August 2019 Newsletter

A PDF version of this Newsletter is available here for download

Join Us for Worship on Gathering Sunday, September 8, at 10:30 AM!

From Rebecca

Dear Friends,

This note could be called “The Wisdom of Mischa and Hedwig.”  For you see, I’ve learned much from them in the past few weeks.  They wake up every morning ready to start the day with happiness.  Tails wagging, (you remember these are our dogs!), they look forward to frisking about and finding something new if it is cool, or relaxing if not.  If I’m reading or writing in the morning, they are ready to wait till I’m doing something more interesting for them; but still, they are content to wait and drowse!  When it is time to work outside, they want to help – whether it is helping to dig or providing entertainment by proudly carrying something around (doesn’t matter if it is a stick or their dish…they can still prance about).  Always eager to help with the cows (whether or not the cows need their help is another story!), they make any task more fun.  They do seem to understand that the bees are a different story…best to just leave them alone…they only had to learn this once!  Would that we all could understand these nuances.

Mischa still loves to chew, particularly shoes and sandals.  But we are both learning the best way to stop this particular task.  I say “MINE!” and take my sandal back…and I offer her a toy…and say “Yours!”  Believe it or not, it is working!  Would that those in higher positions, those with only two legs not four, might learn this too.

So they are both lying on the floor near my laptop, gazing at me, now.  I think it is time for breakfast, and then, who knows?  But whatever we do, it will be much more enjoyable when I think about it through a dog’s mind.  Would that all God’s children could find this joy in simplicity.

This week’s New Yorker had a great cartoon with two women sunbathing by the ocean, relaxing on lounge chairs, their parasol offering some shade.  The caption?  One woman says to the other, “I’d enjoy the beach more if I could control the sun, waves and breeze.”  Would that we all understood that this we cannot do.

I hope you are having a lovely summertime wherever it finds you, and wherever you find that special place of happiness and insight.  Remember the wisdom of those who can wag their tails, those who realize we cannot control the sun, waves, and breeze and who thus make this world of ours a much better place for all!

With love to each of you, Rebecca

Support Amos House on Gathering Sunday

Every year on Gathering Sunday we reconnect with one another after summer vacation. The choir returns to the loft. Church School begins. And, we prepare for the year ahead. This year, we also want to come together in a common cause.

Central has supported Amos House for many years in many different ways. You may already know that a group of Central volunteers serve breakfast there every Tuesday. Now Amos House has a few very specific needs:

  • Backpacks – new or gently used
  • New underwear and socks – for both men and women
  • Men’s short sleeve shirts – new or gently used/clean
  • Men’s pants – sizes 32 and up

Let’s make Gathering Sunday – September 8 – the day we join with Amos House in helping people help themselves out of homelessness and poverty.

The Deacon’s Bench

A Reflection …

Many things I have tried to grasp, and have lost.
That which I have placed in God’s hands I still have.
– Martin Luther

That quote is from my Spiritual Class, and I just want to share this with you all. Reminding all of us to cast all our burdens to God. I pray God answers us speedily. Amen.

– Temi Sonubi

Seeking a Church Home?

If you’re looking for a church – or know someone who is – we’d love to talk with you about it at our Inquirers’ Meeting.  It’s very informal.  You’ll meet with our senior minister, Rebecca Spencer, and others like you who think Central may be the right church home.  No commitment necessary.  To join us, fill out a pew card during Sunday Worship or phone the Office at 401-331-1960 and Rebecca will get in touch.

Inquirers’ Meeting: Wednesday, October 23, 7 p.m.
Faith Exploration : Tuesday, October 29, 7 p.m.
New Member Sunday:  November 3

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with the family of Dan Fairchild.  His memorial service will be at Central, Sep. 14, 11 am.   Requiescat in pace.

From Claudia

I’ve been thinking about “thin places” lately. You may or may not be familiar with this term, but my guess is that you have experienced them. In ancient times, the Celts claimed such enthralling places are where we touch the divine. There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart. In a thin place, one feels that distance dissolve. It seems permeable to the divine.

When the Christians came along and the Celts converted, the idea of thin places continued. Some, like the place later called Croagh Patrick, or Patrick’s Mountain after St. Patrick, had already been recognized as a place where many felt “thinness.”  Now, the thinness of that place was named as a place where one felt close to the God the Christians worshipped.

The divine is transcendent, so why are some places thin while others do not seem to be? Perhaps the transcendence is why the same place can be thin to one person and not to another? Is every place thin for someone in the world? We may not ever know the answer to these questions.

Eric Weiner wrote a piece in the New York Times a number of years ago, and he proposed this answer to his question, “Why isn’t the whole world thin? Maybe it is but we’re too thick to recognize it. Maybe thin places offer glimpses not of heaven but of earth as it really is, unencumbered.”  Weiner went on to say this, “Travel to thin places does not necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a ‘spiritual breakthrough,’ whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.”

As you continue your travels throughout this world in places near and far, may you experience God in all the thin (and thick!) places in which you find yourself. And, in September may you return to your normal routines nourished and transformed by those experiences!

Yours in faith,  Claudia

Summer Bible Study:  Job

This summer, we will take a look at the Book of Job, perhaps the oldest book in the library of books that we call the Bible. Job explores the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  Between the prologue and epilogue to this story, we’ll find ancient Hebrew poetry about this Everyman who – like each of us – is on a life journey. Each week, we’ll explore a different topic:

Aug. 4:  Hearing Voices
Aug. 11:  Perspective
Aug. 18:  Happily(?) Ever After

Come to one session or all of them. Our study guide is “Job” by Lee A. Schott ($3.00). See Claudia to purchase your copy. We’ll meet in the Fireplace Room on Sundays, August 4, 11, and 18 – from 9 to 9:45 am.

Musical Notes

If you love to sing, there’s no better place to make “a joyful noise,” challenge yourself musically, and become part of Central’s vibrant community of music lovers – all under the direction of organist/choirmaster Patrick Aiken.

The Central Congregational Church Choir sings weekly at the Sunday Worship service, with a 9:15 am warm-up, and rehearses on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. In addition, we present special services of music and concerts throughout the year.

Central’s Children’s Choir – for third to eighth graders – not only encourages kids to sing, but also teaches them to read, understand, and enjoy music. Rehearsal is on Mondays from 5 to 6 pm with a warm-up on Sunday mornings at 10 am before the Worship service.

Come to a rehearsal and try us out risk-free!

  • Children’s Choir:  Monday, Sep. 9, 5 pm
    Adult Choir:  Thursday, Sep. 12, 7:30 pm

Office Help Needed

While the church office staff is in flux this September, we would welcome a few volunteers to give one to two hours – most likely on Fridays – to help with the bulletin, newsletter, and other paperwork.  Contact Marilyn in the church office.

Brunch at Mare Rooftop

This week’s table fellowship will take us to Mare Rooftop in Wayland Square – for delicious brunch fare and spectacular views of Providence. The rooftop restaurant is fully enclosed, so weather is a non-issue. Check out the menu at Sunday, Aug. 4, 11:30 am, 229 Waterman Street, Providence. RSVP to Claudia.

Food for Thought Book Group

Join us for a potluck picnic and lively discussion of “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald, a big-hearted, witty novel about books, friendship, love, and always being open to the unexpected. Thursday, Aug. 8, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Claudia’s home

Mark your calendar for upcoming book groups:  Sep 12: “Divided Politics, Divided Nation” by Darrell West. Oct 10: “All the Little Live Things” by Wallace Stegner. 7 to 8:30 pm at Central

Lunch at Craft Burgers

Join Central friends for good conversation and a delicious brunch after Worship!  Craft Burgers’ down-home food will only enhance our time of table fellowship together. Choose from the lunch or brunch menu. Sunday, Aug. 18, 11:30 am, 342 East Avenue, Pawtucket. RSVP to Claudia.

Rebecca’s Book Group

We’ll be discussing “The Second Mountain,” David Brooks’ new book exploring the four commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose. Thursday, Sep. 19, 12:30 pm in Rebecca’s study

Church School News

And now these three remain:
Faith, Hope and Love.
But the greatest of these is Love.
– 1 Corinthians 13:13

Greetings, Church School families!

I hope summer has been a time of rejuvenation and renewal of body-mind-spirit for you, and that you’ve enjoyed some slower, unplugged time with friends and loved ones!

August in the Church School wing is the time to look towards the new church year and organize our teachers and youth helpers! Our Church School program is taught collectively and run cooperatively by parents and other caring adults who create a loving and welcoming environment where children can learn, create, question, and respond to the stories of our faith and life. Please give some prayerful consideration to teaching for a unit (fall, winter or spring) in your child’s classroom! Your help is not only greatly appreciated, but essential for creating the Beloved Community of church family we strive to be!

Faith, Hope, Love, and Summer Blessings,

Cathy Clasper-Torch
Director of Religious Education


No, we’re not celebrating the 80th anniversary of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Lou Gehrig’s retirement from Major League Baseball, Tina Turner’s birthday, or even the premieres of Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. But we are celebrating our new plans for Central’s young adult fellowship for people between the ages of 19 and 39.

Hereafter known as 19-39 Fellowship (just ignore the hyphen and say “Nineteen Thirty-Nine”), this is an opportunity for young adults to connect with like-minded people, build relationships, and explore how they can live their spirituality as they navigate college, first jobs, not-first jobs, serious relationships and marriage – as well as bond with peers, take on leadership roles, and raise young children. The group will meet for prayer and Bible study, as well as enjoy social activities and outings. But members will determine many of their own discussion topics and activities – relevant to current events as well as their daily lives – as they delve into how God’s Word speaks to us today and how they can put their faith into action.

The 19-39s will meet twice a month from August through May. The first meeting is Sunday, August 18, immediately after Sunday Worship around 11:30 am in the Fireplace Room. If you have questions or would like additional information, contact Joshua Berkowitz at

From Joshua

Summer greetings to all rising sixth to twelfth graders, 19- to 39-year-olds, and their families. All of you fall under the umbrella of Youth Ministries here at Central Congregational Church, and I am positively thrilled to start announcing some dates for our September programming.

Until then, it’s rather biblical in my office. In ancient Israel, the summer was a time of fasting and mourning because it was the driest time of the year in a land that is so very dependent on rain to sustain life. I am looking forward to the “rain” of youth and young adult groups, relaunching this fall to bring new life into our space. Check out the sidebar on the right for details.

This month, our 19-39 Fellowship for adults between the ages of 19 and 39 will commence, and we are announcing September launch dates for NEOS and WORD fellowships, as well as Confirmation Class. Please get in touch with me if you have questions about any of these events – and definitely come to the Youth Ministries Kickoff and Registration on Sunday, September 8, after Worship to get signed up.

Let it rain; open the floodgates of heaven!

– Joshua

Confirmation Class – Year One
Sundays, 9:15 am

Confirmation Class – Year Two
Sunday, Sep. 22, 11:30 am

19-39 Fellowship

Our young adult fellowship is for everyone between the ages of 19 and 39. Connect with like-minded people, build relationships, and explore how you can live your spirituality in the 21st century. Sunday, Aug. 18, 11:30 am in the Fireplace Room

Camp Street Ministries

We’d like to encourage teenagers and their parents to volunteer to staff Camp Street’s food pantry the last Saturday of  every month. Our next volunteer days are Aug. 24 and Sep. 28. Contact Beth Cotter if you’d like to be added to the email list for Camp Street volunteers.

And please don’t forget:  We collect food for Camp Street – in baskets at the front of the sanctuary – every Sunday. Or, you can drop off donations in the church kitchen during the week.

Youth Ministries Kickoff!

Mark your calendars for our Youth Ministries Kickoff and Registration. NEOS (sixth to eighth graders), WORD (ninth to twelfth graders), and their families are invited for music, trivia, pizza, and a quick introduction to our plans for 2019/20. Sunday, Sep. 8, 12 noon

Confirmation Class

Central ninth graders begin their journey of spiritual discovery, investigating Christian faith , making personal decisions about their religious lives, and experiencing what it is to be a vital player in a Christian community. Sunday, Sep. 15, 9:15 am


Our NEOS fellowship for sixth to eighth graders is new and improved – and fun!  Join us Sunday, Sep. 15, after Worship.


Don’t miss the first meeting of WORD Fellowship (for ninth to twelfth graders) –  which is also Year Two of Confirmation for tenth graders. We’ll start walking to the Shake Shack at 11:45 sharp!  Sunday, Sep. 22, 11:30 am

Hymnal Committee Report:  2018-2019

The following report was inadvertently omitted from the Annual Report.

The Hymnal Committee met eight times in the 2018-2019 program year.

Committee members took on several projects to help us break down:

  • The role of hymns in our services
  • What hymns we sing regularly as well as for special occasions
  • Where those hymns are printed – in the Pilgrim hymnal or in the bulletin
  • What hymnals contain hymns we sing, versus newer songs, and in what proportion
  • What language and theological considerations can be associated with different hymnals
  • What hymnals are available, including supplements
  • We looked at a number of hymnals, from the UCC, from other denominations, and from publishers who printed non-denominational collections.

We also consulted “The Language of the New Century Hymnal,” a short volume written by Arthur G. Clyde in 1996 and printed by Pilgrim Press, the UCC publishing entity. While it spoke specifically about the New Century Hymnal, it outlined the history of language choice in hymns. Included in this history was the fact that it was assumed from the start that language change would happen, by such renowned hymn composers as John Wesley. This book alone eased our minds about hymnal choice and language issues in hymns. We would recommend it to members of the congregation; copies are available in the church library.

We also realized that this was a conversation that could go on for years, despite the fact we were appointed to this committee to find a newer resource for music sooner rather than later.

Given this, we have reached some conclusions as we move to complete our business.

First, we need a hymnal in the pews, which we use much more often than just each Sunday. Printing hymns in the bulletin to the exclusion of a hymnal seems to take away from the year-round worship experience and Central’s sense of community and tradition both looking back and moving forward.

Second, and given this, we understand there will still be Sundays when hymns will be printed in the bulletin. The goal is to print hymns far less often, because the songs we want to include in a service are in our hymnal. Large print bulletins will still contain copies of all the hymns for that week’s service.

Third, while there are a number of potential hymnals available to us, only two seemed to give us a selection that would work theologically and musically for this congregation and denomination.

Fourth, while creating our own hymnal would seem exciting, it would take significantly more time than we originally realized. We had hoped to have a new volume in the pews by Thanksgiving of 2019, or our own by Thanksgiving, 2020 but this deadline would now be unlikely to be met if we were to produce our own volume. We may continue to see what we would put in a supplement, for later production and placement in the pews.

Most importantly, we realized that choosing a hymnal, and the language of hymns we sing, is nothing to be frightened about. We still have the option of printing older version in the bulletin if it matters deeply to us, and by introducing an updated collection of songs we open the door to hymns that express our faith and its action in the world in new and meaningful ways.

At this point we are preparing to make a choice about a hymnal, determine the cost, and how the hymnals will be purchased, personalized and distributed in the pews.

As always, if anyone has concerns or questions about our process, please contact us.

The Hymnal Selection Committee
Liz Viall, Chair
Rev. Rebecca Spencer
Patrick Aiken, organist/choirmaster
Jacqueline Briant
Patti Calvert
John Chaney
Steve DeWitt
Warren Jagger
Emily Maranjian
Jack Patterson (serving in place of Catherine Cooper)
Catherine Cooper (relocated out of the area)


The Church Office will be Closed Victory Day Monday, August 12 and Labor Day Monday, September 2

4          Bible Study – Job        9 am
Worship and Communion    10 am
Brunch at Mare Rooftop       11:30 am

8          Food for Thought Book Group         5:30 pm

11        Bible Study – Job        9 am
Worship         10 am

15        CCC Men’s Group       7:30 am

18         Bible Study – Job        9 am
Worship         10 am
19-39 Fellowship      11:30 am
Lunch at Craft Burgers         11:30 am

25        Worship         10 am


1          Worship         10 am

5          Spiritual Companionship Group      6 pm

8          Gathering Sunday      10:30 am
Youth Ministries Kickoff       12 noon

10        Children’s Choir Rehearsal   5 pm
Deacons’ Meeting      5:30 pm

12        Food for Thought Book Group         7 pm
Choir Rehearsal         7:30 pm

14        Dan Fairchild Memorial Service      11 am

15        Confirmation Class, Year 1   9:15 am
Worship         10:30 am
NEOS  11:30 am
LDC All Committee Chairs    11:45 am

17        Prudential      7 pm

19        Rebecca’s Book Group          12:30 pm

22        Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship         10:30 am
WORD             11:30 am

29        Worship         10:30 am


Posted in 2019 Newsletters.