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Congo Beat
March 3 , 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

This season of Lent began on Ash Wednesday,
including the Imposition of Ashes from the burning of
last year's palms.  These ashes remind us that "from dust we come and to dust we will return."  We move into a season for remembering the power that death carries on us - and we confront this power directly as a way of
knowing the experience of resurrection. 

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:

Last night's Ash Wednesday service helped us enter the season of Lent, as we remembered our identity as beings made from the hand of God out of dust.   The season of Lent is a 40-day season that leads into Easter and helps us "get ready" to receive resurrection in our lives in new and powerful ways.
During our Lenten worship services, we'll be exploring the notion of power and how we use it.  This Sunday's sermon, "Power Plays" will help us begin exploring what spiritual power looks like, how it is the same or different than ways we are used to naming as "power".

And we've got some very meaningful events to help guide us through the season.  Join us for the Human Library series as we get to learn more about each other, ask questions about experiences that may be new to us, and gain insights on how we grow and develop our understandings of the life of faith!  We start off THIS Wednesday with "Living Positive (HIV+)" and one of our members will serve as our "book" for the evening.  Join us in the Conference Room (North building) at 5:30.

April 4th is remembered in deep ways each year as the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination here in Memphis.  Dr. Alvin Jackson, former pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (and our guest preacher on April 9th!) has been heading up an effort to guide us as we move into the 50th anniversary of King's death in 2018.   Dr. William Barber will come to Memphis and speak at Mississippi Boulevard on noon, April 4th, helping to inspire efforts that will move us forward towards the 50th anniversary.   Dr. Barber always inspires and his "Moral Mondays" leadership in North Carolina and is the national leader of the "Repairers of the Breach" movement.  Mark your calendars now!  

On our Lenten journey together,


A n n o u n c e m e n t s 
Did you receive your 2016 Giving Statement?
Our bookkeeper, Nikki Jones, has emailed the Giving Statements for your 2016 tax purposes, but some folks report that they have not received one.  If you gave financial gifts to the church last year and have not yet received a giving statement, please email Nikki at  **Note to couples who file jointly - if you haven't received your statement, please be sure to give us both names for our tracking of your records.  

Adult Sunday School 
The adult Sunday School class will continue the 2nd of a 3 week discussion about what it means to be a "sanctuary church".  This week's guest will be Bryce Ashby, a local attorney who specializes in civil rights, labor law, immigration, and general practice.  Our class meets on Sunday mornings at 9:45 am in the Conference Center.  Grab some coffee and join us!

Good Books, Good Friends Meets THIS Sunday 
We'll gather at the home of Sue Westmoreland (1589 Goodbar) at 5:00 pm to discuss this month's reading is Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove.  For more information contact 


Sunday, March 19th - After Church in the Hub

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

The discussion group on peace & racial justice, INTERSECTIONS, will gather Sunday, MARCH 12, at 3:00 to honor the three men who were lynched in Memphis by a white mob in March of 1892.
See the account of "The Lynching at the Curve" inserted in the service bulletin this week. We will gather shortly before 3:00 at the site of the killings, the end of Waterworks Ave, opposite 1018 N. Second St.
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) Thanks to our worship candlelighter, Sandy Smegelsky, and (below right) our layreader, Janice Hill.

(below) Thanks also to soloist Aaron Gilmer and the choir for our worship music, which you can enjoy again by clicking on
the se links:
Every Time I Feel the Spirit
My Life is In Your Hands

(right) Our Adult Sunday School class enjoyed meeting last week with Casey Bryant, a local lawyer who is active in Latino Memphis, who began our discussion about "sanctuary churches". 

We continued to be very busy after church as (below) we made record time - only 7 minutes - to haul all of our sanctuary chairs to the rear of the room to make way for the art team to complete changing our Sanctuary Art from the Season of Epiphany to Lent ...

... AND Keith Norman, Sam Griffin, Linley Schmidt and Joy Winkler installed the Lenten backdrop on the stage ...

... AND these beautiful members of our Youth Group (below: Xan Lester, Anitra Higgins, Daria Letcher, Alex Arias and Jeffrey Higgins) met with the INTERSECTIONS discussion (further below: introduced to the crowd by Lora Chatfield) to offer their feelings and thoughts about racism as they experience it in their daily lives!


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


Our Minister of Music, Dennis Whitehead Darling (left), who has been nominated for Best Director at this year's Diversity on Stage & Film Awards Dinner on Sunday night at the Buckman Performing Arts Center, for his productio n of "Mr. Ricky Calls a Meeting" at Hattilou Theater!

And to Jeffrey Higgins (right), who received Leadership Memphis'
2017 Step Up Scholar Leadership Award - representing East High School, which was presented at their 13th Annual Awards Luncheon this Wednesday!
* We are SO proud of you both! *

Check out our Bike Rides
last month!

Did you ride with us in February?  We rode East to the end of the Greenline!  We also rode West to the Edge.  And we even went a little North to restaurants along Cleveland Ave, twice. There are more rides planned for March. We hope you'll join us!  Connect at 

Thanks to photographers & videographers,  
Roger Courts & Mark Ratay! 
Here's this week's progress (above) on the restorations from our recent fire!  Our children's Sunday School room has been stripped down to bare bones and ready for rebuilding, and the ceiling in the hallway has fresh new tiles!  We've learned this week that our insurance coverage, in addition to repairing the children's rooms, is going to include repair and painting of Classroom D, the two adjoining restrooms, and our mail room! 
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. 

Total Guests for 5-day Week = 361
Average Guests per Day = 72.2
Volunteer hours worked (Café Congo only) = 115
e are asking that new volunteers attend a brief orientation session b efore 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:  

  (right) Last week, volunteer Andrea Sheehan, made 5 full trays of "meaty tomato & macaroni casserole."  All ingredients were compliments of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and 125 guests enjoyed this meal at a cost of $4.80 (for tin pans)

Miracles still are possible ...
If you'd like to help provide groceries...
you can pick up the following items that are regularly needed for the Community Lunches: 

olive oil - yellow onions - Louisiana hot sauce - whole fresh garlic - plastic grocery bags 
 The Food Justice Ministry for March has been given by
Curtis Bickers,
in honor of all those who work in our Food Justice Ministries.

"We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist,  
one-third rich and two-thirds hungry."  Jimmy Carter 
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, March 3:
  • 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, March 4:   
  • 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 5:    
  • 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
  • Youth Group:  gather in the office hallway after church
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Good Books, Good Friends:  5:00 pm at the home of Sue Westmoreland at 1589 Goodbar, 38104
Monday, March 6:

  • 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 7:
  • 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 8
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Human Library - this week's book is "Living Positive (HIV):  5:30 pm in the Conference Center
  • 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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