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Congo Beat
August 17, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 
 Okra blossom from our Garden!  Steph Rollens in helping in our work to maintain the gardens we have, along with the border on the south side of the parking lot.  

If you can help, let her know!
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:

On a joyful note . . .  I'm delighted to report that both Pastor Sonia and our office manager, Brenda Nichols, completed their regimens of radiation and chemotherapy against cancer this week!  

They've been "troopers" in dealing with the rigors of this therapy, and by beautiful coincidence, treatments for both of them ended this week!  The healing process continues for each of them, but we're celebrating this step towards healing with both of them.  

On a different note, I find it moving that in a week where Americans have had to engage in painful reflection over our centuries-old problem of racism, we are also preparing for a solar eclipse, which happens once every century or so.  

In Memphis, the experts are saying that we should watch mid-day on Monday, with the best view around 1:20 or so.  

You hear me say it often:  the life of faith begins with the realization that there is a Center to the Universe--and it isn't us!  This is a time when we need to re-center, re-focus and recommit ourselves to bringing justice to all of our brothers and sisters.  I take the solar eclipse as a reminder that God is in charge, that there is a creative Center that moves the planets, and can move governments and human hearts in ways beyond our understanding.  

Let's pray for our country, and let's discern the role that we have to play in bringing about the justice that we know God wants for Americans and for all the people of this world. 

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And from our Associate Pastor:
Dear First Congo Family and Friends,

I continue to be grateful for your notes, flowers, many acts of kindness, and supportive, encouraging prayers.  When you call and hear my voice, your response is almost disbelief.  The upbeat and joy in my voice is definitely authentic, but for a limited time.  That is because I am often lying in bed, in the most comfortable position with the least clothing that is decent.

My observers say I look great, and I am doing very, and I think that is true, but there is another chapter to this story.  The exterior tells part of the story.   The real healing is an "inside job," without a doubt.

True healing always is an "inside job."  I just cannot escape that truth as I gawk at the twenty-four hour news from around the world with story after story about gaping wounds that we thought were healed long ago.  There are so many gut wrenching conversations that we need to have with ourselves, family members, neighbors, even strangers, about what really makes us feel diminished, inadequate, cheated, unforgiving, angry.  What things take us to the edge of rage that becomes blind hate?

I miss being in the midst of our lives together; even though Pastor Cheryl and others keep me posted on the work of The Hostel Marketing Committee, Our Taste of  Cooper Young, The Yard Sign and Big Board Fundraisers, CafĂ© Congo and Clothes Closet operations, The Mission Development and Finance Committee's persistence, and The Mission Council's consistency.  All this keeps churning, in spite of Julia's vacation, and the extended convalescent time Brenda Nichols and I have needed.  True, Pastor Cheryl is forced to over-function, but some folks, like Joe Pfeiffer, continue to keep our ship afloat because they have done some inside work.

I am well on the road to recovery, but I am not healed yet.  In the meantime, will you join me a few minutes regularly in prayer for our brothers and sisters, whose neglected inside work is erupting in deadly ways to all of us.

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
WHATCHA doing Saturday?
We need help sorting and hanging clothes for our Clothes Closet!  

Come to the Hub from 11:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Sunday Morning Adult Forum 
9:45 a.m. in Classroom B
Our topic this Sunday:  
Insights from Barbara Brown Taylor's book, 
An Altar in the World

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!

Find Treasures or Give them Away!
It's the sanctuary "stuff swap"
Sunday, August 27th before and after worship
It's very simple.  Bring stuff you don't want and pick up stuff that you do!  No money exchanged.  SMALL, "carry-able" stuff like books, DVD's, etc. only, please!

Right after church in Pastor Cheryl's office
Each month, Committee chairs and project leaders gather to share information and gather ideas for our church.  See you this Sunday!

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!

Tickets only $45 if you buy now!
You can buy them after worship on Sunday, at the Saturday Farmers' Market or online at!  (TOCY takes place Thursday, October 5th)

National Civil Rights Museum 
"Drop the Mic" Poetry Slam
Saturday, August 18th
3:00 - 8:00 p.m.

This Symposium encourages creative expression on issues of justice and offers workshops with leading artists.  Workshops are constructed along 4 tracks:  activism, youth voice, technique and business.  The idea is to spark conversation and action in underrepresented communities and to learn to use trauma as a catalyst for community change!  For more information, go to .

Support our Immigrant Neighbors 
2 Opportunities on Saturday

 9 a.m.:  a brief training by lawyers on how to accompany folks to various appointments (fingerprinting, bond, etc) and how to best deal with ICE.  It will be at Caritas House on the corner of Merton and Everette.  We are hoping to be prepared before the next sweep in Memphis.

5 - 7 p.m.:  Defend DACA (Dreamers) March - March starts at Civil Rights Museum (450 Mulberry) and goes to Handy Park on Beale Street

Join immigrant youth and allies to rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows eligible immigrant youth to receive a renewable two-year work permit and to be exempt from deportation.   Tennessee's Herbert Slatery, and ten other extremist attorneys general, are threatening President Trump into ending DACA which would put 8,300+ Tennessee youth at risk of deportation. 

Wear a white t-shirt 

Buy your tickets now for the best Labor Day event in town!
It's the WIN Labor Day picnic:  tickets are $30 per family ($10 adult, $5 children).  Go to
 to purchase!

Yard Signs available after worship!  We'll also be selling these at the Cooper-Young Festival!  

Jill Berghel and Marjean Liggett help with keep our green spaces looking nice!  Thank you!  Contact Steph Rollen to volunteer!

Looking Ahead . . . A Fabulous Fall!

Sign up NOW for Dinner Groups!

Dinner groups are a great way to meet people.  You'll sign up by letting us know your best meeting time (Friday, Saturday, Sunday lunch or Sunday evening) and any preferences for an under-40'ish group or a child-friendly group.  

We'll put you in a dinner group of about 7 to 8 folks who will gather 3 or 4 times over the next few months for a potluck meal.  It's easy; it's fun and a great way to get to know some wonderful people!

Bible Study on I John - Wednesday Nights

Dr. Mary Lin Hudson facilitates this 6-week class, using a method that we've found very meaningful--lectio divina. We'll read the text, share silence and see how the text speaks to us.  We meet from 5:30 - 6:30 in Pastor Cheryl's office.

Friday night, September 8th (7:00 - 9:00 p.m.)

Last weekend's violence in Charlottesville reminds us how violence has become a tragic part of our cultural life.  Our Pathfinder Forum this year explores attitudes and behaviors towards women and towards all that is perceived as "feminine".  A great panel of speakers includes Pastor Cheryl (Misogyny and Religion), Julia Hicks (Misogyny and the GLBT community), Dr. Joel Chapman (Misogyny and Mental Health) and Dr. Roz Nichols, pastor of Freedoms Chapel (Misogyny and Domestic Violence and Racism).

Saturday night, September 9th

Get your team of 6 together now ($20 per participant) and we'll have our usual wonderful time together!

But wait . . . THERE"S MORE!

Find the Ministry of Your Dreams! 
After worship-September 10th-in the sanctuary! 

Immediately after worship on September 10th, you'll have the chance to learn about 14 of our most exciting service and ministry opportunities, all in an hour! Representatives from Blessed Bees, No Hungry Seniors, the Circle of Trust, Revolutions Bicycle Co-op, the Art & Design Ministry, the Clothes Closet, our Food Pantry, the Community Lunches, Global Goods, Choir, the Greeters Committee, Freedom Journeys and Hospitality Committee will be present to share - in 4 minutes - what they do and how you can get involved! A simple lunch will be available.'s the Cooper-Young Festival on Saturday, September 16th.  We'll need volunteers to help with Taste of Cooper-Young ticket sales, yard sign sales and to "meet and greet" at the church building!

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.  

NOTE from Steph Rollen, our new Minister of Food Justice:  
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 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

Friday, August 18:  
  • 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 19:   
  • 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
  • Clothes Sorting for Clothes Closet (in the Hub) - 11:00 - 1:00
  • Rhodes Student orientation - Fellowship Hall and the Hub (9:00 - noon)
Sunday, August 20:    
  • 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
  • Mission Council in Pastor Cheryl's office after worship
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, August 21:
  • 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 22:  
  • 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 23
  • 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 24: 
  • 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


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: