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Congo Beat
July 27, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

During our Children's Sermon last Sunday, we all congratulated Anitra Higgins, who grew up here at First Congo, on attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana this fall! 

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. 

Senior Pastor Cheryl is on a short vacation this week, and she will be back in church with us on THIS Sunday! 

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And from our Associate Pastor:

Dear First Congo Family and Friends, 

The chemo pack is back from Thursday until Monday. We are living with that impact on a day-to-day basis, and prepared for a range of eventualities. I have less hair than I've had, and more daily radiation treatments behind me than ahead of me. 

Bonnie Dill's visit gave Janet a little relief, and both of us enjoyed another listener for our "comedy club" antics. We easily integrated good eating, "Girls Trip," and prayers into the schedule of treatments; consequently, Bonnie's Wednesday departure left us feeling a little hollow. 

We are looking forward to Aaron Walker's arrival on Friday for a week's stay. He keeps promising to cook for me, but the bar is really high with Janet in the kitchen. 

Many, many folks keep reaching out to let me know they are my daily prayer warriors, and that is very comforting. Even better than that, many, many folks are reaching out to each other to give and to receive spiritual reinforcement. My nieces, nephews, and younger cousins are making contacts with me and each other after years of silence or parental reliance for familial connections. Long time friends are embracing unknown friends of mine. Church friends are hooking up with folks from hither, thither and yon. 

It really feels like a celebration of life is surrounding me. That's why I can be upbeat on the phone, cheerful in person, and release anything that threatens the joy we are sharing in this Season of Reunions, Reconciliations and Renewals.

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Trivia Night needs to be  CANCELLED 
for this Saturday night
We're sorry that we need to change  our Trivia game that was scheduled for this Saturday night.  Our indispensable computer specialist (Martha) has an unplanned call for extra time at work, and we know we'll be able to draw more teams in the early fall when folks aren't traveling.  So ... 

Our NEW Trivia Night date will be September 9th 
If this new date works for you, REPLY and let us know!

Sunday Morning Adult Forum 
9:45 a.m. in Classroom B
The Adult Forum will resume the discussion of "An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor at  9:45  on this Sunday, July 30th.  We hope you'll join us!

Have you been wondering if we're EVER going to get some more of the popular yard signs that we've been selling as a fundraiser after church?  Well, we ordered 100 more and they've arrived - and will be available this Sunday in the Sanctuary at our "pay what you want" price!


This Week at First Congo:

It was a good & busy day last Sunday, beginning with (left) Danny Grubbs serving watermelon that was shared by Raynor Shoaff and Donna Samuels from their wedding here the day before!

(below) The Adult Forum enjoyed viewing a powerpoint presentation and discussion on The Kitchen Community led by Emily Holmes. 

(left) Pastor Sonia and the whole congregation blessed Anitra Higgins during worship, as she will be leaving in early August for Purdue University.  Anitra grew up at First Congo, has been a very active member of our Youth Group for six years, and has served as a loving and dependable Sunday morning nursery caregiver for several years.  We'll MISS YOU, Anitra! 

(above) Right after church we had a large group at the INTERSECTIONS potluck & discussion, who are deeply interested in the presentation, led by Tami Sawyer, who heads the movement to Remove Confederate Monuments from Memphis.

As the week progressed, (above) Gretchen Winbigler and the volunteer crew of our Clothes Closet worked to keep up with the needs for summer clothing in our community. 

Rev. Eric Moeller, a UCC pastor from St. Louis, performed at our Cafe Congo Community Lunch on Monday. Eric is on a solo All-In Tour, providing live socially conscious music for groups of marginalized people. The Cafe Congo lunch crowd of more than 100, really enjoyed Eric's performance! 

Here's three cheerful youth volunteers from the "Reach Beyond Mission" service tour from the Ft. Worth, TX area helping cook, serve and deep clean this week in our Food Justice Ministries!

(below) Also this week, we held a "Freedom Journey" for this youth group from Janesville UCC in Wisconsin, (shown here during Elaine Blanchard's presentation on "Prison Stories").  Upon  their return home, we received the following message:
"... Amazing and life altering are my go to descriptors. 
Thank you for such a unique opportunity ...  I feel grateful to have been a part of the journey and have nothing but wonderful things to say about each and every moment there.  Best wishes for all the great work you are doing. So impressive!"

 Supporting Immigrant Rights
In the face of deportations in the Binghampton area of Memphis, First Congo is engaging with the i
mmigrant rights groups that are holding a vigil to demand an end to the separation of immigrant families:

On Saturday, July 29, Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz (CUUV) will hold a vigil near the CCA Mason Detention Center to demand an end to the separation of immigrant families. The vigil is a part of the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network month of action to denounce the abusive and inhumane immigration detention system. With a string of recent hunger strikes inside detention and 10 deaths in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody since the start of the fiscal year, immigration detention continues to be exposed as a fatally flawed system that needs to be shut down. 
  • What: An interfaith vigil for keeping immigrant families together and to demand an end to the abusive immigration detention system.
  • When: Saturday, July 29th, 2017 at 6:00 pm
  • Where: Mason Public Works facility at 5859-5861 Finde Naifeh Dr, Mason, TN 38049-6827. Recommended Parking at: Spirit of Truth Methodist Church, located at 186 Front St, Mason TN 38049.
  • Who: Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz (CUUV) with the support of allied organizations (Binhampton Shalom Team, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Workers Interfaith Network, Cosecha Memphis)
  • We will be leaving from Caritas Village (2509 Harvard Ave.) at 5 pm

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 

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.  

(below right) Our lunch guests this week enjoyed 24 GALLONS of delicious and COLD ice cream that was donated by Cody Fessel and Pyros Pizza, and served by volunteers visiting Memphis with the "Reach Beyond Mission" youth tour from the Ft. Worth area of Texas!  

We 3 gallons each of:
Cookies and Cream
Cake Batter
Salted Caramel
Cotton Candy
Krazy Kolors (Vanilla with bright red, yellow and blue)

Cody said, "I hope this ice cream brings a lot of smiles to peoples faces."

Our Food Justice Ministries for the month of July 
have been given by Janet Todd and Fleets Hannah
in gratitude for another birthday!

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, July 27:  
  • 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 28:  
  • 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, July 29:   
  • 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, July 30:    
  • 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
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, July 31:
  • 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 1:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Confirmation Class:  5:30 pm in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer Service:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, August 2
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Marketing Committee Meeting:  5:30 pm  in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
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 Hazelip Studio (2125 Central)
  • 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: