Sept. 2017 Newsletter

CentralNEWS/September 2017


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

From Rebecca

Dear Friends,

Like many of you, I have been struck by the coming together in this part of the world to view the solar eclipse.  People shared stories, experiences, visions…. The few moments when the sun darkened brought us closer, as we contemplated this spinning globe we all call home.  The coming together was even more striking because of the recent awful hatred on view by small groups of white supremacists throughout our country and the larger political firestorm that followed...  These people forget or refuse to realize the Confederate flag and monuments are not merely symbols of history. They fuel the hatred of white supremacists, racists, neo Nazis and others who threaten our communities large and small.  Following the Confederacy's defeat, Robert E Lee himself said about a proposed Gettysburg memorial in 1869, "I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war but to ... obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered."  Lee, in his defeat, urged all citizens to put away symbols and ideas that divide us.  Such different experiences in the past few weeks...the ugliness of Charlottesville exposing us all to human sin and the extraordinary vision of mortals sharing special glasses exclaiming over the moon's transit in front of the sun.  Polarization seemingly too deep to bridge and that incredible unity of awe.

I have been pondering the first book of Genesis where we read, "In the beginning of Creation, when God made heaven and earth the earth was without form and void with darkness over the face of the abyss, and a mighty wind that swept over the surface of the waters.  God said, "Let there be light" and there was light, and God saw the light was good and separated light from darkness.... And later.... God created us in that divine image, and blessed us mortals and saw all that was made and it was very good.... Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their mighty throng.”

It comes only later in Genesis, of course, that we read that the serpent was more crafty than any wild creature the Lord God had made…and we humans bought into that craftiness....and ever since we have struggled with the truth of human sin.  Sin that separates human being from human being, whether it is bigotry or hatred, selfishness or fear.... sin is present in this beautiful world God created and in each of us.

Two hundred years after my Divinity School's founding in 1816, Harvard University President Drew Faust wrote...."together we celebrate a bicentennial with renewed faith in the Divinity School's mission to illuminate, engage and serve a world perhaps more in need of its expertise than ever before in its history."  Her words apply to our own dear Central Church.  In these summer months when I've been able to withdraw somewhat from the daily bustle of pastoral tasks, I've come up with some ideas for us to find ways to deepen our understanding of faith and to work for a more inclusive community, one that is dedicated to civility, open conversations and deep respect for others' is in this way we will ultimately defeat the evil that dwells in the darkness.

How do we do this?  Through daily prayer and asking for God's guidance in large and small issues….by opening our hearts and minds to God's light and love….by refusing to be polarized ourselves or to polarize others.

Through seeking out those who see the world in a different way or who may be influenced by greed or racism, prejudice or misogyny, and in peace engaging them in relationship, as we stand against oppression of any kind.

Through participating in some of our upcoming events looking at the effects of the Protestant Reformation in our world, or the Poetry Spectacular celebrating God's creation, or the lecture on Islam and democracy. Through participating in our deepening relationship with the members of Olney Street Baptist Church. Through helping another refugee family escape oppression and find refuge in our country.  Through active listening to the Other with ears of love that conquers fear.  Through regular worship in this community we call Central.

God rested on the 7th day, but God never withdrew from this created world, and from all of us, God's children.   We can and we will make a difference for peace, stamping out meanness and evil and replacing these with love.  And we will do it day by day, one by one, in our quotidian lives, in relationship with others in our community. This is what Jesus taught love one another, as we have been loved....

Yours, in His love


New Members

New Member Inquiry*
Wednesday, October 24

Faith Exploration*
Tuesday, 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.


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.

Our Thoughts & Prayers are With

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


TIME CHANGE: 10:30 a.m. on SEPTEMBER 10

“Who wants a difficult and demanding life?”

The Rev. Rebecca L. Spencer preaching

Special Lecture Series


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


From Claudia

As the summer draws to a close and we all turn toward the joys of fall I’ve been thinking about the creatures of this earth…all the creatures, human and otherwise.  And I’ve been contemplating Job.  In the Bible we know that Job had it tough.  In his affliction, his so-called “friends” came to heap more coals upon his head.  Essentially, they wanted to know what Job had done to deserve such suffering.

Job refuted them saying that all is in God’s hands.  “But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of God has done this?  In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” (Job 12:7-10)

How easy it is to forget that God gives all life, even our own.  And that means that we are to respond in gratitude and thanksgiving.  The birds, the fish, the animals and even the plants all declare God’s glory.  No less so should we humans.  These ancient words have much to say to us in these days of strife here and around the globe.  It’s easy to get stuck in the bad news that swirls around us hour by hour.

But then I think of the wondrous chorus from Haydn’s oratorio, The Creation: “The heavens are telling the glory of God, the wonder of his works displays the firmament.” (Psalm 19:1) Today that wonder will be clearly on display as we experience a solar eclipse.  And as it happens I will be humming this part of Haydn’s composition.

Even in the midst of the many things humans have wrought for ill in this world, God’s incredible creation is all around us.  Today I will remember that and celebrate the glories of all creation—plants, fish, animals, birds, and yes—humanity, as I experience the wonder of the sun and moon in their orbits….

May it be so for us all!


New!! Spiritual Companionship Group

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 others 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, September 10
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.

CCC Adult Sunday School

Who is God?
Fireplace Room, 9:00-10:00 AM
9/17, 9/24, 10/1, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22 & 10/29

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


Thursday, September 14
7:00-8:30 PM in the Fireplace Room at Central

Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book—Crossing the Bamboo Bridge with Barrington author Mai Donohue!

Looking ahead:

October 12—Flight Behavior (Barbara Kingsolver)
November 9—Hillbilly Elegy (J. D. Vance)
December 14—Christmas Potluck and Book Swap TBD
January 11—A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

From Aidan

Confirmation 2017-2018

Confirmation is the affirmation of the promises made for us through the sacrament of baptism.  During the Confirmation journey at Central, confirmands explore their faith, the traditions of the Christian church, and the Bible.  Over the course of our year together, we will learn from one another, ask questions, and deepen our relationship to God and the Church.  The Confirmation program at Central is open to 9th grade youth, as well as older youth who have not had the opportunity to be confirmed.

This year’s Confirmation class will begin with an orientation meeting for parents and confirmands following worship on Sunday, September 17th in the Fireplace Room.  The confirmands will stay for a special lunch following the meeting.  Classes will officially begin at 9:15 AM in the Deacons’ Room on Sunday, October 1st.  Please feel free to contact Aidan for more information.

Youth Groups Kick-Off Gathering: 9.10.17

The NEOS Junior High and WORD Senior High youth groups will kick off our new church year following worship on Gathering Sunday, September 10th.

We will have a pizza lunch, play some games, and catch up after all of our summer adventures.  Youth are encouraged to bring their favorite games…cards, board games, or lawn games.

Monthly Family Meal

Beginning this September, we will gather for a monthly family meal organized by one or more Central families.

Each month, the families will organize a simple meal and select a theme or topic relating to our faith for us to look into together.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to build deeper connections as church families, share our collective spiritual wisdom, and have a night of carefree dinner prep!

Please join us on Wednesday, September 20th at 5:30 PM for our first family meal.

WORD Fellowship Day Retreat: 9.30.17

On Saturday, September 30th, the WORD Senior High Fellowship is going on a day retreat!  The theme of the day will be fellowship and we will spend our time together getting to know one another better and simply having fun.  We will gather at Central at 10 AM to open our day of retreat together and then set off for some surprise adventures.  We will close our day retreat together back at Central at 5 PM.  More info to come!

Save the Bay Clean Up & Fellowship Lunch: 9.16.17

All are welcome to join us from 10 AM to noon on Saturday, September 16th to volunteer at the Save the Bay Shoreline Clean Up at Fields Point in Providence.  Dress for the weather, wear close-toed shoes, and feel free to bring work gloves and a bottle of water.  The cleanup will be located at the Save the Bay headquarters and parking is available at 100 Save the Bay Drive, Providence.

After we spend the morning caring for God’s Creation, we will gather for lunch at the Brass Monkey on Allens Ave.  Please let Aidan know if you plan to attend by Sunday, September 10th.


Come sing in our choirs!

We welcome new members to join our Adult and Children’s choirs this Fall.

Our Children’s Choir rehearses 5 - 6 p.m. on Mondays and Sundays at 10 a.m. before worship where they sing weekly.   Drawn from grades 3 - 8, children learn not only to sing, but how to read music, and what it means to lead worship.  We begin rehearsals on Monday, September 18.

Our Adult Choir also sings weekly for worship with a 9:15 warmup, and Thursday evening 7:30 - 9:30 rehearsals.  In addition to regular Sunday service, the Adult Choir also sings extra musical events approximately once a month with a more major work, often accompanied by instruments or an orchestra.  Rehearsals begin on Thursday, September 14.

Come try us out risk-free!   We’d love to see you.


Dear Church School families,

"Behold how good and pleasant it is for people to live in Oneness!"  (Psalm 133:1)

We WELCOME EVERYONE back to the Church School wing again beginning on GATHERING SUNDAY, SEPT. 10th!    We'll kick things off with our annual  9:30 a.m. GATHERING MEETING  before worship for parents/children/teachers in the 2nd floor children's "Gathering Space".   Church School classes officially begin this Sunday!   Welcome and introductions of teachers and helpers, as well as curriculum highlights for the fall, and reminders of all Central's programs involving children/youth will be made at this meeting -- PLEASE BRING YOUR REGISTRATION FORMS WITH YOU, OR COME EARLY TO FILL ONE OUT THEN (registration needs to be filled out annually).  Breakfast munchies will be provided, kindness of the Religious Education Committee (Thank you!!).

In the name of the Bee,
and of the Butterfly,
and of the Breeze,
(Emily Dickinson)

See you soon!
Love & Care,

Cathy C-T
(Director of Religious Education at Central)


Next meets on Thursday, September 28, 12:30.  The book selection is Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue.  All are welcome to attend this lively group.


Summer got away from me, as it often does, and I had not spent as much time as I would have liked at church or even taking time to be contemplative or in prayer. We had been planning an end of summer last hurrah whiffle ball and poker game when we got the news that our friend’s mother had passed away. She had been battling cancer for years, and her struggle had ended. It was with that way that you immediately turn to rearranging everything when something like this happens that I turned to figuring out how to get our youngest son from camp and cancel friends coming over to our house both in the morning and the afternoon for our party.

The day was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and a perfect temperature as the hearse pulled up to the church. The friend whose mother had passed was one of my husband’s oldest childhood friends. It was so comforting to see our friends who had come to be with him on that day. I realized as we settled into the pew that not only was I thankful to be there to support our friend, I was thankful to be there for me. Such a great sense of peace washed over me as we sat in church amidst friends that I’ve known now for more than half of my life. While we celebrated our friend’s mother’s life, it struck me that I’d been struggling with processing so much going on in the world and feeling at a loss for how to feel that sense of peace.

I know that throughout the year I find that calm and time to focus at Central. It’s amazing how easy it is to not only take that for granted but to allow yourself not to make time for it. As we head back into the time of year when church attendance (including my own) rises, I hope that we all remember how important that time is to set aside to worship with each other. I hope we all also think about community and inclusion and how to expand that to others around us.


The mission of RISE is to provide scholarships and mentoring to the children of currently and formerly incarcerated parents in order to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, crime and addiction that too often threatens them.

RISE currently provides 75 children with positive adult mentors, as well as 37 scholarships for private and parochial high schools as well as learning and family supports. RISE is seeking mentors who can commit to spending six hours a month with one of our students for a minimum of one year.

For more information please visit, call 401-421-2010 or email Executive Director Kristen Haffenreffer at

Also feel free to contact Gwen Edwards, Central member who has applied to become a new RISE volunteer. Gwen was struck by the critical need for men to volunteer - there are currently as many as 50 boys waiting for a mentor! Ages range from seven to mid-teens.

Gallery Committee

To kick off our new season of art, the Gallery Committee will exhibit works from the Art Connection RI, an organization inspired by artist Fay Chandler. In 1995, Fay's work was featured in a major retrospective at the Boston Center for the Arts. She realized that not all of her pieces would sell and thought it made little sense to store them indefinitely in her studio. Why not let people enjoy the art? So, invitations were sent to area non-profits offering opportunities to choose pieces for display in their offices. To this day, the placement program makes art accessible to many people who otherwise might not have the chance to experience the transformative powers of creativity. Recipients include the RI Free Clinic, Meeting Street School, and Year Up.

Please join us for the show opening on Friday, September 15, 2017, at 5pm. We look forward to seeing you there!


Mission and Action has already been at work and we are looking forward to an exciting Fall. We will continue our partnership with Amos House serving breakfast, volunteering with Camp Street Ministries and don't forget the sandwich brigade in November.  “Our first Mission Lunch with Loaves and Fishes RI  is scheduled for September 24,  immediately following worship” and we look forward to seeing all of you there!

Spirited Poetry Spectacular

October 22 Save the Date!!

Join us for a unique celebration on Sunday, October 22: Central Congregational Church UCC’s Spirited Poetry Spectacular.  In honor of Central’s own Poet Laureate, Ilse Kramer, this will be a festival of poetry for all ages.

Both RI State Poet Laureate Tina Cane and Central’s Director of Religious Education Cathy Clasper-Torch are experienced in working with youthful creativity.  These two have put together an inspired plan:   Our State Poet Laureate will accompany the children as they leave during worship, and she will address them briefly abut poetic form & device.  Tina will spend the remaining class time turning the children’s lines & phrases into a collaborative group poem. “It's messy but fun,” she promises.  "We can then share the collective poem with the congregation.”

Wondering about the final results of this delight?  Come to sip your coffee after worship.  Listen to the children’s collaborative group poem on Chapel Hall stage, crafted by Tina Cane as mediator scribe.   Stay to applaud other friends – 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 next month's newsletter, or contact Barry or Barbara Bayon.




At this time, the following items are available: walkers, crutches and a small scooter used for ankle injury and recovery. Please contact the church office for more information.


To help fold the monthly newsletter in preparation for distribution and mailing.


Some of our Central community members are unable to drive.  A dedicated but small group of people are providing rides to and from Sunday worship, as well as to other church events.  This need for rides continues to grow.  With your help, we can extend our “ministry of transportation” to more people.

ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) coordinators Maureen Whittemore and Barbara Bayon help to organize these rides and would be happy to add you to the list of volunteers.  For weekly worship service transportation, a sign-up list is available electronically, making it easy to see which weeks are already covered and when rides are needed.

Your help is needed to make certain that those among us who are less mobile are able to worship with us and attend other church functions.

Please be in touch with Maureen, Barbara, a Deacon or a minister for details and to join in this richly rewarding ministry.

Thank you very much.

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