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Congo Beat
September 22, 2017
First Congregational
United Church of Christ

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104
901-278-6786                                    A happy thanks to newcomers, Ben Sobral and                           Brent Tillis , for volunteering at the "Taste of Cooper
                                                              Young" f estival booth last Saturday.  This event is                                                                   only 2 weeks from today - do you have your tickets
                                                               yet?  Go to now!

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:

I'm so glad to see these photos from last Saturday's Cooper-Young Fest - showing our church IN ACTION!   This is especially true because we're all feeling the pain of losing that incredible Hub that we've worked so hard to put together. 
Here's what is happening, though, and it's witness to the fact that God can put together amazing things - even out of painful disasters.  This past week, you may have heard and seen the amazing outpouring of gracious words about our ministry and work.  It's been a time when the community has really rallied around the work we do, especially for the folks who depend on us for food and clothing.  This kind of support is a beautiful thing--and I think we should all be touched that what we do inspires this kind of response.

Secondly, I can assure you that our staff members, our insurance company, our mission partners - and of course, our congregation members - are absolutely committed to rebuilding in ways that only strengthen our ministry.  We will be in serious dialogue about ways that we can use this time to IMPROVE our witness - not just maintain.  This is what God wants for us and our experience has been that when we feel "kicked back" a bit, God helps us climb the mountain and arrive at a better place.

Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful energy, your prayers, your faith, your encouragement . . . As we remember in the United Church of Christ -"God is still speaking" - and even a fire doesn't silence that wonderful voice!

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And from our Associate Pastor:

Dear First Congo Family & Friends,

During my fifteen years in television, I learned that the first story of the news was called the "A-1" story.  As of last Sunday my journey through a relatively mild treatment plan for cancer recovery is no longer a relevant First Congo communication. 
Oh, My Goodness, what a wake-up call from Pastor Cheryl!  I'm certain her years of experience as a pastor and my experiences with television "surprises and spontaneity" helped both of us quickly plan and execute an alternative morning worship and fellowship for our gathering of worshipers.  You were so flexible and kind to us, the firefighters and one another.  Looking back it was quite surreal, even for believers; no tears, no swearing, no condemnations. 

You already have my September medical appointment calendar.  Prayers are always in order for all of us at any time.  I am doing very well as I return to work mode.  Whatever information I receive about my treatment outcome, "you will be notified."
In the meantime, let us thank and praise God together with intentionality.

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Watch for Updates on Schedule Changes
The clean-up and repairs from our fire will disrupt our schedule this coming week, so please watch your emails in case this information changes ... this is our plan at this time: 
  • Programs that happen BEFORE worship will NOT happen this Sunday (Adult Forum, Children's Sunday School, Nursery, coffee hour) because the office hallway has not been cleaned of soot.
  • Worship WILL happen on Sunday morning in the Sanctuary at 10:30.  We expect to have air conditioning on (MLGW is supposed to turn on the power today) and the sanctuary is being cleaned right now!
  • Intersections will NOT be meeting after church.
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer WILL happen at 6pm.
  • Choir Rehearsal was cancelled for this week anyway.


PARADE is on September 30th

The Mid South Pride Parade has been getting bigger and better year after year!  (Remember when it was so small it could line-up in First Congo's parking lot?)  It's coming up in 10 days, so make a cool sign if you want, and come march with the First Congo contingency ... you'll find us in the line-up on the east side of the FedEx Forum at 12:45 pm!

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".

This Week at First Congo:
It's been a difficult week, but first - let's remember the wonderful time we had at the Cooper Young Festival on Saturday:

(left) Arnie Ellison, Nicole Davila and Jim Young were ready in the morning to invite festival visitors into the Hub for a/c, restrooms, and fair trade shopping!

(below) Global Goods volunteers were ready to open the store for a busy day of sales ... here's Jackie Nerren, Jason Clochard and his mom, Robin, and Mike Robertson.
And ... OOPS!  We made a small mistake and need a little more credit card info on three folks who charged purchases during the festival.  If you know these folks, please let Jackie Nerren know how to reach them at ( Samantha Hurt, Gail Karr, Lauren Martin

(below) We sold lots of hand-painted "Place at the Table" mats to benefit our food justice ministry.   We also noted that this table in the Hub became a really popular conversation spot!

(left) Ron Marion, who  d esigned the wonderful festival poster this year, enjoyed signing posters for festival guests while his mother, Raquel Marion, was mighty proud!

(left & above) Stan Billings worked a shift of selling yard signs while Sam Griffin and Jan Alderman show off the "Place at the Table" mats.

Katy Musolino was our first sanctuary greeter (above with Joe Pfeiffer), and Carrie Moore Black was our last sanctuary greeter for the day (above right with Mario and baby Virginia Mae Oliver).

And the yard signs that have been so popular with our congregation proved to be popular at the festival too - we sold over 80 of them!  Above is Laura Harris, Joy Winkler, Emily Holmes, Caroline Rubenstein ... and below is Rickey Lee Bates and Tim Combs with MAGY ... all busy raising funding for our ministries through the festival.  Other festival volunteers not pictured include Cathy Chapman, Chuck Allen, Sally DiScenza, Debra Langston, Catherine Dixon and Janet Rubenstein!

And  here's our terrific Blessed Bees Team last week, gathering to check on our hives, learn more about raising bees, and making plans for harvesting honey very soon: Joy Winkler, Laura Cowen, Susan Roakes and Keith Norman.  (Not pictured is Danny Grubbs.)  Let us know if you'd like to join this really cool ministry!

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

After such a perfect week, early on Sunday morning we learned that our happy and beautiful Hub had suffered a terrible fire.  

We still didn't know why or how this happened, but we knew it was time for us to be together!

(left) Thanks to Janet Rubenstein, Jackie Nerren and Kevin Williams we enjoyed a refreshing "tailgate coffee hour" before we gathered at the shady north deck for a short prayer service, encouraging words from Pastors Cheryl and Sonia, singing with Brennan Villines, and of course - our "Affirmation of Community". 

And, as always, we had newcomers! 
(left) Here's  Spencer & Annie Warren and Dawson Nicholson ... Spencer and Dawson are D2 dental students @ UT Memphis and Annie is a social worker with Baptist Women's & Children's Hospital. 
Welcome to First Congo!


While we're repairing in ...

Our free Community Lunches will be served in the  Fellowship Hall on weekdays at 11:00 am till 1:00 pm.
The Food Pantry is temporarily closed.  We hope to be open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11am till 1pm very soon.
The Clothes Closet is CLOSED for now. 

A big shout out to the amazing folks who took time out of their mornings to come help rescue frozen food.  24 people helped and 7 emailed to see if they could help too! Such a blessing to know that there is such support for our program and that perfectly good food won't go to waste.  Can't wait to taste the casseroles everyone is making!  Thanks so much, everyone!!   love, Steph

(above right) It's no surprise that Dana Voorhees and Richard Vannucci, the "grandfathers" of our Food Justice Ministries, showed up to rescue some frozen food, to the relief of Steph Rollen and Carter Beard.  (below) Here's Nicole Davila, Deb Myers, Cathy Chapman and Jackie Nerren picking up food.
(above right) And here's Katy Musolino with a huge pot of spaghetti sauce made from the frozen ground beef she rescued!

Our Food Justice Ministries for September  have been dedicated by Debra Langston,  in memory of Terry White and Peggy DiScenza.
Sadly, our beautiful 
GLOBAL GOODS Fair Trade Store
will be CLOSED until fire damage can be repaired. 

Only 2 Weeks Away!

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!

Here's What's Coming Up ...
(ALL events subject to change - watch for emails) 

Friday, September 22:  
  • Cafe Congo Community Lunch is CLOSED
  • MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Meeting will not meet tonight

Saturday, September 23:   
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is CLOSED until further notice.
  • "No Hungry Seniors" Food Pick-up:  9:00 am on the back parking lot at the MIFA truck


Sunday, September 24:    
  • Worship:  10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary
Monday, September 25:
  • Community Lunch will be served on the front church steps:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm 
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op "Fix-A-Flat" Class:  6:30 - 9:00 pm (if power is on)
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm  (if power is on)
Tuesday, September 26:
  • The Fellowship Hall is OPEN for Cafe Congo:  11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer Service:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, September 27:  
  • The Fellowship Hall 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 - location to be announced
  • NO Vocal Choir Rehearsal
Thursday, September 28:
  • The Fellowship Hall is OPEN for Cafe Congo:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Meeting of Church Officers and Mission Development Committee:  5:00 pm - location TBA
  • 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: