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Congo Beat
March 23 , 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 


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 Pastor:

What a powerful time this is to be a Christian!  Our witness is needed in so many places, in so many different ways . . . In the midst of threatened budget cuts and healthcare repeals at the national levels of government, I feel so, so blessed to be part of a community of resistance - a community under Christ that calls for justice!   

A lot is happening as we approach Holy Week and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Our Adult Forum on Sunday mornings has been looking at how we might support immigrants in our community who are being threatened and put at risk by ICE and national policies.  We are open to naming ourselves as a sanctuary church, but realized that the real work is in supporting immigrants as they find themselves right now.  We are not hearing requests or need for "sanctuary" as some churches are providing in other cities.   Right now, we'd like to form a Task Force so that we can participate in community dialogue with immigrants, learn more of what services are needed and how we can be of help.  Are you interested in serving on this Task Force?  Let me know!  It would be helpful to have some folks fluent in Spanish, but a sense of calling to be in partnership with this community is the real requirement! 

Looking ahead, mark your calendar for Tuesday, April 4th as we commemorate the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.  There's a rally featuring Rev. Dr. William Barber at noon at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (see flyer below).  Mark your calendars now!  Just scheduled yesterday - our choir will be performing at the demonstration for justice and labor rights with Rev. Barber later that day - at 4:30 pm at City Hall.

We have some unique ways to strengthen our understanding of what it meant for those first disciples to have high expectations for justice and social transformation, so visible on Palm Sunday as Jesus entered Jerusalem (which we'll observe April 9th); only to 
hear Jesus talk about the hard work of caring for each other (Maundy Thursday's footwashing service) and his brutal crucifixion (Good Friday).  The expected agendas were totally thrown upside down - but on Easter, we remember that God has the final say - and God's "say" for the world is new life and justice for all!

A n n o u n c e m e n t s

Bending the Arc:  Tuesday, April 4th marks the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in Memphis.  This year, several special events mark the day.  The Rev. Dr. William Barber, organizer of "Moral Mondays" in North Carolina and a national leader for civil rights and justice efforts,  will preach at a special rally at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church at noon.  This rally is the beginning of a national effort as we approach the 50th anniversary of King's killing in 2018.  We hope to enable the attendance of many of our community  lunch guests as possible.  If you can offer a ride from First Congo to Mississippi Boulevard at 11:30 that day, please contact Mark Ratay.
This Sunday's Adult Forum  
This coming Sunday morning, March 26th, the Adult Forum (our new name - changed from "Adult Sunday School") will begin a series on Islam.  The discussion will be led by Emily Holmes at 9:45 am in the large conference room.

(above) Last night our "human library book" titled  Transgender in Memphis , was Emerson Kirkpatrick!   We hope you'll join us in the Conference Center next Wednesday for our 4th human book: My Life as a Missionary !

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 


Let's help Steph with Food Prep!
Our birthday luncheon for 250 people on April 9th is being coordinated by "Chef Steph" Rollen and she NEEDS OUR HELPING HANDS in the preparations - and it'll be FUN to work together in our wonderful kitchen!   Please let us know (reply to this newsletter) if you can help at one of these times:
Friday, April 7th at 3:00 pm
Saturday, April 8th at 1:00 pm

Holy Week Schedule:
  • April 9 - Palm Sunday: Pastors' Celebration & Luncheon
  • April 13 - Maundy Thursday Foot Washing Service at 6pm
  • April 14 - Good Friday Tenebrae Service at 6pm
  • April 16 - Easter Sunday:  Children's Egg Hunt at 10am, Worship at 10:30 am

Special Easter Gifts & Plans:
  1. On Easter Sunday our morning begins with our Annual Children's Easter Egg Hunt!  Please start bringing plastic eggs filled with candy to the Sanctuary!
  2. Bring a stem of your favorite flowers to church.  We'll create gorgeous bouquets to celebrate the diversity of this congregation!  You can take some flowers back home with you as a reminder of the gifts you receive from this community!
  3. Rather than purchasing Easter Lilies, we invite you to share an Easter Gift for our Food Justice Ministries - even these small amounts make a huge difference:
    • $1 will provide one fresh homemade community lunch
    • $3 will provide one household's visit to our food pantry
    • $100 will provide one day's community lunch for everybody who comes!

This Week at First Congo:   

Our Congregational Potluck & Quarterly Meeting last Sunday in the Hub, led by our Church Moderator, Teddy Crum, was well-attended and tasty!  

(left) We appreciate our staff bookkeeper, Nikki Jones, and Finance Chair, Janet McCraw Rubenstein, who presented a balanced budget that we can understand!

(below left) And thanks to the service of our hospitality volunteers: Joe Pfeiffer, Jamilyn Cole, Angela Moore (Hospitality Chair) and Danny Grubbs, we all enjoyed a hearty potluck buffet for our congregational lunch! 

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

Amy Shaw  

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Child Caretakers: 

Xan Lester  

Anitra Higgins
Pilgrim House Hostel Staff 
Kim Kamga, Manager
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach
MaryPat Harris
(left) CHEERS to this unsung heroine, Church Secretary Angela Richards, who diligently takes minutes at all of the Congregational Meetings and the monthly Mission Council Meetings!  

(right) Did you get a chance to see David Weinrich, who moved to Philadelphia a couple years ago - at church last Sunday?  It's not surprising that he was captured in this photo mopping up some rain water in the Global Goods store, because David has always gravitated to helping out and he knows where the mop is! 

(left) Geo Lopez -Kelly and her beautiful baby daughter, Alegria, enjoyed an after-church visit with Pamela McFarland, Nicole Davila and Rosa Mena. 

(right)  Here's a photo of one of our cheerful dinner groups!  In front is Kevin Williams, and from left are DaMarco Randle, Emma Wilson, Alan  Herbers, TrishGeodecke, David Siefker, Lauren Crowder and Annie - the Manager of Izakaya Restaurant!

(left) At staff meeting, Pastor Sonia blessed our Office Manager, Brenda Nichols, who began chemotherapy treatment today.  Brenda will continue her work hours as much as she's able over the next few months while Joe Pfeiffer and Bill Tupis help with day-to-day office duties. You can send Brenda a note of support at  

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

(right) Freedom Journey students from Purdue University were a HUGE HELP last Friday, preparing food for the following week, stocking the pantry, and serving the Cafe  Congo guests.
If you'd like to help provide groceries - please pick up the following items that are regularly needed for our lunches:
- olive oil
- 1 gallon and quart size Ziplock bags
- mayonnaise
- dessert sized paper plates
- Louisiana Hot Sauce
- milk
- stick butter

 The Food Justice Ministry for March  has been given by Curtis Bickers,
honoring all who work in our Food Justice Ministries.

"There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them 
except in the form of bread"  (Mahatma Gandhi)


Also located in The Hub ...

Fair Trade Store
is OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
& after church on Sundays. 
Here's What's Coming Up ...

Friday, March 24: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and theFood Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • MAGY Meeting:  7:00 - 10:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall
Saturday, March 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, March 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
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, March 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, March 28:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance:  4 - 8 pm in the Hub (come to front door on Cooper St)
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, March 29
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Human Library - this week's book is "My Life as a Missionary":  5:30 pm in the Conference Center
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Thursday, March 30: 
  • 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 :
    Pastors' Birthday Celebration! 
    Sunday, April 9th

    Maundy Thursday Service of Foot Washing
    Thursday, April 13th

    Good Friday Tenebrae Service - Extinguishing the Lights
    Friday, April 14th

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

    Cooper Young Festival   
    Saturday, September 16th

    Taste of Cooper Young
    Thursday, October 5


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
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 

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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