January 2024 Newsletter

Central News

January 2024 –  Vol. 32, No. 5

Happy New Year!

Download the PDF Version of This Newsletter

Join us for Sunday Worship at 10:30 am

From Your New Senior Minister!

Hello, friends! As I write this, I find myself surrounded by boxes in a small ranch-style house just outside of Atlanta, GA. Earlier today, I introduced the incoming pastor to North Decatur United Methodist Church to the staff. Afterward, I spent most of the day assembling boxes, filling them with books, and strategically stacking them to create some semblance of order. By the time you read this, all of these boxes will be on a truck, making their way along the East Coast to Providence, where Susannah and I will be surrounded once again by boxes and new people to meet. We are incredibly excited to be there with you!

Together, we are in a liminal space. What has been is worth celebrating, grieving, honoring, and remembering; and what will be is both exciting and scary, expectant and hopeful. We are between seasons.

I want to express my deep gratitude for the impactful work Rebecca has done at Central during her long and faithful tenure. The way you’ve created a community grounded in the simple truth that all people are beloved and valued children of God is truly inspiring. Her ministry here will continue to influence the work we do together for years to come!

I am also thankful for all of the staff and church members who have played a vital role in guiding Central through Advent and into a new year. Y’all are a great team, and I am genuinely excited to join in.

As we look ahead to the new year, there is much to anticipate. I just want to say two things. First, I am thrilled to be at Central! In my very first conversations with the search committee, it was evident that Central is the kind of church that focuses on the things that heal the world. I resonate deeply with Central’s understanding of a Christian life: We are on a journey. None of us are complete yet. We carry baggage, miss the mark, disappoint, and we are all in progress. But, we are beloved by God and called to take our next steps on the path. I look forward to walking alongside you as we learn from Jesus how to love our God and our neighbors. God is in this. We are going to do some good work together.

Secondly, I want you to know that I am praying for you. While I may not know most of your names yet, or the challenges and joys you’re facing, I’m eager to learn. I can’t wait to join in and be part of your journey.

I cannot wait to be with you! See y’all soon! – Patrick

From Rebecca

Dear members and friends of Central, I write this note as your Minister Emerita because I would like to thank you all for your gracious and poignant memory notes, the wonderful and festive Farewell Celebration on Nov. 19, and all the work and time and thought that went into its planning. Your gifts to me and my family have been many and abundant, and I am deeply appreciative. I send each of you my Christian love as we turn to welcoming your new Senior Minister Patrick Faulhaber and his wife Susannah. I am confident Patrick will lead this good and faithful congregation into a blessed future, and my prayers continue to be with you all.

With great affection – Rebecca

Poetry Corner:  Janus

Two faces, one accomplished,
one awaited:

She’s Rebecca, reviewing
storied decades,

Her church extolled by
light and dark descendants.

It’s furnished for the future
filled with faith.

Our arms reach out –
her trail winds farther.

He’s a different Patrick,
singing a new song.

The Church’s Hymn abides,
insistent too.

Rising Scion of the State of
Rhode Island,

We carry them with Hope –
join along!

– May Cornelia Grant

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, Patrick Faulhaber, 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 Patrick will get in touch.

Inquirers’ Meeting
Tuesday, January 23, 7 pm

Faith Exploration
Wednesday, January 31, 7 pm

New Member Sunday
Sunday, February 4, 10:30 am

The Deacon’s Bench

I have been reading presidential biographies recently and just completed Arthur Schleslinger Jr.’s “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.” Kennedy obviously had a very brief time as president, yet left a marvelous legacy of hope and change. Perhaps he is most remembered for his inaugural address quote: “The burden of the long twilight struggle lay on this people and this generation. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what we can do for the freedom of man.”

I wonder if this quote is often misinterpreted to challenge our government’s support of marginalized populations: the poor, the disabled, women, LGBTQ+ persons, and legal and illegal immigrants. In the book of John chapter 4, we read the story about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus asks her for a drink of water, and she replies “How can you ask me for a drink? For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” Jesus replies, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

As Christians, we are called to support and love all people regardless of race, color, gender or sexual identity, country of origin, or religious affiliation. Kennedy called us to support the “freedom of man.”

Unfortunately, some members of our society were challenged to support the “freedom of man.” Kennedy, his social programs, and his foreign policies incited hate in them. After Kennedy’s assassination, Schlesinger remembered a poem by Stephen Spender:

I think continually of those who were truly great
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center.
Born of the sun, they traveled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

So, what does it all mean? It means love your neighbor as yourself. It means trying to understand people who are different from you. Understand their perspectives and try to do your best to support their freedom and journeys through this earthly life. – Bob Griffith

Attention all Committee Chairs

It’s time to prepare your budgets for the 2024/25 fiscal year. And the Finance Committee is eager to learn of each committee’s plans for the coming year. Please email your committee’s budget to Donna Chace-Larson, Finance Committee chair (drscl1@aol.com) no later than Tuesday, Jan. 2 – along with the name and email address of the member of your committee who will be attending the Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 3, at 7 pm, via Zoom. This year’s meeting will be online due to the recent traffic issues, so look for the Zoom link in your email.

Member Photos Needed

The Membership Committee is assembling a digital directory to help our new senior minister Patrick Faulhaber and his wife Susannah get to know our large congregation. Please help us collect photos of every single Central member! On Sundays, Dec. 31 and Jan. 7, during coffee hour, we will set up a photography station. We encourage all of our members to look their best, stop by, and be sure to smile for the camera!

Or, if you have an up-to-date(-ish) photo of yourself that you particularly like, you can email it to photos@centralchurch.us along with your full name. Headshots are preferable. No group or family photos. We will also email a direct link so you can upload a photo at your convenience.

A Gift Basket Thank You

The Christmas at Central Gift Basket Silent Auction was a huge success this year! More successful than ever before, in fact. Thank you to everyone who made a donation for the gift baskets! And thank you for your creativity and generosity! – Heidi and Bill Iuliano, Gift Basket Chairs

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with the family and friends of Central’s Organist and Choirmaster Patrick Aiken on the death of his mother … and with the family and friends of Scott Mathieu on the death of his father. Resquiescat in pace.

Then and Now

Even small elements in the sanctuary can connect us to our surroundings and to Central Congregational Church’s remarkable history. Among them are two fluted wooden pedestals – one of which displays holiday flowers each year on Maundy Thursday, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day. Each has a brass plaque with the following inscription:

Given in Memory of
The Reverend J. Lewis Diman – 1831-1881
Emily Stimson Diman – 1837-1901

These names are intriguing because they are found on the two side streets that surround Central – Stimson Avenue and Diman Place. The names also connect to the yellow, Federal-style house at 300 Angell Street just east of the church. Built circa 1799 by Ebenezer Knight Dexter, it predates other buildings in the immediate neighborhood. John J. Stimson (1798 to 1860) purchased the house in 1837, and had the area platted in 1858. Stimson died in 1860, leaving the house to his daughter Emily Gardner Stimson.

In 1861 she married Jeremiah Lewis Diman: a Congregational minister, eminent Brown University history professor, son of a Rhode Island governor, and father of an Episcopal-turned-Catholic priest who founded St. George’s School and Portsmouth Abbey. According to “Memories of Brown” by Robert P. Brown (1871), “Professor Diman is a Unitarian, who hires a pew in Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, preaches mostly in orthodox Congregational pulpits, is in warm sympathy with the faith of the liberal Jews, and teaches Catholicism in a Baptist College.”

Stimson Avenue was “cut through” in 1861, starting at Angell Street and reaching Hope Street by 1885; Diman Place likely was added in the same time frame. And Central’s congregation purchased the corner lot at Angell Street and Diman Place in 1890. – Thomas Rice, Historian and Preservationist

From Claudia

As you read this, it will be the beginning of an entirely new year! What will 2024 hold for us all? As it always does, the year will unfold. Joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats, and so much more will commingle for us all as we live our lives. And that is to be expected.

Here at Central, we have the great joy of welcoming The Reverend Patrick Faulhaber and Susannah Faulhaber into our midst! We are so blessed to be able to anticipate their arrival this month. It’s an exciting new year with new beginnings for us all.

As I started to write this article, T. S. Eliot’s words from his poem “Little Gidding” kept running through my mind: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language / And next year’s words await another voice. / And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

This is the final poem in Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” In this series, the themes of salvation and humanity are prominent. This last poem considers the themes of what is past and what is happening in the present while looking to what is to come.

We are poised to do just that. To quote a New Year’s blessing I wrote many years ago: “May we leave behind that which is past and may we also leave the future to its own meaning. May the end of one year move us into the coming year. And may our beginnings be made with anticipation. Most of all, may we hear God’s voice in all times and places, and may we echo the tidings of great joy which shall be for all people.”

May it be so in our homes, in our communities, and in this beloved church. An end is always the beginning, for we belong to God who is continually making all things new!

A blessed New Year to us all! – Claudia

Darrell West Lecture

“Riveting” and “thought-provoking” are just two words that describe Central’s Darrell West Lecture Series on Religion and Politics. This year David French – a columnist for The New York Times – will headline our open forum on the intersection between religion and politics.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, French was a senior editor at The Dispatch and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He is a former constitutional litigator, who has argued high-profile religious liberty cases, and a past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

French is also a New York Times bestselling author. His most recent book – “Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation” – argues that polarization is putting America on a perilous path to disunion.

In addition, French is a former major in the United States Army Reserve and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he was awarded the Bronze Star.

David French will be the sixteenth lecturer in Central’s Darrell West Lecture Series on Religion and Politics. Previous speakers include public radio/podcast host Krista Tippett, United State Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black, and Washington Post columnist and Georgetown University professor E.J. Dionne.

Join us for the 2024 Darrell West Lecture Series on Religion and Politics on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 pm.


Central member Lorraine Lalli is the recipient of NAACP Providence Branch’s 2023 Rosa Parks Award!  Winners must be dedicated to the mission and vision of the NAACP Providence Branch. They must demonstrate the courage to challenge the status quo in order to achieve a just society for the disadvantaged. And they must exemplify a nonviolent philosophy in pursuit of ensuring the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”

Lorraine is Associate Dean of Student Life and Operations at Roger Williams University School of Law, where she works with senior university and law school administration to support law students in their academic, professional and personal goals. She is a member of the School of Law’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan Steering Committee.  Congratulations, Lorraine!

Adult Sunday School

“To love at all is to be vulnerable” – “The Four Loves,” by C.S. Lewis. This month, we’ll take our study of Lewis – beloved author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and other fiction and nonfiction – in a new direction: his loving friendship and eventual marriage to American poet/writer Joy Davidman. Contact Claudia with questions. Sundays, Jan. 7, 14, 21, and 28, at 9 am, in the Fireplace Room

Women Gather

Central’s women’s fellowship will kick off the New Year with an Epiphany potluck lunch and a movie. Bring a favorite dish and join us for the historic 1955 television broadcast of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” This one-act opera by Gian Carlo Menotti tells of the night the Three Kings, following the star to Bethlehem, stop for shelter at the home of Amahl, a poor, crippled shepherd boy. Sunday, Jan. 7, at 12 noon, in the Fireplace Room [Running time: 50 minutes].

Food for Thought Book Group

This month, Claudia’s book group will discuss the 2023 Pulitzer Prize winner “Demon Copperhead,” by Barbara Kingsolver. Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, it is a story of a young boy’s journey to maturity. Thursday, Jan. 11, at 
7 pm, in the Fireplace Room.  Looking ahead: Feb. 11 – “The Last White Man,” by Mohsin Hamid

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, Jan. 18, at 7:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

Fourth Thursday Book Group

The Fourth Thursday Book Group will meet to discuss “Warrior Girl Unearthed” by Angeline Bouley, a high-stakes thriller about the power of discovering your stolen history. If you would like to join us, please email Ann Scott at eannscott56@gmail.com. Thursday, Jan. 25, at 12 noon, via Zoom.

In the Gallery

This month, The Gallery features the work of artist Ann Rozhon. Ann’s work expresses her love of nature – of texture and color woven into a complex tapestry of shapes on the canvas or modeled in clay. Her newest series of sculptural reliefs merge her extensive knowledge of materials with an ever-expanding palette of vibrant color – and her lifelong fascination with combining two- and three-dimensional elements to suggest an open-ended narrative.

Ann received her bachelor’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. Since 1985, she exhibited throughout New England and beyond. Ann lives in North Scituate, R.I., with her husband Joseph Galvin, and has a large, sunlit studio there, where she conducts painting workshops.

Meet the artist at the Gallery opening reception on Friday, Jan. 5, 5 to 7 pm.

Friday Film Fare

In Dog Day Afternoon, Sonny (Al Pacino), the brains, and Sal (John Cazale), the follower, decide to rob a Brooklyn bank one sultry August afternoon. The result is standoff, chaos, media circus, and ultimately disaster. And, oh yes, this farce really happened. Based closely on a real event, director Sidney Lumet, screenwriter Frank Pierson, and a stellar cast fashioned this brilliant movie, one of the quintessential 1970s American films. You will find yourself wondering along with Sonny and Sal how things could go so awry when all you wanted to do was rob a bank, for cryin’ out loud. [125 minutes; color; rated R, 1975] Join host Jim Silverthorn on Friday, Jan. 19, at 7:30 pm, in the Fireplace Room.

Check out the PDF version of the newsletter for Scenes from Christmas 2023

January Events

3 Amos House Volunteers 6:30 am
Gallery Committee 9 am
Finance Committee 7 pm
5 Gallery Reception 5 pm
7 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
8 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
10 Amos House Volunteers 6:30 am
Finance Committee 7 pm
11 Board of Deacons 5:45 pm
Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
14 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Leadership Development 11:45 am
15 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
Technology Committee 7 pm
16 Plant & Properties Committee 5:45 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm
17 Amos House Volunteers 6:30 am
Mission & Action Committee 6:30 pm
18 Central Men’s Group 7:30 am
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
19 Friday Film Fare 7:30 pm
20 Newsletter Deadline 3:30 pm
21 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
22 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
23 Inquirers’ Meeting 7 pm
24 Amos House Volunteers 6:30 am
25 Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
27 Darrell West Lecture 6:30 pm
28 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Membership Committee 11:30 am
29 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
31 Amos House Volunteers 6:30 am
Faith Exploration 7:30 pm


The Church Office will be closed on New Year’s Day, Monday, January 1.


Posted in Newsletters.