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Congo Beat
May 5 , 2016

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104

I'll bet you're smiling at this photo of happy ladies and darling babies at church!  From left, here's Vernessa Lester, Sandy Furrh holding Phoenix (Tamar's daughter), Jan Alderman holding Andrew (Vernessa & Joli's grandson), and Joli Williams.


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:

We usually think of it as "Mother's Day", but in the church, it's been thought of as the "Festival of the Christian Home" - helping us remember that families are shaped and formed in many different configurations.  When I look at the cards for sale to celebrate Mother's Day, I see a lot of pink, a lot of flowers and a lot of "sweet".  The reality of family life in our city, though, is that it demands a great deal of strength, fortitude and courage.  

We'll be looking at one of those great stories of the Bible from the Book of Esther this Sunday - the story of Vashti, who said "no"!  I'm already looking forward to a great worship experience and I hope you'll be there to think through the way you shape and nurture healthy relationships and a sense of "home" for yourself and for others! 

A n n o u n c e m e n t s 
Open Art Studio
TONIGHT at 6:30 - 9 pm

Getting Creative for the Season of Pentecost!
We have a wonderfully fun project tonight preparing our "Spirits of Pentecost" (see Xan Lester, left, several years ago) so that they whimsically reflect the many ways that the Holy Spirit dwells here at First Congo!  The preparation work is simple and satisfying ...

On Sunday we'll get right to work after church, installing our stage backdrop.  Even if you can only stay for a few minutes (we realize it's Mothers Day) it will be helpful.  We'll be working more during the Open Studio hours next week placing our colorful figures throughout the Sanctuary:  Monday & Thursday, 6:30 - 9:00.  Come on!!

This Sunday is Mother's Day!  
Global Goods has all kinds of gift ideas for mothers and those who are like mothers to you!  Jewelry, bags, scarves and some "less usual" options are all Fair Trade and ready to give.  (Does your mother have a colorful Haitian oil drum gecko for her garden wall?)  Come by on Saturdays from 9 to 3 or Sunday after the morning church service to take a look.
Another Note about Global Goods: We've been borrowing the ipad from Revolutions to swipe credit cards, which they need back!  If you have an ipad or tablet to donate to Global Goods, we'd sure appreciate it!

So many of our folks can observe Mothers Day.  Our next Newcomers Lunch will be on June 12th right after church.

Who's Graduating This Year? graduation_kids.jpg
Each year we enjoy celebrating our graduates - from Kindergarten to Graduate & Post Graduate School to Business School!  Please send your information and a photo of the graduate to so we can publish it in our Congo Beat on the last two weeks of May!

Perennials and Small Contributions Needed 
      The 1st Annual Cooper Young Garden Walk is scheduled for May 21st, and folks have been busy cleaning, assessing and planting the various areas around the church!  Keith (left) cleaned & restarted the water fountain in the Cornish Meditation Garden where Lynne Boyd, Mike Robertson & Richard Mitchell are refreshing the plantings; Zinnias were planted in the northwest bed by Marsha and the Sunday School children;  Jackie & Susan have filled our porch planters and various areas. 
       Also, a new "open and affirming" perennial bed has been planted next to the zinnias on the west side.  We want this bed to reflect the same diversity of our church!
We need your help
to complete these projects ... 
  If you have perennials that need to be thinned in your garden, please contact Lynne Boyd (  We need perennials for the mostly sunny area of the new bed, and a few for mostly shaded areas to be placed the in the meditation garden.  Also, if you would like to contribute towards the purchase of a couple of large shrubs which are needed for the meditation garden, please indicate that in your email.

Note from the Garden Walk organizers:  If you'd like to volunteer to help with the Cooper Young Garden Walk - go to  If you help for a 3.5 hour shift you've earned a free garden walk ticket, snacks, and our deepest appreciation!  

Easy Rider Group Rides Extended Thru May!
Firs t Congo Seniors & Friends have enjoyed meeting every Friday in April at 10:00 am at the Golf Clubhouse in Overton Park where we get on our TriCycles and take a leisurely ride through the Old Growth Forest's paved path. We have 10 TriCycles available or you can bring your own wheels ... weather permitting - JOIN US!  It's been healthy and wonderfully fun riding together - and so we're delighted to extend our riding through the month of May.  
The Adult Sunday School class meets at 9:45 am in the Conference Center, and we hope you'll grab a cup of coffee in Cafe Congo and join us!  Here's our topics and leaders for upcoming Sundays: 
  • May 8: Laughter and Playfulness as signs of the Resurrection, Randall Mulllins
    May 15: Millennials, Carla Peacher-Ryan
    May 22: The Church as an Institution, Emily Holmes
    Fifth Sunday, May 29, Memorial Day Week-end - We'll take a Break

How To Ride in the Street!
Do you know someone (maybe yourself) who knows how to ride a bike, but is nervous about riding in the street? Revolutions has a new class, in 4 sessions, "How to Ride in the Street"!  Read more and get tickets here: How to Ride in the Street  Email Sylvia, at, with questions.

Financial Peace  Class  
First Congo will be hosting a Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Class beginning June 26. If you would like to attend or get more information contact the co-leaders Martha Lanier or Bill Gallops. You may also register through the Dave Ramsey website:
We will have an information session May 15 at 2 pm in the Conference Room.

NEXT MEETING & POTLUCK:  Sunday, May 22, after church until 2:00. 
Discussion will center on "how can we rewire our thinking to recognize & avoid stereotyping." 

Wrench & Ride
Bicycle Summer Camps, at Revolutions!
Do you know a young person who likes to ride a bicycle? Would she or he like to know more about how to keep that bike in good working order? Why not send them to a summer camp for bicycle lovers? One week camps starting June 6th for rising 4th through 12th graders. For more information, check out our website - click the "Summer Camps" tab.  Email Sylvia with questions: 


Happening @

  • Free Community Lunches for everybody on weekdays 11 am till 1 pm. 
    • The Food Pantry is open on Mon-Wed-Fridays during lunch.
    • The Clothes Closet is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays during lunch.  (right) Thanks to Carrie Moore Black who is one of our dedicated volunteers in the Clothes Closet!


  • Cards & Board Games for Seniors EVERY Wednesday! 
    We're having lots of fun with our friends each week ... come for lunch between 11:00 - 1:00 and then stay for games from 1:00 - 2:30.  You're welcome to bring a favorite game to share!    

Our Food Pantry has been sponsored anonymously  
for the month of April - and we are grateful!
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store
    is OPEN on Saturdays 9am -  3pm and Sundays after church.


This Wonderful Week at First Congo... 
Welcome to our newest church members -
Rickey Lee Bates, Emerson Kirkpatrick
and Tim Combs!

Our Moderator, Teddy Crum (below with his daughter, Lily, passing out church t-shirts), expressed it for all of us: that Rickey Lee and Tim have been deeply involved in the church for so long that we thought they were already members!  Rickey Lee and Tim served with the Food For Families ministry for years.  Emerson is fairly new here, but he's the #1 reason that MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) is still alive and thriving at First Congo.  All three are MAGY Advisors, which is a huge commitment, and Tim is a currently elected member of our Facilities Committee - another big commitment.  We're delighted you guys are "official" now!! 

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 

Nikki Jones

Food Justice Ministries:
Molly Peacher-Ryan

Revolutions Bicycle Co-op  
Director: Sylvia Crum    

Art & Design Ministries:
Sam Griffin

Website Administrator: 
Faith Marshall

Minister of Music:
Dennis W. Darling

Music Ministry Team:
Tamar Love  

Music Ministry Team:   
Brennan Villines


Music Ministry Team:   
Jordan Wells

Madelene Lundy

Custodian: Juan Salter

Maintenance: Mark Allen 

Retrea t Center Manager
& Events Assistant:
Danny Grubbs

Community Meals &
Clothes Closet Assistant: 
Bryant Wilhite

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Child Care Assistants: 
Alden Schmidt 
Shelby Loveland

Pilgrim House Hostel Staff: 

Kim Kanga 
Shelby White 
River Park 
Jamie Jones
David Adams 
Parks Dlugach 
James Kanter 
(below left) Our Sunday School children have become quite adept at yoga, which they practice on the first Sunday of every month.  (right) Thanks to Judy Drescher for serving as our layreader for worship - something she's done for maybe 30 years here at First Congo?!

(below) Michael and Gio Lopez-Kelly lit our worship candle to begin worship.

(below left) Jordan Wells was delighted to receive this adorable jacket for his new baby, Finneas, from Dennis & Bryan Darling!

If you'd like to hear again the anthem & offertory from last Sunday's worship - just click here:  
Blessed Be The Lord
He Keeps Blessing Me

(right) We're really blessed that Maria Hubbard has joined the Taste of Cooper Young planning committee this year!  She has much experience in fundraising and event development - and she is coordinating our efforts to enlist sponsors for this event.  Our sponsors make it possible to prepare for such a major event, funding the printing of posters, flyers, t-shirts, and banners ... booking entertainment and purchasing beverages ... so many necessities that need our funding before the event.  If you'd like to be a sponsor for Taste of Cooper Young (which will be on October 13th), please reply to this newsletter and we'll connect you to Maria! 

(left) We're always thankful to our worship photographers & videographers, Roger Courts and Mark Ratay.  Last Sunday we enjoyed meeting their friend, Jens Bungardt, (center) visiting from Montreal!  Jens is an events planner for the International Institute for Hemophelia. 

Thanks to our worship photographers & videographers, Roger Courts & Mark Ratay! 

This Week at First Congo 

Thursday, May 5:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Community Lunch and Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm (enter The Hub on Cooper St.)
  • Training Fleet Overhaul Night:  6:30 - 9:00 pm in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm in the North Basement Studio (Use Revolutions doorway in Meditation Garden)

Friday, May 6:
  • Easy Rider Group Ride:  Meet at 10:00 am at the Golf Clubhouse in Overton Park
  • The Hub is OPEN for Community Lunch and Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm (enter the Hub on Cooper Street)
Saturday, May 7:
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN:  9:00 am - 3:00 pm in the Hub
Sunday, May 8:
  • Adult Sunday School:  9:45 am in the Conference Center
  • Children's Children School:  9:45 am in Classroom C
  • Nursery:  Childcare is available for babies & toddlers in Classroom B from 9:45 till noon
  • Cafe Congo Fellowship:  9:45 a.m. till 10:30 a.m.
  • Worship Service:  10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary
  • Children's Church:  After the children's sermon at worship, our leaders will take the children to Classroom C where they will have their own "church" and activities.  Parents may pick up their children here after worship.
  • Global Good Fair Trade Store OPEN:  after Worship in the Hub
  • Newcomers Lunch is CANCELLED for Mothers Day
  • Sanctuary Art Installation:  Right after church in the Sanctuary
  • Revolutions Open Shop:  CLOSED for Mothers Day
  • Open Art Studio:  CLOSED for Mothers Day

Monday, May 9:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Community Lunch and Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm (enter the Hub on Cooper Street)
  • Drumming Group:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
  • Training Fleet Overhaul Night:  6:30 - 9:00 pm in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm in the North Basement Studio (Use Revolutions doorway in Meditation Garden)
  • Yoga for Everyone:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Tuesday, May 10:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Community Lunch and Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm (enter the Hub on Cooper Street)
  • Finance Committee Meeting:  5:30 pm in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Sung Prayer & Silence Service: 6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, May 11
  • The Hub is OPEN for Community Lunch and Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm (enter the Hub on Cooper Street)
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Thursday, May 12: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Community Lunch and Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm (enter the Hub on Cooper Street
  • Facilities Committee Meeting:  5:30 pm in Julia Hicks' office
  • Training Fleet Overhaul Night:  6:30 - 9:00 pm in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm in the North Basement Studio (Use Revolutions doorway in Meditation Garden)

Looking WAY Ahead -
Marking Your Calendars for upcoming events in the next few weeks:
    Cooper Young Garden Walk
    Saturday, May 21st, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

    Cooper Young Festival
    Saturday, September 17th, 9:00 am - 7:00 pm

    A Taste of Cooper Young!
    Thursday, October 13th, at 5:30 - 9:30 pm  


First Congreational Leadership 2016:


...... ..   .......        ...  ... ...      

    Moderator,                             Co-Moderator,                      Secretary,                        Treasurer,                         Assistant Treasurer, 

    Teddy Crum                           Kevin Williams                     Angela Richards              Anthony Crowell               Joe Pfeiffer



Committee Chairs:
  Hospitality                   Ushers                     Finance                   Christian Education            Facilities                     Nominating
  Caroline McCraw        Cindy Tupis             Janet McCraw         Carrie Moore-Black            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, Marsha Walton
Yoga for Everyone - Nicole Davila
MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Advisory Board Chair - Jamilyn Cole


  First Congo Quick Links
Make Your Donations Online: 
First Congo Website: 

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:

Roots Memphis Farm Academy:  ROOTS Farm Academy facebook

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