Oct. 2017 Newsletter

CentralNEWS/OCTOBER 2017

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

From Rebecca

Dear Friends,

Today is the day we are experiencing the effects of Jose, thankfully, not the deadly effects other are suffering. I am mindful of the slight mist, the strong winds blowing down just leaves here, but whole trees elsewhere and thinking about people here in Providence and those in the Caribbean and in Florida and Texas....How we are all connected.

And in my reading, I came across this piece. It is titled, “I was reading a poem”, by David Rutschman.

“I was reading a poem by Ryokan about a leaf, and how it showed the front and the back as it fell, and I wanted to call someone - my wife, my brother - to tell about the poem. And I thought that maybe my telling about the poem was the front of the leaf and my silence about the poem was the back.

And then I thought that maybe my telling and my silence together were honestly just the front of the leaf, and that the back was something else, something I didn’t understand. And then I thought that maybe everything I understood and everything I didn’t were both actually just the front of the leaf - so that the totality of my life was actually just the front of the leaf, just the one side - which would make the other side my death....

Unless my life and death together were really still only the front of the leaf?
I had left the branch. I was falling.
I was loose now in the bright autumn air.”

We are all loose in this bright autumn air...and yet we are all connected.... What a marvelous miracle God has placed before us.

Yours in the Creator’s love,



Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

Experts Explore the Reformation from German, English and Rhode Island/Baptist Perspectives

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 6 pm
Central Congregational Church

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 6 pm
Grace Episcopal Church
300 Westminster St. Providence, RI

Wednesday, Oct. 25, 6 pm
Calvary Baptist Church
747 Broad St. Providence, RI


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

Our prayers & sympathy are with

 Sandi Connors and her family as they grieve the loss of her father, Charlie Masison, who died August 25.

The family of Jeanne Elizabeth Kugler who died in August. Jeanne was the grandmother of Clara Kugler and mother in law of Erika Sevetson.


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 15, 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 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.


Saturday, November 4
Dr. Lee C. Barrett, Keynote Speaker

Central will be hosting the 211th meeting of the RI Conference of the United Church of Christ on November 4th.  We are expecting delegates and clergy from UCC churches all over the state of Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut.  Dr. Lee C. Barrett, the keynote speaker, is Professor of Systematic Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.  After the keynote address our choir will be joining us for worship and Dr. Barrett will offer the sermon.

Please mark your calendars for this very special gathering of God’s people in the UCC in Rhode Island!  We will have more details about timing as the date gets closer.  Also, we will need many volunteers to extend Central’s own gracious hospitality for this meeting.  If you are able to help please sign up at the Welcome Table in Chapel Hall.

From Claudia

October 31, 2017 will be here before we know it.  And, on that day remembering Martin Luther’s brave act of nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg I will be thinking of…Katharina Von Bora.  Who you might ask is that?  Katharina, you see had much to do with Luther’s life after the upheaval of his quest for discussion that turned into the Reformation that we remember 500 years later.

Katharina was sent to one convent at the age of five and moved to another at age nine.  She later became interested in the reform movement.  When she was about twenty-four she wrote to Luther who helped her and several other nuns to flee their convent hidden in fish barrels after an order of herring was delivered.

Luther tried to return the young women to their families who refused to accept them. After all, this was a crime under canon law!  So, he found them husbands…all except Katharina who was reported to be quite fussy about who she would marry.  In the end Luther and Katharina were married.  He was forty-one years old and she was twenty-six.

Katharina managed the former monastery given to them as a wedding gift with grace and aptitude.  She oversaw the running of a brewery on site, the running of Zulsdorf farm where she bred cattle to sell, their family which included six children plus four adopted orphans, and the Luther household that always included students who lived with them plus many, many visitors.  She even ran a hospital at the monastery as well.

Katharina was a force to be reckoned with!  Luther said she was “the boss of  Zulsdorf.”  He also called her “the morning star of Wittenberg” because she rose very early before dawn each day.

But, what is most impressive about their marriage was the obvious love between Martin and Katharina.  Luther consulted her and considered her his confidant in everything.  Their relationship was considered something to be emulated by lay and clergy alike.  Katharina seems to be the epitome of the good wife in Proverbs 31.  To say that she and Martin were partners is remarkable in the time in which they lived.  Luther wasn’t sure he even wanted to marry her, but my guess is that he blessed the day he decided to do so.

Yes, on October 31 I will definitely be thinking of Katharina…and Martin…  And now, you may be thinking of her as well!




Who is God?
Fireplace Room, 9:00-10:00 AM
10/1, 10/15, 10/22 & 10/29
NO CLASS on 10/8!

Who is God?  People have asked this question since the dawn of time.  We will explore the ways people have experienced God throughout the ages including our own time.  Join us for thought-provoking ideas and conversation.  Questions?  Ask Claudia


Thursdays from 6:00-7:00 PM
10/5, 11/2, & 12/7

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 other participants often find new possibilities in their spiritual life and practices.  Participants are asked to commit to all three sessions. Please RSVP to Claudia.


Sunday, October 8
11:45 AM Deacon’s Room

Come join the fun: whether you knit, aspire to knit, or 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.


Thursday, October 12
7:00-8:30 PM in the Fireplace Room at Central

Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book—Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.

Looking ahead:

  • November 9—Hillbilly Elegy (J. D. Vance)
  • December 14—Christmas Potluck and Book Swap TBD
  • January 11—A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)


Soup & Bread Supper
Sunday, October 29
5:30-7:30 PM in the Fireplace Room

One person can indeed change the world! Come watch Rick Steves’ 500th anniversary year documentary about the story of Martin Luther who kicked off the Reformation five hundred years ago.  We will enjoy a simple soup and bread supper as we learn more about Luther and consider his role in the politics of the 16th century with a discussion after the film.  Please RSVP to Claudia.



Sunday, October 15 at 11:45 AM

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’ve ever wondered how Central’s email Prayer Tree works we hope ALL who are interested will come to find out more about our Prayer Tree.  All are invited to join us after worship on October 15 for a Potluck Prayer Tree gathering of conversation and support over lunch.  Questions?  Ask Rebecca, Aidan, or Claudia.


All Saints Band

On Sunday, November 5, we commemorate All Saints Day with our Church School procession of saints banners, and singing “When the Saints Go Marching In.”   If you would like to play along in the music on an instrument, please let Patrick Aiken know, and come to a brief rehearsal at 10 a.m. that day.   The more the merrier!

Bach Cantata

On the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, our Adult Choir presents J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild” (God the Lord is sun and shield) in worship on Sunday, October 29.

Written for Reformation day in 1725, the Cantata features choir with oboes, horns, strings, timpani and organ.   The opening chorale is one of Bach’s finest examples of contrapuntal writing, and succeeding movements feature soprano, alto, and tenor soloists, as well as obligate horns in music that celebrates God’s goodness in cheerful music that stirs the heart and soul.

Come and celebrate the seminal moment in our church’s history with this masterwork, and bring a friend to share in this wonderful opportunity to worship in music.


Dear families at Central,

Our bright and colorful 'Welcome Back to Church School' banner is a wonderful addition this year, inviting ALL families/visitors to join us in our faith-filled journey once again, as the new Church School year begins.   Thank you to each of you for making our GATHERING SUNDAY (on 9/10) full and wonder-filled, as evidenced through the delicious snacks for our Gathering meeting that morning provided by the Religious Education committee members, and the gift of flowers for each one of us, picked by the O'Hara family, and the gift of teaching talents and many youth helpers to lend a hand Sunday morning.

Thank you to all who've returned your annual Registration Forms!!  We appreciate them anytime, so if you haven't yet filled it out, please do so, so that we can be as up-to-date as possible.

Our TEACHERS and YOUTH HELPERS this fall are:

  • Nursery Caregivers:  Kathleen O'Hara & Coco Maranjian; Helpers:  Sophia Mott; John Lalli
  • Gabriel's Gang/Pre-School: (we are combined with K - 1st for now):  Emily Welt; Helpers: Serena Lalli; Molly O'Hara
  • Sheperd/Prophets (K - 1st):  Jaime Lavoie; Helpers: Maddie Lee; Gavin Rardin; Abraham Balogun
  • Stargazer/Disciples (2nd/3rd gr.): Pamela O'Hara; Helpers: Phoebe Maranjian; Jonathan Baran; Clara Sevetson
  • Peacemakers (4th/5th gr.):  Amy Frazer; Helpers: Harry Mazurkie; Ben Thornton; Liam Newberry
  • Dream-makers (6th-7th gr.): Cathy Clasper-Torch
  • Dream-makers (8th gr.): Aidan Kelley


  • SUNDAY, OCT. 1ST – World Communion Sunday; communion served by Rev. Aidan & Deacons in the Church School Gathering Space during class time
  • SUNDAY, OCT. 8TH – YOUTH MISSION SUNDAY; grades 4-8th stay in for worship
  • SUNDAY, OCT. 22ND – ‘SPIRITED POETRY EVENT’; focus on poetry (reading/writing) in Church School, with a VISIT FROM RI POET LAUREATE during Gathering Time

Love & Blessings,

Cathy C-T

Youth Mission Sunday

Join us for a special service of worship at 10:30 AM on Sunday, October 8th for Youth Mission Sunday!  Members of WORD travelled to New York City this past June to partner with Youth Service Opportunities Project for our summer mission trip.  We served at food pantries, soup kitchens, community gardens, and more.  The mission team will lead worship, share reflections, and show a slideshow from our experience.  We look forward to sharing with you!

October Community Breakfast

Each month, we will gather for a community meal.  Last month we were joined by our friends at Olney Street Baptist Church for our meal where we shared wonderful conversation around the question “What is Church?”.   In October, we will gather for a Sunday morning breakfast…a healthy and engaging way to start our Sabbath together!  Please join us for breakfast at 9 AM in Chapel Hall on Sunday, October 15th.

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.  Please join us following worship on Sunday, October 1st!

Save Your Extra Halloween Candy!

If it turns out to be a lean year for trick-or-treaters or you score a particularly big haul on Halloween, please consider bringing extra candy into worship on Sunday, November 5th!  We will pack up your sweet treats and ship them off to our collegiate youth as part of their College Care Packages filled with Central love!

Young Adult Outing: October 15th

Join us after worship on Sunday, October 15th for an outing to Breaktime Bowl and Bar on the second floor of Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket!  The alley was installed by the Hope Webbing Company in the 1920s to prevent its workers from unionizing and has been restored so that people can enjoy duckpin bowling as they might have 100 years ago.  We’ll rent lanes for an hour and have lunch while we bowl.  If you’re able, let Aidan know if you plan on coming ahead of time so that we can reserve enough lanes.

The Deacon’s Bench

God and the Runaway Bunny

In Psalm 139, the psalmist acknowledges that God know us well.  “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away, you search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.”  There is a reason we refer to “Father God or “Mother God.”  God knows us like a parent knows us, our entire history, fears, talents, stumbles and foibles.

Recently I have been thinking about Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Runaway Bunny,” a picture book I read to my children when they were young. You may know it too.

In “The Runaway Bunny,” a young bunny tries to run away from his mother to explore the world, but his mother tells him she will find him no matter how far he goes, or how clever his disguises or hiding places. “If you run away, I will run after you, for you are my little bunny.”

The bunny suggests many ways he could hide and the mother bunny has a response for all of them.

“I will be a bird and fly away from you [said the little bunny].” “If you become a bird and fly away from me, said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”

“If you become a tree,” said the little bunny, “I will become a little sailboat and I will sail away from you.”  “If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,’ said his mother, “I will become the wind and blow you where I want you to go.”

Just like the bunny’s mother, the God of Psalm 139 is relentlessly persistent in his search for us, even if we try to elude him.

“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to Heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.”

At the end of “The Runaway Bunny,” the little bunny decides that “I might as well just stay where I am and be your little bunny.”  His mother gives him a carrot.

God’s love comes to us through people on this earth who love us. And we learn about what God’s love is like from the people on earth who love us. God will search for us forever and ever, even if we are not seeking him, just like the mother bunny.  No matter where we go, his hand shall hold us fast.

Offered by Kristin DeKuiper

Gallery Committee

We are pleased to introduce the art of Feather Sedam for our October show. Feather is a native of the Midwest and holds a master's degree in religious studies from Indiana University/Bloomington, and a master's degree in science in social work from the University of Wisconsin/Madison. She has practiced clinical social work throughout her career, even while earning her BFA from RISD in 1991. Her work was represented by the Ellen Harris Gallery in Provincetown, MA, and was exhibited in multiple shows throughout southern New England.

Two years ago, Feather began studying under Margaret Owen, an inspirational teacher who has rekindled Feather's fascination with exploring the richness of hues in everyday objects.

Please join us to welcome Feather at the artist opening on Friday, October 6, 2017, from 5-7 pm.


December 10, 2017 @ 11:30 a.m., Deacon’s Room

Ted Staples and Ted Radway will present a brief overview of planned giving. The “Ted Talks” will focus on both testamentary bequests and inter vivos (during lifetime) gifts to Central Congregational Church. The income from our endowment’s invested funds is critical to our beloved Central’s future.  These funds in the Endowment were made possible by members of Central just like you in past years.

Please join in this brief “Ted Talk” s overview to see how you might be able to help ensure our Church’s mission into the coming generations and also learn more about your own potential financial planning.

Religious Education Committee

Due to popular demand, the Religious Education Committee will be holding a fall and a spring Game Night!

Our fall Game Night will be Saturday, October 21st from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

All ages are welcome.  Pizza, snacks, dessert and beverages will be provided.  Bring your favorite game to share!

Suggested donation is $5 per individual and $10 per family.


Nov. 3, at 7 p.m., Sanctuary/Fireplace Room.

Tarek Masoud, Professor of International Relations, at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Retirement Gathering

On Oct. 29, we will be honoring the retirement of Peg Fletcher who for 2 decades has helped out as our Office Coordinator. Please join us in worship and stay for coffee hour as we recognize Peg’s many contributions to the life of Central Congregational Church, from putting together weekly Bulletins to creating a thousand other items large and small. Peg has served faithfully and with flair.

Archival Anecdote, October 2017

Since October is World Communion, or World-Wide Communion as it was known when I was growing up, I thought this file found among the papers of Dr. Gaius Glenn Atkins, D.D. minister of Central, (1910-1917) would be of interest.

In 1911 the church sent out the following letter:

At a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church, held Monday evening, April 3, a Committee was appointed to investigate and report on the advisability of introducing in Central Church individual communion cups.  It will aid the Committee if they can have an expression of your preference.  Will you kindly indicate same on the enclosed card, adding any suggestion which you think may aid the Committee in their consideration of this matter, and return same at once to Mr. H. B. Knox, 12 Creighton St, Providence, R.I.

Charles R. Makepeace
Charles H. Lee
Horatio B. Knox

Providence, April 15, 1911

The file also contained this document dated 1911:

The Committee respectfully reports that it was appointed in pursuance of the adoption by the Church of the following recommendation:

“The Standing Committee, having good reason to believe that there is a very strong sentiment in favor of individual communion cups, would recommend that the Church appoint a committee to consider the matter and report.”

The Committee duly organized with Prof. Horatio Knox as chairman, and after due consideration, took steps to determine the sentiment of the Church relative to the use of individual communion cups.

Letters requesting reply were sent to nearly all the resident members of the Church, asking whether or not the change to individual communion cups was favored, and replies were received in nearly every case.  These replies showed that a very few opposed the change, others were indifferent in the matter, and an overwhelming majority express themselves as decidedly in favor.

Upon consideration of the result of this referendum, the Committee voted to report the result to the Church and the chairman, Prof. Knox, was tabulating the result and formulating the report when he was stricken with his last sickness.

Mr.  Thurston was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Prof. Knox.On the reorganization of the Committee, steps were taken to obtain the records and letters left in the possession of Prof. Knox, and it was found that they had all been destroyed and hence the Committee cannot report the exact figures shown by the replies.

The Committee, however, respectfully reports that the sentiment of the Church is overwhelming in favor of the adoption of individual communion cups, and that it recommends the appoint of a joint committee by the Church and Society to carry the change into effect.

Respectfully submitted,
For the Committee
Wm B Greenough, Chairman.

Significant changes rarely happen quickly and it wasn’t until two years later, in 1913 that the following was adopted:

Resolved:   That the report of the Committee be accepted.

That this Church adopt the individual communion service.

That a joint committee of seven be appointed, four by the Church and three by the Society, to select a style of individual communion service for use, to procure the same and carry the change into effect.

and that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Society together with the action of the Church thereon.

The above explains why for any service we observe communion by intinction we are able to use 5 chalices.  When the church was practicing sharing chalices it had 2 flagons to fill the 8 chalices being used.

John Chaney

Spirited Poetry Spectacular

October 22 – Almost Here!!

A unique celebration is almost upon us!  Sunday, October 22 is Central Congregational Church UCC’s Spirited Poetry Spectacular.  Central’s own Poet Laureate, Ilse Kramer, has provided the theme in her own inimitable way:

“I honestly believe
that the poetry itself
should come first
to do its magic,

healing and
making people
jump with joy.”

Your friends are already lining up to take part in this communal endeavor:  Larry Kellam takes the spotlight as Master of Ceremonies.  The Mission & Action committee promises to “add some pizzazz” with their coffee and snacks.  Both the Sanctuary and the poetry Spot are sure to sparkle, thanks to the Flower Committee.  And Central’s musicians plan to fill the whole month of October with heavenly beauty.

Invitations have gone out to present, past, and future poets.  For example, RI State Poet Laureate, Tina Cane, will accompany the children as they leave for Sunday School.  Her own inimitable teaching covers a few minutes about poetic form & device.  But most of Tina’s time will be spent turning the children’s lines & phrases into a collaborative group poem.

Remember to come and sip your coffee after worship.  Listen to the children’s poem on Chapel Hall stage, crafted by Tina Cane as mediator scribe.   Stay to applaud & meet Tina and other friends of all ages, as they compose/recite poems about anything & everything in God’s creation!

You are encouraged to be one of those poets!  Watch for more information in October Sunday bulletins, or contact Barry or Barbara Bayon.

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