper and fun time together!  Marsha's address is 459 Angelus 38112 (at the corner of Galloway). 

INTERSECTIONS Gathering -  April 30th
Next Sunday, immediately following worship, we invite you to our Intersections potluck lunch and discussion with Marti Tippens Murphy (left), Executive Director of the Memphis office of Facing History & Ourselves. This national effort prepares instructional materials for participating high schools to help students recognize and combat  prejudices, marginalization, and racism.  They've worked in Memphis since 1992 - and you may have seen their public murals, a joint effort in conjunction with the Memphis Arts Commission.  Our potluck will feature several quiches. Please bring a side dish and join us!  (Please note - this is a correction from last week's newsletter.  Our viewing of "I'm Not Your Negro" will be in the month of May!)

Two Invitations from our partner: WIN
(Workers Interfaith Network)
In commemoration of International Workers Day/ May Day we will honoring workers from across the Mid-South on Sunday, April 30th from 3-5pm at UT Health Science Center. We are putting this event on with Fight For 15 and the leaders of the Memphis Women's March.  Check out this link for more details:  

A Week Without Immigrants
Jose Salazar has been a long time supporter of WIN's Workers Center and the Cosecha Movement. This is a non-violent peaceful movement to support immigrants across the country. They are the main organizers of the call for a 7-day immigrant strike to begin on May 1st. The strike will look different in each city but in Memphis there will be a rally and march in support. WIN is giving support in the planning of the event.  First Congo is known to be Intercultural and supportive of movements such as these.  The march will begin at Clayborn Temple at 5pm on May 1st, where will gather for a prayer and we will March from there to the National Civil Right Museum.


Enjoy Our Easter Photo Album:

Thanks to Mary Beth Burnett & Janice Hill (left) for collecting the flower donations and making them into beautiful bouquets for our communion table.

And thanks to the youth group (below left) for hiding the hundreds of Easter Eggs for our Hunt!

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 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

Amy Shaw  

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Child Caretakers: 

Xan Lester  

Anitra Higgins
Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga, Manager
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach
MaryPat Harris


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

Happy Easter!
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 11am till 1pm.  

April 19, 2017 

Mr. Gary Garlington 
Memphis Pizza Cafe 
2087 Madison Avenue 
Memphis, TN 38104 

Dear Gary, 
Thank you very much for going above and beyond the call of duty to have the pizzas prepared for today's community lunch! I had no idea that you had to have one staff member dedicated solely to producing our pizzas - but that makes sense when you consider preparing and baking 30 large pizzas to feed our hungry neighbors. 

As a special token of our gratitude for your continuing support of our community lunch program, the First Congo members have created a 5-minute video of thanks. I have provided you with a DVD of the video as well as a link to the video, which can be found uploaded to YouTube. Please feel free to post the link to your web site or other social media, and definitely share it with your wonderful staff... 

Please convey our appreciation to all of your staff who helped make the wonderful pizzas. Wishing you much continued success! 

C. Mark Ratay, Esq. 
Director, Food Justice Ministries
First Congregational Church

If you'd like to help provide groceries - please pick up the following items that are regularly needed for our lunches:
- olive oil
- stick butter 
- milk
- yellow or white onions
- celery
- tomatoes 
- plastic grocery bags 

(above)  On  Sunday night Mark Ratay received a text message from Jamie at HOPE Memphis Cooperative, saying  that the University of Memphis Holiday Inn had a huge amount of leftover food from their Easter brunch, and she wanted to deliver it to us!   When he arrived at church Monday morning, the walk-in cooler was stacked with huge pans of chicken, ham, vegetables, potatoes, pastas, cakes, pies, and salads! It was an amazing sight on top of the veggies that Jackie Nerren had already culled from the Farmer's Market on Saturday ... and we are grateful!

The Food Justice Ministry for April has been given by 
Rev. Sonia Louden Walker ...
"This gift is dedicated to people who share their gifts generously and do their best daily."
Also located in The Hub ...

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

A Brand New Coffee Shipment just arrived at Global Goods.  Come get your favorite Fair Trade treat!   We also have some fun new jewelry and clothes for spring and summer.

Here's What's Coming Up ...

Today: Thursday, April 20:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Friday, April 21: 
  • 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, April 22:   
  • 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, April 23:    
  • Adult Forum:  9:45 in the Conference Center
  • Children's Sunday School:  9:45 am 
  • 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
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  
Monday, April 24:

  • 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, April 25:
  • 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, April 26
  • 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, April 27: 
  • 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

Looking a bit Further Ahead -  

Mark Your Calendars for these upcoming events in the next few weeks & months :
    Congregational Potluck and Quarterly Meeting
    Sunday, June 18th after church

    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: