August 2022 Newsletter

Central News

August 2022      Vol. 30, No. 11

Download the PDF Version of the August Newsletter

Join Us for Summer Worship at 10 am!

From Rebecca

Dear Friends, I saw a bluebird the other day. Or did the bluebird see me? At any rate, he was gorgeous, a pure blue gem perched on an oak branch.

Was he looking for something to eat? Or for his mate? (I never saw her.) Or was he, like I was, just taking a moment and enjoying the cloudless day?

While I do love the respite of summertime, that bluebird makes me wonder … why don’t we take more time just to perch somewhere?

Maybe not on a branch of an oak tree, but just taking the time to reflect on life. I’ve been organizing books this past week and uncovered one from a few years ago, “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” I had checked off – in different colors – the places I’ve been and the places I would like to see. (More of the latter!)

So, while putting this book in its category on the shelf, I glanced at its first page, which was simply this anonymous quote: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the places and moments that take our breath away.”

Our breath might be taken away by the Cathedral of Notre-Dame or the magnificent Machu Picchu. It might also be taken away by a loved one returning home, or a simple gift you didn’t expect to receive, or the pleasure of giving someone else something they weren’t expecting to receive. A medical diagnosis that offers hope can take your breath away, and when that doesn’t happen, poignant moments of memory do the same. A bluebird might just do the same too.

Happy summer, and I’ll see you in September!

With love – Rebecca

CCC Youth Mission Trip

On July 22, five WORD fellowship teens – Patrick Gorham, Amelia Lynch, Simone Punchak, Vivian Punchak, and Alden Wohlgemuth – plus team leaders Larry Kellam and I returned from a wonderful and highly successful week of mission work in Rainelle, W.V. The trip was coordinated by Praying Pelican Ministries, and our local church partner was Sewell Valley Baptist Church. This mission team came away with new perspectives and openness to people with different outlooks, experiences, lifestyles, and even accents.

Rainelle – population 1,190 according to the 2020 census – sits in northern Appalachia at the base of Sewell Mountain and Sims Mountain, bisected by the Meadow River. The town has suffered from several natural disasters in the last decade, including Hurricane Sandy and the 2016 West Virginia flood. We saw firsthand how a flood can ravage a town; rebuilding and demolition of damaged structures were still in progress.

Our mission work in Rainelle was varied. Sometimes we took on individual projects, but we also often came together. We cleared out old weed tarps to prepare an area for planting and cleaned up a supply shed that was in great need of organization. We not only planted bushes, but also mowed and weed-whacked an entire cemetery.

We washed windows at Sewell Valley Baptist Church, as well as at a nursing home. At the nursing home, we also prepared and set up crafts for the residents. We sorted, readied, hung, and displayed clothes for a much-needed thrift shop that serves the community. And, we finished up our week’s endeavors clearing out, cleaning up, and pruning hedges in the swampy yard of an elderly lady.

Every night, we came together to talk about the day’s events – sharing highlights, observations, and difficulties. One evening, the team explored nearby Lewisburg – known as “the coolest small town in West Virginia” – and discussed the differences we observed. Lewisburg was clearly profiting from a new interstate highway, benefiting from increased traffic and the many opportunities it created. In contrast, the new highway cut off Rainelle from any through-traffic and the subsequent advantages.

Throughout the week, our preconceptions changed. Central teens came to better understand the people of Rainelle. All of us were touched by their graciousness and welcoming. One teen spoke of how we needed to do even more – and that one week just wasn’t enough time. Another suggested we continue our mission work in Providence, helping people in need.

In fact, the teens talked of wanting to go on a mission trip again sometime. “Sometime” soon changed into “next summer,” which quickly morphed into “doing a mission trip every summer … at least!” So we are already planning and looking forward to our CCC Youth mission trip for summer 2023 – and hope even more Central teens and adults will join us.

Don’t miss Youth Mission Sunday in October, when WORD fellowship will share more of their experiences and insights about this remarkable mission trip to Rainelle, W.V.  In the meantime, we hopefully will continue the spirit of the mission in our everyday lives. – Judy

Special thanks to Larry Kellam for his work, his optimism, and especially his willingness to drive the van during our twelve-hour journey to and from Rainelle – as well as for providing transportation throughout the week. Without his spirit, dedication, and hard work, our Summer Mission Trip would never have happened.

Check out the pdf version of the newsletter to see photos of the CCC Youth Mission Trip!

Seeking a Church Home?

If you are looking for a church – or know someone who is – we would 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 call the Church Office at 401-331-1960, and Rebecca will get in touch.

Inquirers’ Meeting: Tuesday, October 25, 7 pm

Faith Exploration: Wednesday, November 2, 7 pm

New Member Sunday: Sunday, November 6, 10:30 am

The Deacon’s Bench

I have been pondering the gifts God delivers, both expected and surprising. I have always loved unexpected gifts, and lately, I have been given a number of gifts that I was anticipating, but yet found were greater than I had envisioned.

I spent the Fourth of July with my family in New Hampshire on a gloriously beautiful day. The drive up was lovely, offering lush green scenic views. However, the greatest joy of the day came from the simple fact that we were gathered as we used to do frequently. This time, though, I had not seen most of these family members for two-and-one-half years; far too long. We had “Zoomed,” exchanged photos via text, and shared news in letters and cards, but we had not hugged. I had been stoic about our separation during the pandemic, but I realized more profound joy at seeing my family again, face to face, than I had imagined.  My need for stoicism was over, and we were all safe.

One attendee, a one-year-old, is a great-nephew I had never met. I had anticipated the gift of meeting him for the first time, but I realized that seeing my sister being a grandmother and looking oh so comfortable with the role brought me lasting joy. As of a few days ago, this great-nephew is no longer the youngest in the family. I just received a picture of another great-nephew, surveying his new world from the comfort of the same bassinet my father slept in 104 years ago. I had been expecting the joy of this new baby, as his mother was indeed round on July 4, but not the sudden reminder of my father nor of the love that shows in the fact that this bassinet has been used by every newborn in our family for the past century.

When I stop to offer God my thanks for gifts I was expecting, I see so much more in those gifts, and my heart fills again with thanks. – Lucy Hanna

Poetry Corner

Pablo Neruda (1904 –1973) was a Chilean poet-diplomat and politician 
who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature. The following excerpt from Neruda’s last book – “El Libro de las Preguntas,” i.e., The Book of Questions – was submitted by Barry Bayon, who noted “Questions are only the beginning of the experience. Where they take you is what matters.”

This morning must I choose
between the naked sea and the sky?
And why is the sky dressed
so early in its mists?
What did the tree learn from earth
to be able to talk with the sky?
And how do the roots know
they must climb toward the light
And then greet the air
with so many flowers and colors?
How do the seasons know
they must change their shirt?
And what is the name of the month
That falls quietly between December and January?

Mission Moment:  Seeking Volunteers

Once again, Central is seeking volunteers to work at Amos House. There are two opportunities to help.

First up: the soup kitchen. Every Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 am, we meet in the Amos House kitchen to assemble pre-packaged breakfasts.

Then, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month – from 9 am until approximately 12 noon – we help Amos House sort its hygiene closet. There is no interaction with clients in either instance.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact Tracy Baran at

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with the family and friends of Steve Calvert on the death of his mother, Marge Calvert … and with the family and friends of Nancy Callison on the death of her mother, Anne Royal Winecoff. Requiescat in pace


Please join us for Worship and Communion on Sunday, Aug. 7, at 10 am. If you find meaning in this sacrament, you are welcome to join us – regardless of your faith or church membership. When we take communion together, it strengthens our faith commitment and sense of community.

UCC Summer Picnic

The entire Central congregation is invited to the first ever Rhode Island Association UCC summer picnic! There will be music and games for the whole family. And, the Rhode Island Association (formerly Rhode Island Conference) will provide dessert, water, and lemonade. If you like, bring a picnic lunch or snacks. Picnic tables are available, though you may want to bring blankets and lawn chairs. RSVP online to: Sunday, Aug. 21, 3 to 5 pm, at Goddard Park – Picnic Pavilion (1095 Ives Road, Warwick)

From Claudia

Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known as the author of “Anne of Green Gables,” wrote this in “Anne’s House of Dreams,” the fifth book in the series:

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer – one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going – one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends, and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

I am hoping that you are having a never-to be-forgotten summer. Granted, all may or may not be perfect, but Montgomery is not writing about the expectation of a perfect summer, only the approximation of one. She is writing about those moments in our lives when “a rich heritage of beautiful memories” is given to us. In the course of a lifetime of summers, may those memories and that heritage outweigh all else for every one of us.

There are times in our lives when all goes smoothly, and then there are other times when there is much we need to attend to in life. May the beauty of warm weather and dear friends and “delightful doing” give you “near perfection.” After all, the best of times can only approximate that. We still live in a world that is far from perfect. But, I don’t need to tell any one of you that!

Drink deeply in the warmth. Breathe deeply the scent of flowers. Picture all the good that life has offered and will offer to you and yours. Count every blessing, storing them up in your hearts for the wintery times. Revel in the clarity of the stars in the night sky and the fullness of the moon. Celebrate the beauty all around you. Relive … in your memories … some of the best summers that you have known. Most of all, give thanks to God for all the blessings of this life. It is far too short, but some moments are oh so sweet.

Yours in love and awe – Claudia

Musical Notes:  Thanks, Patrick!

June 5 was Choir Recognition Sunday. Patrick Aiken, Central’s organist and choirmaster, recognized the choir for its work during the COVID lockdown, as well as the return to in-person Worship.

Afterward, up in the choir loft, choir members were grateful for the acknowledgment. But the overwhelming feeling was that it was actually Patrick’s diligence and extraordinary commitment that kept the Central Congregational Church Choir going for close to two years, when many choirs were silent.

He started by recording the organ accompaniment and videotaping himself conducting. He enlisted the assistance of our choir section leaders – Heidi Iuliano, Kara Lund, Diana McVey, and Matthew Quinn – to pre-record the voice parts of each anthem. Then he uploaded it all to YouTube, so choir members could practice their parts and then record at home.

Soon, Patrick created a recording studio at the church – in a small room off the choir loft. It was equipped with all the necessary recording equipment, a backdrop, disinfecting wipes and sprays, and even an air circulation and ventilation system to reduce risk of the airborne virus.

Singers met individually with section leaders for warm-up/coaching sessions prior to recording in the studio. To help ensure singers’ health, Patrick created a list of protocols to execute after each recording session: from wiping down the studio, spraying air sanitizer, and turning on the air circulation system to spraying choir robes with vodka to kill lingering bacteria.

Then, the extensive technological work – which none of us ever saw – began. Patrick would take the individual recordings and sync them to create Central’s virtual choir – and then integrate all of the music (prelude, hymns, etc.) into the virtual Worship service … every week!

When in-person Worship resumed, Patrick held occasional small-group rehearsals – outside or socially distanced in Chapel Hall. He purchased singer’s masks for the entire choir. Designed by Broadway performers (and only slightly reminiscent of horse feedbags), the mask’s heavy-duty construction fits securely to the face while providing greater mobility for singing.

So thank you, Patrick! With your leadership, the Central Congregational Church Choir will continue to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

Save The Date

Gathering Sunday: September 11 at 10:30 am

We can’t wait to see you … back at Worship, in Church School, and at Coffee Hour!

Summer Bible Study

This summer we’re exploring three books from the Old Testament – Joshua, Judges and Ruth – taking on a different topic each week. Come to one session or all of them. Aug. 7: Standing Against Oppression (Judges 10-21). Aug. 14: God’s Love (hesed) (Ruth 1-3). Aug. 21: We Are All Related (Ruth 4). Contact Claudia for more information. Sundays, Aug. 4 to 21, 9 am, in the Fireplace Room

Women Gather

We had such a fabulous time last month, we decided to do it again!  Bring a chair and picnic lunch and enjoy the fellowship of Central women and the panoramic views from Prospect Terrace Park. Questions? Contact Claudia. Sunday, Aug. 7, 11:15 am, Prospect Terrace Park (60 Congdon Street, Providence).  Next meeting:  Sep. 11.

Food For Thought Book Group

This month, Claudia’s book group will tackle “The Madness of Crowds,” by Louise Penny. This mystery – part of the Inspector Gamache series and related to the COVID pandemic and its consequences – is thoughtful, potentially controversial, and reflective of contemporary issues many of us find exasperating. Thursday, Aug. 11, 7 to 8:30 pm, West Lawn or Fireplace Room, depending on the weather.  Coming up on Sep. 8: “The Four Winds,” by Kirstin Hannah

Central Men’s Group

Open to all ages, Central Men’s Group is a monthly breakfast gathering – held on the third Thursday of each month – for fellowship and spirited conversation on topics ranging from current events and ethics to trends and shared experiences. Questions? Contact Ed Bishop at 401-274-4666. Thursday, Aug. 18, 7:30 am, in the Fireplace Room.

Lunch at Aleppo Sweets

Join Central friends after Worship for an authentic Syrian repast. Check out the café menu at And, don’t forget to save room for the baklava! RSVP to Claudia. Sunday, Aug. 21, 11:15 am at Aleppo Sweets (107 Ives Street, Providence)

Rebecca’s Book Group

Take part in a lively discussion about “The Last Green Valley,” by Mark Sullivan, a new historical novel inspired by one family’s incredible story of daring, survival, and triumph, as Stalin’s forces push into Ukraine in March 1944. Thursday, Aug. 25, 12:30 pm, via Zoom. Contact Rebecca for an invitation.

Teen Tuesdays

Judy is at the church every Tuesday, morning and afternoon. Teens are wel-come to drop by her office – to say hi, talk sports, “speak geek,” study, share whatever is on their minds, or just hang out. Tuesdays, Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 – til 5 pm

Ice Cream at Eskimo King

Bring the whole family! We’ll meet outside at the picnic tables, near the playground, for good conversation and ice cream. Choose from more than 200 flavors – soft or hard. RSVP to Claudia. Wednesday, Aug. 3, 6 pm, at Eskimo King (29 Market Street, Swansea, Mass.)

Children’s Summer Program

Central’s children will continue to creatively interact with the Bible, – via art, games, and even drama – to experience its teachings in more personal ways. Sundays, Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28, at 10 am, in the Church School Wing

Confirmation Class

Confirmation Class will begin this fall. Freshmen and any other interested high school youth are welcome.  We will be sending invitations and information to most families.  If you don’t receive them or would like to know more, please contact Judy. Sunday, Sep. 18, 11:30 am, in the Church School Wing.

Teachers Needed!

The church school is seeking caring adults to help lead the children to be more faith-filled individuals. No experience is needed. If you have a warm heart, good sense of humor, and recognize the importance of the children to Christ and our church, you could be a superb church school teacher. Contact Judy for more information. There will be a teachers’ meeting later in the month. Date and time to be determined.

Lunch At Gregg’s Restaurant

Celebrate Labor Day weekend with Central friends old and new!  We’ll meet after Worship for good food and scintillating conversation. Check out the family-friendly menu ( and RSVP to Claudia. Sunday, Sep. 4, 11:15 am, at Gregg’s (1303 North Main Street, Providence)

August Events

2 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
3 Ice Cream at Eskimo King 6 pm
7 Summer Bible Study 9 am
Worship 10 am
Children’s Summer Program 10 am
Women Gather 11:15 am
9 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
11 Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm
14 Summer Bible Study 9 am
Worship 10 am
Children’s Summer Program 10 am
16 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
17 Chapel Hall Design Committee 5 pm
18 Central Men’s Group 7:30 am
20 Newsletter Deadline 3:30 pm
21 Summer Bible Study 9 am
Worship 10 am
Children’s Summer Program 10 am
Lunch at Aleppo Sweets 11:15 am
UCC Summer Picnic 3 pm
22 Technology Committee 7 pm
23 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
25 Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm
28 Worship 10 am
Children’s Summer Program 10 am
30 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm


The Church Office will close at 4 pm throughout the month of August – and will be closed all day on Monday, August 8, for Victory Day.

Posted in Newsletters.