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Congo Beat
April 6, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 
     Pastor Sonia was seated with the Rev. Dr. Jesse Jackson at the Pastor's Breakfast "Teach-In" on Tuesday morning.  
( More photos below of this very special day commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

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 Pastor:

These are amazing and full days at 
F irst Congo!  A good number of us were able to hear Rev. Dr. William Barber at the teach-in, rally and march commemorating the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder in Memphis on April 4th.  As Dr. Barber said, the real tribute to a prophet is not just to hear his or her words, but to actualize them - and indeed, we are trying to do that!  I was touched to see congregation members making it possible for others to attend - providing rides to Mississippi Boulevard and helping to make the Community Lunch move smoothly.  Bless you all!   

And Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and a day of celebration and gratitude.  I know Pastor Sonia and I are both deeply touched and moved by the joyful spirit you are bringing to celebrate our "140 Years" - birthday celebration!  Thank you in advance for strengthening our Vision and Mission fund with your gifts.  This means a great deal to Sonia and me, who are well aware of the need for resources to continue the great ministry we have at First Congo.

Holy Week itself is a deeply moving experience.  On Sunday, make sure the children are here so that they can participate in our Palm Sunday processional with signs and palm branches!  They should gather near the breezeway door.  Rev. Dr. Alvin Jackson, former pastor of Mississippi Boulevard, National City Christian Church and Park Avenue Christian Church, moderator of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) and a good friend of First Congregational Church, will be preaching.  We have special music planned, with the birthday lunch to follow!  Be with us on this special day.

And then, as Holy Week progresses, our mood turns from joyful to somber.  Our Maundy Thursday service of communion and footwashing is, for some, the most powerful service of the church year.  We are reminded of our need to serve each other, and we remember that sometimes care and compassion means vulnerability and intimacy.  This service helps us do just that.  Don't be afraid of the footwashing!  It's a powerful ritual that helps us grow.

On Good Friday, the Tenebrae service involves reading the story of Jesus' crucifixion and extinguishing lights as we remember his death.  This, too, is a powerful service where the Gospel testimony speaks its own truth.

Easter becomes a much more powerful day when we remember the events that have led up to it.  Make your Holy Week service especially powerful by remembering the sacrifice, the teaching, the journey and especially the
struggle that led to Jesus' brutal death - and then the new life that came, against all expectations!

See you Sunday!

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Cash Crunch!  Can you help?
Note from our Bookkeeper and Treasurers:  Our cash flow is always tight, but we're facing a few special challenges right now as quarterly bills comes due - insurance, etc.   Keeping up with your church giving REALLY makes a difference to us - and if you can give a little extra right now, it would help.  THANKS to those of you that stepped up last week - it really made a difference!
Sunday's Adult Forum  
Christian Education Committee member, Tim Taylor (left) announced on Sunday that the Adult Forum will continue our discussion of Islam this Sunday, April 9th. The forum meets in the conference room at 9:45 am.  We will not meet on Easter morning, April 16th, and will re-convene April 23rd.

  Our Pastors' Birthday Celebration 
is THIS Sunday!

Holy Week Schedule:

April 9 - Palm Sunday Worship, followed immediately with our Pastors' Celebration & Luncheon

April 13 - Maundy Thursday Communion and Foot Washing Service at 6pm

April 14 - Good Friday Tenebrae Service (Extinguishing of Lights) 6pm


April 16 - Easter Sunday:  (see schedule below)



Special Easter Gifts & Plans:
  • On Easter Sunday our morning begins with our Annual Children's Easter Egg Hunt!  Please start bringing plastic eggs filled with can dy to the Sanctuary when you come to church!
  • Bring a stem of your favorite flowers to church.  We'll create gorgeous bouquets to celebrate the diversity of this congregation!  
  • In lieu of purchasing Easter Lilies, we invite you to share an Easter Gift for our Food Justice Ministries - even these small amounts make a huge difference:
    • $1 provides one home cooked community lunch
    • $3 provides a household visit to our food pantry
    • $100 provides one day's community lunch for everybody who comes!

An Invitation from our Minister of Music, Dennis W. Darling:
Please come see my first OPERA directing project this weekend at Playhouse on the Square! 
  • Thursday, April 6th, 7:30 pm: Preview (Final Dress) PAY WHAT YOU CAN NIGHT
  • Friday, April 7th, 7:30 pm: Opening Night
  • Saturday, April 8th, 3:00 pm: Closing Performance

Blue Viola follows the journey of a priceless viola from its original owner to a junk dealer, who sees it as a lost treasure in need of rescue. But his girlfriend, Arnita, has other plans. Infused with the sounds and styles of the blues, this opera is a perfect match for our Memphis audience, and our performance is its southern premiere!

This Week at First Congo:   

Here's more photos reflecting the power of Tuesday's events commemorating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Our choir was honored to sing at the Fast15 March to close an amazing day!

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 worship assistants last Sunday ... (above) Butch Odom offered the children's sermon; (below) Misty O'Neal sang our anthem; Mary Beth Burnett lit the worship candle; Catherine Dixon and the choir shared the offertory anthem; and Judy Drescher invited all of us to honor our pastors' birthday with gifts to the Vision & Witness Fund.

(above right) We are grateful to Yo uth Group member, Alex Arias, who cleaned out his closet and brought huge bags of clothes for our Clothes Closet!

(left) Yesterday - Bryan Darling, with help from Bryant Wilhite, hauled in a beautiful refrigerator that he and Dennis have donated to the church!  It's going into the storage area that serves our Sunday morning fellowship time and other special congregational events.  Thanks, guys!!

(below) Last night our "human library book" titled Ghost Whisperer, was Kevin Williams!  We've enjoying such a wonderful Lenten series of hearing the fascinating stories of our own congregational friends ... thanks to Brennan Villines, Marsha Walton, Emerson Kirkpatrick, Teddy Crum and Kevin Williams!

We appreciate our photographers and videographers, Roger Courts & Mark Ratay!

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.  

Click below to enjoy the video we sent to our restaurant partner that is providing our Community Lunch on Wednesday:

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 

(left) Our dedicated Cafe Congo volunteer, Dave Lindstrom, stands alongside the volunteer banner listing all those who helped at the community lunch program and food p antry during the month of March!
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
is OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
& after church on Sundays. 
Here's What's Coming Up ...

Friday, April 7: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and theFood Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • MAGY Meeting:  7:00 - 10:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall
Saturday, April 8:   
  • 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 9:    
  • Adult Forum:  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.
  • Pastors' Birthday Celebration Luncheon:  after church in the Sanctuary
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN: after Church in the Hub
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, April 10:

  • 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, April 11:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance:  4 - 8 pm in the Hub (come to front door on Cooper St)
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, April 12
  • 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 13: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Maundy Thursday Foot Washing Service & Communion:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
  • 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 :
    Maundy Thursday Service of Foot Washing & Communion
    Thursday, April 13th at 6:00 pm

    Good Friday Tenebrae Service - Extinguishing the Lights
    Friday, April 14th at 6:00 pm

    Easter Sunday (with Children's Egg Hunt and bring your favorite flowers) 
    Sunday, April 16th

    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: