March 2023 Newsletter

Central News

March 2023  |  Vol. 31, No. 7

Join Us For Sunday Worship at 10:30 am!

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From Rebecca

Dear Friends, I’m writing this as Lent is about to begin – and thinking about two phrases: “net dropping” and “cross carrying.”

We all can imagine those fishermen out there doing their jobs, meeting Jesus, and being so drawn by Him and His call that they instantly drop their nets (the sole source of their livelihoods) on which they have so fully depended and choose to follow Him (Mark 1:16-20). It is an enticing scene, isn’t it? Almost unbelievable, illogical, but still inspiring, challenging. Ordinary people leaving what they knew and setting off on a hero’s journey. Ready to meet the unknown. Trusting in this man Jesus.

Cross carrying is a little harder to envision (Luke 9:23). Deny yourself? Lose your life in order to save it? Put your trust in God throughout any of the difficult times you face in your life? Put your own goals fully aside and help others?

What if in order to save your life, to live as fully as possible as God’s beloved child, we start with dropping our nets … those things and actions that give us security? I do believe then, we will be able to tackle the tougher stuff.

Lent’s forty days give us a time and a season to practice both net dropping and cross carrying. Perhaps dramatically as is happening in the amazing revival now taking place in Kentucky. Perhaps with indelible sorrow as we contemplate the ravages happening in Ukraine. But always with faith.

I think God asks each of us to do both. We can start with dropping a few nets on which we have perhaps relied too much. And then heading to the cross carrying. This requires a lot … maybe even too much some days.

But even as we falter and fall back, as we doubt and waver, our faith gives us the insight to see that both make a difference in God’s world. God calls us to make that difference. This I believe, even as I recognize how much more God anticipates of me … and of you!

Yours, through the love and trust of God who created and continues to hold each of us in grace


The Quest for Stewardship

The dictionary defines a “quest” as a journey toward a specific mission or a goal. It’s the perfect description of Central’s Stewardship Scavenger Hunt – which is our first step towards Dedication Sunday, on March 26, when our congregation will deliver its pledges for 2023/24.

This family-friendly event – designed to be fun for all ages – will take you on a quest throughout 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!

Lunch will be served, so please RSVP to Jeff Baran ( so we know how much food to procure for our exploring church members.

Please join us in Chapel Hall after worship on Sunday, March 5 … when our quest for stewardship will begin!

Dedication Sunday is March 26!

Please prayerfully consider your 2023/24 pledge to keep Central alive with worship, music, mission, and fellowship.

The Deacon’s Bench

There are tall pine trees at the end of our driveway behind our garage. When our neighbors’ 65-foot tree went down years ago, it landed on the property lines of two homes behind theirs, stretching to the main street in next block. It was an urban miracle that no one was hurt and there wasn’t any real property damage.

Now I “check” on the three remaining pine trees behind our garage. Mostly to make sure they are not swaying too far one way or the other. As if I could control those trees! They creak and sway a lot.

One night just before dusk, when I was pulling into our driveway for the millionth time, I checked the pine trees and noticed a large nest. There was “a pine tree play date” in progress. Turkey vultures and ravens, oh my! Squirrels – racing, whizzing, spiraling around, up and down the trunk (nest to earth) and back again. A race for sure. The backyard birds were sitting on branches watching, chirping, speculating about who won.

I did not realize they all hung out together. Were they friends? I thought a vulture could eat a squirrel or any small rodent.

As I sat in my car catching the end of a good song and watching the busy nest, our cat LB jolted across the yard, up the fence, and over to her garage rooftop perch – content to watch the pine tree play date as if it were a good movie.

I realize I cannot keep these trees from falling. I do not always know who is prey or predator. Faith replaces fear and helps me to continue to grow and look for signs of God’s plan for us. To seek signs of awe, wonder, curiosity, and to hope for harmony, peace, and play … like these backyard scenes. – Torin Mathieu

Lenten Meditations

Lent is a time for self-reflection and prayer, a chance to draw closer to God. This is the goal of these Lenten Meditations, held in Wilson Chapel from 5:30 to 6 pm every Wednesday in the weeks leading up to Palm Sunday. Each week, a member of Central will share his or her journey of faith.

Mar. 1:  Nancy Gage
Mar. 8:  Sheri Sweitzer
Mar. 15:   Harold Kolenbrander
Mar. 22:   Jon Wolston
Mar. 29:   Cheryl Ludwig

These brief, meditative services let us contemplate our own spiritual paths, share in another’s journey, and find connections in common ideas, concerns, questions, and experiences. Perhaps most importantly, we come to know one another in thoughtful and faith-filled ways. Then, please stay for our Lenten Mission Supper speaker series, which immediately follows in Chapel Hall.

Lenten Mission Suppers

The theme for this year’s much-anticipated Lenten Mission Supper is “The Year of the Child,” and we are honored to welcome five distinguished experts to our speaker series.

Mar. 1:  The Honorable Jeanine P. McConaghy from Rhode Island Family Court will speak about the juvenile justice system.

Mar. 8:  Central’s own Bob Griffith, pediatrician, will discuss the effect of COVID-19 stress – lack of school, lack of direct contact with the world – on children’s health.

Mar. 15:  Community Music Works will show how music education and performance help create a cohesive urban community.

Mar. 22:  Jillian Pastina Roy, Ph.D. – Chief Office of Nursing at the Providence Center – will talk about children’s mental health.

Mar. 29:  Adoption Rhode Island will discuss its mission: creating safety, belonging, and permanency for adopted and foster children, vulnerable youth, and families through compassionate services, advocacy, and education.

Please join us in the Fireplace Room every Wednesday evening in March, at 6 pm, immediately following the Lente Meditation, for a light soup supper and scintillating discussion that impacts us all.

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 26, 7 pm
Faith Exploration:  Tuesday, May 2, 7 pm
New Member Sunday:  Sunday, May 7, 10:30 am

Morehouse College Glee Club Concert

In partnership with Olney Street Baptist Church, Central will host a concert by the Morehouse College Glee Club. Founded in 1911, the Glee Club has performed at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, funeral, President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, Super Bowl XXVIII, 1996 Summer Olympics, and other venues around the world. A reception – held at 5:30 pm in the Fireplace Room – will precede the concert. Saturday, Mar. 18, 7 pm (Times are tentative, so watch for email updates.)

Joint Leadership Development / Membership Committee Meeting

The Leadership Development and Membership committees will continue their strategy session, generating creative ideas for increasing membership and attendance – and strengthening the Central community. Sunday, Mar. 19, 11:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

Earthquake Relief

On February 6, a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake and series of strong tremors and aftershocks devastated southeast Turkey and northwest Syria. Please include the people of Turkey and Syria in your prayers.  And if you’d like to support recovery efforts, go to:

UCC Emergency Appeal ( and designate your gift to “Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief”

Central’s Website (  Click on “Give to Central” and select “Turkey / Syria Earthquake Relief” as your give-to option.

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with Joyce Evans and her family on the death of her sister, Central Congregational Church member Jan Corbett. A memorial service will be held Friday, Mar. 24, 11 amRequiescat in pace.

From Claudia

At Central we follow the liturgical year cycle. In that cycle we move from Advent to Christmas, Epiphany to Lent, and on to Easter and Pentecost. The cycle gives shape and form to our reflections and connects us with the wider ecumenical church.

This year – as we contemplate who we are and Whose we are through the seasons of the Church and its holy days worldwide – Lent seems ever more important. Brian McLaren in his book “Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices” writes, “These special holidays give rise to various liturgical calendars that suggest we should mark our days not only with the cycles of the moon and seasons, but also with occasions to tell our children the stories of our faith community’s past so that this past will have a future, and so that our ancient way and its practices will be rediscovered and renewed every year.”

The penitential season of Lent allows us to think about what our faith means to us in light of the cross. We are encouraged to share stories and questions about our faith. Those stories, ancient and contemporary, give all of us the framework to connect our lives with one another and with God.

Those stories build us up and bind us into a community of faith. Whether we serve breakfast at Amos House, bring snacks to Crossroads, or listen to each other’s joys and sorrows at coffee hour, we are building up our faith and that of others.

As we share and connect in that way, it strengthens this church as a whole. And that spills over into what we take from this place out into the many worlds we all inhabit.

May we go out into those worlds not only strengthened by the faith we encounter here in this place in worship among fellow members, but also by those stories that move us in the other places in our lives. May we share who we are – God’s beloved children – with all whom we meet. And may the world be changed through the way we live our faith. For every one of us is a marvel of God’s creation.

Yours along the Way – Claudia

Spring Clean-up

Come one, come all – young and not so young – to help prepare our church building and grounds for Holy Week.

This is an opportunity not simply for dusting, raking, and polishing, but also to deepen friendships and start new ones. Those who have contributed their elbow grease in the past will tell you that Church Clean-up mornings are among the most rewarding you’ll ever spend at Central.

Please send your project ideas and any supply needs to Antonia Greco and Steve Heywood ( / And when you arrive, there will be coffee, doughnuts, and plenty of good cheer! Saturday, Apr. 1, 9 am to 12 noon – or whenever you can stop by!


Congratulations to Warren Jagger and Jim Bush, both award winners in the Providence Art Club’s 2023 Winter Member’s Exhibition!

Warren won the Antonio Cirino Award – third place – for “Moulton Lane” (oil and pencil). Jim was one of five merit award winners for “Jamie’s View of Manchester Street Power Station” (acrylic and India ink).

The exhibition included more than 125 submissions in a range of media. The collection was juried by Michael Ezzell, a Providence-based fine artist, illustrator, and printmaker.

The exhibition went on display Feb. 12. You can still catch the tail end of the show through Friday, Mar. 3. The Providence Art Club Gallery is open Sunday through Friday, 12 noon to 4 pm.

Save The Date

Andrew Bayon, creator of The Nature Effect, will be the featured speaker at The 2023 Rebecca L. Spencer Lecture Series: Stories of Faith on Sunday, April 16, 11:30 am.

Food for Thought Book Group

This month Claudia’s book group will discuss “Harlem Shuffle,” by Colson Whitehead. The story takes place in 1960’s New York City. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem. Thursday, Mar. 9, 7 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.

Coming up on Apr. 13: “The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig

Adult Sunday School

This month we will continue our study of ordinary people who engaged the world with faithful love – and in doing so, became extraordinary. We will focus on Hildegard von Bingen, a twelfth century German Benedictine abbess who was also a mystic, composer, poet, scientist, and philosopher – a woman who had a profound influence on her world and ours. Sundays, Mar. 12 and 19, 9 am, in the Fireplace Room

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, Mar. 16, 7:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

Irish Music Concert

Enjoy some blarney and energetic music as musicians Bob Drouin and Josh Kane sing up a storm while playing traditional Irish jigs, reels, and hornpipes on fiddle, guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán, flute, and whistle! Friday, Mar. 17, 11 am, in the Fireplace Room. Sponsored by Hamilton House.

Rebecca’s Book Group

This month, we’ll discuss the international bestseller, “Small Things Like These,” by Claire Keegan. This historical novel – about a coal merchant and family man in a small Irish town in 1985 – is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy. Thursday, Mar. 30, 12:30 pm, via Zoom. Contact Rebecca for a Zoom invitation.

Coming up on April 27: “Satanic Verses,” by Salman Rushdie

Women Gather

Central’s women’s fellowship group will screen “Babette’s Feast,” a remarkable story of a gift of love, while enjoying a soup and bread lunch. [1987, 103 minutes, color, rated G] Questions? Ask Claudia. Sunday, Apr. 2, 11:45 am, in the Fireplace Room

Welcome New Members

On Sunday, Feb. 5, Central received four new members. Please join us in welcoming them into our church family.

Cheryl Ludwig chose Central because of the sense of community. Though a native of Massachusetts, she is a 20-year Rhode Island resident – currently living in Warwick – who enjoys sailing, reading, knitting, walking, geocaching, and arts and crafts. Cheryl looks forward to serving on a Central committee and helping with the young adult ministry.

Jordan Shea and her daughter Lucian returned to Rhode Island in May 2022 after spending seven years in Boston. After a summer of attending her former church via Zoom, Jordan started looking for a local place of worship with a welcoming and supportive community. She ultimately chose Central for its size, outreach programs, and mission. Jordan and Lucian love the out-of-doors, whether in the woods or at the beach.

Grace Smith joins Central as an associate member and says she was drawn here by our community’s openness and warmth. She moved to Pawtucket in October 2022 from Tennessee, but hails from South Carolina. Grace’s interests include health equity, history of medicine, social justice, and intentional science.

Jon Wolston has been a Rhode Island resident since 1980, where he practiced psychiatry right here on the East Side and published three collections of poetry. Now retired, Jon is an avid learner, studying early American history and hoping to delve into spiritual healing. He is already active in Rebecca’s Book Group and expects to become involved in Adult Sunday School. He and his wife Nancy have two adult children, Ethan and Christopher.

The Gallery

In March, the Gallery will showcase the work of Providence-based artist Amy Goldstein. The exhibit will include acrylic and watercolor paintings, as well as charcoal drawings.

A retired genetic counselor, Amy started studying watercolor several years ago at The Handicraft Club in Providence with watercolorist Richard Marthers – using a paint palette inherited from her mother. Three years later, she branched out into acrylic painting and charcoal drawing, studying with Ida Schmulowitz. Her work has been exhibited at the New Hope Gallery, The Handicraft Club, Luli Boutique, and University of Rhode Island. Amy and her husband live in Providence and have two grown children.

Come, meet artist Amy Goldstein on Friday, Mar. 3, 4 pm, in the Gallery.

Easter Egg Decorating

On Saturday, Apr. 1, from 10 am to 1 pm, Central will once again host Easter Egg Decorating in memory of Ann Bliven, a 50-year church member. Over the years, Ann generously shared her decorating technique, which makes blown-out eggs durable enough to use year after year.

We’ll provide the paints (water-based) and other supplies. All you need to bring is a dozen or more blown-out eggs – and, if you like, empty egg cartons, a favorite paintbrush, and hair dryer for drying paint.

This event is for all ages. Ann would want everyone to participate – or just come and watch – as we carry on a tradition rooted in community and the joy of creativity.

We’ll meet in Chapel Hall. And, in memory of Ann, who was always giving to others, please bring some “kids’ food” – like Cheerios, peanut butter, and powdered milk – for Camp Street Ministries.

Thanks to Torin Mathieu for reviving this wonderful tradition!

How to Blow Out Eggs

Use a large, clean safety pin, sewing needle, or skewer to poke holes in both ends of the egg.

Make the hole on the bottom of the egg a little larger – about 1/8”. Insert the pin and wiggle it around to break up the yolk.

Use the smaller hole to blow egg contents into a bowl. (Use for scrambled eggs or omelets!)

Wash blown-out eggs in warm water, and pat dry. Set the eggs on a paper towel placed in an egg tray or carton to drain and dry overnight. 

See Google and YouTube for additional tips.

Sensational Science

Sensational Science is designed for children who are curious and like to try new things. This month, there are two chances to take on fun scientific experiments. Space is limited, so please sign up during coffee hour or through the church office. For more information, speak with Judy.  Join us Wednesdays, Mar. 15 and 22, 10 am, in the Church School Wing.

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

Women’s History Month

Most “Afternoons with the Ladies” have been moved from Chapel Hall to Hamilton House’s dining room / audio-visual room.

Mar. 3, 1 pm: Abigail Hamel on “Heroines of the American Revolution”

Mar. 10, 10:30 am: Tom Shaker and Lloyd Kaplan on “Women in Jazz”

Mar. 22, 11 am: Professor Charlotte Carrington-Farmer on “Female Pirates – Myth and Reality”

Mar. 24, 1 pm: Professor Linda Scott on “Double X Economy”

Mar. 31, 11 am: Hamilton House members on “Remarkable Women We Know”  (This coffee hour will take place in the Hamilton House Café.)

March Events

1 Gallery Committee 9 am
Lenten Meditation 5:30 pm
Lenten Mission Supper 6 pm
3 Gallery Opening / Reception 4 pm
5 Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
Scavenger Hunt 12 noon
8 Nominating Committee 10 am
Lenten Meditation 5:30 pm
Lenten Mission Supper 6 pm
9 Board of Deacons 5:30 pm
Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm
12 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
WORD 1 pm
15 Sensational Science 10 am
Lenten Meditation 5:30 pm
Lenten Mission Supper 6 pm
16 Central Men’s Group 7:30 am
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
17 Irish Music Concert 11 am
18 Morehouse College Glee Club Concert 7 pm
19 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
Leadership Development / Membership Committees 11:30 am
20 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
21 Plant & Properties Committee 5:45 pm
22 Sensational Science 10 am
Lenten Meditation 5:30 pm
Lenten Mission Supper 6 pm
23 Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
24 Memorial Service – Jan Corbett 11 am
26 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Cherub Choir Rehearsal 10 am
Dedication Sunday 10:30 am

  Church School 10:30 am
27 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
Technology Committee 7 pm
29 Lenten Meditation 5:30 pm
Lenten Mission Supper 6 pm
30 Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm


Holy Week Calendar

Sunday April 2 Palm Sunday Procession 10:10 am
    Palm Sunday Worship 10:30 am
Thursday April 6 Maundy Thursday Service of Tenebrae 7:30 pm
Friday April 7 Good Friday Service of Music 12 noon
Saturday April 8 Easter Vigil 7:30 pm
Sunday April 9 Easter Sunrise Service 6 am
Easter Breakfast 9 am
Easter Egg Hunt 9:45 am
Easter Preludes 10:10 am
Festival Service of Worship 10:30 am



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