June 2017 Newsletter

CentralNEWS/June 2017

VOLUME 25 NUMBER 6

296 Angell Street Providence, RI 02906   401-331-1960

From Rebecca

Dear Friends,

It does indeed seem like yesterday that Marilyn Brown came to stay at Central for just a few

years, and it has now been 18 years of her wonderful energy, competence and thoughtful perspectives that we have been sharing -- mostly behind the scenes, as she works to make our mission possible....So many times we underestimate the significance of those who work to be sure the newsletter is printed and collated and sent, to see that events are posted on our website, to clear the calendar for an event, to let your pastor know that someone has called and is in trouble, to offer an idea for a committee organizing an outreach program, to  make a committee’s job easier by saying, “I’ll take care of that”. And Marilyn has done all of this quietly, calmly, with cheerfulness. As she has said above, she will be leaving for the new chapters of retirement, but not before, in true Marilyn form, she thoroughly trains her replacement.

And we are fortunate to have found Deborah Nigrelli, who you will find in the office now, overlapping Marilyn for a few weeks, as she learns about the intricacies of making this Central Church the place for positive energy and growth that it is. Deb is eager to come to know you, so do stop in and say hello!

We will be honoring Marilyn on Sunday, June 11, and I hope you will plan to be here! Reflecting on the gifts of administration and organization that Marilyn has brought to our church reminds me of how many different gifts God has given to each of us. Maybe your gift is a kind word to a neighbor, or finding a way to lift a stranger’s burden. Maybe you are a genius at helping others with the internet or reading books to the visually impaired, or being a Hospice Volunteer or maybe your gift is that of listening intently to another person who just needs to be heard. Perhaps your gift is in working for peace and non-violence, or social justice, or feeding those who are hungry. I hope you will take these coming weeks of summer to think about the gifts YOU can offer to church, community, country, world, and then share these generously.

Your gifts make a difference! YOU make a difference for the good in God’s world!

Warmly,

Rebecca

Thoughts and Prayers

Our thoughts & prayers are with:

Jane O’Farrell: Her mother died recently.
Janice Schmidt: Her mother, Florence, died in May.
Bob Stout: His brother, Don, died in May.
Ruth Whitford:  Her son, Ned Whitford, died in May.

Baptisms

The Sacrament of Baptism is an important part of our worship life together. In an effort to uplift our celebration of Baptisms in our community of faith, we will be offering Baptisms on the following days:

Children’s Sabbath                  October 8, 2017
Sunday after Epiphany            January 7, 2018
Easter Vigil                             March 31, 2018
Sunday after Easter                April 8, 2018

A meeting to prepare parents for Baptism will be held in our Fireplace Room at 9 am Saturday of the preceding week.  Please speak with the Rev. Rebecca Spencer if you would like to be included in this very important part of life at Central—The Sacrament of Baptism.

New Members

New Member Inquiry*
Tuesday, October 24

Faith Exploration*
Wednesday, November 1

New Member Sunday
November 5

*These meetings are held at the home of the Rev. Rebecca Spencer 15 Taber Ave at 7 pm

A Note from Marilyn

In 1999, the company I worked at for over 25 years moved their operation and I had no desire to move to Minnesota. Central Church’s ad in the Journal mentioned excellent benefits including 4 weeks of vacation. Since I was used to 4 weeks of vacation time; this was of interest to me! My plan was to work for 5 years then transition into early retirement.  Now 18 years later, I am finally planning a retirement which is no longer an early one.  I can honestly say that Central Church has been a good fit for me and is filled with good memories. My time here has been enjoyable and has gone by much too quickly thanks to the wonderful staff, members, and friends who have always given me the support needed to get things done.

A special thanks to Jack Boyce who once referred to me as a genius. If there is any ‘genius’ in me, it was because he always had the answers to my questions and to Peg for being my partner through the years.  Thanks to Rebecca and the rest of the staff for making this a very special & fun place to work.

From the beginning, you were all most helpful and you continue to be so. I have met many special people who will stay in my heart always. You truly are a kind, loving, giving group and I will miss you all!

Please join me in welcoming, Deb Nigrelli, my replacement. I know you will show her all the kindness and patience you have shown me throughout the years and welcome her into the Central Church family.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Brown

From Claudia

This month I embark on an old, yet also new, part of the spiritual path set before me.  I have been accepted into a residency program of spiritual direction.  In case a few of you are scratching your heads and wondering, “But, don’t you do a lot of spiritual direction, Claudia?”  The answer is yes.  I do it with individuals and in group settings and I love being able to accompany people on their spiritual journeys.  This will give me an opportunity to talk about the practice of such “holy listening” with others who are doing the same and to grow together in our ministries.

Spiritually accompanying another on their faith journey is a chance to remind one another that “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).  Such an experience encompasses the wholeness of the person in their relationship with God.  Specifically, “we can see spiritual experiences as events that have a particular capacity to show us the nature and guidance of God in our souls and in life around us” (Rev. Tilden Edwards).

This summer through next summer will be times of exploration and discovery for me in a group setting.  My hope is that you are also able to take some time to explore the movement of God in your lives and to reflect on what Thomas Merton calls the “improvisation” of the Holy Spirit in all our lives.

So, wherever you find yourselves this summer I would encourage you to take some time to think about where you find God in your life.  Ask God for the grace to discern the ways that God moves in and around and with you.  You might just be surprised by the answer!

Blessings on the journey,

Claudia

New Members

Please join us in welcoming our new members who united with us in membership on May 7.

Carolyn Kolesar - Providence

Carolyn, who is in management with Unidine Corp, moved from Pennsylvania 1 ½ years ago and enjoys gardening and politics. Carolyn joined Central for its faith and community and is interested in mission work and catering.

Lynne McLeod - Rumford

Lynne is a manager for the Division of Organ Transplanting at Rhode Island Hospital. She has lived in RI for 17 years and enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, and exercising. Central’s choir, sermons and sense of community brought her here and she hopes to become involved with community programs and the social committee.

Jane Pretat  - Portsmouth

Jane Pretat and her family have long been members of Central and have been active participants in many different ways.  In fact, Jane was the Chairperson in the 1960s when our current organ was installed!  Jane had wished to deactivate her membership some time ago, but now wishes to be a full member once again!

Celebrate! Commemorate!

Your lifelong connections to Central with an engraved brick in the West Lawn Terrace.

Personalize your brick as you wish: with a name(s) of your choice or “In honor of a special person, family or event in your life. . . from yesterday, today, or tomorrow”.

Bricks with a three line (18 characters per line) inscription are $200. Please contact the church office if interested.

PENTECOST SUNDAY, June 4

Wear RED!
Bring ACTS 2:1-13 to read in the language of your choice!

Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the heads of the Apostles instructing them to go forth into the world and preach the Gospel.  Wearing red reminds us of the flames of fire that appeared over their heads.  Reading the story of that first Pentecost in many different languages reminds us how the Apostles spoke in multiple languages that day through the power of the Holy Spirit.

To find a great list of Bible translations in other languages see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2&version=NRSV

FOOD FOR THOUGHT BOOK GROUP

Join us for a lively discussion of each month’s book!

June 8—Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

July 20—TBD (7:00-8:30 PM at Central)

August 17—TBD (5:30-7:00 PM—Potluck picnic at Claudia’s home)

Summer Labyrinth Walks

Tuesday, June 27 from 5:30-6:30 PM
Thursday, July 20 from 5:30-6:30 PM
Tuesday, August 15 from 5:30-6:30 PM

Enjoy our brand new outdoor labyrinth (located just outside the kitchen door) under a beautiful summer sky.  Drop in between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM on Tuesday, June 27, July 20, and August 15 weather permitting to walk the labyrinth and enjoy the company of Central friends.  Questions? Ask Claudia.

CCC CAROUSEL SUNDAY

Crescent Park Carousel Outing
700 Bullocks Point Avenue
Riverside, RI
Sunday June 25 - at 11:30 a.m.  

We’ll leave right after Coffee Hour to meet at the carousel.  Enjoy lunch with your friends from Central and go for a ride!  The Blount Clam Shack will be open for lunch (cash only) or bring a picnic lunch.  There are picnic tables to share, as well as the incredible Looff Carousel, a National Historic Landmark!

This carousel was built in 1895 by the famous designer, Charles Looff, as a showcase of his work.  Whether you ride or watch, it is a piece of Americana and a wonderful experience for ALL ages!

From Aidan:

WORD MISSION TRIP

After a commissioning service during worship on Sunday, June 25th, the WORD Summer Mission Trip Team will travel to New York City to partner with the Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP).  YSOP engages youth and adults in meaningful service opportunities through an orientation to the issues, hands-on volunteer work, and reflection.  We will be working at various locations throughout the city and staying with West End Presbyterian Church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Please hold us in your prayers as we serve God together and make connections with our brothers and sisters in New York.  If you would like to learn about how you can sponsor one of our youth, please contact me at aidan@centralchurch.us.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES

As we are reminded each time we celebrate baptism at Central, we covenant together to nurture and support God’s children in our church.  We hold them as infants, play with them as children, and share in the joy and depth of their wisdom and personalities as young people.  This spring, we celebrate and acknowledge the achievements Central youth who will be graduating from high school.  Congratulations on all that you have achieved and blessings to you on your next steps.  We are praying for you, cheering you on, and looking forward to the next time that we will welcome you home to Central!

Louisa Antonio            Moses Brown
Jack Armstrong           Barrington High School
Belle Buroker              Lincoln School
Sam Bush                    Classical High School
Jack Hogan                  LaSalle Academy
Josiah Kim                  Classical High School
William Templeton    Wheeler
Josiah Whitney           Wheeler
William Worrell          Moses Brown

MUSIC AT CENTRAL

Choir Recognition

At our morning worship at 10:30 on Sunday, June 4, we will recognize our choirs for their work and dedication.  We award achievement medals and ribbons to children according to the standards of the Royal School of Church music.

This year when we recognize our Adult Choir we give special thanks and recognition to our section leader Kathryne Jennings who has served since 1994…that’s 23 year tenure!  Kathryne and her husband, Paul Phillips, will be moving to California to take positions at Stanford University.  We send them off with our thanks, congratulations, and well wishes!

Oh, Jonah!

On Sunday, June 11, our Children’s Choir presents their annual musical, this year featuring “Oh Jonah” by Allen Pote and Carole McCann.

You may know the story of Jonah and the whale, but the story is about a lot more than just a whale!  Come find out the rest of the story as our Children’s Choir tells the story in drama and music that young and old alike will enjoy.

CHURCH SCHOOL NEWS

"Wait, Jesus DIED?!!!  Who's going to replace him?!!!!

Every Church School teacher has experienced 'moments' in class when a child asks a Big Question -- one that makes you take a deep breath and say a prayer before you respond! -- and what you thought you were going to do for a lesson takes a back seat to the question at hand.   These 'moments' are one of the many reasons we love to work with children!    Such questions, and conversation that follow, feel like gifts -- they are opportunities to open our hearts to one another, and share the awe and wonder of the Gospel.    We are blessed with an amazing group of teachers and high school helpers this year; whose preparation and presence make a difference each week in our children's lives.

We GIVE THANKS to these dedicated Church School TEACHERS and YOUTH HELPERS:  Amy Frazer; Jaime Lavoie; Pamela O'Hara; Beth Cotter; Julie Passafaro; Jen Cookke; Kirstin DeShaw; Amy Weigand; Liam Newberry; Harry Mazurkie; Ben Thornton; Maddie Lee; Brian Kook; Coco Maranjian; Phoebe Maranjian; Sophia Mott; Molly O'Hara; Lexi DeShaw; John Lalli;  Gavin Rardin; Josiah Whitney; Henry Hebb; Eliza Trevor; Grace Moorhead; Kathhleen O'Hara.

We recognize the 8th graders who have finished their last year of Church School and will be in Confirmation next year:  Abraham Balogun; Jonathan Baran; Sarah Gifford; Clara Kugler; Serena Lalli; Wes Heywood.   Blessings in your continued faith journey and Confirmation year ahead!

We recognize 7th grader Miles Rardin for his most amazing fundraising mission for HEIFER INTERNATIONAL.   After his passionate and articulate announcement in church this winter, $1200 was raised!   This was then 'matched' by his parents, and was matched/doubled by Heifer International.   Through Miles, and each of your generous gifts, a total of $4400 was given!!   Miles and Central Church will be recognized officially by Heifer International staffperson Liz Ellis, on Sunday, June 11th.   Our annual PICNIC, POTLUCK, GRILL will follow the Children's Choir musical during worship that morning.  A big day with lots to celebrate!!

Please mark THURSDAY, JULY 6th and TUESDAY, AUGUST 1st for our intergenerational and international evenings of VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL!!  We may be 'visiting' Liberia and Armenia this summer! We'll keep you posted!

Love & thanks be to God!

Cathy

Gallery Committee

For our June show, we are pleased to present Trilogy, a collaborative exhibit of artwork created by Sarah Quinn, Evelyn Blum, and Paula Footer. These ladies have returned to artistic lives after studying, working, and raising families, and in the process, they have rediscovered the joys of visual expression. They have trained with local artists, at RISD, at the Massachusetts College of Art, and at the Decordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and now enjoy each other’s company at Hamilton House. This show promises to be colorful and inspirational!

Please join us to welcome these talented artists at the opening on Friday, June 2, from 5-7pm.

UCC Conference

Three Southern New England UCC Conferences to Hold Historic Joint Annual Meetings in June

For the first time in more than 210 years, the Rhode Island Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC) will join the UCC Conferences of Connecticut and Massachusetts in holding joint annual meetings.  Scheduled for Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17, 2017 in Hartford, Connecticut, members of Congregational Churches in all three states are invited to gather for a shared time of learning, worshiping and decision making.

Central has eleven official voting delegates who will be attending, however all church members are encouraged and welcome to attend this historic occasion.  The meeting promises to be spiritually inspiring, with powerful worship experiences.  The General Minister of the UCC, Rev. John Dorhauer, will be a speaker.  It will be an occasion to meet UCC members from the other states, make new friends, exchange ideas and insights.  Everyone will be able to participate in a discussion of the proposed merger of the three Conferences and learn how and why this decision came about.

Registration information, meeting schedules and background information related to the proposed merger is available on the Rhode Island Conference website: ricucc.org or the websites of the Massachusetts and Connecticut UCC Conferences. The deadline for registration is June 5.  While there are events both Friday and Saturday, the most important day to attend will be Saturday if attendance on both days is not possible. The registration fee is $85 which Central will reimburse on request.  Carpooling will be arranged as necessary.

There will be an informational session on Sunday, June 11 at 9:00 a.m. in the Fireplace Room for those planning to attend and for anyone else interested in learning more about the Rhode Island Conference and the Hartford meeting.  More information about this meeting will be sent closer to June 11.

LIFE ON A STAR

Retreat on Star Island for Women
September 15-17

Members of Caring and Sharing invite the women of Central and their friends to experience “life on a Star”—Star Island, that is.  Part of the Isles of Shoals, Star Island is a very small, picturesque and very historic island 10 miles off the coast of New Hampshire. We will be part of a retreat offered there called Star Women: Rock, Relax, Rejuvenate.  More on that here http://starwomen.weebly.com and here http://starisland.org/program/starwomen/

We will take the 1:55 PM ferry from Portsmouth, NH on Friday and will return to Portsmouth via the 2:15 PM ferry on Sunday.

We plan to car pool to NH and share the cost of gas (and perhaps parking at the ferry) for whoever is willing to drive.

The cost for 2 nights on the island (including your meals, your ferry ticket, and the program fee) is as follows:

  • $462 for a single room
  • $363 for a shared room

Because this retreat may fill up quickly please let Claudia know asap that you want to participate and to receive registration information! Each person will need to register themselves individually for the retreat.

If you are opting for the shared room, please find a roommate either from the Caring and Sharing list (ask Martha Nielsen or Cathy Clasper-Torch if you aren’t on that list) or perhaps another woman you know who would love the opportunity to experience "life on a Star…"

This will be a very special retreat.  Questions?  Ask Claudia.

Deacon’s Bench

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Heavy burdens are those commitments that are too heavy for us to bear. They are anything that causes concern in your hearts, and every time you think of it, gives breath of worry, frustration and helplessness. Daringly impossible problems are heavy burdens. This might be sicknesses, infirmities, poverty, loss of beloved ones, joblessness, horrible yokes like limitations, or barriers preventing full joy. These are unpleasant and horrifying upon our lives. These can be daunting challenges.

At one point in life, we face all these problems, mine came early in my life. Then what do you do? PRAYER IS THE KEY!!

From my personal experience, I was able to overcome the challenges in my life through the POWER OF PRAYERS. Each time I have a problem, I turn to the Bible and use examples that relate to that specific problem and pray about it as I have been taught by my parents.

I remembered when I lost my job at the Twin Towers in New York. I cried my eyes out. I had lost my father just few years back, barely getting over it, then this? I thought that was the end of me. I thought about all the odds against me. It's not easy looking for a job in New York City. But I quickly got on my knees, prayed and asked for God's guidance, mercy, and favor. I finally decided to move and leave New York entirely. I share this experience with you because it is outstanding and powerful testimony. God knows His plan for own lives. HE is a mysterious God. I did not know the danger that was pending ahead few years to come. HE Knew everything! At times challenges can be blessings in disguise. I will be FOREVER grateful to God Almighty. 911 happened. I still cried for all the souls that were lost. Secondly, God was preparing me for a better, lifelong profession.

Brethren, let us take our trouble and burdens to God.  He knows the best for us in every situation we find ourselves. Let us have faith in Him. I pray that God give us the strength to overcome the challenges in our lives. Amen

-Temi Sonubi

Book Group

Rebecca’s Book Group next meets on Thursday, September 28 at 12:30. The book selection is Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. All are invited to attend this lively group.

Pride Fest

PRIDE Fest & Parade - Saturday June 17

Get ready, Rhode Island Pride Fest is just around the corner! Every year, about 30,000 people participate in this full-day of festivities celebrating LGBTQ rights and the spirit of inclusivity here in Rhode Island. This all-ages event is a fun opportunity for Central to showcase itself as a welcoming and affirming congregation. Central will have an information booth during Pride Fest in the afternoon, and then we will march together in the Illuminated Night Parade in the evening. Please come volunteer at our booth, march in the parade, or both!

Contact Stuart Haruyama or stop by the Welcome Table during Coffee Hour for more information or to sign-up!

Membership Directory

Please let us know of any email, address, or phone number changes by June 30. We will be updating our membership directory this summer.

BIBLE STUDY

Psalms by J. Clinton McCann
July and August 7/2-8/20
Fireplace Room Sundays, 9:00-9:45 a.m. 

Books available for $10 each

This summer take a look at the sweeping content of the Book of Psalms in Immersion Bible Studies’ book by J. Clinton McCann. Each week is a different topic:

  1. The Pursuit of Happiness, 7/2
  2. Where Is God in a World of Suffering?, 7/9
  3. Faithful Complaining, 7/16
  4. A Lifestyle of Gratitude, 7/23
  5. A Lifestyle of Praise, 7/30
  6. Whom Can We Trust?, 8/6
  7. Marching to Zion, 8/13
  8. Establishing Justice, 8/20

Come to one session, or all of them using this study guide so that you can’t “get behind”!  Please see Claudia to purchase your copy.

LET’S GO TO THE THEATRE!!  TWICE!!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
July 2 at 2:30 PM

Bell, Book and Candle
August 13 at 2:30 PM

Second Story Theatre
28 Market Street
Warren, RI

Tickets are $20 (plus a $2.00 order fee).  You are responsible for purchasing your own tickets for this outing.  Second Story Theatre is a small gem of a theater in our state and you are advised to get your tickets as soon as possible for these very special CCC outings.

CCC Summer VBS for ALL Ages!

Thursday, July 6—Armenia
Tuesday, August 1—Liberia
5:30-7:30 PM

`We were delighted with the wonderful response in the past two years to our new model for Vacation Bible School and will continue to “visit” countries with missions supported by the UCC this summer. Come join us we meet on Tuesday, July 6 and Thursday, August 1 knowing that this VBS is for EVERYONE!!  Children AND adults of ALL ages are welcome to join in the fun!

We will gather together for food from that country in addition to a pizza supper before “taking off” each night to a far-flung place where our UCC Global Mission partners live and work.  Along the way we will play games, sing, do crafts and connect with our faith.  We will end with stories and songs and s’mores around the campfire weather permitting.

Take a trip with Aidan, Cathy and Claudia as together we explore Liberia and Armenia!

LUNCH AT RICK’S ROADHOUSE

370 Richmond St. Providence
Sunday July 16 at 11:30 a.m.  

Rick’s Roadhouse features down home food that can only enhance our time of table fellowship together.  Join your Central friends for good conversation and a fabulously delicious lunch after worship!  Please RSVP to Claudia.

SUMMER HYMN SING!

July 23
9:50 a.m. before Worship

Warm up your singing voices and come to church early for our summer hymn sing as we make a joyful noise to God through song!

ICE CREAM SUNDAE SUNDAY

July 30—during Coffee Hour
(Bring ice cream toppings to share)

Plan to stay for our special Ice Cream Sundae Sunday Coffee Hour on July 30!  Please bring ice cream toppings to share.  The ice cream will be provided!

BRUNCH AT DOHERTY’S IRISH PUB

342 East Avenue, Pawtucket
August 6 at 11:30 AM

Join your friends at Central for brunch!  Doherty’s has an extensive breakfast and lunch menu with lots of favorite offerings, Irish and otherwise.  Interested?  Let Claudia know so she can alert the restaurant to how many are planning to be there.

LUNCH AT RASOI RESTAURANT

727 East Avenue in Pawtucket (at the end of Blackstone Boulevard)
August 21 at 11:30 AM
Buffet at $14.95 per person

Join your friends from Central at this award winning restaurant in our own backyard!  If you’ve never sampled Indian food, this is your chance to try a variety of dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.  Good food!  Good fellowship!  Who could ask for more?  Please RSVP to Claudia.

Summer Sundays and Worship Schedule 2017

Summer Worship Services are at 10:00 a.m. from June 19 through September 4

June (Church office closes at 4:00 P.M. this month)
18 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
25 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC with Youth Mission Trip Commissioning
11:30 a.m. Carousel Sunday—Lunch and rides on the carousel at Crescent Park
July (Church office closes at 3:00 P.M. this month)
2 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
2:30 PM Breakfast at Tiffany’s at Second Story Theatre ($20 plus a $2.00 fee)
9 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
16 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
11:30 Lunch at Rick’s Roadhouse, 370 Richmond St. Providence
23 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
9:50 a.m. Hymn Sing
10:00 a.m. Worship
30 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
11:00 a.m. Ice Cream Sundae Sunday! (Bring a topping to share)
August (Church office closes at 3:00 P.M. this month)
6 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC, Sacrament of Communion
11:30 a.m. Brunch at Doherty’s Irish Pub
13 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
2:30 PM Bell, Book and Candle at Second Story Theatre ($20 plus a $2.00 fee)
20 9:00 a.m. Bible Study—Psalms (Fireplace Room)
10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
27 10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
11:30 a.m.  Rasoi Restaurant, 727 East Street, Pawtucket (Buffet at $14.95 per person)
September
3 10:00 a.m. Worship at Central Congregational Church UCC
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Bible 101 with the Rev. Dr. Russ Miller

Thursday evenings, May 11th and May 18th
Deacons' Room, 7-8 pm.
(Come for just one if you cannot do two!)

Bible 101Join fellow member, the Rev. Dr. Russ Miller, as he helps us engage with the Bible itself -- what it is and how it came to be in the form we know today.  Issues of authorship, how changes worked their way into the texts, difficulties posed by the original languages and their translations, the different versions of the Bible....these and other intriguing questions will be shared....

This may be a review for you, or a first and fresh look.

Do join with fellow members to learn more about this foundational document of our Christian faith.

All are welcome...

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165th Annual Meeting

Members of Central Congregational Church are cordially invited to attend the 165th Annual Meeting at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, June 4th, 2017.

Luncheon to follow in Chapel Hall  12:30 p.m.

Please make luncheon reservations by downloading and returning this form  along with your check payable to Central Congregational Church by Tuesday, May 30.

Tickets are $10 per person

If you are unable to mail in your reservation and payment, please call the church office at 331-1960

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May 2017 Newsletter

CentralNEWS/May 2017

VOLUME 25 NUMBER 5
296 Angell Street Providence, RI 02906
401-331-1960

From Rebecca

Dear Friends,

In 1928, Central Church published a little booklet, titled “A LIVING CHURCH”. Its first chapter was called “A Source of Power”. The first sentences were these:

“On one of the highest points in Providence, four blocks from Brown University, stands an ivy clad Renaissance building of yellow brick, whose twin square towers and dome of weathered copper look down in dignity upon the homes of a great residential section. No symbol of tremendous energy greets the onlooker, as does the gigantic, sky piercing chimney of a modern power plant pouring forth billowing clouds of smoke from morning till night. Yet this IS a great power plant - whose dynamic force is felt everywhere in the community. This is the plant of Central Congregational Church.”

Certainly some things have changed. The ivy is pretty much gone. Our members come from just about every town and village in the state, rather than only the East Side. And power plants no longer pour forth billowing clouds of smoke.

But our Church is still a source of power. Think about it. From this church people volunteer for Amos House breakfasts and Camp Street Ministries’ food baskets and Crossroads sandwiches. From this church, refugee families have been welcomed and set down roots, and families across the world have been helped by our partnerships with Heifer Project. From this church, people have been inspired to help others, to live in compassion, to forgive as we have been forgiven, to work in government, or business or non-profit agencies for the common good. From this church, individuals and families have given sacrificially to serve others. From this church, individuals have been baptized into Christian faith, confirmed in that Christian faith, married and commended to God’s eternal home. From this church, important questions about ethics and justice and peace have been raised, and the issues of ethics, justice and peace have progressed to better the lives of all God’s children. From this church, hope has become real in the lives of thousands.

From this church, the news has been proclaimed, year after year, decade after decade, “Christ is Risen. Alleluia!” In this glad proclamation lies our hope -- for ourselves and for God’s world. May we follow in Jesus’ footsteps and do what we can in our lives to further His mission of love and grace and healing for all. Psalm 46 reminds us, “God is our refuge and our strength.” And, as Martin Luther wrote 500 years ago, “God’s truth abideth still, God’s kingdom is forever.”

I’m glad we share this power plant of Central Congregational Church. What part of God’s strength and truth will you use for good today?

Yours, in the living Christ,

Rebecca

Baptism

The Sacrament of Baptism is an important part of our worship life together. In an effort to uplift our celebration of Baptisms in our community of faith, we will be offering Baptisms on the following days:

Children’s Sabbath                  October 8, 2017

A meeting to prepare parents for Baptism will be held in our Fireplace Room at 9 am Saturday of the preceding week.  Please speak with the Rev. Rebecca Spencer if you would like to be included in this very important part of life at Central—The Sacrament of Baptism.

New Members

New Member Inquiry*
Tuesday, October 24

Faith Exploration*
Wednesday, November 1

New Member Sunday
November 5

*These meetings are held at the home of the Rev. Rebecca Spencer 15 Taber Ave at 7 pm

MISSIONARY LUNCH

Due to health issues, the Campbell Nelsons are unable to visit in Rhode Island on May 21.  John has been diagnosed with malignant melanoma and needs to stay in Iowa for treatment.  So, our luncheon on May 21 is cancelled, and we ask for your prayers to be with the Campbell Nelson missionary family."

New Member Luncheon:  May 7

The Membership Committee invites you to join the New Member Potluck Luncheon right after the service on Sunday, May 7.  As the whole congregation turns out to welcome new members, the committee provides main dishes and others are encouraged to bring a favorite side dish, casserole, salad or dessert.  The kitchen crew will be available before church to receive your (fully or pre- cooked) food offering and warming or cooling instructions

Once again, we invite you to wear your name tag in the worship service and at the luncheon that day.  (This is another way we can make new members and visitors feel welcome.) Tables will be set up with blank tags for the convenience of those who need a temporary name tag.

Want to volunteer?  The New Member Potluck Luncheon is a great way to help out!   Whether you are a regular member of the congregation or a friend, stop at the Welcome Table in Chapel Hall during Coffee Hour before May 7 and see how easy it is to be some arms and legs (and a smile) where they are most needed in this fun church community effort

From Claudia

Although we will be back by the time you read this, it is early April as I am writing this.  Three days after Easter Janice Libby, Judy Jamieson, John Peters, Frances Munro and I will begin our pilgrimage to Germany where we will “walk” in the footsteps of Martin Luther and contemplate the 500th anniversary of the explosion of the Reformation and all that meant for the Church.

While the rumblings of reform had started over 150 years or so before Luther, most historians date the Reformation to October 31, 1517 when Luther nailed his 95 theses (or academic points for discussion) to the door of the Wittenberg church.  That set off a firestorm across Europe.  It was in some ways the “perfect storm.”  Luther’s ideas were able to be widely distributed due to the use of moveable type.  In essence, his writings went viral using what amounted to the Internet of his day.

We hope you will join your Central pilgrims at 9:00 AM in the Fireplace Room on May 7 when we will talk about our experiences in Germany.  We will be touring Mainz, Worms, Erfurt, Eisenach, Eisleben, Dresden, Leipzig, Wittenberg and Berlin.  Not only will we follow in Luther’s footsteps, but we will also pay tribute to J. S. Bach and see many other sights along the way.

As Martin Luther once said, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”  As we travel throughout Germany this spring we take the good news of Easter with us sharing it with our fellow travelers and those we meet along the way.  Ein gesegnetes Osterfest!

Blessings for this Easter season…

Claudia

ANGELLIC KNITTERS

Sunday, May 21
11:30 AM Chapel Hall

The Angellic Knitters will be sharing a special table with knitters and others at the Mission Lunch on May 21 as we hear about the Campbell Nelsons’ work in Timor through the UCC Global Ministries.  Please plan to join us! Questions?  Call Janice Libby or Claudia.

Celebrate! Commemorate!

Your lifelong connections to Central with an engraved brick in the West Lawn Terrace.

Personalize your brick as you wish: with a name(s) of your choice or “In honor of a special person, family or event in your life. . . from yesterday, today, or tomorrow”.

Bricks with a three-line (18 characters per line) inscription are $200. Please contact the church office if interested.

CCC Adult Sunday School

Martin Luther Germany Trip Presentation May 7
Hildegard von Bingen May 21 & 28 (NO CLASS on 5/14)      

Fireplace Room, 9:00-10:00 AM

Hildegard von Bingen was truly a woman ahead of her time.  A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed 12th-century Benedictine nun was a Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, poet, naturalist, scientist, physician, herbalist and ecological activist.”  Come hear her story and discuss the implications of the life of a woman who influenced not only her world, but also who continues to influence

It’s Back!!!

Full Moon Labyrinth Walk
Tuesday, May 9 from 7:00-7:30 PM

Come and enjoy our brand new outdoor labyrinth (located just outside the kitchen door) under the Full Flower Moon.  Drop in between 7:00 PM and 7:30 PM on Tuesday, May 9 weather permitting to walk the labyrinth and enjoy the company of Central friends under a full moon.  Questions? Ask Claudia.

Gallery Committee

For our May exhibit, we welcome Irene Lawrence. Irene is an accomplished abstract painter who builds texture with varying thicknesses and uses richly pigmented paints to create different rhythms in her art. Ms. Lawrence grew up on Long Island and attended RISD; she now works and lives in Providence. She has exhibited widely in Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts; her work is also included in private, public, and corporate collections.

These vibrant paintings will be displayed from May 3 until the end of the month. There will not be a formal

FOOD FOR THOUGHT BOOK GROUP

Thursday, May 11
7:00-8:30 pm in the Fireplace Room at Central

Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book—Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

Looking Ahead:

June 8—Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.

From Aidan

FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH - POP IN BIBLE STUDY

On the first Sunday of the month, Aidan leads a casual, “pop in” Bible study following worship in the Deacons’ Room.  Each study will be a stand-alone exploration of a biblical text that aims to bring us into its context while discerning together where we find God’s Word speaking to us today.  No prior study or attendance will be necessary and it is open to everyone in our community.  We will use various biblical translations and different methods to dive into our sacred and living library.

CONVERSATIONS WITH AIDAN

Aidan is offering a time of fellowship and conversation for our Confirmation and high school youth following worship on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sundays of the month.  We will meet in the Deacons’ Room right after worship and gather until 12:15 or 12:30. These will be informal times of conversation around a relevant topic

MAY YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY EVENTS

Sunday, May 7th

9:00 am: Confirmation Class w/ Deacon Mentors (Makepeace Room)
10:30 am: New Member Sunday
11:30 am: Pop In Bible Study (Deacons’ Room)
11:45 am: New Member Lunch (Chapel Hall)

Sunday, May 14th                  

9:00 am: Confirmation Class (Dream-makers Room)
10:30 am: Worship

Friday, May 19th                    

4:30 am: Confirmation Worship Rehearsal (Sanctuary)
6 am: Confirmation Recognition Dinner (Chapel Hall)

Sunday, May 21st                   

9:15 am: Confirmation Deacons’ Breakfast (Fireplace)
10:30 am: Confirmation Sunday Worship
11:30 am: Coffee Fellowship/Mission Lunch

Sunday, May 28th                  

10:30 am: Worship
11:30 am: Conversations with Aidan (Deacons’)
Noon: Young Adults Lunch

SUMMER READING?

Looking for good reads for the backyard or the beach?  Search no more.  Take advantage of spring cleaning at Central's library!  Here's how:

Watch for the library cart at coffee after worship.  Take some intriguing titles home with you -- no payment, no return required, share with a friend.

But remember:  Please No More Donations to the Library!

Deacon’s Bench

Spring is upon us and is one of my favorite times of the year. It is a rebirth of nature.  As I look out my window and see the once dull and brittle grass becoming green and plush, I get excited with anticipation of starting my lawn mower and being outside in the warmth of the sun, saying hello to neighbors who I have not seen much of during the cold winter months.

As I see leaves and flower beds begin to bloom, it reminds me that spring is a time to reflect on our journey thus far and imagine the steps that we will take in the new year.  Hope is reborn.   It is hope that invites us to take a deeper walk with God on our journey, living in faith, facing each day and embracing its beauty. It is hope and our faith that allow us to feel God’s love within us through both joyous and difficult times.

It is with such reflection that I think of the passage “Go in Love” written by Nancy Price and Don Besig.  It was sung during the Benediction of my last church service at the Barrington Congregational Church.

“Go in love, have no fear, God will guide you, God is always near.
Go in love, take God’s hand, God will hear you and will understand.
May God’s light forever shine upon you, may full peace be always in your heart.
Go in love, face each day, God will lead you and will show the way.
Go in love and live in faith.”

Have a safe and meaningful Memorial Day.

-Bob Kaloostian

Important UCC Conference Meeting

Three Southern New England UCC Conferences to Hold Historic Joint Annual Meetings in June

For the first time in more than 210 years, the Rhode Island Conference of the United Church of Christ will join the UCC Conferences of Connecticut and Massachusetts in holding a joint annual meeting.  Scheduled for Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17, 2017 in Hartford, Connecticut, members of Congregational Churches in all three states are invited to gather for a shared time of learning, worshiping and decision making.

All are encouraged to attend this historic occasion.  The meeting promises to be spiritually inspiring, with powerful worship experiences.  The General Minister of the UCC, Rev. John Dorhauer, will be a speaker.  It will be an occasion to meet UCC members from the other states, make new friends, exchange ideas and insights.  Everyone will be able to participate in a discussion of the proposed merger of the three Conferences and learn how and why this decision came about.

Registration information, meeting schedules and background information related to the proposed merger is available on the Rhode Island Conference website: ricucc.org. The deadline for registration is June 5.  While there are events both Friday and Saturday, the most important day to attend will be Saturday if attendance on both days is not possible. The registration fee is $85.

LIFE ON A STAR

Retreat on Star Island for Women
September 15-17

Members of Caring and Sharing invite the women of Central and their friends to experience “life on a Star”—Star Island, that is.  Part of the Isles of Shoals, Star Island is a very small, picturesque and very historic island 10 miles off the coast of New Hampshire. We will be part of a retreat offered there called Star Women: Rock, Relax, Rejuvenate.  More on that here http://starwomen.weebly.com and here http://starisland.org/program/starwomen/

We will take the 1:55 PM ferry from Portsmouth, NH on Friday and will return to Portsmouth via the 2:15 PM ferry on Sunday.

We plan to car pool to NH and share the cost of gas (and perhaps parking at the ferry) for whoever is willing to drive.  The cost for 2 nights on the island (including your meals, your ferry ticket, and the program fee) is as follows:

$462 for a single room; $363 for a shared room

Because this retreat may fill up quickly please let Claudia know asap that you want to participate and to receive registration information! Each person will need to register themselves individually for the retreat.

If you are opting for the shared room, please find a roommate either from the Caring and Sharing list (ask Martha Nielsen or Cathy Clasper-Torch if you aren’t on that list) or perhaps another woman you know who would love the opportunity to experience "life on a Star…"  This will be a very special retreat.  Questions?  Ask Claudia.

Posted in Updates | Comments Off on May 2017 Newsletter

2017 Lenten Reflection – Bill C

Readings: Hebrews 11: 1-6,   1 Corinthians 13:1-13

So far, I have been given about 28.2 million minutes on this earth (give or take 100,000). Tonight, I’ve been given about 15 minutes to tell you about it. Fortunately for you all, my memory isn’t that good…

My thoughts may seem a bit random or scattered as I share them with you. But, I hope, when I’m done, you’ll see the connection.

I was born in Providence. I’ve always found special meaning in being able to say that. Even when the context of that statement refers to a locality or a zip code, which it almost always does, I say it with an understanding that I truly WAS… born in Providence – born into the loving and benevolent guidance of God – born into God’s loving grace, as were all of you.

I hesitate to speak this next revelation about myself because, probably, there will be some of you who don’t believe this could be true. But here it is:  I truly do not remember a moment in my life when I didn’t believe in the existence of God, AND in the presence of God in my life.  (Well, there may have been a twinge of doubt when I was informed that Santa Clause wasn’t real, but….)

“IS there a God?” has never been a question I struggled with. Of course, all the other questions which arise around that one – well they challenge me as profoundly as they challenge anyone… Questions like WHY, God?!…  questions like What does God WANT?… like Who is Jesus, really, in relation to God?… WHAT is Jesus?… What is my relationship with Jesus?… questions like Is there really a force called evil, or is it actually  just a profound separation from God? …questions like Does God really punish us if we fail to be faithful and loving – or are the bad things that happen just the natural, organic consequences of the free will that God gave us?  These questions, and so many more, I still struggle with every day, and I suppose I always will.

But, because I have questions – because I have doubts – does not mean that I don’t have Faith. I believe God is present in all places, in all souls, at all times. I believe God understands ALL, even though I – even though WE – understand so very very little.

I was offered the honor of sharing my… Faith… Journey… with you all here this evening. As I contemplated what to share, I was inspired to focus on the word Faith. (Remember the journey is, so far, more than 28 million minutes long… Be glad I chose Faith.)

In the reading this past Sunday, in John: chapter 11, we heard about Jesus being told that his dear friend Lazarus was ill, and being asked to come – and how Jesus waited two days to go to Lazarus. We heard how Martha challenged – perhaps even scolded Jesus. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not be dead.”  AND we also heard about the Faith Martha had in Jesus (and in God), despite her grief and anger, saying “but even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  That is Faith.

Through most of my life, a particular number keeps appearing. Quite often, it seems to me that God uses this number as a sort of tap on the shoulder – reminding me that he is present, challenging me to pay attention. There have been a few times when the coincidental appearance of this number was directly connected to a very powerful moment in my life. Now, scientists would say that this is not evidence that God speaks to us in such ways. I say – YES, it is. Faith is what keeps me alert when this number appears; faith is what makes me stop and listen for what God is trying to say. By the way, that number is 1732.

God was definitely present when I was 12 years old, and watched as cancer turned my father from a giant – a hero – my idol… into a frail, sickly, weeping person… and then took his life.

God was most certainly present at the births of my wonderful children and grandchildren, all healthy – all amazing.

God’s presence was never in doubt as I searched for a church – for a faith community – where I and my family could feel a true sense of belonging. And each time I realized that a particular church or community was “not the one” – because we were from the north, because I was divorced, because my partner and I had an infant child and weren’t married, because I refused to condemn people for their sexual orientation… the existence and presence of God was still known to me, even in all those moments when the term “Christian” became more and more difficult for me to align myself with.

God was surely present that day in 1989 when, very suddenly, the horrific reality of my oath of military enlistment was put to the test – and God has been present the thousands of times I’ve relived that moment; and I believe God will be present in all the memories and nightmares I have yet to live through.

In 2010, at a very dark and low point in my life, I asked God for two things. I did NOT ask for a quick and easy road back to financial security – after 18 months of unemployment had devastated me financially. And I did NOT ask for a fast and complete cure for the cancer I had just been told I was afflicted with. Somehow, I already felt that God had those issues under control; I just knew God had a plan.

The two things I did ask for were these:

Firstly, I asked God to grant me a relationship with a true partner, a best friend, and – as cliché as it may be – a soulmate. I asked for a partner who could engage in the relationship and give as much as she asked for – a partner who could share love and faith and sorrow and joy – a partner who – FINALLY, Finally – I could truly trust.

Secondly, I asked God to show me a path toward a community of people, gathered in Faith and Love, who would welcome and accept me for who I am. I asked for a faith community in which I would be appreciated for being an individual. I asked for a community that could find value in the fact that my faith – my relationship with God – is as unique as my DNA, and as unique as their faith and relationship with God. I asked to be – FINALLY, Finally – a real MEMBER of a church.

Now, in asking God for these things, I was very afraid. It wasn’t so much that I feared that God’s answer would be “No”, because that would mean that God had other plans for me. Rather, I was afraid that I would not see or hear the answer at all. I feared that I would be left to wonder, to struggle, to fear and to wait. I feared that I didn’t have the strength for there to be no answer at all.

But, God DID answer those prayers. The answer to the first prayer is named Sandi – and she IS my partner, my best friend, my soulmate. And, the answer to the second prayer is called Central Congregational Church.

I can’t know where I would be today had those answers not been given to me by God. But I have a deep, strong feeling that I would not be in a very good place. I think, in answering those prayers as beautifully and gracefully as God did, I was truly saved.

Of course, scientists would insist that these are not answers to prayers from a Deity. They would say that these happenstances in my life are – in no way – proof of the existence and presence of God. But, I say – YES, they most certainly are.

The specific things that I believe about God and about Jesus, and the things I don’t believe, and the things I struggle to understand – I suspect each of you would agree with me in some of these things and disagree with me in others. I suspect some of my beliefs and disbeliefs may even upset you. But what’s really important is that this is a faith community, a spiritual family, in which we value and respect each other – in which we try to meet people where they are. What’s important is that this wonderful group of souls is a powerful source of positive and loving energy for this very troubled world.

About Faith, in his novel Angels and Demons, Dan Brown wrote this: (I’ve made minor edits to make this non-gender-specific) “Whether or not you believe in God, you must believe this: when we as a species abandon our trust in a power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faiths… all faiths… are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable. With faith we are accountable to each other, to ourselves, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because humans are flawed. The church consists of imperfect, simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world spinning out of control.”

And author Madeleine L’Engle put it much more simply when she said “Some things have to be believed to be seen.”

I was born in Providence. I believe we all were. I don’t believe that means we expect to live in bliss. I think it means that, God brings us to some beautiful experiences, and brings us through them – just as God brings us to some painful experiences – and brings us through them.

I am proud and honored to be called a member of this family. I thank God for showing me the path that brought me here, and I thank you all so much for welcoming and accepting me – and for meeting me where I am. To quote a country song by Rascal Flatts (and any of you who know me are aware that quoting a COUNTRY song is way outside my comfort zone): “Bless the broken road that led me to you.”

Posted in 2017 Lenten Reflections, Lenten Reflections | Comments Off on 2017 Lenten Reflection – Bill C