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Congo Beat
August 10, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

Demarco Randle will host an "Art Party" through our Arts and Design Ministry on August 25th.  (See the article below).  This is a great chance to see our art studio in the lower level of the north building--just down the hallway from the Revolutions Bicycle Co-op!  

This ministry is coordinated by Sam Griffin and our intern, Rahn Marion -- winner of this year's Cooper-Young Festival poster contest!

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 know that we're all aware that a lot of work gets done around First Congo, but we aren't always sure HOW it gets done!  I thought I'd share about the work of two groups of First Congo workers today--the Mission Development Committee and our Children's Church volunteers!

The Mission Development Committee formed when we moved from our Central Gardens location to our Cooper-Young home.  We realized that we had 83,000 square feet of space that we wanted to use for active mission--and we needed voices to help us discern how best to do that.  This Committee meets regularly to discuss how we use our space.  Along with staff liaison, Julia Hicks, they discuss how we relate to our shared space partners, who might be received as a shared space partner, how we use our parking space, what events might be allowed in the sanctuary, etc.  They've been instrumental in helping First Congregational move into partnerships with well over 35 organizations through our innovative "shared space" outreach--a model that has been copied by many churches around the city and throughout the country!  

You saw them at work this summer as they discussed, over several meetings, whether we might want to sell property for a proposed apartment development.  (We ultimately said "no" to that idea because of the substantial loss of parking.)  Current Committee members are:  Carla Peacher-Ryan, Judy Drescher, Jackie Nerren, Joe Pfeiffer, Teddy Crum, Cecilia Johnson-Powell and Keith Norman.

Our "Children's Church" volunteers are hard at work each and every Sunday.  Until this group formed -- about 18 months ago -- we had Sunday School before the worship service with Dr. Marsha Walton (from 9:45 to 10:30), and then childcare during the worship service.  Realizing that many of our children aren't able to get to First Congo before the worship service, we wanted to offer something DURING the service in terms of Christian education as a supplement to "Miss Marsha's" wonderful Sunday School class.

Our Children's Church volunteers do just that.  They coordinate a lesson and activities for the time period following the Children's Sermon in worship until the end of the service.  They teach a Bible story, lead prayer, talk about what happens in worship and have activities designed to reinforce the Bible story.  They are amazing!  Our Children's Church leaders are:  Eric Oberg, Marsha Walton, Jenny Bartlett-Prescott, Cindy Tupis, Kenitra Higgins, Kevin Williams and Emily Holmes.  Give them a "thank you!" next time you see them.  They really carry out a meaningful ministry among our children.

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And from our Associate Pastor:

Dear First Congo Family and Friends, 

To be real honest, we did hit a rough pain spot last weekend. It required pause, reflection and the recalibration of my spiritual navigation instruments.   In spite of a few days delay in my projected treatment plan, Friday will mark the thirtieth and final day of my radiation treatments!  Hallelujah!
In the meantime, I have reactivated my membership in a club for strippers.  Yes, I said, "Strippers."  This line of work is not on furniture, on wallcoverings, or for entertainment.  It is open to men, women, children, adults, sexually declared, or not.  The membership is affordable because I think it is on a sliding fee scale, pay what you can or something like that.  It's a little like joining a faith community, but it's not.  When reveal your vulnerabilities to join a church, we help you put everything "back together again," as if nothing ever happened to transform you.   
In the Strippers' Club, you are studied extensively to find the problem source and make a diagnosis.  Strippers DO have to take it ALL off!; let it all go!   False pride, faded elegance, moldy manners, lost love, bad smells from trapped gas and constipated spirits, youthful ideas of beauty, relationship wounds, pretentious wealth, prejudices that paralyze, hollow prayers, and good buys on faith by the ounce, must go away not just for a day, or an event, but forever.
Actually, in human terms, it costs a little more than I calculated.  It requires your WHOLE HEART to open, transparent, available for whatever and whomever God dispatches.  I believe God wants us to strip away anything that is not authentic, pure, and life-giving with a direct line to love.
We kid ourselves out of life itself if we think there are shortcuts.  We wear out our joy and our welcome into Creation, running around seeking what is not important, never was, never will be.
Yeah, I'm a reconditioned stripper, and proud of it!

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Sunday Morning Adult Forum 
9:45 a.m. in Classroom B
The Adult Forum meets at  9:45  on each Sunday morning.  We hope you'll fix yourself a cup of coffee across the hall and join us for thoughtful discussion topics!

Newcomers Gathering THIS Sunday
Right after church in Pastor Cheryl's office
Each month our Pastors invite all the folks that are new to First Congo to join them after church for introductions and a time to learn more about this church. No reservations needed! 

DaMarco Randle will conduct an art class on August 25th at 7:00 p.m.  Sign up after worship, or email the office.  $25 covers supplies and snacks!  Sponsored by our Art and Design Ministries.

INTERSECTIONS continues its discussion of racial justice on  Sunday, August 27.  We will meet at PYRO'S PIZZA, 2035 Union Ave at  noon.  We can car pool from the church.  You can order your own salad, pizza, drink and then gather in the private dining room.  We will adjourn at  1:30.
We are still looking for some new faces on the planning team which meets every 2-3 months.  Think about it!

T HINK AHEAD ... the rescheduled date for Trivia Night is Saturday, September 9th.  If you haven't booked your team yet - just reply to this email and we'll make sure you're on the game roster!  The cost for this excellent fundraiser is $20 per person - there's six players on each team - and we invite you to bring your own beverages and picnic snacks.  

One of the dinner groups from last autumn, 2016

Sign Up NOW for Fall Dinner Groups!
Dinner groups are a great way to get to know more First Congo folks!  It's simple to participate.  You fill out a form, indicating your fir st and second choice from several options (Friday night, Saturday night, etc.)  You also can indicate if you'd prefer to meet with folks in the under-40'ish age category or would like to be in "child-friendly group".  We'll form a group of 7 to 8 people, and a convenor will call to set up the first potluck gathering.  Groups meet every month or so through the fall--for about 3 times!  DEADLINE for sign-up is Labor Day.  Fill out a form at church or send an email to Pastor Cheryl with the subject line "DINNER GROUP".


We could use a few card tables at church if you have an extra one to contribute!  Just bring it by the church sometime this month!

AND...we could use a small bedroom dresser, a small rug and a small, comfortable chair for our Accessible Hostel room!  

Make life easy...get your tix now! 
You know you wanna go, so buy your Taste of Cooper Young tickets now, online!  They're $45 until Labor Day when the price goes up, and you can go to to purchase them.   You can also purchase them after worship services.  It really helps to have as many sales as early as possible, so sign up!  (TOCY is Thursday, October 5th!)

This Week at First Congo:

It was a loving and special last Youth Group meeting before our high school graduates head off to college!  From left are Julia Hicks (adult leader), Jeffrey Higgins, Alden Schmidt, Audrey Rollen, Daria Letcher, Will Brown, Anitra Higgins, Zan Lester, and Angela Richards (adult leader).

(left) Here's Rahn Marion with his proud father, Rahn Marion, Sr., at the unveiling last Thursday afternoon of the 2017 Cooper Young Festival poster, designed by Rahn, Jr.  This marks the 30th year of the festival, which will draw about 130,000 visitors into our neighborhood on September 16th.

(right) Arnie Ellison uses stencils to create beautiful patterns on the "Place at the Table" dining mats that will be sold at the Cooper Young Festival.  

(left) It was so nice to see Zakiya Adams at church on Sunday, and meet her friend, Chris Wilson.  Zak is the daughter of Kenitra Higgins, and she and Chris were visiting from their home in Nashville.

(right) Virginia Grimes enjoyed tending to her granddaughter and namesake, Virginia Mae Oliver, while her mom, Jane Oliver, enjoyed singing in the choir for the first time since Virginia Mae was born.

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

(right)  Here's Steph Rollen, our Director of Food Justice Ministries, enjoying a visit with Howard Pheelgood, who served on our church staff several years ago and is visiting from his home in Las Vegas.   

NOTE from Steph:  
I would love to hear from anyone interested in cooking, serving, digging in the garden, or just general helping out around The Hub.  You can contact me at 901-493-4699 or

Our Food Justice Ministries for August 
have been dedicated by Jill & Bill Berghel.
Also in The Hub:

Fair Trade Store

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

Strength in Numbers! 
Have you chosen YOUR NUMBER(s) 
for your Pentecost Gift this year?

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!

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:   Steph Rollen

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 

Juan Salter 
Bryant Wilhite

Mark Allen

Events Assistant: 
Danny Grubbs

Amy Shaw 

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Nursery Care: 

Xan Lester  

Ella Mynatt

Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga, 
Resident Manager 

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

Here's What's Coming Up ...  

Thursday, August 10:  
  • 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, August 11:  
  • 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 Hub

Saturday, August 12:   
  • 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, August 13:    
  • 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, our leaders will escort the children to Classroom D for special activities.  Parents may pick up their children here after worship.
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN in the Hub after Church
  • Newcomers' Gathering in Pastor Cheryl's office after worship
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, August 14:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00am - 1:00 pm
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
Tuesday, August 15:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer Service:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, August 16
  • 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, August 17: 
  • 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

Pathfinder Forum on "Mysogyny"
Friday, Sept 8th at 7:00 - 9:00 pm

TRIVIA NIGHT (rescheduled)
Saturday, Sept 9th at 6:00 pm

    Cooper Young Festival   

Saturday, September 16th at 9am - 7pm
Taste of Cooper Young
Thursday, October 5th at 5:30pm

From Latino Memphis:
 Supporting Immigrant Rights
ICE is knocking on doors, and so are we.

We're knocking on doors to educate our community about their rights. 
The saturated presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that started on Sunday spread fear in our community. For the past three days Latino Memphis along with partner organizations have been visiting apartment complexes, speaking with community members and answering questions. We have been talking to officials as well as visiting detention centers.

We are educating and empowering our community by distributing a Know Your Rights flyer that covers what to do if ICE agents knock on your door, what you should and should not communicate to an ICE agent, what to do if you are arrested as well as an example of a family plan in case a loved one is detained.

We are offering legal consultations at no cost
This is a difficult time for our community, and we want to reassure families that they are not alone. Latino Memphis has immigration attorneys on staff that are available to provide a free immediate consultation for anyone who has been detained. We believe everyone should have the right to representation and will discuss payment plans based on a sliding fee scale with anyone who may need services.
For more information, give us a call at 901.366.5882.
  1. Share the Know Your Rights flyer with family, friends, employees and co- workers. Chances are if they don't need it they know someone who does.
  2. Are you an attorney? We need attorney volunteers for pro bono representation on bond hearings. Contact if you would like to be an attorney volunteer.
  3. Donate to Latino Memphis and support our efforts.


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: