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Congo Beat
September 14, 2017
First Congregational
United Church of Christ

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104                                  Happy 40th Wedding Anniversary
901-278-6786                                                      to Laurie & Chris Hook!                               Both are long-time church members and
                                                             faithful volunteers. CONGRATULATIONS!

This Sunday, September 17
right after church in the Hub
Please bring your potluck dishes to the Hub dining hall before worship - hospitality volunteers will be available by 9:30 am to receive them.  Childcare will be available.  Reply to this newsletter if you need directions for finding the Hub.   ALL are WELCOME!

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:

The best Bible studies are the ones where everybody asks good and honest questions! AND, they are facilitated by a wise and well-educated teacher. We've got both of those factors going strong with the Wednesday night Bible study of I John. It's a fascinating and inspiring text - and you'll find the background information provided by Dr. Mary Lin Hudson helpful in understanding and growing with the text. No homework! No preparation required! Just show up at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in my office and you'll learn something that will help you grow spiritually. I guarantee it!

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And from our Associate Pastor:

Dear First Congo Family & Friends,

It was such a special moment for me to stand before you again last Sunday during worship! Acknowledging Rev. Joe Pfeiffer's ministry gifts to you and to me gave me such pleasure; especially since his comfort zone is away from the spotlight. The children have grown tall and beautifully, while each of you present appeared to glow.  
(pictured above is Pastor Sonia being greeted by Carla Peacher-Ryan and Linley Schmidt)

The week was full; perhaps because my home was home for two regular family visitors, The Jacksons of Jacksonville, Florida, and The Gilmores. For folks who had not met, they were perfect together. We had a wonderful time, sharing meals, Memphis stories, personal stories, and concerns about the weather conditions in Florida and other relevant parts of the country affecting their lives, their travel and our loved ones. 

Kudos to the Clothes Closet Volunteers, who met last Thursday, and renewed their commitments to serve! Several expanded their time and service to the Food Justice ministry as well. I chatted with Lora Chatfield, who returns to the team from Vermont after October 1. It was very good to be in touch with all of them. 

I continue to feel stronger daily, and I look forward to seeing my radiology oncologist in a few hours. I am not trying to jump to any conclusions about the outcome of the treatment before the CAT Scan results. I am not anxious because it is not time to have verified results. I am asking that you continue in prayer with me and others.

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Cooper-Young Festival is THIS Saturday, September 16th at 9am - 7pm!
THANKS to the folks who've volunteered to be greeters and to sell Taste of Cooper Young tickets (like Caroline Rubenstein and Kate Marker have been doing at the farmers market) and yard signs!!  If you'd like to help us out for a bit on Saturday - reply to this email today to let Julia know - and she'll get you signed up!

Adult Forums - Sunday Mornings at 9:45
This  coming Sunday, the Adult Forum will begin a follow up discussion of On Tyranny by Tim Snyder, a brilliant short book about how we might respond to the current political and social situation in American life.  Pastor Cheryl led an introductory and very lively discussion of this book earlier this year, and we were so taken with the wisdom in the book that we decided to do a follow up.  You can buy a copy of the book at Burke's Bookstore on Cooper, but you need not have read the book to come to the discussion.   So please join us,  Sunday September 17th at 9:45am  in the classroom just around the corner from Cafe Congo.

Songs for the Season of Creation
The Sunday School children will be celebrating creation in song during our Season of Creation for the next three weeks.  Last Sunday we learned three creation songs:  "God is Everywhere,"   "This Planet is Our Home," and "God Bless the Grass."  This Sunday, I'll give the children a Creation Songbook, which they can take home, in case they want to teach the words to their grown-ups.  We have about a dozen songs in our book, so we'll see how many we can learn during our Creation Celebration.
Sunday School begins at 9:45 in Classroom D across from Pastor Cheryl's office.  Children get picked up by their grown-ups at 10:25, just in time for worship.  I hope your K-6th graders can join us!   

love,  Ms Marsha

Notes about our Clothes Closet
The Clothes Closet Volunteers are very grateful for the abundant donations you have made to this ministry. To best serve the immediate needs of our clientele, we ask that you REDIRECT ALL SUMMER CLOTHING to larger staffed solicitors, (eg. Goodwill, Salvation Army, Veterans, etc.) 

  • Men's casual and work clothing for fall and winter. (Men are the primary clients) 
  • Toiletries, hygiene items, soap, toilet paper 
  • Children's socks, which is our collection emphasis item, through October 31.
We look forward to your donations of clean, gently worn clothing, in good repair.   We respect our guests and want them to have fresh, wearable clothing.   Thanks again, for your continuing support. It is very appreciated by the recipients and volunteers.

INTERSECTIONS on Sunday, Sept. 24
Please join our Intersections gathering  for a discussion of the DACA  Program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)*.  We'll review the program's objectives and invite stories about people you may know or have heard of who are affected.  You will have the opportunity to email or write your Congressional representatives before we leave.
As usual, we will meet in the large Conference room for a potluck lunch immediately following worship.  The program will follow.
*DACA is a program allowing young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study and obtain driver's licenses here.

Our hostel needs a full-size mattress & box springs set in good shape.  
Please REPLY to this email if you have one to offer as a tax deductible gift!

Gifts for Victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma
We'd like to suggest that you make your donations for victims of recent Hurricanes through our National Church - the United Church of Christ.  ALL of your financial gift will go directly to services and supplies needed for the victims.  Go to  and follow directions for "Disaster Relief".

Thursday, October 5th at 5:30pm

$50 TICKETS are selling well!
You can buy your tickets after worship on Sundays, at the Saturday Farmers' Market, or online right now at!

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 and Wednesdays from 11am till 1pm.
The Clothes Closet is open Tuesdays & Thursdays 11am-1pm.  

(right) Welcome to new Food Justice volunteers, Marjean Liggins and Arnie Ellison, who were slicing watermelon for Tuesday's Cafe Congo lunch!

Steph Rollen would love to hear from anyone interested in cooking, serving, digging in the garden, or just general helping out around The Hub.  You can contact her at 901-493-4699 or

(above) Jackie Nerren and Caroline Rubenstein hauled in this huge and beautiful stash of fresh and organically grown fruits and vegetables, gleaned from the Cooper Young Community Farmers Market ... and this happens each Saturday!  This good food has already been prepared and served in our Community lunches.

Guess who helped Steph make our lovely luncheon that was served on Sunday during the "Speed Dating" event!  It was our Senior Pastor Cheryl and two of our Pilgrim Center counselors, Catherine Dixon and Joel Chapman, and (not in photo) Katy Musolino ... and they had a really nice time working together!

Our Food Justice Ministries for September 
have been dedicated by Debra Langston,  in memory of Terry White and Peggy DiScenza.
Also in The Hub:

Fair Trade Store

OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
& after church on Sundays. 
Come by during the Cooper Young Festival to shop!

First Congo 

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

Director of Food Justice Ministries:   Steph Rollen

Revolutions Bicycle Co-op  
Director: Sylvia Crum    

Art & Design Ministries:
Sam Griffin

Artist Intern: 
Ron Marion

Minister of Music:
Dennis W. Darling

Music Ministry: 
Tamar Love

Music Ministry:
Brennan Villines

Music Ministry: 
Chris Burgess

Music Ministry: 
Lisa Gaddy 

Juan Salter 
Bryant Wilhite

Mark Allen

Events Assistant: 
Danny Grubbs


Amy Shaw 

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Nursery Care: 

Xan Lester  

Ella Mynatt

Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga, 
Resident Manager 

Hostel Resident Advisors:
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach

This Week at First Congo:

(right) Thanks so much to Sherrie Walker for another successful and really fun (and challenging) Trivia Night last Saturday!  She is pictured with two of her top calculus students, Evuilynn Nguyen and Kyna Vuong, who served as graders for the evening fundraiser, which raised about $1600 for First Congo!  Thanks also to Martha Lanier, our scorekeeper and technical guru, as well as Mark Allen for providing sound.  See you at the next Trivia Night in the winter of 2018!

(below) Thanks also to Dr. Joel Chapman, Director of the Pilgrim Center - First Congo's counseling ministry, who was host and initial speaker at Friday night's intriguing Pathfinder Forum on the topic of Misogyny, along with speakers Pastor Cheryl, Rev. Roz Nichols, and Julia Hicks. 

(left) Art Intern, Ron Marion, appreciated the volunteer help of Kelsey Bastian and  Cole Keefe while installing the new sanctuary art for the Season of Creation on Saturday.

(above right) At the same time, Director of Art Ministries, Sam Griffin, was raising the stunning stage backdrop that was designed by Ron!
 (left) Joy Winkler, who is a primary volunteer leader in our Art Ministry, was pleased to show Katy Musolino the progress being made on the installation.

(right) And while we're talking about art at First Congo, here's a photo of last week's Birthday Art Party for Kelsey Bastain!  

(below) THANKS to these AmeriCorps volunteers who've put the primer and first coat of new paint on our Fellowship Hall.  We now need to apply the finishing coats, and will be looking for folks who enjoy painting to help us finish up!  If you'd like to join this effort, you know what to do ... just reply and let us know and then we'll set a schedule :)

Speed-Dating at First Congo was SO COOL!

After church, we visited 12 stations where ministry leaders shared about their programs, hoping we might "pick them"!  Below you see the Clothes Closet with Arnie Ellison, Carrie Moore Black and Mae Yancey; the Music Ministry with Lisa Gaddy and Brennan Villines ...

... the Taste of Cooper Young with Caroline Rubenstein; No Hungry Seniors with Sandy Smegelsky, Revolutions Bike Co-Op with Sylvia Crum ...

... the Food Pantry with Rachel Oberg, the Hospitality Committee with Angela Moore, the Global Goods Fair Trade Store with Mike Robertson ...

... Food Justice Ministries with Steph Rollen, Blessed Bees with Keith Norman ...
... the Circle of Trust with Catherine Dixon; and the Art & Design Ministry with Joy Winkler (and grandson Jack), Sam Griffin and Ron Marion ...

It's not too late to choose "the ministry of your dreams" - just reply and let us know!

(left) The "show-offs" of the day were surely the Food Justice Ministries (Keith Norman, Rachel Oberg and Steph Rollen), who even made special capes to wear for this event - impressive!

(right) Thanks to Dawson Nicholson for sending in this creative worship photo ... in response to our request that folks take photos of special moments at First Congo and send them to Julia Hicks for possible use in the Congo Beat.  Since the death last month of Roger Courts, our faithful photographer and videographer for the past decade, we hope to create archives and share memories through our photos -  in memory and gratitude to Roger.  

Here's What's Coming Up ...  

Friday, September 15:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Meeting:  7:00 pm in The Hub

Saturday, September 16:   
  • 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
  • COOPER YOUNG FESTIVAL:  First Congo doors open from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Sunday, September 17:    
  • Adult Forum:  9:45 in Classroom B
  • Children's Sunday School:  9:45 am in Classroom D
  • Nursery:  Childcare is available for babies & toddlers from 9:45 till noon in Classroom C
  • 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, our leaders will escort the children to Classroom D for special activities.  Parents may pick up their children here after worship.
  • Mission Council Meeting:  After church in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN in the Hub after Church
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, September 18:
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op "Fix-A-Flat" Class:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
Tuesday, September 19:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer Service:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, September 20:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Bible Study on I John with Mary Lin Hudson:  5:30 - 6:30 p.m in Cheryl's office.
  • NO Vocal Choir Rehearsal THIS WEEK:   We'll reconvene rehearsals at 7:00 pm in the Sanctuary next Wednesday
Thursday, September 21:
  • 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

Taste of Cooper Young
Thursday, October 5th at 5:30pm
Blessing of our Pets
During church on Sunday, October 8 

Thanksgiving Feast
After church on Sunday, November 19
Children's Christmas Pageant
During church on Sunday, December 17

Congregational Potluck & Annual Meeting
After church on Sunday, December 17

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services on Sunday, Dec. 24
Early Service, designed especially for families with children at 5:00 pm
Traditional Service of "Lessons and Carols" at 10:00 pm 


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

Tuesday Evening 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:  The Pilgrim Center  901-844-HELP (4357)
 Revolutions Bike Co-Op: 

MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth)  MAGY on Facebook
Cooper Young Community Farmers Market: