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Congo Beat
July 13, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

This is what happens at First Congo!
We sent an email at 9pm on Tuesday that we needed towels & wash cloths for a large group coming to stay with us last night - and by 2pm Wednesday we had an abundance! (photo: This is just a fraction of what arrived.) 
"Ask and you shall receive!"  

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: 
We were well-represented last night at a gathering in BInghampton, discussing ways that we could be supportive of the immigrant community in Memphis at a time when deportations of undocumented people are becoming more common.   

First Congo members and folks from Binghampton have been partnering -- and building a network -- of church people who are able and willing to help.  Representatives from Evergreen Presbyterian, Neshoba Unitarian and Balmoral Presbyterian have joined.

How can we help?  There are several practical ways.  I'll have a list available soon, but you can help people get to appointments, accompany them as they get fingerprinted (often required by ICE), or be available to accompany people as they go to required ICE interviews.  This is where some deportations have occurred and family members get no notice that someone has been arrested and "taken".  We are looking at ways to create a "rapid response team" and also to push city leaders to create a city identification that immigrants could use.  Let me know if you're interested in learning more about how to get involved.

And join us for the second discussion of  On Tyranny  this Saturday morning at 10:30!  We had a great discussion last week but you'll be able to join in easily, even if you couldn't attend.


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

Radiation treatments for me begin with a change into two hospital gowns in a gown-robe style, then lying in my waist down, body mold, placed on a table. An oval, synthetic  ring is placed in my hands to anchor me for fifteen minutes or so. The lighted, decorated ceiling is a mural of a sunny day under cherry blossom branches.  I automatically place myself in Washington, D.C.  Initially, I filled the time with mental exercises. 

That got familiar fast, so I began closing my eyes and thinking about people in clusters: family, friends, annoying spirits, people I need to forgive, people whom I need to forgive me, people who make me laugh hysterically, quiet-presence people, people who...  Soon, before I could complete my groupings, the nurses were standing over me again, rearranging my hospital gowns, making marks on my hips, speaking in medical language with numbers and words that meant nothing to me, then turning on the lights.  It's over! I refuse their assistance and lift myself to sitting position.  

Lying with no movement is a real challenge.  Last Friday I took another object to see if it could be substituted.  For my 80 th birthday, a loving couple in Anguilla gave me two gifts.  She, the passionate traveler, attended the multi-generational and long-timers celebration in D.C.  He, the artist and reluctant traveler, carved a mahogany cross that she deliver into my hand, raw, wrapped only in the markings of nature.  Frankly, I am not a "cross" person, but THAT cross fits perfectly with my hands for the new anchor during my daily radiation treatments.

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
TRIVIA NIGHT in 2 Weeks!
Saturday, July 29th, at 6pm
6 players per team - $20 per person
Bring your own beverages & snacks
It's TIME to SIGN-UP your Team
Here's our question-master, Sherrie Walker, inviting you to this favorite fundraiser she's been leading for 10 years, raising more than $20,000 for First Congo ministries ... because it's SO MUCH FUN!  Reply to this newsletter ASAP to let us know you'd like to register a team, or get added to a team!

Adult Forums 
Sund ays at 9:45 a.m. in Classroom B
On Sunday July 16, the Adult Forum will offer an opportunity for people to choose a topic of interest for a future class.  Come and join us as we consider possible topics for future sessions of the Forum! 

 On Tyranny Book Discussion
Join Pastor Cheryl tomorrow morning
Saturday, July 15, at 10:30 am in Classroom B
Author, Timothy Snyder is a Holocaust scholar, and he's put his scholarship to work in a very practical way, naming plain and decisive actions that we can take to fight repression and oppression in our civic life.  Most of his recommendations speak to a way of living that is conscientious and determined - making eye contact, saying "hello" to strangers, being thoughtful about language . . . As he says, "The minor choices we make are themselves a kind of vote.  Our words and gestures, or their absence, count very much."  This is the 2nd of two discussions, and you don't have to have attended the 1st to enjoy the 2nd.

After church THIS Sunday in Pastor Cheryl's office

NO Tuesday Evening Prayer Service  
Rev. Catherine Dixon is attending the Academy for Spiritual Formation in northwest Missouri next week, and so she will not be here to lead this weekly service on July 18th.  We will resume on Tuesday, July 25th - please join us at 6:00 pm in the Sanctuary.

INTERSECTIONS:  Potluck & Discussion 
after church NEXT Sunday, July 23rd

Tami Sawyer, who heads the movement to Remove Confederate Monuments from Memphis, will lead the discussion at our July 23 gathering.  Ms. Sawyer has been active in local politics and in Black LIves Matter. We'll begin our meeting with a light potluck meal following worship and will conclude by 2:00 p.m.  Bring a friend!    For more information, contact Carrie Moore Black (737-5712) or Gail Murray (359-1813). 

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! 

This Week at First Congo:

Thanks to our worship assistants last Sunday, (left) Maxie Maxwell was our layreader and (right) Tim Taylor lit our worship candle to begin the service.  Click on the links below to enjoy the anthem and offertory music:

(above) Pastor Sonia offered a traveling blessing to Ingrid Tonning Olsson as she heads home to Sweden for the rest of the summer.  Ingrid now lives in Memphis for post-doctoral work at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and she expressed to us that First Congo has been an important part of her feeling "at home" in Memphis!

This enthusiastic group is from Grace St. Luke's Episcopal Church here in midtown Memphis!  They spent 4 nights in our group housing as they explored how "Memphis Can Change the World" -- which is what their t-shirts say.  They enjoyed ending their retreat by joining us for worship!

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

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

Custodian:  Juan Salter 
Custodian:  Bryant Wilhite

Maintenance:  Mark Allen

Events Assistant: 
Danny Grubbs

Housekeeping: 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 

Many of the groups that stay with us offer to do service projects ... and last week this wonderful mission group from University Christian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, who stayed with us for six nights cleaned & sealed our north deck!  Just ask Mark Allen what a gift this was!

THANKS to our volunteer photographers & videographers, Mark Ratay & Roger Courts.

Special Activities in Art & Design! 

"A Place at the Table"
There's a lot going on in our Art & Design Ministry these days!  At left is Joy Winkler, who is inviting us to join her on Sunday mornings at coffee hour before church to participate in painting exciting, beautiful and earth-friendly placemats that are sold as a fundraiser for our Food Justice Ministries.  Join us at 9:00 for a cup of fair trade coffee, a paintbrush, and a bit of guidance!

 Painting artist, DaMarco Randle, is hosting another popular Art Party on July 21st.  Reply to this email for more information about this and future Art Parties!

Come see the unveiling of Rahn's 2017 Cooper Young Festival Poster at the  Kickoff Party on August 3rd  at Haizlip Studio (2125 Central Avenue) from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.  Be one of the first to see this year's poster and original art, and enjoy live music, food & beverage!

(right) Rahn Marion with our 
Art Ministries Director, Sam Griffin

From the Cooper Young Business Association Press Release:  
Our poster artist, Rahn Marion, is a native Memphian and graduated from MICA Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.   He majored in painting with a concentration in film.   While in Maryland, his work has been shown at MICA's Main Gallery and Lazarus Building as well as other places in Maryland such as Platform Gallery and Gallery CA.   Since moving back to Memphis, he has received five medals in the Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards Ceremony and has been in numerous shows.   Rahn designed Memphis Tennessee's first skate park logo at Tobey Skatepark and is involved with the SkateLifeMemphis organization.   He now works at First Congregational Church as a Hostel Memphis RA and in their Art Ministry Program.
This year's poster art highlights our diversity as a neighborhood and our iconic railroad trestle.   Rahn believes that the trestle art work welcomes everyone into our popular neighborhood.   He said, "How could someone not feel welcome when you see something so unique that has been built and placed in an area where it can be embraced for years and generations to come."

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.  

Our Food Justice Ministries for the month of July 
has been gifted by Janet Todd & Fleetis Hannah
in gratitude for another birthday!

Also located in The Hub ...
Check out our  Men's Batik Shirts that are  much-loved by the men of First Congo (and beyond!!). They are all-cotton shirts, dress collar, button front with a front pocket and side slits.  We sell them for $36.50 at:

Fair Trade Store

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

Here's What's Coming Up ...  

Thursday, July 13:  
  • 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, July 14:  
  • 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, July 15:   
  • 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
  • Book Discussion with Pastor Cheryl - On Tyranny:  10:30 am in Classroom B
Sunday, July 16:    
  • 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 Meeting:  After church in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, July 17:
  • 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, July 18:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00am - 1:00pm
  • NO Tuesday Evening Prayer this evening (We will resume NEXT Tuesday at 6pm)
Wednesday, July 19
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Confirmation Class:  5:30 pm in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Thursday, July 20: 
  • 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

Trivia Night!
Saturday, July 29th, 6pm

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