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Congo Beat
March 9, 2018

First Congregational
United Church of Christ

1000 South Cooper
Memphis, TN  38104 

This is what progress looks like!
A large portion of the Hub ceiling has been removed for repairs to the steel beams, and it's quite shocking to see ... Mark is walking under the floor of the Nursery in this photo.

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.


Daylight Savings Time
Begins THIS Saturday Night -
So be sure to turn your clocks FORWARD one hour!

A Note from our Senior Pastor:
null Whenever I pass the beautiful daffodils in bloom by our church, I think of Hutton and Lolly Easley and the lasting gift they made to First Congregational as they enabled so much beauty to come forth at our church!  Hutton and Lolly live in the Washington DC area now, but they are part of our family, in every sense of the word, with their presence felt especially in these days of spring blossoms! 
Those daffodils remind me that each of us makes a difference in ways we may not even imagine.  

Our week began with the sound of jack-hammers taking out the floor that has separated the Hub from the church offices.  A major section of our office hallway is "off limits" because there is, quite literally, no floor on which to stand!  We have been grateful for shared space partners who have not complained about this disarray, our guests who have moved without complaint through the space to find alternate rooms, bathrooms and accommodations.  Between the damage of September's fire and the leaks of February's extensive rain, our building has struggled to keep pace with the active calendar we have.  People and their attitudes make the difference!  Folks have really stepped up to make sure that we use this as a time to strengthen our ministries -- and not retreat.

We've been seeing the "deconstructive" work for months now.  I think we are weeks away -- as Easter comes -- from reconstruction and it will be really exciting to see new floors, freshly-painted walls, and have a sense of new possibilities that come with the renovated space.

This week, we prepare to welcome two Freedom Journey groups and this begins a month of visitors to our building -- students, mainly, who are coming to Memphis to grow and learn.  We've been preparing!  The Hostel staff is ready; our new Women's Bathroom is in the very last stages of renovation.  We've come up with service projects; we've negotiated lunches and sleeping arrangements and made sure we have enough towels and program leaders to make the week wonderfully positive.  

A new "Heal the Panes" campaign begins as we move towards Easter.  Afro-Latinx advocate Rosa Clemente will speak in our sanctuary Saturday night.  Rev. Traci Blackmon of our own UCC Peace and Justice ministries witness, will be our Moral Mondays speaker on Monday night at Temple Israel.  Our Adult Forum continues to study the sermons of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gap Boxes have been made ready to distribute to Memphis school children so that they have food over spring break (see below).  Our beehives are humming!  
Life is good -- and we make it that way -- each of us through sharing our individual callings, gifts and resources!   And come to the Congregational meeting next Sunday (March 18th) after worship to learn more about how we do what we do and find ways to engage!


We appreciate Jackie Nerren,  who is sponsoring the Food Justice Ministries for the month of March, in memory of her parents, 
Carl & Willoma Nerren.


Click here for more information and to make your reservations to attend Moral Monday in Memphis!

Children's Programs  will meet again this Sunday in the Fellowship Hall
Since there is heavy construction in the area near our children's room, we will hold Sunday School and Children's Church in the Fellowship Hall until we get the all-clear that it's safe to go back upstairs!

Happening at First Congo on Tomorrow Night:
We have a few seats left at the First Congo table - REPLY to this newsletter to inquire!

Adult Forum
The Adult Forum will continue our series of discussions on the legacy of Dr. King leading up to the MLK50 celebrations in April.  Join us at 9:45 a.m. in the 12-step meeting room, located near the Fellowship Hall below the Sanctuary.  Coffee is available in the Sanctuary before class.

First Congo, along with about 35 other congregations and organizations, is a member of MICAH -- Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope. Their goal is to empower faith-based groups to initiate and foster local social justice programs identified by members.  Twelve members of First Congo went through training last weekend, and member Lora Chatfield is currently attending a national training event.  During the spring, they will be holding one-on-one interviews with other congregation members to learn problems we think need addressing in the city.    Anyone  interested in learning more about MICAH is invited to attend the next monthly meeting on  March 13, 7:00, at Idlewild Presbyterian Church  on Union.   Contact Gail Murray, 359-1813.

Congregational Quarterly Meeting  & Potluck Lunch
next Sunday - March 18 - in the Fellowship Hall
This is a time to hear the latest on what's going on at First Congo ... the fire renovations, upcoming events, the budget ... and we always enjoy a wonderful potluck lunch with plenty of options for vegetarians!

Global Goods - Still Importing Steel!
With all this talk about tariffs and the cost of steel, we have stocked up on our cool Haitian steel drum art!  We have more in now and more coming.  It is great indoors and for patios/fences/balconies.  This is a Tree of Life design.   Come visit Global Goods at our pop-up shop at the rear of the sanctuary before and after church every Sunday!


NEWS from Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op
We expanded our Members' workshop hours, we are now open on Fridays, and we're trying to have more consistent hours on consecutive days!  Bike parking is available on the Cooper side of First Congo, and w e are served by MATA bus #2 and #35 ...  Use the TransLoc app or  MATA Traveler  to plan you route and track  real-time bus arrivals.

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:   Steph Rollen
Revolutions Bicycle Co-op  
Director: Sylvia Crum    
Minister of Art: 
Rahn 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 
Facilities Consultant: 
Mark Allen

Maintenance:   Tim Allen 

Housekeeping:  Amy Shaw 

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Nursery Care: 

Xan Lester  

Ella Mynatt
Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga,  Manager 
Hostel Resident Advisors:
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Parks Dlugach
Ahmad Hill
Ansley Allen

Hours for Retail, Service, Rentals:            Workshop Hours for Members:
Thursdays 2:00-9:00                                   Thursdays 6:00-9:00
Fridays 2:00-7:00                                        Fridays 2:00-7:00
Saturdays 8:30-3:30                                    Sundays 2:00-6:00
Sundays 2:00-6:00                                      Mondays 6:00-9:00
Mondays 2:00-9:00

The next big SWAP  SUNDAY is  April 15.  So start going through those bookshelves, closets and drawers for gently used items that you don't need any more --  and that other church folks might.  Only rules - NO CLOTHES PLEASE, NOTHING BIGGER THAN A COPIER PAPER BOX.  And no excuses -- we're going to remind you EVERY WEEK TIL THEN.

This Week at First Congo:
(left) We're always grateful to Rev. Joe Pfeiffer, who often steps in for Pastor Sonia in worship when she is away on a Sunday.


(right) Our church moderator, Sue Westmoreland, lit the candle to begin our worship this week.

(left) Thanks to Catherine Dixon for sharing "Better than a Hallelujah Sometimes", accompanied by and in duet with Brennan Villines (below right).

(left) Kevin Williams and Joy Winkler invited folks to join the next Art Party with DaMarco Randle on Friday, March 16th.

On the first Sunday of each month we share the Sacrament of Communion.

(left) The Senior Youth Group - Ella Mynatt, Jeffrey Higgins and Xan Lester - enjoyed lunch at Young Ave Deli after church last Sunday with leaders, Julia Hicks and Angela Richards.  

(below) Here's another perspective of the missing floor between Pastor Sonia's office and the Hub!  The steel floor beam that is exposed is the major structural piece that was distorted by the heat of the fire and it will be replaced, which clearly is a major undertaking. 

And this photo (left) is titled "Pastors Without Offices" as I turned the corner and found this surprising scenero! 

Thanks to Mark Ratay for helping gather photographs this week!

Holy Week Schedule & Easter Events

Palm Sunday - March 25
Holy Week begins on Palm/Passion Sunday with a parade, a celebration -- and we remember that joy we feel when we are hoping for something deeply and it feels like it may come true!

Maundy Thursday - March 29
As the week goes on, we deal with the way that naive hope often fails, and something stronger has to take its place.  We see the power of community in our Maundy Thursday service of footwashing and communion.  We do something that feels a little awkward -- washing each other's feet -- as a way of remembering that compassion, care and community-building often requires vulnerable gestures.

Good Friday - March 30
On Good Friday, we extinguish light, literally, and  many of us can think of times in our lives when it feels like the "lights have gone out" and hope is gone.

Easter - April 1
And then Easter, which we enter with hope that has become stronger, willing to take risks, willing to face confrontation with a world that seems bent on death and  destruction.

Special Easter Events:
Children's Easter Egg Hunt - please bring plastic eggs filled with treats between now and Easter morning. 
You may bring them to the sanctuary where we will collect them until Easter morning, when the egg hunting begins at 10:00 on the front lawn! 

Easter Flowers - Each year, we celebrate the diversity of our congregation and re-dedicate our efforts for equality and justice for all people by asking everybody to bring at least one bloom of their favorite flower on Easter morning ... which will be gathered together in fabulous bouquets of many colors for our Easter communion table. 

This Easter, let's HEAL OUR PANES!
And we've got a lot of them!   We have a total of 44 windows that need serious repair. Here's how you can help:
  • For a gift of $350:  You can cover the cost of a full window restoration and we can dedicate the window with a special plaque
  • For a gift of $250:  You can cover the cost of a storm window to prevent more damage on the window
  • For a gift of $100:  You can provide the labor costs to repair the window
If we receive your gift and dedication by March 27th, we can  include this in our Easter Order of Worship. 

Please send contributions to First Congregational Church at 1000 South Cooper, Memphis, TN 38104 or submit via our Sunday offer- ing. You can give "online" by going to  You can list your dedication under the "Description" option as you make your contribution. 

Here's What's Coming Up ...

Friday, March 9:
  • Cafe Congo Community Lunch:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall
  • MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Meeting:  7:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall

Saturday, March 10:
  • No Hungry Seniors Food Pick-Up:  9:00 am in the Sanctuary
  • Mid South Peace & Justice Center Anniversary Banquet:  5:30 pm in the Sanctuary

Sunday, March 10: 
  • Coffee & Fellowship:  9:45 am in the Sanctuary
  • Adult Forum:  9:45 am in the 12-step room
  • Children's Sunday School:  9:45 am in Classroom D (main hallway)
  • Nursery Care:  9:45 am in the sitting room behind the Sanctuary
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store OPEN: before church at 10:00 am in the Sanctuary
  • Worship:  10:30 am in the Sanctuary
  • Children's Church:  after the Children's Sermon, the children are taken to their Sunday School room for lessons, and where parents may pick them up after worship.
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store OPEN:  after church in the Sanctuary
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  2:00 - 6pm

Monday, March 11:
  • Cafe Congo Community Lunch & Food Pantry:  11am - 1pm in the Fellowship Hall
  • Moral Monday in Memphis:  Reception begins at 5:30 pm at Temple Israel (1376 East Massey Road)
  • Yoga Class:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
  • Revolutions Bicycle Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm 
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm 

Tuesday, March 12: 
  • Cafe Congo Community Lunch:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall
  • Finance Committee Meeting:  5:30 pm in Conference Room B
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary

Wednesday, March 13: 
  • Cafe Congo Community Lunch & Food Pantry:  11am - 1pm in the Fellowship Hall

Thursday, March 14: 
  • Cafe Congo Community Lunch:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall


First Congregational Leadership in 2018:



Moderator,                      Co-Moderator,                Secretary,                     Treasurer,                 Asst. Treasurer, 

Sue Westmoreland        Angela Richards             Carrie Moore Black       Katy Musolino          Bill Tupis




Committee Chairs:

Ushers                   Hospitality                Finance                  Christian Ed.          Facilities             Nominating 
Caroline McCraw   Angela Moore         Jeron Smart           Joe Hawes              Tim Combs        Cecelia Johnson- 
Rubenstein                                                                                                                                     Powell       

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 Senior Affiliate, Dr. Joel Chapman
Children's Sunday School, Dr. Marsha Walton
MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Chair, Board of Directors - Maria Hubbard

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First Congo Quick Links
First Congo Website & Online Donations: 

First Congo FB Link   

Freedom Journeys: 

 Hostel Memphis & Retreat Center: 

 First Congo 
Conference Center:
Global Goods Fair TradeGG on Facebook 
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: