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 2018 Newsletters.