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Congo Beat
March 30 , 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:

Our Community Lunches are truly that -- community-forming gatherings!  The volunteers who help come from our congregation, but also now from a variety of places!   They are students, they are seniors, they are Catholics and Protestants and No Particular Religion At Alls . . .   They just want to be somewhere that connects them positively to deep human need. 
We really want to try to do something special next Tuesday to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th and that's to help our Community Lunch participants to hear Dr. William Barber preach at the rally over at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church at noon.  We want to provide bread for the body - but we know that this will also be "bread for the soul".  So many of the injustices that Dr. Barber speaks of are the lived experiences of our lunch guests . . . We want them to hear his message and feel empowered.

SO . . . we're changing formats for next Tuesday - serving a simple lunch of sand wiches from 11:00 - 11:30, and then having carpools to take folks over to Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (located in midtown: 70 North Bellevue).
If you can help, please respond to this email so we know we can count on you.

Later that day, our choir will be part of a rally with Dr. Barber and the "Fight for 15" campaign in front of City Hall.   Be there to support this effort for justice - and our choir - at 4:30 p.m.

April 4th is a very full day - and it moves us into Holy Week the following Sunday - Palm Sunday.  Let God speak to  you in new ways through the testimo nies of the ancient and modern prophets - and the story of Jesus' passion and resurrection.

A Very Special Visitor this Week ...

Dolores Huerta (above, center), founder of the United Farm Workers Union with César Chávez in 1966,  visited First Congo on Tuesday through her association with our shared space partner, Workers Interfaith Network.  She is in Memphis for the screening of the documentary DOLORES The Fight Continues, a narrative of the defiant Hispanic feminist, followed by a conversation with the esteemed activist at the National Civil Rights Museum. The film tells how Ms. Huerta fought tirelessly alongside César Chavez for racial and labor justice to become one of the most influential labor leaders of the twentieth century, despite the obstacles of male chauvinism.  It is such an honor to have Ms. Huerta visit our church! 


A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Cash Crunch!  Can you help?
Note from our Bookkeeper and Treasurers:  Our cash flow is always tight, but we're facing a few special challenges right now as quarterly bills comes due - insurance, etc.   Keeping up with your church giving REALLY makes a difference to us - and if you can give a little extra right now, it would help.  Thanks!

"Bending the Arc"  
NEXT Tuesday, April 4th marks the anniversary of Rev. Dr. 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 REPLY to this newsletter and let us know how many you can carry in your vehicle!

Ron (at left with Arnie Ellison) is the Artist Intern of First Congo's Art Ministry Program, working with Sam Griffin.  He hosts our Open Art Studio sessions, which everyone is invited to attend on Mondays and Thursdays from 6pm-9pm.  He previously went to Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and majored in painting, with a concentration in film, and graphic design.  Ron is also one of the Resident Advisors in our Hostel Memphis (formerly called Pilgrim House Hostel).  He is a Memphis native, and is happy to be back and doing what he loves in a thriving and positive environment like First Congo :)
This Sunday's Adult Forum  
The Adult Forum will continue a discussion of Islam for the next two weeks, April 2nd & 9th. The forum meets in the conference room at 9:45 am.

Good Books, Good Friends
Sue Westmoreland is hoping to all of her reading friends this Sunday evening at 5:00 pm at her home (1589 Goodbar) to discuss this month's reading,  COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett, with thanks in advance to Cindy Tupis for facilitating!

(above) Last night our "human library book" titled My Life as a Missionary , was our Church Moderator, Teddy Crum!   We're enjoying such a wonderful Lenten series of hearing the stories of our own congregation, and we hope you'll join us in the Conference Center next Wednesday for our LAST human book this season: Ghost Whisperer.

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 


Next Weekend is Food Prep Time!
WOW - we had NINE folks sign up last Sunday to help Steph Rollen (our chef and meal planner for the Pastors' Birthday Luncheon) with food prep for 250 guests ... and this is a wonderful start!   There's still need for more helping hands, so pease let us know (REPLY to this newsletter or put it on your yellow Congo Connection sheet at worship) if you can come to the church kitchen to help for a few hours at one of these times:
Friday, April 7th at 3:00 pm
Saturday, April 8th at 1:00 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 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
Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga, Manager
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach
MaryPat Harris
Holy Week Schedule:

April 9 - Palm Sunday Worship, followed immediately with our Pastors' Celebration & Luncheon

April 13 - Maundy Thursday Communion and Foot Washing Service at 6pm

April 14 - Good Friday Tenebrae Service (Extinguishing of Lights) at 6pm


April 16 - Easter Sunday:  Children's Egg Hunt at 10am, Worship at 10:30 am


Special Easter Gifts & Plans:
  • On Easter Sunday our morning begins with our Annual Children's Easter Egg Hunt!  Please start bringing plastic eggs filled with can dy to the Sanctuary when you come to church!
  • Bring a stem of your favorite flowers to church.  We'll create gorgeous bouquets to celebrate the diversity of this congregation!  
  • In lieu of 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 provides one home cooked community lunch
    • $3 provides a household visit to our food pantry
    • $100 provides one day's community lunch for everybody who comes!

This Week at First Congo:   

(left) Here's a beautiful shot of Pastor Sonia with fun friends Dana Voorhees and Richard Vannucci!

(right) Thanks to Anthony Striker for his help preparing our bulletins last Sunday.

(left) Our Tuesday Evening Prayer Services during this Season of Lent have focused on Biblical themes found in the Aramaic translations of "The Beatitudes" from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-11. Led by Rev. Catherine Dixon in the Sanctuary at 6:00 pm.    
(right) O ur first fully-renovated casualty from the recent fire is the MAIL ROOM - it's so convenient and looks great!  It has been cleaned, painted, and has a new ceiling. Volunteer office assistant, Joe Pfeiffer, has reorganized this space into a favorite spot of staff & partners!

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 11am till 1pm.  
The Freedom Journey group from Franklin College in Indiana LOVED Mark Ratay's presentation yesterday morning about our Food Justice Ministries, and they LOVED helping out with our community lunches and food pantry!  Several students who've worked in "soup kitchens" remarked that this is the most extensive and excellent food ministry they've ever seen!

If you'd like to help provide groceries - please pick up the following items that are regularly needed for our lunches:
- olive oil
- stick butter 
- milk
- yellow or white onions
- celery
- tomatoes 
- plastic grocery bags 

The Food Justice Ministry for April has been given by 
Rev. Sonia Louden Walker ...
"This gift is dedicated to people who share their gifts generously and do their best daily."

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 31: 
  • 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, April 1:   
  • 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, April 2:    
  • Adult Forum:  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.
  • Youth Group Meeting:  Gather after church in the main hallway
  • 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, April 3:

  • 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, April 4:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Volunteers driving lunch guests to Mississippi Boulevard Church to hear Rev. Dr. William Barber:  11:30 am - right after lunch
  • First Congo Choir Singing at City Hall for Labor Action:  4:30 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, April 5
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Human Library - this week's book is "Ghost Whisperer":  5:30 pm in the Conference Center
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Thursday, April 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

Looking a bit Further Ahead -  

Mark Your Calendars for these upcoming events in the next few weeks & months :
    Palm Sunday & Pastors' Birthday Celebration Luncheon! 
    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 

 Hostel Memphis & 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: