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Congo Beat
July 6, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

  Jamilyn & Angela Cole
Married at First Congo on Saturday, July 1st!

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.

Photos above from our National UCC Synod 2017 meeting.    
Notes from our Pastors: 
I want to share with you that we have a transition coming in our Food Justice ministries!  I was sad to receive Mark Ratay's letter of resignation last week.  Mark has brought  wonderful leadership and energy to our food ministries since he stepped into this position and we are extraordinarily grateful for his service to our congregation and the wider community!

I can't let myself be too disappointed, though, because Mark will be moving into work that he's trained for and is much needed. Mark is an attorney and in response to a great need in our area for more attorneys to help with immigration issues, he will be opening his practice to do just that.  It is exciting to think of the new ways he will be serving at a time when there is such need among the immigrant community.

Mark will be with us until July 28th, so we'll have time to say "thanks" and wish him well in his new calling.

I am happy to report that Steph Rollen will be taking over staff leadership of our Food Justice ministries at that time!  We know Steph from her work on so many projects around the church.  She is a professional cook and caterer and has been dedicated to the work of our food justice ministries for years now.  She and Mark will have time to work together this month to bring about a smooth transition, and I know that her gifts will serve us well.  We're keeping them both in our hearts and prayers during this time of transition!


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Dear First Congo Family and Friends,

The party's over, it's time to call it a fight!  

I got rid of my chemo pump Monday, but Tuesday I had a tongue infection that almost shut me down from talking.  Imagine that!  Thank God, my medical oncologist responded quickly, sent me flying to the pharmacy Wednesday, and Janet drenched me in all kinds of brews and remedies to strengthen my immune system.  It was also the day I was awarded my ONCOLOGY Patient Parking Permit.  A handicapped placard won't hack it.  THIS is the real deal!

Wednesday also had heartwarming highlights.  We reinstituted the Reflection Time before serving lunch in CafĂ© Congo, on the day we reopened The Hub with our newly tiled floor.  We have five creative, spiritually centered volunteers for each day, and Carrie Moore Black is coordinating that schedule.  Guests, volunteers and staff were very receptive.  After introducing the change, I dashed to radiation.

The premium moment was visiting with the Confirmation students to explain why I needed to leave early, and participate sporadically.  Kara Bartlett-Prescott and Dominic Holmes-Haught were absolutely in tune and on point from my first sentence. I had an opportunity to say I have treasured them personally and their families a long time; witnessing this chapter in their personal relationship with God brings deep joy to me.  Thanks for that window, Pastor Cheryl.

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Adult Forums 
Sund ays at 9:45 a.m. in Classroom B
You're invited each Sunday to pick up a cup of coffee and walk around the corner to join our Adult Forums! If you have young children, our Nursery for babies & toddlers and Sunday School for Elementary ages begins also at 9:45 in the rooms next door! 

 On Tyranny 
Join us for a Book Discussion with Pastor Cheryl
THIS Saturday & Next, July 8 & 15, at 10:30 am
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 will be an important discussion during this confusing & difficult time in our history.

Newcomers Gathering 
If you're new to First Congo and would like to meet our Pastors and some of our church leaders, and to learn more about this church, please plan to join us for a short meeting right after church on Sunday, July 9th, in Pastor Cheryl's office.

After church NEXT Sunday in Pastor Cheryl's office

Immigration Support Meeting
Our next gathering to discuss ways we can be supportive of the Immigrant community will be on Wednesday, July 12th, at 6:00 pm at Caritas Village, 2322 North Merton.

Summer Trivia Night

We have 5 teams registered so far!  Make YOUR reservations for our ever-popular Trivia Night on Saturday, July 29th.  Put together your team of six players, or register to be added to growing team by emailing replying to this newsletter or email The cost to play is $20 per person & bring your own snacks & beverages!

Strength in Numbers! 
Have you chosen YOUR NUMBER(s) for your Pentecost Gift this year?

In our sanctuary you'll find the large Strength-in-Numbers board, covered with small envelopes numbering 1 to 250.  We're all invited to think of a number that is special to us:  maybe the ages of our grandchildren, a house number for a place we loved; the date of a wedding anniversary or our parent's birthday ... and not to worry if someone else took your number - you can take several envelopes that add up to get to your total.  Please put your gift of this amount in the envelope(s) and place them in the offering plate at church - or you may mail-in your gift, or even make your donation online at - just be sure to note "Strength-in-Numbers" so we'll know your intention. 

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 Lisa Gaddy, who is willing and very able to step into our Music Director spot when Dennis is away!  If you'd like to enjoy last week's anthems again, just click here:

(left) How nice to see these folks in church last Sunday ... Nancy Wiers and Laura Harris with their daughter, Ari, and good friend, Steve Garcia!

(right)  Another thanks to Arnie Ellison for sharing his artistic skills!  He's just brought in the "old coffee table made new" that he painted to add to the new counseling room.  The painting on the wall was also painted by Arnie as a memorial gift about 10 years ago.

(below) Speaking of artistic gifts, here's a group of happy art students at last week's Art Party, hosted by DaMarco Randall and our Art & Design Ministries!  If you're interested learning some painting skills, watch for announcements about upcoming Art Parties!

Have you seen more and more of these signs around town?  That's because we sent 30 of them out into our community through the gift of an anonymous donor, which raised over $500!  Here's the one at Keith Norman's house.  If you have one of these in your yard - send us a photo!

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

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.  

If you'd like to help provide groceries - please pick up the following items that are regularly needed for our lunches:

- olive oil           
- regular Ranch Salad Dressing
- stick butter      
- plastic grocery bags
- milk                 
- yellow or white onions
- celery             
- tomatoes

(right) Just today this new floor was completed in the back hallway entrance to the Hub by our cheerful tiling team - Mark, Benjamin & Tim!
Our Food Justice Ministries for the month of July 
has been gifted by Janet Todd & Fleets 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 6:  
  • 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 7:  
  • 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 8:   
  • 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 9:    
  • 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
  • Newcomers Gathering:  After church in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, July 10:
  • 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 11:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, July 12
  • 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, 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

Trivia Night!
Saturday, July 29th

    Cooper Young Festival   

Saturday, September 16th
Taste of Cooper Young
Thursday, October 5th


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: