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Congo Beat
August 3, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

Here's Virginia Mae Oliver on her very first day at church!   She brought her parents 
along with her ...  Mario and Jane Oliver!

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:

It's been a very productive summer in many ways.  I've really enjoyed a summer confirmation class with Dominic Haught and Kara Detrie-Prescott.    Kara and Dominic will be confirmed sometime this fall, but in the meantime, they've been working on issues of Biblical interpretation, what it means to be a church member, and how faith makes a difference in our lives.  
I am touched by the dedication of so many members of our church who reach out to our "Congo Kids" each and every week.  Marsha Walton, of course, is a steady and amazing presence with our Sunday School class.  We are so blessed by her love of children and her knowledge of how children develop into healthy adults!  Our "Children's Church" volunteers -- Eric Oberg, Kevin Williams, Cindy Tupis, Jenny Bartlett-Prescott, Kenitra Higgins and Emily Holmes -- are such a gift to us.  Each week, they come up with innovative and engaging lessons for our children.  

As school starts, we're especially conscious of the need to reach out and care for our children!  Thanks to those who are especially called to this important ministry.


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And from our Associate Pastor:

Dear First Congo Family and Friends, 

We are approaching the end of the prescribed treatments you have faithfully walked with me! I have only three days next week to complete the thirty radiation treatments. I completed the two "rounds" of chemo this week! 

The chemo pump disconnect on Monday brought physical discomfort. The mouth and throat infections were anticipated, but nothing was insurmountable. At the beginning of my standing Tuesday morning appointment with the radiologist, the nurse and the doctor ask if I am in pain. My response is always, "No." With further questioning, I explain, I am not in pain, but I am having some painful experiences. When your inner parts are being "cooked" at high heat, day after day, you will have pain. 

While cautioning me against martyrdom, the medical and radiology oncologists assess my progress as "remarkable." That's Janet's word too. I hasten to say my progress reflects your gifts of good thoughts, prayers, soulful hugs, wonderful words, and many kindnesses. 

Meanwhile, I have become part of an affinity group in the treatment centers that includes everyone from the security guard to the assigned physician. No matter how profound the presence of the disease, patients stroll or roll (wheelchair assisted) into the waiting rooms with a spirit of gratitude and pleasantry. Traditional "getting to know ya" questions seem inappropriate, and cancer is only one topic that might be raised. The effect is a welcoming, healing place for ourselves and others in a time of great need. 

Observing and participating in this community, I've been pondering the implications of this easy bonding for our faith communities. Now I ask you, "What can each of us offer to create a more welcoming, healing place for others and ourselves in a time of great need?"        

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!

Good Books, Good Friends
Our reading group will gather this Sunday (August 6th) at Sue Westmoreland's house (1589 Goodbar Avenue) at 5:00 - 7:00 PM to discuss  Eleanor and Hick .  Thank you in advance to Gail Murray who will be facilitating our discussion. Please email Sue at if you will be attending.

Newcomers Gathering NEXT 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! 

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.  


This Week at First Congo:

Mark Ratay was given a standing ovation of love and appreciation after completing his last week as our Director of Food Justice Ministries!  He's going to be offering his much-needed professional services as an Attorney working with Immigration issues, which is an issue near and dear to the hearts of our congregation.  Pastor Cheryl created a memory book of photos as a keepsake for Mark to remember the hard work and amazing presence he's been on our First Congo staff.   All the best, Mark!   

(right)  Pastor Cheryl then welcomed Steph Rollen as our new Director of Food Justice!  Steph worked with Mark the previous week to "get a feel" for the job - and we know she's going to bring her own special gifts and cooking skills (which many of us have enjoyed over the years!) to this important job.  Welcome aboard, Steph! 

(left) Awwww - let's just go ahead and enjoy another adorable photo of Virginia Mae Oliver!

(below)  And here's another beautiful photo of David Winter (center) and his friends who were visiting church with him - Shaun Davis and Jeremy Whitley.

We have enjoyed the dedication and caring skills of Anitra Higgins (center) on our Sunday morning nursery staff, pictured here with her mother and supervisor, Kenitra Higgins, and Xan Lester. After this Sunday she'll be heading to college at Purdue University, and our parents can meet our newest childcare staff member, Ella Mynatt. 
We're so grateful & proud of you, Anitra! 

After church last Sunday, our finance office was busy with Katy Musolino, Kate Marker, Caroline Rubenstein and Janet McGraw Rubenstein - who were conscientiously and cheerfully counting our offering and recording the ticket sales for Taste of Cooper Young, which is on October 5th!

Where do those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that you put in our "Change for Good" cups go?  Well, here you see it ... Joe Pfeiffer puts them through our nifty change-sorter, which counts & rolls them for bank deposit!  Your small change adds up to around $145 per year, which can provide nearly 2 weeks of food for our Community Lunches or some much-needed discretionary funds for our pastors!  

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 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  

Anitra Higgins

Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga, 
Resident Manager 

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

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.  

(right)  Here's Steph Rollen, our new Director of Food Justice Ministries, looking so happy as she worked in the church's raised-bed garden on Tuesday morning - her 2nd day on the job!  Steph would love to hear from anyone interested in cooking, serving, digging in the dirt, or just general helping out around The Hub.  You can contact her at 901-493-4699 or

Our Food Justice Ministries for the month of August 
have been dedicated by Jill & Bill Berghel.

Also located 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!

Here's What's Coming Up ...  

Thursday, August 3:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Cooper Young Festival Kick-Off Party and Reveal of Poster Art by Rahn Marion:  6:00 - 8:00 pm at Hazilip Studio (2125 Central)
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm

Friday, August 4:  
  • 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 5:   
  • 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 6:    
  • 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
  • Youth Group Meeting:  meet Julia after church in the hallway
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, August 7:
  • 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 8:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Children's Church Meeting:  5:30 pm in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer Service:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, August 9
  • 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 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

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: