January 2020 Newsletter

Central News

January 2020
Vol 28 No 5

From Rebecca

Dear Friends, “And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” So writes Rainer Maria Rilke.

Is there anyone who hasn’t heard the old cliché, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”? (No, I didn’t think so!)

This is a good thing to remember…whatever bad habits you have collected, there is always a tomorrow, a new chapter, a new possibility to rise up from the ashes of defeat.

You have to “learn how to fall before you learn how to fly,” right?
Every journey begins with a single step.
You never fail until you stop trying.
The best way to get something done is to begin.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.
We learn from our mistakes.

And sometimes you just fritter away a day…but there is always tomorrow; although as Professor Harold Hill says in The Music Man, “you pile up enough tomorrows and you will find you have collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”

We tend to forget just how blessed we are every day, and so this new year offers us a sweet welcome to recognize all “the things that have never been”! And to start this recognizing right now! Today!

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people” (John 1:1-1-4).

On Christmas Day we start afresh with Jesus’ birth. Then the new year begins. Each of us will hear some difficult news and some great news. We will live through unexpected challenges and find new opportunities. We will be puzzled and amazed, saddened and filled with joy. We will see and hear these things that have never been.

But you know what the truth is…that the Alpha and the Omega, the reality of our God who brings all into being, this God offers us first things every moment.

So, let us welcome this new year that is full of things that have never been. And let us resolve to celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ with us each and every day of our lives and forever more, in all the old times and in the new times too.

With love and anticipation,


New Member Luncheon

Join us in welcoming new members to the Central family at the New Member Potluck Luncheon! The Membership Committee will provide main dishes, but you can enliven the fare by sharing a favorite (and fully cooked, please) side dish, casserole, salad, or dessert. Just drop off your dish with our kitchen crew before Worship – along with warming instructions and any necessary ingredient notifications. And please wear your name tag to lunch. It makes it so much easier to get acquainted! Sunday February 2, immediately after Worship.

The Deacon’s Bench

One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” I like it because it is doable. The generosity of Central’s congregation ensures that we feed more than “just one.” Tuesday through Friday every week, Camp Street Community Ministries provides food for 35 to 50 individuals, donated by Whole Foods and Stop & Shop.  Anyone who comes to the door is welcome. On Saturdays, 75 to 80 neighborhood families “shop” in the Camp Street pantry for food supplied by R.I. Community Food Bank. Food donated by Central, our partner churches and temple, and people who just want to help are used to create “emergency boxes.” These are given to individuals and families who have no food at home. Once a homeless woman who was vegan came to the pantry. Three of us read ingredient labels until we finally filled her backpack. What joy we experienced that day!

Thanksgiving is a particularly busy and happy time in the pantry. This year, we distributed turkey dinner boxes to 414 families: 1,322 people! These boxes were filled with food provided by Central members, Make A Difference, Willow Tree – as well as random donations. Brown University’s Engineering Department, with a nod to our own Barrett and Mary Hazeltine, held its annual food drive, contributing 371 pounds of food. Moses Brown School students and parents collected funds and foods. Upper School students came before class the Monday before Thanksgiving to help fill the boxes.  Other Thanksgiving pantry partners include Church of the Redeemer, Friends’ Meeting House, Providence Presbyterian Church, St, Martin’s Church, and Temple Beth El. Together we did feed more than “just one”!  Thank you, Central members, for your ongoing generosity.

In this New Year, can we apply this “just one” concept to social justice?  Climate change, in particular, is such a huge problem. What can we do as individuals to reduce waste and our carbon footprint? What would Mother Teresa say?

– Mary Francis Bishop

Christmas At Central

The Christmas candles and lights may be packed away for another year, but the glow of Christmas at Central has not faded! We made approximately $6,000, not only for the general budget, but also for the 2020 youth mission trip and more. Most importantly, we shared ourselves with the wider community. Many, many thanks to all our chairpersons and to everyone who worked so hard to make Christmas at Central a wonderful success.

Budget Meeting

This year’s Tentative Budget Approval Meeting is Sunday, January 26, immediately after Worship – and your presence and input are crucial. This is because the budget determines what we can accomplish as a Church during the coming fiscal year to keep our beautiful sanctuary lively with worship, music, and fellowship. In 2020/21, we’ll take our next steps to “Grow Central for Tomorrow.”

On January 26, we’ll share a proposed renovation of Chapel Hall, a plan that will serve our thriving congregation as well as the surrounding community. We’ll also showcase the new hymnal chosen by the Hymnal Selection Committee after much research, discussion, and prayerful consideration.

We thank you in advance for your attendance and participation!

Community Dinner

This coming Leap Year Day, Central members are invited to a Community Dinner – as we take a leap of faith together and recommit to our church’s mission, recognizing the role of stewardship in fulfilling that mission. Beat the cold February blues and get out of the house, share a meal, cultivate spiritual friendships, deepen your sense of community. We’ll meet at the church for appetizers and refreshments and then move on in smaller groups to various hosts’ homes for dinner and dessert. Sign up – to attend or host – during coffee hour Sunday, Jan. 12 through Sunday, Feb. 2. Questions? Contact Alexandra Arnold or Jeff Baran. Saturday, Feb. 29, at 5 pm in Chapel Hall.

In Memoriam

  • Our prayers and sympathy are with Paul Morrissey, on the death of his father, George Morrissey.
  • With Barbara Silvis, on the death of her  mother, Dorothy Silvis.
  • With Bill Scott on the death of his mother, Sandra Scott.
  • With Donna Templeton on the death of her brother, Patrick Fettuccia.
  • With Don Sweitzer  on the death of his  sister , Marjorie Sweitzer.
  • With Gretchen Yealy and Karen Hopkinson on the death of their Mother/Grandmother, Enid Yealy.
  • With Patty Tanalski and Anna Tanalski on the death of  their Mother/Grandmother, Ellen Erb.
  • Requiescat in pace.

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, January 22, 7 pm
Faith Exploration:  Tuesday, January 28, 7 pm
New Member Sunday: February 2

From Claudia

As we begin this month we are still in the Christmas season, which lasts until Epiphany on January 6.

One of my favorite poems for this time of year is by Norma Farber:

The Queens came late, but the Queens were there
With gifts in their hands and crowns in their hair.
They’d come, these three, like the Kings, from far,
Following, yes, that guiding star.

They’d left their ladles, linens, and looms,
Their children playing in nursery rooms,
And told their sitters: “Take charge! For this
Is a marvelous sight we must not miss!”

The Queens came late, but not too late
To see the animals small and great,
Feathered and furred, domestic and wild,
Gathered to gaze at a mother and child.

And rather than frankincense and myrrh
And gold for the babe, they brought for her
Who held him, a homespun gown of blue,
And chicken soup – with noodles, too –
And a lingering, lasting, cradle-song.

The Queens came late and stayed not long,
For their thoughts already were straining far –
Past manger and mother and guiding star
And a child aglow as a morning sun –
Toward home and children and chores undone.

When all the presents and decorations of Christmas are put away we, like the Queens, turn toward home and the living of our days. And we live them in ways that have changed with the coming of the Child, the One who changed, who changes, and who is changing everything!

May it be so in each of our lives.  Blessings for a joyous 2020!

– Claudia

Musical Notes

The Music Committee’s New Hymnal Fundraiser – those gorgeous origami Star ornaments handmade from old Pilgrim Hymnal pages that graced our Christmas tree – raised approximately $1,500 to put toward the purchase of “Hymns of Truth and Light.” This hymnal, well researched and recommended by the Hymnal Selection Committee, is published by First Congregational Church of Houston. It will have a custom cover design, plus a 32-page supplement of additional hymns selected by Central. The committee will make a full presentation to the congregation at the Budget Meeting on Jan. 26.  And, there will be additional opportunities to contribute to the new hymnal purchase, so stay tuned. Coming up on Sunday, Jan. 19, during Worship: a special musical tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Children’s Choir Rehearsal Mondays, 5 pm; Sundays, 10 am

Adult Choir Rehearsal   Thursdays, 7:30 pm; Sundays, 9:15 am

Spiritual Companionship Group

Where is God in your life? Discover how the ancient tradition of spiritual companionship with others will help you attain inner wisdom and find new possibilities in your life. Thursday,  Jan. 2, 6 pm in the Deacons’ Room. RSVP to Claudia.

Adult Sunday School

This month, we’ll explore “The Asphalt Gospel,” a 2,500 mile life-changing walk. Six ordinary people journey on foot from Phoenix, Ariz., to Washington, D.C., spreading a message of love and inclusion to change the face of Christianity in America. “Sometimes you have to go a long way to make a difference.” Questions? Ask Claudia. Sundays, 9 to 10 am, in the Fireplace Room.

Caring and Sharing Potluck

The women of Central are invited to join Caring and Sharing for our annual Epiphany Potluck and Yankee Swap – around a blazing Yule log!  We will also discuss Caring and Sharing’s direction going forward. Sunday, Jan. 5, 5:30 pm, in the Fireplace Room.

Food for Thought Book Group

Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book, ”Becoming” by Michelle Obama. Call Claudia for information. Thursday, Jan. 9, 6 to 8:30 pm, in the Fireplace Room. Coming up … Feb. 13: “Tenemental: Adventures of a Reluctant Landlady” by Vikki Warner. Mar. 12: “Mozart’s Starling” by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

Angelic Knitters

Whether you knit or just aspire to knit, join us for fellowship and share in the blessing of the prayer shawls we lovingly make for others. And, if you want to learn how to knit, we’ll teach you! Questions? Call Janice Libby or Claudia. Sunday, Jan. 12, 11:45 am, in the Deacons’ Room.

CCC Annual Women’s Retreat

Imagine! No cooking, appointments, or deadlines for an entire weekend! Just nourishment for your body, mind and soul. Enjoy 180 wooded acres of hiking trails bordering Echo Lake and an original 1700s farmhouse as you reflect, relax, and renew! The cost is $175 for five meals, lodging, and materials. Payment is due March 1.  March 27 to 29, Episcopal Conference Center, Pascoag. Reserve with Claudia.

Church School News

A HEART FULL! Writing this last newsletter entry, after more than 25 years in the Central community – and thinking back over all this time together – I am filled with a gratitude that is so deep and wide, it’s hard to know where to begin with my thanks! I am grateful to each of you! You’ve taught me so much about faith, kindness, love, and generosity through all the “seasons” of our lives.

In the Church School community, you’ve taken me in and let me be part of your children’s faith journeys. I can think of no greater honor or responsibility! There are so many “moments” I have in my basket of memories: poignant, painful, or simply very funny. All the things that families experience over many years. This year’s Christmas pageant brought a complete circle to my seasons at Central. Elizabeth Balogun’s baby, Xena Fay, was our baby Jesus – reminding me of when Elizabeth herself was a child in Church School!

Thank you for the gift of letting me serve and be a part of your lives! Thank you for your loving kindness, which will remain in my heart always. With love, deep thanks, and a grateful heart – Cathy C-T  Church

Thank you, Cathy, for 25 years of service, leadership, inspiration, friendship, music, and fun.

Confirmation Class

Sunday, Jan. 5 and 26, 9:15 am, upstairs in the Church School Wing.


WORD Fellowship (for ninth to twelfth graders) –  which is also Year Two of Confirmation for tenth graders. Sunday, Jan. 5, 12 pm.

Trampoline Park Field Trip

You’ll jump  at the chance to come to this year’s Southern New England Conference U.C.C. winter youth event. We will be visiting Fun City Trampoline Park in Seekonk, MA! Meet at Central Sunday, Jan. 12, 1 pm in Chapel Hall.

Parent’s Social

Learn what your children are doing in Central’s youth groups and confirmation classes – while sharing faith and ideas with other parents.  Please bring a snack or beverage to share! Jan. 6, 7 pm, in Chapel Hall.

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 faith. We are currently reading the book of Esther together. Sunday, Jan. 12, 6 pm in the Fireplace Room.

In The Gallery

January’s exhibit features the photography of Robert Reichley. The show will be hung on Wednesday, Jan. 8.  Reception news will be posted in the Sunday bulletins.

Friday Film Fare

In Stanley Kubrick’s pitch-black doomsday comedy – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), believing Russian agents have poisoned America’s water supply, launches a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union without his superiors’ knowledge. Accidental or not, annihilation of human life becomes an increasingly likely – and increasingly hilarious – possibility! With a priceless George C. Scott as an unhinged Joint Chiefs Chair and Peter Sellers in three roles, including the mysterious, Machiavellian, and very German National Security Advisor, Dr. Strangelove. Sleep tight, everyone. [95 minutes; B&W; PG]  Friday, Jan. 17, 7:30 pm in the Fireplace Room.

From Joshua

The new year is here and I am feeling … 30. My birthday is Jan. 19. For ten years, I’ve dreaded this date, but recently my heart and mind have changed.

There is a Yiddish proverb, “Der mensch trakht un Got lakht.” The human plans and God laughs. Because humans are basically apes with anxiety, we try to envision good things ahead, but don’t always make the best plans. God has better things in store. The question is not how we plan for the future, but how we follow God there.

Proverbs 3:5 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” It’s difficult to let go and let God.  Demanding lives, stress, and bumps in the road keep us from seeing clearly. Trusting in God gives the assurance we need to move forward.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to God’s purpose.” This is an invitation to trust God and see what happens over time. For me, learning to trust in God is making me aware of possibilities I couldn’t see before. When I focus on this, 30 doesn’t seem so scary, and neither will 40, 50, 60, or 120! When we walk with and trust in God, peace makes a home in the heart. Rather than stress about plans, mensch lakht mit Got: we laugh WITH God as we walk through life.

January Events

Jan. 2 Spiritual Companionship 6 pm
Religious Education Committee 7 pm
Jan. 5 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Stewardship Committee 9 am
Confirmation Class 9:15 am
Worship / Communion 10:30 am
NEOS 12 pm
Jan. 6 Parents’ Social 7 pm
Technology Committee 7 pm
Jan. 8 Trustees Meeting 2 pm
Budget & Finance 7 pm
Jan. 9 Food for Though Book Group 7 pm
Jan. 12 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Membership Committee 11:45 am
LDC All Committee Chairs 11:45 am
Winter Youth Event 1 pm
Jan. 14 Deacons Meeting 5:45 pm
Jan. 15 Mission & Action 6 pm
Budget Meeting 7 pm
Jan. 16 CCC Men’s Group 7:30 am
Jan. 17 Film Fare 7:30 pm
Jan. 19 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Jan. 21 Plant & Properties 5:45 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm
Jan. 22 Inquirer’s Meeting 7 pm
Jan. 26 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Confirmation Class 9:15 am
Worship 10:30 am
Budget Approval Meeting 11:30 am
Jan. 28 Faith Exploration 7 pm
Jan. 30 Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm
“The Feather Thief”

The church office will be closed Wednesday, January 1, for New Year’s Day and Monday, January 20, for Martin Luther King Day.

Posted in Newsletters.