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Congo Beat
February 23 , 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

What a beautiful afternoon of music & dancing we enjoyed in our Sanctuary last Saturday!  A concert of "Positive Vibrations" was brought to us by African Jazz Ensemble/Galaxy, celebrating Black History Month with the music of Earth, Wind & Fire and Memphis' own Maurice White.  Thanks to our shared space partners, Ekpe Abioto and Joe Murphy, for organizing this fantastic event, and there's a couple more photos to enjoy 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:

This Sunday will be the last Sunday of Epiphany - with our focus on Romans 8 and it's empowering message of God's advocacy and presence with us always.
Next Wednesday (March 1st), we mark the beginning of the season of Lent.  Ash Wednesday is a service that includes the Imposition of Ashes (literally burning palm crosses and hay, a symbol of Christ's birth) and renewal through the waters of baptism.  We begin the season by remembering that spiritual life involves dying and resurrecting to new life, each and every day.  Join us for this powerful service in our beautiful sanctuary at 6pm.

Our Mission Council met last Sunday and began a dialogue that will continue through the next months and years . . . We asked "What stories or circumstances illustrate our congregational potential?  How might we build from this?"  As we look to the future, we'll be wanting to build on our experiences and shared dialogue to discern how God is leading us.

Be sure to attend the discussion at our Adult Education forums these next couple weeks on sanctuary and immigration!  This is such an important topic right now and church congregations across the country and throughout our own denomination, the United Church of Christ, are stepping up to provide determined advocacy and assistance for immigrant communities.  Discussion begins in the north building conference room a t 9:30 a.m. with Casey Bryant fr om Latino Memphis.  

A n n o u n c e m e n t s 
Did you receive your
2016 Giving Statement?

Our bookkeeper, Nikki Jones, emailed the Giving Statements last week for your tax purposes.  If you gave financial gifts to the church last year and have not received a giving statement, please email Nikki at

Adult Sunday School 
The adult Sunday School class with begin a 3 week discussion of what it means to be a sanctuary church.  Special guest on Sunday February 26 will be Casey Bryant, a lawyer who is active in Latino Memphis.  Our class meets on Sunday mornings at 9:45 am in the Conference Center.  Grab some coffee and join us!

INTERSECTIONS Potluck & Meeting
We're meeting THIS Sunday, Feb. 26, after worship in the Conference Center, and our program will feature a conversation with our First Congo Youth Group about race and justice issues in their lives, their schools, their friendships. 


Looking Ahead to the Season of Lent: 
  • Ash Wednesday Evening Service, on March 1st at 6:00 p.m. The season of Lent begins this night, designated as "Ash Wednesday", as we remember that "from dust we come and to dust we will return".  This service includes the Imposition of ashes.  Ash Wednesday is a time when we remember the power that death carries on us - and we confront this power directly as a way of knowing the experience of resurrection. 
  • First Congo's Human Library - Wednesday evenings, 5:30 - 6:30 (beginning March 8th):   Based on a project that started in Denmark, a Human Library consists of "books" that are human!  Each week, we'll hear a different story from one of our church members that will help us understand each other better.  This Lenten season, our "books" will be (not necessarily in this order!):  
March 8:  Living Positive (HIV)  
March 15:  A Child Evangelist 
March 22:  Transgender in Memphis 
March 29:  My Life as a Missionary 
April 5:  Ghost Whisperer  
Celebrating a 140-year Legacy:
Rev. Dr. Alvin Jackson (right), former pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church here in Memphis, will be our guest preacher on Palm Sunday - as we celebrate two significant April birthdays:  Pastor Sonia turns 80 and Pastor Cheryl turns 60!
After a special worship service, we'll join in a celebratory lunch!

Attorney Sterling Owens is providing free and professional assistance at First Congo for folks needing help with filing their income taxes:
Tuesdays at 4:00 - 8:00 pm 
Saturdays by appointment only 
For more information or to schedule an appointment, email 


The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis
Upcoming Events: 
People's Grocery Lynchings
Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, William Stewart  
125th Anniversary Commemoration
Thursday, March 9, 2017
10 a.m. Prayers at Zion Cemetery (where victims are buried) opposite 1443 S. Parkway at Pillow St.
11 a.m. Commemorative Program at Second Congregational Church, 764 Walker Ave. (across from LeMoyne-Owen College). Lunch follows at the Four-Way Grill,  corner of Walker Ave. and Mississippi Blvd. 
 Sunday, March 12, 2017  
3 p.m. Interfaith Healing  Service in memory of 
Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell and William Stewart 
at the site of the lynchings opposite 1018 N. Second St. corner of Waterworks Ave. (Rain or shine)
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This Week at  
First Congo:
(left) Rosa Mena and Paul Rhodes danced to the music of Earth, Wind & Fire at the "Positive Vibrations Concert" last Saturday, enjoying the fun along with hundreds more joyful fans (below)!
Click on these links to enjoy Sunday's worship music:
Glory with soloist David Winter 

(left) Our Children's Church enjoyed learning from Kara Bartlett-Detrie about Mardi Gras, which began as a time to "let your hair" down prior to giving something up for the more somber upcoming season of Lent.  The children also shared a King Cake - and Abby got the baby, meaning she'll have a year of good luck!


(right) Bryant Wilhite is such a blessing ... on Monday he helped Edwina Hackett bring in a large load of grocery bags for our Food Pantry.  Thanks, Bryant & Edwina!

  (above) After church last Sunday, the first gathering for "Memphis' March for Science" (supporting the science behind global warming) grew and grew until they needed the Hub to hold everybody!

Thanks to photographers & videographers,  
Roger Courts & Mark Ratay! 

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

e are asking that new volunteers attend a brief orientation session before committing to our Food Justice Ministries. The sessions last 30 t o 45 minutes, and are conducted in The Hub on Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. or other days/times by mutual agreement. For more information and to sign up for orientation, contact Mark Ratay, Director of Food Justice Ministries:

(right) Regular volunteers, Robyn and Antonio, are enjoying the help of Gail and Brian - guests this week from Beaverton, Oregon for a Freedom Journey!

(left) And two more Freedom Journeyers, Kristen and Karyn, helped Marlo sort items for the clothes closet today.

If you'd like to help provide groceries...
you can pick up the following items that are regularly needed for preparing the Community Lunches: 
- plastic grocery sacks
- 10 ounce coffee mugs
- 2-ply paper napkins
- red and green bell peppers
- celery
- yellow and white onions

 The Food Justice Ministry for February
has been given by a generous and anonymous donor. 
Also located in The Hub ...
Fair Trade Store
is OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
and after church on Sundays. 
The Week Ahead at First Congo 

Friday, February 24:
  • 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 25:   
  • 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 26:    
  • 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
  • Clear chairs and begin Sanctuary Art Change-Out for Lent:  after church in the Sanctuary
  • Intersections Potluck & Discussion:  gather after church in the Conference Center
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, February 27:

  • 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 28:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance:  4:00 - 8:00 pm in the Hub (come to the front door on Cooper Street)
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, March 1
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Ash Wednesday Service:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Thursday, March 2: 
  • 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 :
    Congregational Quarterly Meeting & Potluck Lunch   
    Sunday, March 19th in the Fellowship Hall right after morning worship 

    Pastors' Birthday Celebration! 
    Sunday, April 9th

    Easter Sunday (with Children's Egg Hunt and bringing our favorite flowers!)  
    Sunday, April 16th


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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