May 2021 Newsletter

Central News

May 2021

From Rebecca

Dear Central friends,

It is Monday afternoon and you can sense spring is here.  The wicker furniture is back on the screened porch, and I’m planning to take the time to sit there with Ted Widmer’s splendid new book, Lincoln on the Verge.  I’ve been savoring this history and looking forward to the final chapters.  (See below to learn about Ted’s talk at Central in June!) Meanwhile, the cat has her own ideas of what should be going on in the screened porch, and this would involve checking out all the corners for any stray mice….Of course, this task will only follow her time watching the 8 chicks in their dog crate temporary home in the kitchen.  Honestly, she sits there with her paws under her chin as if she is watching the latest TV blockbuster series.  The dogs are happy to watch the chicks or to lie down on the porch — it is all good for them!  And, finally in the creature count, the cows, while happy with last year’s hay, can smell the new grass that isn’t quite green enough or long enough for them yet…But they are patient.  I think they know their time will come when they can gambol about.

Now, ‘gambol’ is such a great word…to run or jump about playfully….when was the last time you did that??  Our four footed friends know it…and so do our feathered friends…if you have ever watched barn swallows swoop and dive bomb an unsuspecting dog or two.

One of you remarked on Sunday that when you can take the time to just hang out the laundry and not think about what you need to do next, that is such a great feeling.  It isn’t gamboling, but it is a single minded attentiveness to whatever is at hand…a large or small task.  Many activities yield the same sense of satisfaction…. Active listening to someone is just one example that offers really important consequences for understanding and community.  This is something we miss when in this busy world we try to multitask.  So, as your senior pastor, two thoughts for this May letter.  First, think about gamboling. I’ll be happy to learn what you come up with!  And second, when you have taken the time to gambol, think about attentiveness…to a person in a conversation, to a bird in flight, to what you are doing this moment, to your dreams for your life.  So, during breaks in my reading, I look up and see birds doing their thing…I don’t think they are gamboling, but they certainly are focused on whatever task is awaiting them….building their nest, finding a worm or a bug.

Yours, in the spirit of creaturehood and the wonders of being human and part of God’s inventiveness,


Virtual Choir Concludes the Church Year

Our choir will continue to meet virtually through the end of the church year in June to bring us virtual choir anthems in worship about three more Sundays.

Weather permitting we have hosted brief 30-minute sectional rehearsals outdoors on the lawn.  We have enjoyed singing together again, and just SEEING each other in person!

Anthems you will hear in May are “In the Year King Uzziah Died” by David M. Williams, and “For the Beauty of the Earth” by John Rutter, and one more still TBA the first Sunday in June.

We can’t wait till we can all sing together again as a full choir, but until then we continue virtually.

– Patrick

The Deacon’s Bench

Spring has sprung! This year, spring holds more promise than I have ever felt at the change of seasons. In winter, plants and animals close themselves off, shut themselves down as protection from the dangers of the cold. It is a time God provides for rest and restoration. For more than a year, the world has been shut down, in a metaphoric winter. But spring is coming to the world. Thanks to scientists who have, over the past decade, developed multiple speedier means of creating vaccines, we have not one but several effective “jabs,” as the British say, that offer significant protection against COVID-19 without needing to be in winter retreat.

These signs of spring, for me, coincide with my receiving, just yesterday, my second shot. On my way home, I saw for the first time this year, trees in full bloom. I have been adhering so closely to social distancing rules that, sadly, I missed some key moments of Nature’s glory. I have had moments of loneliness, yet Central offered me opportunities this year that helped me to see oh so clearly that I am never alone. I have always been a Congregationalist, but never before, even when I was not in the physical presence of our Congregation, have I felt as strongly the Community of Central. You all have been my lifeline.

I serve on three committees this year at Central, and their Zoom calls reminded me that it is love of God, Christ and our Congregation that brought us together. We always took a brief time for sharing before jumping in to our agenda, we took time to praise our Lord, we shared with each other what draws us together, and we revealed the fears that kept us physically apart. Some of my church Zoom calls were designed specifically for social and spiritual sharing. Claudia has held a Women’s Retreat call every Saturday since last year’s weekend retreat had to be canceled. She also offers Adult Sunday School. The love of God is always present at these meetings.

And now, I feel the rebirth of spring. On three of my church calls this week, we discussed meeting together physically, socially, and purposefully in a few short weeks. Despite my fear of the pandemic, I went to church on Easter Sunday. I went to an Easter party with family afterward, outdoors and spread out, but still a party with normal chatter among people I love. The invitations during Zoom calls, the music and lessons during Easter Service, and that lovely chatter afterward enveloped me in the presence of God and the hope of rebirth into a world where the pandemic is not such a strong force.

I have great hope for the World’s recovery. Sadly, far too many will not recover to resume an earthly life, but the momentum toward opening up has strength. While the blossoms I saw yesterday had a fragility about them, I know that soon we will reach the point in this season my mother always called “Lacy Sunday.” In New Hampshire, where I grew up, Lacy Sunday usually fell at the very end of April or the beginning of May. It is the Sunday when all the deciduous trees have leafed out enough that you know they are alive, they are growing, and they are open for the season. The leaves visible on Lacy Sunday are a distinctly different color than they will become with age, and they have the delicate shape of lace, but unlike the earlier blossoms, they are strong and enduring. Our Congregation is strong and enduring, gathering in multiple ways that protect all of us, but allow us to share the love of God with each other and looking forward to a time when all members feel safe to return in person for worship.

– Lucy Hanna

Help Amos House

Whether personal care items, food, or a pair of winter gloves, your in-kind donation makes a difference. Please note that in-kind donations are only accepted Monday through Friday, by appointment.  Please contact the Amos House office at 401-272-0220 to schedule a drop off day that works best for you.

2021/2022 Pledge Envelopes Available

2021/2022 pledge envelopes are available for pick up in the church office Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.  If you are unable to pick them up during the week they will be available before and after the
Sunday services.

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
Tuesday, October 26, 7 pm

Faith Exploration
Wednesday, November 3, 7 pm

New Member Sunday: November 7

Camp Street Ministries

Let’s fill the shelves!  Cereal and shelf stable milk are needed for the food pantry.  Please bring in donations of these items and leave them in the baskets inside the sanctuary doors as you arrive for worship or drop them off in the church office during the week.  Thank you!

From Claudia

Last June I wrote about a nesting pair of doves who had taken up residence in our arbor.  I had wondered if she and her mate and their eggs/babies would survive the hawks and the carnivorous birds who also live here.  I wondered about the uncertainty of their world and ours at that time.  The good news is that the doves raised a total of four young in two nestings last summer.  Well into the fall we would hear and see the parents and their children all around our yard.

The parents stayed all winter with some of their children.  While the parents are still here, the young doves appear to have gone their own way in the past month or so.  I hear the lonesome cooing of the parents calling each other as soon as dawn breaks every day.  I see them together in the trees, on the ground and in the birdbath.

We had a storm yesterday (yes, the one with a little snow in it!) and the male dove sat on the rail of our porch for a very long time, a little sheltered from the weather.  He cooed and cooed and eventually the female dove joined him.  They sat side by side on the railing for another very long time.  Eventually the female moved to the other end of the porch and flew away.  And, the male followed shortly after.
Exactly where were they sheltering?  On the rail right next to the arbor.  I fully expect that when the time is right they will lay two eggs in another nest there.  By the way, a dove nest is a very haphazard creation, rather a metaphor for life in general.

While we have lived in an unprecedented time in the past year, the doves have carried on in the ways of doves that have existed forever.  As we ponder the Easter reality of resurrection, the doves continue on in the ways of their parents and grandparents many times over.  Come to think of it, we do, too, even in unprecedented times.

As we move from the shelter of the lives we have led for this past year and into the reality of vaccines and spring and summer and new life with new possibilities may we remember that we don’t have to understand the world in which we live.  We only have to know that resurrection creates new beginnings from the ashes of existence again and again and again.

And, that, dear friends, is where our hope lies.  Because Christ lives, we do, too.  And, like the doves we carry on in the world that surrounds us.

Alleluia! With Easter hope and joy,

– Claudia

UCC Annual Meeting

The Southern New England Conference’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 8, is shaping up to be a dynamic day focused on how our new Conference is living into justice commitments – with lots of chances for folks to build community together even while joining together virtually.  The meeting is being run online in the Whova app,

The day will include plenary sessions, each one including both business and worship. The business includes electing a slate of directors and officers, voting on the proposed endorsement of a General Synod resolution on the recognition of the Alliance of Associate Conference Ministers, the presentation of the Conference budget and addresses from the Executive Conference Minister and the Conference president. Video Speakouts will also be included.

Anyone is invited to attend the meeting, although only clergy and official delegates may cast votes on the business. The registration fee is $25 and the deadline to register is Wednesday, May 5.  Registration and all the details can be found at:

Save the Date

Thursday evening, June 10 at 7 pm, we are honored to welcome Ted Widmer, currently Distinguished Lecturer at Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York, and neighbor and friend of Central Church, as the second in the Spencer Lecture series which was founded by Lorne Adrian.  This series seeks to share the perspectives and insights of Rhode Islanders to enrich, enliven and strengthen our community here in the Ocean State.  Ted’s most recent book, Lincoln on the Verge, will be the topic of his remarks.  As the last sentence of this remarkable book reminds us, “..the refusal to fall apart in 1861 made a difference.”

Ron Chernow writes, “With stunning verve and you-are-there immediacy, Ted Widmer evokes the 13 day journey of president-elect Abraham Lincoln from Springfield to Washington in which he sealed a fervent bond with his Northern followers.  Loaded with high drama, danger and plentiful suspense, the train rides take on an almost mythic dimension, representing the democratic revolution that will soon tip the fractious country into a bloody civil war.  A riveting piece of history and a first-rate read.”

The community is welcome to this evening and there will be ample time for q and a.  This is a great opportunity to invite a friend or neighbor, colleague or acquaintance to meet at Central Church.  We will gather socially distanced and masked, along with other RI DOH guidelines in the Sanctuary for this talk.  Copies of Lincoln on the Verge will be available for purchase and signing.

Welcome to Central’s New Member

Suzanne Chase has joined Central as our newest member.  Suzanne moved to Rhode Island eight months ago from Massachusetts.  Previously Sue spent her time as an art teacher, administrator and realtor.  In her spare time Sue enjoys  spending time outdoors, swimming, hiking and doing Tai Chi.  Sue is currently residing in Providence with her son, daughter-in-law, grand dog and her three grandchildren when they are home from college.  If you see Sue at worship, please introduce yourself and welcome her to Central.

An Invitation to Re-Imagine Chapel Hall

Be sure to take advantage of the “Walk Around Chapel Hall” while the display of the present and the future is in place! Beginning on Sunday, April 25, you are invited at your convenience (when the church is open) to stroll through the display of architects’ renderings of the future of this remarkable space. It’s designed for your safety and spacious comfort. And it only takes a few minutes to be inspired!

First used as the substitute Sanctuary from Easter 1893 while the Sanctuary was still under construction, Chapel Hall has hosted tens of thousands of members, friends and the community for an untold number of events, meetings, dinners, breakfasts, concerts, and Christmas Bazaars.

As the key goal of Growing Central for Tomorrow, the congregation enthusiastically endorsed launching a Capital Campaign of $1.25 million to “Re-Imagine Chapel Hall” as the center of social and community activity for Central Congregational. Members of the congregation have worked with the architects throughout the pandemic to arrive at this exciting vision of the future for this venerable church and blessed space. Come see it soon!

Please call the Church Office at 401.331.1960 to make sure there is someone here to greet you when it is convenient for you to come through the presentation.

Global Mission

Central Congregational Church’s Global Mission gift this year went to support of the work of the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe. (UCCZ).

The UCCZ was founded in 1893 by the American Board of Foreign Missions, the predecessor mission body of Global Ministries.  Global Ministries works closely with this partner church in the many facets of its ministry in Zimbabwe. The UCCZ has set out several priorities for its work.

The UCCZ is working hard with other organizations to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Zimbabwe. UCCZ volunteers coordinated, purchased, and distributed food baskets. Stipends were given to those who were employed through informal settings and have been without an income during the national restrictions on movement. The distribution of food and stipends continues to be a priority for the UCCZ, as concerns over food security for marginalized communities in the country persist.

Another initiative in response to the pandemic has been to provide support for pastors. In some areas, pastors were without an income during the period of nationwide lockdown. The UCCZ helped provide support for pastors when churches were not meeting in person. It distributed personal protection equipment,, both handmade and purchased , to medical staff, as well as in schools and churches. Cleaning supplies and thermometers were also provided to UCCZ institutions.

The UCCZ continues to prioritize the Doctor Salary Top-Up Program, which offers an additional stipend to medical doctors who are working at Mt. Selinda Hospital. Many medical doctors have gone on strike in Zimbabwe due to the heightened risks in the workplace and low salaries; however, with the UCCZ Doctor Salary Top-Up Program and the UCCZ’s priority provision of personal protection equipment, doctors at Mt. Selinda Hospital continue to stay and provide medical care.

As coronavirus cases are on the rise in rural communities in Zimbabwe, the UCCZ has been renovating clinics, hospitals, and schools in the Beacon and Shekwa communities. Due to the damage caused by the 2019 cyclones in Zimbabwe to infrastructures of bridges, water wells, clinics, schools, and other structures, the UCCZ continues to reconstruct these facilities. Because of this damage, the UCCZ health clinics in Beacon and Shekwa are not open, and Beacon community residents are traveling 16 miles to Mt. Selinda Hospital, and Shekwa community residents are traveling 18 miles to the Chikore Hospital. These increased distances are additional barriers to seek medical treatment, presenting more severe health hazards to the vulnerable in these rural communities.

Rebecca’s Book Group

Take part in a lively discussion of The Indomitable Florence Finch by Robert Mrazek. Contact Rebecca for Zoom link.
Thursday, May 20 from 12:30–1:30 pm. 

Adult Sunday School

Jesus’ Short Stories—a.k.a. The Parables
Join us for a unique Godly Play story of The Greatest Parable as we listen and wonder together about Jesus’ provocative stories.  Ask Claudia for the Zoom link.
May 2, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Women’s Retreat Group

Gathering in community to pray and to check in every Saturday “until we no longer need to meet like this!”  Ask Claudia for the Zoom link. Every Saturday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. 

Food For Thought Book Group

Discussion of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. This very different and interesting memoir explores Moth and Raynor’s hike along the Salt Path, a.k.a. the South West Coast Path in the UK.  Shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize the judges wrote, “An absolutely brilliant story that needs to be told about the human capacity to endure and keep putting one foot in front of another.” All are welcome.  Ask Claudia for the Zoom link.
Looking ahead: June 10—The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
Thursday, May 13 from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Caring & Sharing

Connecting virtually and sharing where we are in our lives.  All are welcome.  Ask Claudia for the Zoom link.
Thursday, May 20 from 7:00-8:30 pm.

Stewardship Update

After a year of COVID Quarantine, we are once again able to open the doors at
Central.  People are cautiously returning to the sanctuary on Sunday mornings,
committees are meeting to lay out plans for the future, and the work and pleasure of
church membership is resuming.  The Stewardship committee is charged with the task
of generating financial support from our members. With this support the church is able
to bring us the sermons of our ministers, support local and global benevolences, and
create a vibrant youth Sunday School program. Setting the budget with your pledges
helps us know how much money will be available to get things done.  We need
everyone’s help!  Your pledge will give those developing the fiscal needs of the church
an idea of what to expect in contributions and greatly helps their planning.  If you have
not already done so, please prayerfully consider what you can contribute to your church
during the 21-22 fiscal year and indicate by sending in your pledge card.

We at Stewardship are deeply grateful to our fellow members and friends who have
already pledged over $390,000 toward our goal of $451,000. We are pushing for
another $50,000.00 to support the projected budget plans next season.  Its not too late
to help, and pledging has never been easier. You can drop off your Pledge Card at the
church office or in the collection basket during Sunday service.  Online, go to Central’s
website,, click on the GIVE button (top right) and select the
PLEDGE FORM option from the drop-down menu.

The committee wishes to thank all church members and friends for their thoughtful
consideration and support for our efforts.

Jeff Baran & Alex Arnold
Co-Chairs Stewardship Committee

Church School News

This summer Central Church is offering a special program on Sunday mornings for children.  The children will be learning what life was like when Jesus was alive.  Each week a different aspect will be explored, including clothes, food, homes, worship, writing, music, and travel.  Along with this, throughout the summer the children will also work together to build Bible-time houses from LEGO bricks.  Each week is self-contained, so a child can come any week and join right in.

So come and worship at Central this summer knowing your children will be on a wonderful adventure experiencing life in Bible times.

– Judy


On May 23, Pentecost Sunday, our very dedicated and thoughtful group of teens will be confirmed.  They will affirm their belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Throughout the year the confirmands have worked to discern both their beliefs and areas where they have questions.  During the worship service portions of the confirmands’ personal statements of belief will be shared with the congregation.  The youth will be leading the worship as they step into new roles as adult members of Central Congregational Church.  Come, support the youth, and welcome the church’s newest members during this hope-filled and inspiring service.


NEOS and WORD continue to meet.  NEOS, our fellowship for youth in middle school, meets after church in the Fireplace Room.  WORD, our high school fellowship, meets on Sundays at 2.  While WORD has been meeting virtually, we hope to transition into in person meetings.  NEOS and WORD meet approximately two times each month on the same Sunday.   Most recently, NEOS did a wonderful job of filling and hiding eggs for the children’s Easter egg hunt.  They also were great in helping the little ones find all the eggs on West Lawn.  Along with playing some games, WORD has been discussing their summer mission trip which will be a “stay in Southern New England” event this year.

Next year, assuming that the coronavirus is under control, we will go forward with the Appalachian mission trip planned in 2019.



1 Women’s Retreat Group 7 pm
2 Virtual Church School 9:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Worship 10:30 am
Confirmation 11:30 am
Adult Sunday School 6 pm
3 Technology Committee 7 pm
4 Spiritual Companionship 6 pm
Stewardship 7 pm
5 Gallery Committee 9:30 am
Staff Meeting 11 am
Trustees Meeting 4 pm
Nominating Committee 5:30 pm
8 Women’s Retreat Group 7 pm
9 Virtual Church School 9:30 am
Church School 10:30
Worship 10:30 am
NEOS 11:30 am
WORD 2 pm
11 Staff Meeting 1 pm
Deacon’s Meeting 5:45 pm
13 Food for Thought 7 pm
15 Women’s Retreat Group 7 pm
16 Virtual Church School 9:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Worship 10:30 am
Confirmation 11:30 am
18 Staff Meeting 1 pm
Plant & Properties 5:45 pm
Prudential 7 pm
20 Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm
22 Women’s Retreat Group 7 pm
23 Church School 10:30 am
(Pentecost & Confirmation)
10:30 am
25 Staff Meeting  1 pm
29 Women’s Retreat Group 7 pm
30 Virtual Church School 9:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Worship 10:30
Confirmation 11:30 am


Posted in Newsletters.