February 2023 Newsletter

Central News

February 2023 Vol. 31, No. 6

Join Us For Sunday Worship at 10:30 am!

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From Rebecca

So I was pondering how to write this note to you, dear friends and members of Central, as we look towards Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 22, and I came across this quote from a fellow pastor.

“Jesus was a small fish in a tiny pond, what with his dozen followers and modest crowds. If there was an ancient world equivalent of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, Jesus wouldn’t have even been considered for the list. Yet … we make the claim that God lived in His life in an unprecedented way … because He allowed God to dwell in Him fully. He chose to embrace His actual, limited, challenging, beautiful life and invited God into every corner of it.”

So, may this be our Lenten project this year: to try to do a little bit of that, to be honest about our temptations, our yearnings, our restlessness, our dissatisfaction. And in and through that honesty, may we find the clarity and strength to invite God into every corner of our actual, limited, challenging, beautiful lives. May we increase our compassion for others. May we  love fully as we have been loved. May we learn to better share our gifts. May we forgive as we are forgiven. And may we keep our hope high so that we are able to see and hear the voice of God working in and through us. We can trust this will make a difference in this world we share … maybe small, maybe large … but most certainly a positive difference for all God’s children.

Yours in love – Rebecca

Special Service of Music:  Mozart Requiem

On Sunday, Feb. 26, at 4 pm, the Central Congregational Choir – under the direction of Patrick Aiken, organist/choirmaster – will present the “Requiem,” K. 626, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, featuring soloists and orchestra.

The “Requiem” consists of eight movements of some of Mozart’s best and last compositions. Some you’ve likely heard in commercials! The music expresses a range of emotion from the Offertorium’s supplicant tones to urgent motifs of the opening Requiem Aeternum (Grant Them Rest Eternal) and the fiery and frenetic jolts of music in Dies Irae (Day of Judgement).

Tragically, Mozart died prior to finishing his “Requiem.” His widow Constanza sought willing composers of the time to complete the piece so she could collect much needed payment. The most common realization comes from Franz Xaver Sussmayr. Central will present the edition realized by contemporary British musicologist Richard Maunder. It offers interesting revisions to Sussmayr’s work and a newly composed conclusion to one movement based on a more recently discovered sketch written by Mozart himself!

How much did Mozart write? Who helped complete the “Requiem”? Why was it composed? You can find out the answers to these and other questions in the weeks leading up to our special service of music!

On Sunday, Feb. 19, during coffee hour, the Choir will present a musical preview, featuring snippets of the “Requiem” along with background and musical insights.

On Friday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 pm, Jim Silverthorn will screen “Amadeus” – winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture – a 1984 feature film that provides fanciful and entertaining background into Mozart’s life [160 minutes, color, rated PG].

And be sure to attend the concert on Sunday, Feb. 26, at 4 pm – and bring a friend to share in the music. The concert is free and open to the public.

A brief prologue about the “Requiem” will precede the concert, there will be a free-will offering, and a reception follows in Chapel Hall.

The Deacon’s Bench

The philosopher Hannah Arendt closes her book “The Human Condition” with a quote by Cato: “Never is he more active than when he does nothing, never is he less alone than when he is by himself.” Her book describes the evolution of human roles in society and how they have changed with the evolution of technology. Interestingly, this book was published in 1958! Arendt discusses the evolution of humans from “laborers” involved with sustaining life on earth to “fabricators” who create things including ideas, tools, useful objects, and art works that are lasting. She discusses the role of religion and faith in shaping humans’ view of the world and universe. She discusses the importance of social engagement, community, and political activity – and comments on the church’s focus on everlasting life and heaven, sometimes disregarding involvement in events on Earth.

I must admit that, as a non-philosopher, the book was very challenging to read. As I consider the book’s premise from a Christian perspective, I raise a question: What does it mean to be more active when doing nothing? Perhaps it means not following popular opinion, but acting to help our fellow humans instead of acting out of self-interest. Perhaps it means being faithful to family, friends, and co-workers. Perhaps it means having an open mind and being accepting of those with different values and opinions. Perhaps it means being able to forgive those who have done or said things that are hurtful.

What does it mean to say, “never is he less alone than when he is by himself?” Perhaps it speaks to the individuality and uniqueness, yet sameness of human beings. We are each unique with different skills, talents, personalities, and foibles, yet God loves us all and accepts us all equally. As the song “So You Would Come” by Russell Fragar says, “Nothing you can do can make Him love you more and nothing that you have done would make Him close the door.” – Bob Griffith

Meet Our New Sexton!

Rondie Almeida – known as Ron – joined the Central staff at the end of November as part-time sexton. You’ll find him puttering around the church on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 8 am and 1 pm – though these hours may change slightly from week to week depending on the work that needs to be done.

Ron is a life-long resident of Rhode Island. He was a police officer for 20 years and came out of retirement just to work at Central! Ron and his wife Susie have been married for more than 25 years; they have five children and six grandchildren. In his free time, Ron enjoys fishing, playing guitar, and coaching football. He is also an avid tea drinker. Be sure to look for him the next time you’re at Central during the week. Welcome, Ron!

Sunday Assistant Needed

Central is seeking a Sunday Assistant to open and prepare the church for Sunday worship and to assist with coffee hour and other after-church activities. The job includes minor custodial and maintenance duties, including snow removal. We are looking for an upbeat and personable individual to interact with Central staff and members. Interested candidates should contact Antonia Greco: 401.331.1960 / antonia@centralchurch.us.

The Campaign to Reimagine Chapel Hall

Before we get too far into 2023, we want to extend an exuberant “Thank You” and “Congratulations” to the Central community!

Three years ago, in January 2020, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to Reimagine Chapel Hall, a strategic tactic to help “Grow Central for Tomorrow.”

Undaunted by a global pandemic, the closing of Central for months, and supply chain issues, teams of Centralites accomplished the unthinkable: Raising $1.04 million to fund the beautiful transformation of our 130-year-old Chapel Hall and Gallery.

On Nov. 8, an enthusiastic audience celebrated the grand opening of this exquisite, light-filled space. As we recognized those who contributed their time and many talents to Chapel Hall’s design and fund-raising campaign, the audience clapped and cheered, genuinely appreciative of their efforts and contributions.

We still have approximately $200,000 to raise to meet our $1.25 million goal. “Would You, Could You” consider a gift to help bring the Campaign to a close? Imagine the cheering and clapping then! – Caroline Considine

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with the family and friends of Sharon Cherry on the death of her son, Christopher Tise Stormer. Requiescat in pace

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: Wednesday, April 19, 7 pm

Faith Exploration: Tuesday, April 25, 7 pm

New Member Sunday: Sunday, May 7, 10:30 am

New Member Reception and Potluck Luncheon

Join us in welcoming new members to the Central family during Worship and then stay after for a New Member Reception and potluck luncheon in Chapel Hall. See if you can meet all of our new members! The Membership Committee will provide main dishes, but you can enliven the fare by sharing a favorite 
side dish, casserole, salad, or dessert. Sunday, Feb. 5, 11:30 am, in Chapel Hall

Joint Leadership Development / Membership Committee Meeting

The Leadership Development and Membership committees will meet jointly to generate creative ideas and strategies for increasing membership and attendance – and strengthening the Central community. Sunday, Feb. 12, 11:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

Ash Wednesday

Central’s Ash Wednesday service is a time for quiet contemplation. On this first day of Lent, we share in communion, and those who wish receive ashes – an ancient custom that not only marks the beginning of Lent, but also represents a time of repentance and reflection. Wednesday, Feb. 22, 7 pm, in the Sanctuary

From Claudia

The Guyanese poet, John Agard, wrote “Let heart/be a hut/thatched with love.”

Imagine thatching our hearts with love! Right now there are images of hearts in red and pink everywhere. The other day I found myself face to face with a rather sappy cardboard Cupid in a store. But such love is secular, romantic love. I don’t think that is what Agard means at all. So, imagine a heart thatched with love. A heart that has love woven into it. A hut that offers shelter for others within. A heart that beats with deep and abiding love for all of God’s children.

This month Women Gather will talk about love, but not the Hallmark kind. That sort of love has its place in the grand panoply of love’s many dimensions, but it is only one facet of love. We will tell each other stories of love in its most profound sense. Love that is inspiring. Love that can be “caught.”

Frank C. Laubach (1884-1970) was a Congregational missionary ­– primarily in the Philippines – who believed that poverty, injustice, and illiteracy were barriers to world peace. He is the only American missionary who is on a U.S. postage stamp. He said, “When iron is rubbed against a magnet it becomes magnetic. Just so, love is caught, not taught. One heart burning with love sets another on fire. The church was built on love; it proves what love can do.”

We are created by God in love. It is up to us to ignite love in others. Author Margaret Wheatley writes, “A gesture of love is anything we do that helps others discover their humanity. Any act where we turn to one another. Open our hearts. Extend ourselves. Listen. Any time we’re patient. Curious. Quiet. Engaged. Conversation does this – it requires that we extend ourselves, that we open our minds and hearts a bit more, that we turn to someone, curious about how they live their life.”

This month the Adult Sunday School continues its study of ordinary people who engaged the world with faithful love – and in doing so, became extraordinary. Hildegard of Bingen is next. She was a mystic, philosopher, poet, playwright, naturalist, scientist, physician, composer, and abbess in the twelfth century CE – and a faith-filled “influencer” of her world and ours. She wrote about the mystery of God’s love: “God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.” Indeed we are. May it be so for each one of us and may this month draw us ever nearer to God’s heart of love for us all!

Much love dear ones – Claudia

Lenten Mission Suppers

With spring just around the corner, Lent can’t be far away – so it will soon be time for Central’s Lenten Mission Suppers. This year’s theme is “The Year of the Child.” Our mission speakers will discuss issues facing children and adolescents.

Our first speaker will be the Honorable Jeanine McConaghy, associate justice for the Rhode Island Family Court. On Wednesday, March 1, at 6 pm, she will address youth and juvenile justice. Plus, Central’s own Carole McLaughlin, from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, may make a guest appearance.

We will come together for a simple Lenten Mission Supper and short presentation every Wednesday in March, following the Lenten Meditation. Please join us in the Fireplace Room.

Stewardship Scavenger Hunt

The Stewardship Committee invites you to Central’s first-ever Scavenger Hunt!

This family-friendly event – fun for all ages – will take you on a quest through the sanctuary, church school wing, basement, and other Central nooks and crannies you may not even know exist. On the way, you’ll learn more about all of the wonderful programs your pledge helps provide … for Central, the local community, our mission, and outreach. You’ll even discover interesting and unique facts about some members of our church community! So plan to join us in Chapel Hall after worship on Sunday, March 5.

We’ll have more details as the date draws closer. In the meantime, please RSVP to Jeff Baran (jeff@wakefieldliquors.com) so we know how much food to procure for our exploring church members. The Stewardship Hunt is on!

Save the Date:  Dedication Sunday

Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 26, 10:30 am:  Dedication Sunday.  Please prayerfully consider your 2023/24 pledge to keep Central alive with worship, music, fellowship, mission, and outreach.

Adult Sunday School

This month we will finish our conversation about Mister Rogers and then begin a study of Hildegard von Bingen, the twelfth-century mystic, composer, poet, scientist, philosopher, and more – a woman who influenced her world and ours. Sundays, Feb. 5, 12, 19, and 26 – 9 am, in the Fireplace Room

Tuesdays With Scripture

Our weekly community devotional is back! Every Tuesday morning, we’ll discuss a short Bible passage. Each session is self-contained. Come to one or to all of them! Contact Claudia for a Zoom invitation. She’ll also send you the reading and questions to consider ahead of time. Tuesdays, Feb. 7, 14, 21, and 28 – 8 to 8:45 am, via Zoom

Food for Thought Book Group

This month Claudia’s book group will discuss “The Sentence,” by Louise Erdrich. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories – beginning on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ending a year later – propel a rich, emotional, and profound narrative that is a testament to the life-making importance of stories. Thursday, Feb. 9, 7 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.

Women Gather

Central’s women’s fellowship group will gather to share stories of love and devotion that we have witnessed. Sunday, Feb. 12, 12 noon, at Hamilton House

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 John Trevor. Thursday, Feb. 16, 7:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

Rebecca’s Book Group

This month, we’ll discuss the #1 New York Times Bestseller “How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith. This revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave-owning nation is a landmark work of reflection that offers new insight into the hopeful role that memory and history can play in understanding our country. Thursday, Feb. 23, 12:30 pm, via Zoom. Contact Rebecca for an invitation.

Hamilton House Invites Central

In honor of Black History and Women’s History months – February and March, respectively – Hamilton House will host a retrospective of American racial and gender equality struggles, breakthroughs, sharing culture, and experiences through cultural, social, and political lenses. In addition to traditional speakers, the series will feature storytellers, documentary producers, and interpretive performances.

Black History Month

  • February 3, 11 am: Closing the Racial Gap (Providence’s Reparations Initiative)
  • February 8, 12 noon: Slavery and Horses, New England’s connection to the West Indies.
  • February 10, 10:30 am: The Celebrity Club, New England’s First Integrated Nightclub (documentary film)
  • February 24, 1 pm: The Right to … Liberty

Women’s History Month

  • March 3, 1 pm: Abigail Whitney, Eyewitness to the Events of April 19, 1775
  • March 10, 10:30 am: Women in Jazz
  • March 22, 11 am: Female Pirates – Myth 
and Reality
  • TBD: America’s First Female Doctor
  • TBD: Freed Slaves Post-Civil War

The Hamilton House-sponsored engagements are free and open to the public – and will take place in Central Congregational Church’s Chapel Hall.

What is in a Poem?

“What light through yonder window breaks?”
Do you have a poem in you?
Experienced or a beginner,
Rhyme or free verse,
Doggerel or haiku; all are welcome to contribute.
Central is looking for poems this year
To be in a pamphlet of poems written by Central members.
Please let me know if you are interested in participating.

Barry Bayon, Central Poet Laureate (bay30@verizon.net)

Buy Nothing Day:  Sock and Underwear Drive

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

The headmaster of Hogwarts is not alone. Socks and underwear are among the most requested items at homeless shelters, and the Buy Nothing Day organizers are once again sponsoring a sock and underwear drive to meet that need.

Please drop off new, still-in-the-wrapping socks and underwear for both genders, sizes 5 to 5x, in the box in the hall by April 1.

Thank you!

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner

CCC Youth cordially invites the Central family and friends to Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner, on Feb, 21, at 5:30 pm, in Chapel Hall. This beloved annual event – returning for the first time since the onset of COVID-19 – offers so much more than the scrumptious pancake dinner. We will enjoy pancake relay races – as Christians do around the world – and talk about the history and meaning of Shrove Tuesday.

Why do we eat pancakes? Well, Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. Historically, it was the day people went to confession to prepare themselves for the 40 days of Lent. “Shrove” is the past tense of “shrive,” which means to “gain absolution of sins by confession and repentance.”

So on Shrove Tuesday, people would enjoy one last evening of merrymaking and use up all the ingredients in their kitchens, including the last of their flour, sugar, and eggs – before the fasting and religious obligations then associated with the penitential season of Lent.

And the pancake race? It goes back to 1445 in Olney, England. Supposedly a woman heard the church bells while she was still making pancakes and ran to the church, frying pan in hand.

RSVP to Judy If you plan to attend – or are interested in helping with the event.

Cherub Choir

Central’s Cherub Choir – for children in preschool through the second grade – is planning to sing in church three times in the coming year. Led by Caroline Hunter, the choir will rehearse – for 15 minutes – Sundays, at 10 am, in the church school Gathering Space.

School Break: Sensational Science

Sensational Science is designed for children who are curious and like to try new things. (Doesn’t everybody?) This month, we’ll discover what happens when we combine different substances. We may fill a balloon with carbon dioxide or make slime, oobleck, or even elephant toothpaste! (For adults who are unfamiliar, slime is made from white glue. Oobleck – named by Dr. Seuss – is a cornstarch-based substance that can act as a liquid or solid. And elephant toothpaste uses hydrogen peroxide to create a volcano of foam.)

Space is limited, so please sign-up during coffee hour or through the church office. For more information, speak with Judy. Thursday, Feb. 23, 2 to 3:30 pm, in the Church School Wing

February Events

1 Gallery Committee 9 am
Nominating Committee 11 am
2 Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
3 Closing the Racial Gap 11 am
5 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
New Member Sunday / Guest Preacher Rabbi Sarah Mack 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
New Member Reception 11:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
6 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
7 Tuesdays With Scripture 8 am
8 Slavery and Horses 12 noon
Board of Trustees 4 pm
9 Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm
Religious Education Committee 5:30 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
10 New England’s First Integrated Night Club 10:30 am
12 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Leadership Development / Membership Committees 11:30 am
Flower Committee 11:45 am
Women Gather 12 noon
13 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
14 Tuesdays With Scripture 8 am
16 Central Men’s Group 7:30 am
Board of Deacons 5:30 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
19 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
Church School 10:30 am
Worship 10:30 am
Mozart Requiem Preview 11:30 am
20 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
21 Tuesdays With Scripture 8 am
Plant & Properties Committee 5:00 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:15 pm
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper 5:30 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm
22 Ash Wednesday Service 7 pm
23 Sensational Science 10 am
Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
24 The Right to … Liberty 1 pm
Film Fare: “Amadeus” 7:30 pm
26 Adult Sunday School 9 am
  Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
Special Service of Music:
Mozart Requiem
4 pm
27 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
Technology Committee 7 pm
28 Tuesdays With Scripture 8 am


The Church Office will be closed Monday, Feb. 22, for Presidents’ Day.


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