A Message to Central Church From the Scouts

An Address by Charles Rardin to the Congregation on Scout Sunday

From Dr. Charles R. Rardin -  February 11th, 2018

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that these are strange times.  Humans have always been complicated creatures, so maybe none of this is new, but there seems to be a collective sense of being unsettled.  Public figures and those in positions of power are celebrated one day, and the next day are discovered or declared villains.  Racial, gender, ethnic and political divisions seem deeper than we knew.  Public and political discourse seems to be irresistibly degenerating into name-calling and bickering, in 140 characters or fewer.  Behavior that we would never tolerate in an 8-year old is accepted and even celebrated by some in power.  If this is difficult and confusing for those of us who at least like to pretend we are adults, imagine trying to figure it out as a young person.

Central Church, as an organization and a community, lives and demonstrates good character.   It reaches out to those who can’t make it in.  It provides space and sanctuary to those who are in need of help, in a wide variety of support groups that meet here throughout the week.  The Church itself tithes – gives a tenth of its treasure to charity.  And it is the Sponsoring Organization for Pack 88 and Troop 28 Providence of the Boy Scouts of America.  Scouting for many years, nationally and here at Central, has offered young men not just the opportunity for adventure and camaraderie, but also mentorship in character.  As my wife’s group, as it sponsors the Pancake Breakfast each year, puts it – “Center for OBGyn – women thanking Boy Scouts for raising good men.”

Scouting roots grow deep here at Central, and I’d like to recognize, and ask to stand, any Eagle Scouts that are present – once an Eagle, always an Eagle.  Also, please stand if you have been involved in Scouting at some point.  And now I’d ask Pack 88 and Troop 28 to stand.  Even if it is very familiar to you, I’d like you to listen with fresh ears to the Scout Law; Many has been the time when, dismayed and discouraged by the ways in which humans can treat each other, hearing this weekly commitment to character makes me feel just a bit more optimistic.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. As is our tradition, Boy Scout Troop 28 offers its thanks to Central Church, in the form of ice cream in Chapel Hall.  We are once again grateful to Bob Kaloostian for his contribution of toppings and goodies.  We hope you enjoy.


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Feb. 2018 Newsletter

Central NEWS




Friends, so here we are in 2018—125 years ago, in 1893, our founders were building this structure we call Central. The technical word for this anniversary is Quasquicentennial; however, I am proposing we celebrate 2018 as the 125th year of living gratefully around the ideals of our founders: living, giving, serving, believing and growing in faith.

As this new year unfolds, I ask you to prayerfully consider how you might live in a more faith-filled way. How might you find new ways to give your time, talent and treasure? How might you see serving others as part of your daily routine? How have your Christian beliefs grown and enriched your life?

As the people of God gathered here on Angell Street live in an increasingly divided and secular world, how does our collective faith make a difference?

I just read this perspective from one of my favorite periodicals, The Sun: “Other people are often more complex than we imagine. We may have pre- conceived notions about a preacher or a soldier or an inmate, but when they reveal themselves our hearts respond. Life gets interesting—and at times uncomfortable —when people challenge our assumptions.”

Jesus ministered to people one by one by one.

And he only had 33 years. We have had 125 years to reach out from this building—and 43 years before that when we gathered on Benefit Street to make a difference in people’s lives. I invite you this year,

2018, to recognize yourself in someone else’s eyes and to see them with your heart. Forget about what might divide you, and remember that both of you are wise and good and compassionate in different ways. --both of you are loved by God and then neither one of you will be alone—and God’s love will be multiplied in ways neither of you might imagine or even fully comprehend in the here and now.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in “The World House” wrote in 1968, “Deeply woven into the fiber of our religious tradition is the conviction that women and men are made in the image of God, and that they are souls of infinite metaphysical value. If we accept this as a profound moral fact, we cannot be content to see children hungry, to see people victimized with ill health, when we have the means to help them.”

Where two or three are gathered in His name, there Jesus is: living out a life of gratitude for all God’s gifts, helping and serving others and living in love. May it be so for us here at Central in 2018 and in other places and times beyond!

Yours in faith and gratitude,


Thoughts and Prayers

Our thoughts and prayers are with Tracy Baran. Her mother, Barbara Moorefield, died on January 16th in New Jersey.


The Membership Committee invites you to join the New Member Potluck Luncheon right after the service on Sunday, February 4. 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 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!

Parking for Services at Central

On-street parking is available on Angell Street, Diman Place, and Stimson Avenue. For Sunday Services, the Wheeler School has graciously offered the use of their lot which is accessed from Hope Street, right across from the main Wheeler building, and just around the corner from Angell Street. The best way to enter the church from the Wheeler School parking lot on Hope Street is to park, walk across the Hamilton House backyard, and enter Central Church through the Education Wing doors which open to Chapel Hall. Please be respectful of the fact that this parking is for Sunday morning services only.

Audio Video Workshop

Monday February 19th, 6PM-7PM in Chapel Hall

The Central Tech Committee is hosting a special ‘Tech Boot Camp’ to help interested members learn the basics about hosting speakers and making presentations at the church.  Attendees will learn how to set up the video projector for PowerPoint or video presentations and how to use the sound system and wireless microphone in Chapel Hall.  Tech Committee members will be prepared to answer common questions, perform fundamental troubleshooting techniques, who to contact for assistance, where equipment is stored and many other tips to make your next presentation a success.  For more information, contact Tom Viall at webmaster@centralchurch.us.


For our February show, we are pleased to present the works of Jennifer Jones Rashleigh. Jennifer is a painter who is inspired by natural design: the curve of a feather, the vein in a leaf, the wild contours of a wave. She skillfully captures the organic detail and energy that define her renderings of birds, fish, botanicals, and beach scenes. Not only does Jennifer paint on canvas, but also on tiles, fabric, floors, and furniture; her 3rd Story Studio is located in Tiverton, overlooking Sakonnet Bay.

Please join us for the opening of Jennifer's show on Friday, February 9, from 5 to 8 pm, when many of her beautiful creations will be on display and for sale.


The Caring & Sharing Women’s Group at Central is a place where women can come together in care, concern, and camaraderie, and get to know one another in deeper ways. Our monthly gatherings include silent meditation, and sharing what’s on our hearts and minds. We hold one another in care, prayer, and confidentiality. All are welcome! Please contact Cathy Clasper- Torch or Martha Nielsen if interested and we'll put you on the email list!


Friday 16 February (Chinese New Year!): – 12:30 pm LUNCH/Sharing at Gourmet House, 787 Hope Street, Providence

Friday 23 March – 6 pm POTLUCK/Sharing of “apps and finger foods” at Cathy C-T’s house, 24 Fourth Street, Providence


Over the past couple of months, a small group of Central Members who have lost their spouse/partner have gathered socially to go out for dinner. (We came together as a social group, not a grief support group.) Last

week while having dinner at Gregg’s Restaurant, we decided to extend an invitation to other Central members to join our network. The name, Not Just Supper, was chosen because it suggests that members might not only meet to share a meal but also choose to meet to take a walk, go to a movie or to see a play. Thus, Not Just Supper, is intended for individuals who find themselves alone and may from time to time like to have a friend (or friends) with whom they can socialize. For example, if someone from the group wanted to go to a movie, he/she would send an email to the group and say;

“Would anyone be interested in joining me to see the movie The Shape of Water next Monday or Wednesday evening?”

Right now, the Not Just Supper Group has seven members: Donna Chace-Larson, Bill Claflin, Emily Maranjian, Ellen Miller, John Peters, Rebecca Spencer, and Peter Woodberry. If you are interested, please seek out one of these individuals to learn more about participating, answer your questions and have your name added to the mailing list.


Pop-In Bible Study

Each month, Aidan leads a casual “pop in” Bible study following worship in the Deacons’ Room. Each study is 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. Please join us following worship on Sunday, February 4th.

WORD Mission Trip—Eastern Regional Youth Event

This summer our youth will travel to the UCC Eastern Regional Youth Event (ERYE) held at California University of Pennsylvania from July 19-22. The ERYE is a gathering of over 350 UCC youth from Maryland to Maine featuring dynamic worship and uplifting music, service work in the community, workshops on social justice issues, opportunities to network and grow in leadership skills, and time for recreation and fellowship on a beautiful college campus. We will travel by charter bus with other youth from the RI, MA, and CT Conferences and stay in dorms. A $100 deposit will be due February 1.

Homeless Awareness Sleepout

Our annual Homeless Awareness Sleepout allows our youth to spend an overnight in solidarity with those in our communities living on the margins without homes. Youth from grades 6 through 12 will hear from compelling speakers, engage the issues around homelessness and poverty, and sleep outside in a cardboard camp. This year the event will be hosted by Newman Congregational Church in Rumford on Saturday, February 24. Plan to arrive at 4 pm to set up camp and remain overnight until the following morning. Each participant will bring a large (furniture/appliance) cardboard box to use as shelter. Newman will also be collecting toilet paper that will be donated to Mathewson Street UMC in Providence. More info will be emailed closer to the event. Please let Aidan know at aidan@centralchurch.us if you know you are planning to participate.


All are invited to join us in weekly Wednesday Lenten Meditation services. These services, held in Wilson Chapel each Wednesday in Lent, last for one half hour, from 5:30—6 pm. Led by one of your fellow Centralites, these meditations offer the opportunity midweek to pause and ponder your faith journey in Lent. Leaders share their own explorations in faith, offering all of us the chance to draw on our own faith and experiences and to come to know another individual's reflections. Do plan to join us.

Wednesday Meditation services are followed by a soup and bread dinner at 6 pm in the Fireplace Room offered by the Mission and Action committee, with a speaker each week offering perspectives on one of our partner agencies in mission.

February 21—Led by Brian Newberry
February 28—Led by Wendy Drumm


February 2018

At the very beginning of this month a number of Central women will gather in the beautiful retreat center owned by the Episcopal church in Pascoag, RI. For two nights and just under two days we will walk the grounds, visit the animals who live there, and eat the good food prepared for us. We will talk and laugh, do puzzles and play games. We will read and rest and connect with each other. Most importantly, we will consider our relationship with God and with others.

Our theme this year is “Let Your Life Speak.” This is not only the title of a book on vocation by Parker Palmer, but it is a well known saying of our Quaker siblings. It is an adaptation of an expression often used by George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, who lived in

the 1600’s. The expression he used was let your life preach. Either expression has much to say to us as we enter the Christian contemplative season of Lent this month.

Letting our lives preach in its simplest form means that each of us is a living sermon about who we are because of our relationship with God—and with one another. Letting our lives speak is an extension of that idea as we “speak” to those whom we encounter through the ways that we live our lives—what we do as well as what we say.

There is another nuance, though, to letting our lives speak. Summed up in a succinct question it is, “What is your life saying to you?” Can we be still and listen to what God is saying to us through the way that we are living our lives? Can we contemplate and discern what we might need to change as we hear that still, small voice of God residing deep within each of us? There is not a once and for all answer to these questions.

In their wisdom, those who created the calendar of Church seasons so long ago realized that we need contemplative seasons like Advent and Lent. Who are we each as Christian people? May we ponder that question anew this Lent and may we each let our life speak not only to others, but to ourselves as well.

Yours in love and faith,



Thursdays 6-7 pm 3/1, 4/5, 5/3, 6/7

Where is God in our lives? Spiritual companionship is a very ancient tradition. It is a way to offer ourselves a holy spaciousness by listening for God in our lives. We encounter our own inner wisdom as we seek where God is found in our daily living. Through the companionship of others, participants often find new possibilities in their spiritual life and practices. Please RSVP to Claudia.


Thursday February 8th from 7:00-8:30 pm in the Fireplace Room
Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book, The Hate U Give (the Read Across RI book for 2018) by Angie Thomas.

Looking ahead:

March 8: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
April 12: Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
May 10: Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber


Underground Railroad
9:00-10:00am in the Fireplace Room February 11, 18, & 25

The story of William Still is little known, but he got as many runaway slaves as he could through Pennsylvania and on to Canada and freedom. Remarkably he kept secret records of who passed through the Philadelphia station including where they were from and how they had escaped as well as the families they had left behind. Later these stories became a book. Join us for thought-provoking ideas and conversation about William Still—civil rights activist, conductor, businessman, historian, and writer.


Sunday February 11 11:45 am in Chapel Hall

Come learn more about Central’s Prayer Shawl ministry. We will be knitting beside our display in Chapel Hall during the Committee Faire! All are welcome to join us!! Questions? Call Janice Libby or Claudia.


The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth 12-12:45 pm in the Fireplace Room

2/11, 2/25, 3/4, 3/11, 3/18, 3/25 (Note: no gathering on 2/18, President’s Day Weekend)

“Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply” (Henri J. M. Nouwen). Join other friends from Central as we seek to deepen our spiritual lives through prayer, reflection, and Scripture using Joyce Rupp’s classic book on spiritual growth.

Participants must purchase their own books. Used ones are available online for $1-$5 plus shipping and handling. See Claudia if you have questions.


…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:

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 on the preceding Saturdays. 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.

Stewardship Update

When considering our Stewardship Campaign for this year, Rebecca Spencer brought to us the idea of the Riverside Church in New York which is using Gratitude as its theme for the year. Please go to their website for more information https:// www.trcnyc.org/grateful/

The Riverside Church is asking their members to Live Gratefully, Give Gratefully, Serve Gratefully, Believe Gratefully, and Grow Gratefully. This piece from their website points out why it is important to give gratefully as Christians.

“Before Christian stewardship is about how we use our money, it’s about how we live our lives in communion with God and each other. Using learning tools like worship, education, and dialogue, Steward- ship and Development supports and shapes people of faith as they strive to show generosity in every aspect of their lives and better understand the connection between faith and giving.”

We hope that as you consider your pledge this year, you will think about giving gratefully as part of your faith journey. Dedication Sunday is February 18. Please prayerfully consider increasing your pledge over last year.

Pony Express Bags will go out to members whose pledges have not been received on February 25.

Please feel free to reach out to Beth Newberry 401-447- 6800 or Jeff Baran 401-595-4211 with any questions.


By Michael Hopkins

A few years ago I was hanging out with some friends and drinking some wine. It was a games night - drink some wine, play a game, and repeat. After a couple of games and a couple bottles of wine we were getting a little loud. It was Saturday night and somehow it came up that I would be going to church in the morning. Cue crickets.

While the look of surprise on my friends’ faces was priceless, I was relieved when one broke the silence. “So, you believe in God and heaven and all that? Why?”

I said that I was not sure how that whole heaven thing works, but as a general principle Pascal’s wager works for me. Pascal’s Wager goes something like this: Let’s say we make a bet: I bet there is a God, and you bet there is not. If you win you win nothing. If I win then, I win everything.

The precious look of surprise started to fade away from their faces. Here was the rational skeptical guy they knew. One of them asked,

“What if you give up something worthwhile in your life and then you find out there is no God?”

This may have been a good time for thoughtful reflection. I may have been able to make some good points about being part of a community that is making a difference in the world. I could have told them there is a sense of purpose in knowing that I am working towards goals that are greater than myself. I am not really giving anything up. I am really the beneficiary of much that I do. Let’s say my faith was not entirely correct, but I have lived my life in accordance with my values. Would that be so bad?

Alas it may have been the wine or my youth, but I went for the quick cheap laugh that made a point, but left so much unsaid. What if you believe that (insert non g-rated behavior here) is morally good? Cue laughter. Return to wine and games.

My friends were well intentioned. They were honestly concerned church might not be the best choice for me. While my answers were not likely to convert anyone, they at least left my friends comfortable that I was making rational decisions. I have lost touch with those friends, but I hope that knowing me helped them see church-goers in a more positive light.

Lately I have heard a couple of stories about folks in our church dealing with less well- intentioned comments. People have had their intelligence belittled for having faith in God.

Some have even faced outright hostility. I wish I had an easy answer of what to say - a stock answer or approach guaranteed to get through to people in these situations. There probably isn’t one. Maybe the best answer is to humbly go about living our lives as best we can with a commitment to God and our community. In time maybe they’ll see.

—Michael Hopkins


In April, Trinity Repertory Company is staging the musical Ragtime. I, Martha Nielsen, am a Community Builder for Trinity, and have chosen our Food for Thought book group (and by extension, the Central Church congregation) to be the community with which I share a very special invitation, one with several perks! I will list these in chronological order. You are invited to join in any or all of these events.

  • On Tuesday March 27 at 7 pm at the theater there will be a free, open to the public First Chat. This is the evening of the day of the first rehearsal.
  • FFT will be reading the book Ragtime for our April meeting on Thursday April 12 at 7pm in the Fireplace Room. The director, Curt Columbus and perhaps an actor or two, will be coming to talk with us and join in our discussion.
  • We will see the play Sunday April 29. There is a Prologue at 1 pm, and show time is 2 pm.
  • There will be a special talk-back for us after this performance.
  • Trinity will hold another Community event, Context and Conversations, midway through the run, in May TBD, again free and open to the public.

Please go here https://www.trinityrep.com/show/ragtime/ and here https://www.trinityrep.com/engagement/audience-engagement/engagement-events/ for lots more info about the play and all the extra events.

I have reserved a block of ten tickets for the 2 pm matinee on April 29. They are $29 each and I will need your reservation and ticket money no later than March 15. Checks should be made out to Martha Nielsen. Please contact me if you have any questions about the play or any of the additional events. I am excited to be sharing this special opportunity with you!

Martha Nielsen


Dear Central Congregational Church friends,

Our annual all-church Committee Faire is scheduled for Sunday, February 11, following the service. This is a wonderful opportunity to proudly share your committee's work with the congregation and engender interest and support, always important, but particularly so now as it’s that time of year when the Nominating Committee gets to work on creating great committees for next year.

About the Committee Faire:

  • Every committee should have at least one - or more - representatives in attendance. If you can think of a way to stand out that could generate interest in your committee's work, go for it. It’s perfectly ok to have fun and be creative!
  • Each committee should already have a tri-fold presentation board; these are stored at the church outside Cory’s office. You can wait to pick up your tri- fold board on the day of the fair - OR - you could ask one or more of your volunteers to pick it up one a Sunday prior, and spruce it up a bit before February 11. Again, be creative!
  • Your committee representatives should be ready and willing to talk with church members about your committee's work, to share what they have enjoyed or to offer an update on your group's goals. (OK… while hardly necessary, a candy bowl or a treat of some kind might help to get conversation going!)
  • It’s a good idea to have a pad of paper for interested members to leave their contact information. Also, I’ll be sure to drop off at your table the tri-fold
  • “Invitation to all Central Congregational Members,” which includes a form where members can express interest in specific committees.

After the Committee Faire:

  • You will be contacted by a member of the Nominating Committee who will ask about your group's strengths and needs, perhaps even before February 11. If you record the names of interested members at the faire, please share it with your Nominating Committee rep soon afterwards.
  • The Nominating Committee will assemble information from all committees, and will begin its work to match talents to needs. This is a complex process, and sometimes ends with people asked to serve in areas they had not considered before. We will do our best to support the needs of each committee.

You do not have to make calls or “recruit” committee members - Nominating will begin to make calls within a few weeks of the fair and will follow up with you throughout the process.

The Nominating Committee joins me in thanking you for all you do for our congregation. We are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing team of leaders who are so deeply invested in the work and life of the church.

We are looking forward to working with you these next few months and to supporting your good work. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me or to any member of Nominating with any questions or concerns you might have.

Ever grateful, Margaret Gardner


By Margaret Gardner

How often have we all wondered and even asked this question: how can I help? We want to assist someone or some organization, but sometimes we don’t quite know how. We want to serve and offer our unique talents, but sometimes need help ourselves, in figuring out what those might be in a particular situation. This is the time of year when Central Congregational Church begins the important work of committee building by seeking church members to join the various committees and help our Church, - the Church we love - prosper and continue to thrive through their work.

It’s that time of year when we hope you will reflect on your interests and talents and think seriously about how you can help that effort.

Over the next few months, members of the Nominating Committee will reflect on the future needs of the Church as we seek to fill several openings on our Church committees. In so doing, they will talk to many of you as the group assembles its recommendations for leadership. We will seek to link talents to needs, recognizing that there are so many gifts to share here at Central: some of us are nurturers, some are problem solvers, some have technical skills, some are organizers, some love music or art, some like to write, some love to socialize; the list goes on and on.

If you are wondering what committee might work for you and your unique gifts, do attend the annual Committee Faire after the service on February 11. There you can speak to current members of the various committees and discover opportunities for service you

might not know about. If joining a committee doesn’t work for you right now, consider becoming a committee “friend,” available to assist with specific projects or requests. Do let a member of the Nominating Committee know where your interests lie.

And, ultimately, we hope you will say “Yes, I can help!” when someone from the Nominating Committee calls.


The Religious Education Committee will be holding its winter Game Night on Saturday, February 10 from 5 to 7 pm. All ages are welcome. Pizza, snacks, desserts, and beverages will be provided. Bring your favorite game to share! Suggested donation is $5 per individual and $10 per family.


14 February 7:30 pm

Ash Wednesday begins the Season of Lent with the imposition of ashes. During the moving ancient ceremony, the ashes were placed on the foreheads of the faithful with the words from Genesis: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” There is evidence that this service originated in

Gaul in the sixth century and was at first “confined to public penitents doing penance for grave and notorious sin, whom the clergy tried to comfort and encourage by submitting themselves to the same public humiliation.”



Thursday 1
6pm Spiritual Companionship Group

Sunday 4
11:45 am New Member Luncheon

Thursday 8
7pm Food For Thought Book Group: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Friday 9
5 pm Gallery Opening: Jennifer Jones Rashleigh

Saturday 10
5 pm Game Night

Sunday 11
12 noon The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth

Thursday 15
7:30 am CCC Men’s Group

Friday 16
7:30 pm Film Fare: “Good Night and Good Luck”

Sunday 18 (Dedication Sunday)
12 noon Leadership Luncheon

Monday 19
6PM Tech AV Training in Chapel Hall

Wednesday 21
5:30 pm Lenten Meditation
6 pm Lenten Mission Supper

Thursday 22
12:30 pm Rebecca’s Book Group: Quiet Until the Thaw by Alexandra Fuller

Sunday 25
12 noon The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth 4 pm Service of Music

Wednesday 28
5:30 pm Lenten Meditation
6:00 pm Lenten Mission Supper


Thursday 1
6:30 pm—Music
7 pm—Religious Ed

Sunday 4
915 am—Stewardship

Wednesday 7
9 am—Gallery

Sunday 11
9 am—Stewardship

Tuesday 13
5:30 pm—Deacons

Thursday 15
5:30 pm—Nominating

Monday 19
7 pm—Technology

Tuesday 20
5:45 pm—Plant & Properties 7 pm—Prudential

February 25
9:30 am—Calling

Posted in Updates | Comments Off on Feb. 2018 Newsletter

Jan. 2018 Newsletter

Central NEWS



Dear Friends,

So, there I was at the grocery store, not one of my favorite tasks. But I reminded myself how lucky all of us there were, to be able to choose between Gala apples and Fuji. I kept on filling up the cart, splurging on a pomegranate, getting some great bargains on day old fruit. I daydreamed a little, thinking about the others sharing the aisles with me…the old lady who looked tired even before she started. The young couple asking each other about types of meat to grill. A frazzled mother with a child tugging at her and another with a few kids tagging along. A couple of firefighters with a loaded cart joking with one another. There we all were…buying things to nourish our bodies and those of the ones we love…

And then I came to the dairy section…decided which type of yogurt to buy, took advantage of some sales on butter…and I realized I needed more eggs…And I remembered what one of you shared with me in the coat room just before Sunday’s worship…After we spoke of some vicissitudes of life, you said, “well, you know, Rebecca, I think life is a little like an egg shell.”

Intrigued, I asked, “What do you mean?”

“This is it,” you said. “Life can be as fragile as an egg shell…and as sturdy and strong as an egg shell.”

Your fellow member, dear friends, was precisely right. Our lives here are both fragile and sturdy and strong. God’s love surrounds us through all the crises of our lives as well as in the triumphant celebrations…and God’s love is eternal…

So here is my revelation from the refrigerated section of Stop and Shop…as I remind you occasionally at the end of worship… “Life is short, And we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the journey with us. So…be swift to love, andmake haste to be kind.the blessing of God, who made us, who loves us, and who travels with us, be with you now and forever.”

Now I’m off to make some scrambled eggs for Tom and Ezra.

Happy New Year one and all,



Thoughts & News

“We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing. And during the writing of the story, or the painting, or playing, we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children.”

—Madeleine L’Engle

When I read this quote of Madeleine L’Engle’s (in her book, “Walking on Water; Reflections on Faith and Art”) it struck me that although she was writing to adults/other artists, that this is essentially what we do in Church School, and why we adults love working with children. Their open minds and hearts, and responsiveness to stories of faith and compassion, renew our own faith and understanding, and give us hope for the world. No wonder Jesus said, “unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)

We begin our new Church School winter unit on Sunday, January 7, 2018! We thank our new and

continuing teachers, and youth helpers!!

Head teachers will be:
Gabriel’s Gang/Shepherds/Prophets (Pre-K & 1st grade):

Diana Dansereau & Emily Welt
Stargazer/Disciples (2nd & 3rd grade):

Jaime LaVoie
Peacemakers (4th & 5th grade):

Amy Frazer
Dream-Makers (6th & 7th grade):

Cathy Clasper-Torch
Dream-Makers (8th grade):

Aidan Kelley
In our faith-full journey,

with love,

Cathy C-T



Each 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. Please join us following worship on Sunday, January 7th.


This summer our youth will travel to the UCC Eastern Regional Youth Event (ERYE) held at California University of Pennsylvania from July 18—22. The ERYE is a gathering of over 350 UCC youth from Maryland to Maine featuring dynamic worship and uplifting music, service work in the community, workshops on social justice issues, opportunities to network and grow in leadership skills, and time for recreation and fellowship on a beautiful college campus. We will travel by charter bus with other youth from the RI, MA, and CT Conferences and stay in dorms. A $100 deposit will be due January 15th. More info coming soon!


January 2018

Around the beginning of this month the tinsel is about to be removed from our trees, the eggnog is depleted, and the ornaments are being stowed away in preparation for another year. And yet, the twelve days of Christmas continue into Epiphany on January 6, the remembrance of the Magi’s visit to the Christ Child. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “It’s not over till it’s over.” And, for Christians it is just beginning.

Frederich Buechner poignantly says, “For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey, but only the beginning—not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”

In the wisdom of those who created the liturgical cycle of the Church, this is the beginning. We must pass through Bethlehem on our way to the gift of Easter. But it doesn’t end there. We continue through Eastertide into Ordinary time and eventually find ourselves at Christmastide again. What a wonder that is, when we give ourselves over to this cycle.

In this often-sorry world in which we find ourselves we move through the bitter seasons with the hope that the Light of the world is beside us. Christ the Light is with us and tending to the flicker of light that is in each one of us. Christ tends our lights, the ones that we are called to share with the world.

L. R. Knost encourages us when our burdens and those of the people around us seem too large for us to bear. She says, “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of this world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

Go forth in the darkness. Share your light with one another and know that in all things Christ’s light is there surrounding you and yours.

Epiphany blessings,



Thursdays from 6—7 pm | 1/4, 2/1, 3/1, 4/5, 5/3, 6/7

Where is God in our lives? Spiritual companionship is a very ancient tradition. It is a way to offer ourselves a holy spaciousness by listening for God in our lives. We encounter our own inner wisdom as we seek where God is found in our daily living. Through the companionship of others, participants often find new possibilities in their spiritual life and practices. Please RSVP to Claudia.


What is Belief?
9—10 pm in the Fireplace Room | January 7, 14, 21 & 28

What do I believe? Humans have always searched for ways to connect with something greater than ourselves. This series features some of the fascinating ways that people connect with the divine through religious and spiritual journeys as seen through the eyes of believers in all the corners of the world. Join us for thought-provoking ideas and conversation. Questions? Ask Claudia.


Sunday 14 January | 12 noon in the Fireplace Room

The prayers all of us are so important in this world in which we live. The Prayer Tree has been praying and hoping and praying some more together for many years now – through the world’s, others’ and our own life difficulties and joys. If you are part of Central’s Prayer Tree or if you’ve ever wondered how Central’s Prayer Tree works we invite ALL to join us at noon on January 7 as we start 2018 with a Potluck Prayer Tree Gathering of conversation and support over lunch.


Thursday 11 January | 7—8:30 pm in the Fireplace Room

Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book—A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.


Sunday 14 January | 11:45 am in the Deacon’s Room

Come join the fun: whether you knit, aspire to knit, or who just want to experience fellowship and participate in the blessing of the prayer shawls that are lovingly made for others! As an added bonus, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit we’ll teach you! Questions? Call Janice Libby or Claudia.


The Christmas candles and lights may be packed away for another year, but the glow of Christmas at Central has not faded! We made about $3,000, but more importantly, we shared ourselves with the wider community. So many people commented on what a welcoming, warm faith community we are. Many, many thanks to ALL our chairpersons and to everyone who worked so hard to make Christmas at Central a wonderful success!!!


February 2—4, 2018 | Episcopal Conference Center, Pascoag, Rhode Island

It’s time to start thinking about our yearly time away for relaxation and renewal! Our annual retreat will take place February 2 through 4, 2017 at the spectacular Episcopal Conference Center in nearby Pascoag, Rhode Island, which is about 30 minutes from Providence and only a few minutes away from the village of Chepachet. The property encompasses 180 wooded acres of hiking trails bordering on Echo Lake. The original farmhouse from the 1700s has a large addition with bedrooms, meeting spaces, a dining room, etc. And, the caretakers raise llamas on part of the property! Imagine! No cooking, planning, appointments, or deadlines for an entire weekend! Just come, and find nourishment for your body, mind and soul.

The cost is $175 for five meals, your lodging and all materials.is due January 15, 2018. To add your name to the women’s retreat list contact Claudia at 331-1960.

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:

  • Sunday after Epiphany - January 7, 2018 (with Baptismal Gathering Meeting on Saturday 6 January at 9 am)
  • 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 on the preceding Saturdays. 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.


Join Rebecca for her book group on Thursday 25 January at 12:30 in Rebecca’s study, to discuss Leonardo by Walter Isaacson. All are invited to join this lively group.

21 JANUARY 2018

We welcome Rabbi Emeritus Leslie Gutterman as guest preacher. He will preach a sermon entitled “Abra ca dabra”

Rabbi Gutterman served Temple Beth-El from 1970 to 2015, becoming the synagogue’s senior rabbi in 1974. A 1964 graduate of the University of Michigan, Rabbi Gutterman has been involved with dozens of civic organizations and has served as a board member of many preeminent institutions including: Butler Hospital, The Rhode Island Telecommunications Commission, The Providence Athenaeum, Hospice Care, Rhode Island Kids Count, Trinity Repertory Theatre, Interfaith Health Care Ministries, Brown University's Board of Religious Overseers, and Bryant University.

Rabbi Gutterman was president of the Rhode Island Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Family Service and the National Rabbinic Alumni Association of Reform Judaism as well as the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities.has served on the executive board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and taught at Providence College. For 20 years, Rabbi Gutterman wrote a monthly column for the religion page of The Providence Journal. He received a public service award from the City of Providence on its 350th anniversary and the lifetime achievement award from the Rhode Island Council of Churches and in 2012 he was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Rabbi Gutterman was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College and holds honorary degrees from the University of Rhode Island, Roger Williams University, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College and Bryant University.

He and his wife Janet are the proud parents of three daughters.


The committee is very pleased to introduce a new category of artists for our January show: middle schoolers! Students from the San Miguel School, Sophia Academy, and Community Prep will have their creations on our walls in January. The art promises to deliver a new perspective from our other shows, and we hope you will all support the efforts of these budding artists by visiting the Gallery space.

Please join us at an opening for these young artists on Sunday 21 January at 3 pm.

New Members

New Member Inquiry*
Wednesday, January 24

Faith Exploration*
Tuesday, January 30

New Member Sunday
Sunday, February 4

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

Darrell West Lecture Series on Religion and Politics


FRIDAY 26 JANUARY 2018 | 6:30 PM (Sanctuary)

Author, lawyer, speaker, and Ivy League professor Noah Feldman explores how successive generations of Americans have dealt with the deep question of how religion and politics should interact, offering solutions to the conflict between evangelicals and secularists. The talk will be preceded by a private reception for church members and guests at 5:30 in the Fireplace Room. The lecture will be followed by Q & A and book-signing, to which all are invited.



In these times when self-selecting social/cultural groups seem to be on the increase, I would like to think that our Central community rejects this trend and, in fact, enjoys the opposite, wishing to expand, not contract our communication with others.

To that end, as past president of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center, and on behalf of the Jewish Alliance, the Holocaust Center, and the Jewish Community Center, I offer my services as a guide on several Sundays in January and February, with possible trips further into the church year. Think about joining me after church and coffee hour, in a carpool, to visit a beautifully renovated building and learn about its history and the organization’s many offerings – my personal favorite the re-located and astonishing new Holocaust Center.

Take an extra hour after church and find us just around the corner at Elmgrove and Sessions, i.e., across from Brown Stadium and Nathan Bishop Middle School.

I’ll remind you in the Sunday Bulletin and from the lectern on the days we have selected. And find me, in church, by phone, or email, if you have any questions or thoughts. –Judith Jamieson



All committee chairs are invited to attend the first budget meeting on Wednesday 3 January. The second meeting will be held on Wednesday 10 January. Please bring your budget request for the 2018 - 2019 fiscal year.


Just before Christmas, the last Benny’s store In Rhode Island closed. Like most residents of the Ocean State, I was both surprised and dismayed this past summer when I got the text alert on my phone broadcasting the news that the local home and auto chain – a RI staple since 1924 – would cease operations before the dawn of 2018.

What could possibly be the reason behind the closing? What would cause the self-proclaimed, and seldom challenged “Your Favorite Store” to shutter its doors?

According to the owners the reason was simple – they did not have enough customer sales to continue. Rather than take on unnecessary debt, cut staff or compromise their values – they decided to make a graceful exit into an early (and surely comfortable) retirement.

I was one of those mourners weeping at the grave. Benny’s was very much a part of my Rhode Island life. Where else on the planet can you buy brake pads, beach towels, bleach and a bicycle all under one roof? OK, Amazon.com – but that was not the case in the 70’s when I would drool over model car kits while my father picked up a new set of spark plugs for the Pontiac.

When faced with a loss that seems unimaginable, it is human nature to want to unearth every detail as to the cause – a defense mechanism that leads us to believe that a clear explanation can somehow fill our emptiness. It also helps to have someone besides ourselves to blame. Over the next few months, several theories were promoted as the most likely explanation behind the closing: 1) Benny’s failed to keep up with modern retail trends, 2) market share loss from big-box stores and online shopping, 3) a population that no longer maintains their own cars.

In short – it was all the fault of millennials.

I was relieved – as a loyal customer of Benny’s since childhood I was not to blame. After all, I faithfully purchased at least $5 worth of lawn bags from Benny’s every year after forgetting to grab them on the way out of Home Depot.

The Providence Journal published two noteworthy articles in late September regarding millennials and the demise of Benny’s. The second, an op-ed piece written by Aiyah Josiah-Faeduwor, executive director of the group Millennial RI, really caught my attention.

While Aiyah defended the fact that Millennials were not the only factor, he intelligently outlined several key steps that maybe Benny’s might have taken to better appeal to his generation. He concluded:

… we can build on the bond that institutions like Benny’s’ have established with prior generations. Let’s bridge the generational gap by understanding what millennials today are looking for as consumers, and set on a path to subdue the millennial “killing spree.”

In all honesty, the term “killing spree” was a bit disquieting as I have harbored a certain fear of Millennials ever since I fathered one.

It may be blasphemy (and certainly in poor taste) to equate a home and auto store with a place of worship – but I promote that the shuttering of Benny’s is a cautionary tale worth our attention and better understanding.

Mr. Josiah-Faeduwor’s article resonated with me as it is not unlike some of the conversations we have had in our Deacon meetings as we seek to grow our congregation. Central is doing well when compared to other mainstream Protestant churches and exceptionally well when compared to Benny’s. That said, we recognize how vital it is to ensure a constant flow of new members, especially younger members, prepared to donate their time and treasures and make their new families part of the greater Central family.

For that reason, the Deacons are working to up our game on the social media front and taking a reflective look at everything from our music to how we welcome new visitors. It is our goal to find that correct balance between those traditions that make Central central, and those changes that make our church more appealing to a new generation – even if that generation refuses to maintain their own cars.

And while the discussion regarding millennials is important, it should not be the whole conversation. Perhaps the ultimate reason Benny’s closed was a collision between pride and apathy. From the owner’s standpoint everyone loved them – why change? From the customer’s point of view – the same old Benny’s had always been here and would always be here – why go?

Every member of Central is both an owner and a customer. For that reason, we should continually challenge it’s how it’s always been and never take our church for granted because it will always be here. Whether 26 or 86 we need to take personal responsibility for every empty seat on Sunday morning – be it the seat next to you, or your own. Most of all, let’s never be shy about extending an invitation or welcoming a visitor. After all – Central is “your favorite church” …isn’t it?

—Tom Viall


I want to thank all the folks here for making me feel so incredibly welcome! From parishioners calling up to introduce themselves, to stopping in at my desk, I already feel such a part of the Central Family. If there’s anything you need, or any way I can help, feel free to call. Thank you! —Cory


Sunday 7
11:45 am - Central Celebrates 125 years
A brief talk on the building’s history by church member Nancy Austin, Ph.D.

Thursday 11
7 pm - Food For Thought Book Group
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

Thursday 18
7:30 am - CCC Men’s Group

Friday 19
7:30 pm - Film Fare – “Never Let Me Go”

Sunday 21
3 pm - Middle School Art Gallery Opening & Reception

Thursday 25
12:30 pm- Rebecca’s Book Group Leonardo, by Walter Isaacson

Friday 26
6:30 pm - Darrell West Lecture Series featuring Noah Feldman (followed by Q & A and Book-signing)

Sunday 28
2 pm - Singing the Dream! Open Sing (Register at www.eventbrite.com)

CENTRAL’S SANCTUARY AT 125 years (1893 - 2018)

CentralB&WHow do you visualize prayer? Join Nancy Austin after church on January 7 for a 15-minute talk on Central’s stained glass window cycle as first envisioned in 1904 by Wellesley Professor Adelaide Locke. Hear about Locke's (feminist) vision of prayer and learn more about the collaboration that brought about the Prayer Window we cherish today in the sanctuary’s Wilson Chapel at 11:45 am.


Singing The DreamOn Sunday, January 28, at 2 pm Central will once again host the annual “Singing the Dream - Open Sing!” a community-based event to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through music.

No rehearsals, no concert—just singers from all around Rhode Island getting together for an afternoon of song, community and fellowship honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King!

This year we welcome special guest conductor, Rev. Lisa Clayton, from the University of Connecticut, who will direct music of her own composition, and others with text and music by Langston Hughes, Rollo Dilworth, and other traditional spirituals beloved of Dr. King.

“Singing the Dream” will provide music for all, as well as refreshments.  You may register for a $5 fee at www.eventbrite.com.


There are several kitchen items, e.g. Tupperware, left behind by helpful church volunteers. Please check the kitchen counters to see if you’ve left anything behind.


Wednesday 3
9 am Gallery
7 pm Budget

Thursday 4
8 am    Personnel & Salary
6:30 pm Music

Tuesday 9
5:30 pm Deacons

Wednesday 10
7 pm Finance

Tuesday 16
5:45 pm Plant & Properties
7 pm Prudential

Wednesday 17
7 pm Mission & Action

Wednesday 24
4 pm Trustee/Investmen

A Message from Peg...

“Thank you”
“Thank you”
“Thank you”
“Thank you”
“Thank you”
(How many ‘Thankyous’ can you fit in this column?)

How many times can I say “Thank you”?

Not enough!

I do want you all to know how pleased and surprised I was to receive your generous retirement gift! My plans for 2018 and retirement? I want to accomplish two things:

  • join the church
  • become a more prolific watercolorist (One down, the second will take the rest of my retirement)

I miss you all already…

“See you in Church!”


Stewardship is getting ready for our 2018-2019 campaign and we need your help to make it successful!

Pony ExpressJust over half of the church budget depends on our membership either pledging or giving in the plate. While giving in the plate is wonderful, we really need your pledge so that we can create a realistic budget.

We’ll be continuing with our Pony Express, but we’ll be doing it a little bit differently this year. We will have plenty of time between when the pledge requests go out and when the pony express bags go out. We would love for you to make our job easier by mailing in your pledge before the bags go out.

We will still need plenty of Shepherds to get the bag to its location. If you can help out with this task, please contact Jeff Baran or Beth Newberry. Bags will each only go to one house this year, rather than to a string of different houses to be moved along a route, so we’ll ask each Shepherd to drop about 3 individual bags to different homes in their area.

Important dates:

  • Church budget approval meeting: January 28 immediately following the service
    (Pledge letters will go out following this meeting)
  • Dedication Sunday, February 18- please send your pledge in prior to this or bring it to church on Dedication Sunday

Saddle Up Sunday, February 25- anyone who hasn’t sent in their pledge will get a pony express bag.

Posted in Newsletters, Updates | Comments Off on Jan. 2018 Newsletter

2017 Poetry Spectacular Poems

The 2017 Poetry Spectacular at Central was a truly memorable event featuring Rhode Island State Rhode Island State Poet Laureate Tina Cane and readings from our own Central Poet Laureate Ilse Kramer - just listen for yourself!

Introduction to the Spectacular & Carousel - By Ilse Kramer

Read by the Rev. Rebecca Spencer

To God - By Ilse Kramer

Read by the Rev. Rebecca Spencer

The Labyrinth - By Ilse Kramer

Read by the Rev. Claudia Demick

Autumn In Providence - By Ilse Kramer

Read by the Rev. Claudia Demick

God - By Ilse Kramer

Read by the Rev. Rebecca Spencer

In Memoriam for Ann Bliven - By Ilse Kramer

Read by the Rev. Rebecca Spencer

Some Kind of Fire - By Tina Cane

Read by Tina Cane

Work - By Tina Cane

Read by Tina Cane

Systems - By Tina Cane

Read by Tina Cane

House and Home - By Tina Cane

Read by Tina Cane

This That and Roses - By the Central Youth Group

Read by Tina Cane

The Journey Home  - By Konrad Hughe

Read by his aunt, Charrel Maxwell

Confirmation Haiku - By the 2017 Confirmation Class

Read by Aiden Kelly

The Station Waiting Room & The Train Ride - By Barry Bayon

Introduction by Larry Kellam, read by Barry Bayon

Poetry by Larry Kellam and Liam Newberry

Read by Liam Newberry

Reformation Reception - By May Grant

Read by May Grant


Posted in Poet Laureate, Updates | Comments Off on 2017 Poetry Spectacular Poems

The Labyrinth – Ilse Kramer

The Labyrinth

By Ilse Kramer

Come with me
On the journey
From the outer edge
To the center
A path of prayer, of meaning
The mind becomes quiet,
And the heart is opened
Where meditation becomes a walk
And a walk meditation.

Come with me.

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