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Congo Beat
February 2 , 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

Cheryl & Mark gathered at Clayborn Temple as the
"Memphis We Belong Here" Call-To-Action began in
support of our immigrant brothers & sisters.  There's
more photos of First Congo participants below!

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:

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night 
stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

This is the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service, but add "fire" and I think you could be talking about First Congregational!

As you all know, we had a fire last Su
nday evening.  The fire itself was quite contained to the Sunday School room, but smoke damage is extensive and we'll be working with ways to deal with that as we move forward.  Our UCC Insurance representatives have been wonderful to work with, but it takes some time to assess what actually needs to be done in terms of clean-up, and that's the stage we're in now.

In the meantime, let's give thanks for the fact that this has barely slowed us down - and that's due to so many of us stepping in with help.  Jamie Jones, a Resident Assistant in our Hostel, detected the smell of smoke.  She and Danny Grubbs were quick to call the Fire Department.  They were very quick in response, which meant that the fire had little time to spread.

Julia headed down to the church immediately, and many of you, I know, came by to see what was going on and if help was needed.  Joli Williams and Vernessa Lester "walked" the building with Julia and Danny to see the extent of the damage.

And the minute this went more public on the television news . . .
so, so many of you emailed, called and offered help.  Our Missouri-Midsouth Conference Minister, Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel called a couple times, offering assistance, and our friends at Holy Trinity UCC here in Memphis were gracious about offering help as well!

AND, hats off to our church staff!  Juan Salter and Amy Shaw have been diligently at work, dealing with soot and smudge.  Mark Ratay kept the community lunches going, despite the smoke in the room! 

Our Children's Ministries will continue!  We'll move everything up to the third floor.  And again, huge thanks t o our Children's Church leaders for the way they've offered to help with this relocation and provide supplies as we figure out where we go from here.
God provides!  And we'll have worship as usual this weekend!


A n n o u n c e m e n t s 

We have 10 teams registered so far for our Winter Trivia Game  
on NEXT Saturday, Feb. 11th  at 6:00 pm 

REPLY to this email to Register your Teams of 6 players 
or let us know you'd like to join a team. 
$20 per player - you can pay when you arrive. 
Bring your own picnics & beverages! 

Thanks SO much to question-master & scoreboard manager, Sherrie Walker and Martha Lanier, for creating these delightful evenings for over a decade ...   raising tens of thousands of dollars for the church!

Tim Taylor will lead a meditative discussion of "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" at our Adult Sunday School class this Sunday morning at 9:45 am in the Conference Center. 

Tuesday Evening Prayer    
Time to "Unplug and Reboot"
Everyone is welcome to join us for time to reflect and re-set your week. This is a quieter, more contemplative service that includes readings from scripture, poetry, and other inspirational writings, along with meditative music and a bit of quiet time to reflect.  You're welcome to join us any Tuesday evening at 6 PM in the sanctuary. The service typically last about 40 minutes.  Come unplug and reboot with us.

Once again, Attorney Sterling Owens is providing free and professional assistance at First Congo for folks needing help with filing their taxes.  She reminds us that the IRS will delay refunds this year in an effort to cut down 
on fraud, so we are encouraged to file our returns EARLY!
Tuesdays at 4:00 - 8:00 pm 
Saturdays by appointment only 
February 7 - April 11 
For more information or to make an appointment, email  THANKS, Sterling!

Time to Join a Dinner Group! 
This is a SUPER way to meet new friends and enjoy three fabulous potluck suppers with about a dozen First Congo folks during the next few months.  Just reply to this email and let us know if you'd rather be in a group that will meet on Friday nights, Saturday nights or Sunday nights.   We'll get you booked in a group and a host will contact you within a few weeks!

Pastors' Birthday Celebration on April 9th
We are excited to celebrate the birthdays of BOTH of our pastors on Sunday, April 9th!   Pastor Cheryl's birthday is on April 2nd, and Pastor Sonia's is on April 10th, so we'll enjoy a wonderful celebration for the blessings of this "divinity duo"!  This celebration is a fundraising benefit for our Mission & Vision Fund ... and more info will be coming very SOON - be sure to mark your calendars NOW!   

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This Week at First Congo:  
Thanks to Angela Richards (right), who was our layreader last Sunday, and Judy Drescher (below right) who lit our worship candle.

Click on these links below to enjoy again the worship music from the past two Sundays: 


(left) It was wonderful to see Howard PHeelgooD, previously our Minister of Dance, visiting from his home in Las Vegas.  You look great, Howard!   

Our Intersections Group enjoyed lunch together in the Hub (thanks to Mark Ratay) and a short intro session with Gail Murray before visiting the National Civil Rights Museum together last Sunday.  As you can see, they had a large group of 35 folks!



We enjoyed a top-knotch ensemble of musicians at worship this week, which included Brennan Villines, Lisa Gaddy, Chris Burgess, and guest artist Jana Misener on cello!


(above left) This nice photo op of Mary Lin Hudson visiting with Judy Drescher was just too beautiful to resist!  (above right) A BIG thanks to Facilities Committee member, Tim Combs, who is pictured here with our housekeeper, Amy Shaw.  Tim is busy installing a total of 35 new toilet paper dispensers all over the church because our TP brand changed and we can't use the old ones ... [sigh].   

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:  Mark Ratay  
Revolutions Bicycle Co-op  
Director: Sylvia Crum    

Art & Design Ministries:
Sam Griffin
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

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Child Caretakers: 

Xan Lester  

Anitra Higgins

Pilgrim House Hostel Staff:  
Kim Kamga
River Park
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach
MaryPat Harris
. Look what's
happening @

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 during lunch hours.
  • The Clothes Closet is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays during lunch hours.  

Thanks to one of our deeply committed volunteers,  Mae Yancy (right) for her loving hours in the clothes closet!


If you'd like to help provide groceries:
The following items are regularly needed for preparing the Community Lunches.
If you can pick up a couple of these items during your own grocery shopping - and then drop them off at The Hub on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. or bring to church with you on Sundays,  this is a VERY helpful way to contribute.

- white paper dinner napkins 
- liquid chicken and beef broth  
- roasted chickens 
- stick salted butter 
- Blue Bonnet 48 oz tub butter   
- organic 2% and whole milk  
- iceberg lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- tomatoes
- celery
- green and red bell peppers  
- cucumbers 
- green, white, and yellow onions 

We're also grateful to Jonathan McCarver (right) who spent several hours hauling cases of food from the Fellowship Hall into a storage room so that we could have room for our Trivia Night game next Saturday!

The Food Justice Ministry
for February
has been given by a
generous and anonymous donor. 
(left) Carter Beard and Mark Ratay spend lots of hours chopping & cooking & staying cheerful as they prepare for our Community Lunches!

Also located in The Hub ...
Fair Trade Store
is OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
and after church on Sundays. 
Here's a few First Congo folks we caught at the Call-to-Action for our immigrant brothers and sisters last night:
Tim Taylor & Emily Holmes

Teddy Crum with lots of darling girls on his cargo bike!

A fuzzy shot of Pamela McFarland

Janet Todd

Newlyweds, Anita Jones & Paula Seward 

Charlie Crum with his mom, Sylvia

Lauren & Mike Prater 

Carla & Holmes Peacher-Ryan   

There were lots more First Congo folks at the march that our camera didn't catch ... and this is what it looks like to be a
"Just Peace Fellowship"!

The Week Ahead at First Congo 

Friday, February 3:
  • 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, February 4:   
  • 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, February 5:    
  • Adult Sunday School:  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.
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN: after Church in the Hub
  • Youth Group:  gather after church in the Conference Center Cafe - we'll meet till 2:00
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:30 pm
  • Good Books, Good Friends:  5:00 pm at Sue Westmoreland's home (1589 Goodbar 38104)
Monday, February 6:

  • 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, February 7:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Finance Committee Meeting:  5:30 pm in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, February 8
  • 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, February 9: 
  • 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
    Trivia Night   
    Saturday, February 11th at 6:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall

    Congregational Quarterly Meeting & Potluck Lunch   
    Sunday, March 19th after morning worship in the Fellowship Hall

    Pastors' Birthday Celebrations! 
    Sunday, April 9th 


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
Yoga for Everyone - Nicole Davila
MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Interim Advisory Board Chair - Tim Combs


  First Congo Quick Links
First Congo Website & Online Donations: 

First Congo FB Link   

Freedom Journeys: 
Freedom Journeys for Youth, College & Adult Groups 

Pilgrim House Hostel & 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:

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