May 2022 Newsletter

Central News

May 2022              Vol. 30, No. 9

Download the PDF version of the May Newsletter

From Rebecca

Dear Central friends, Easter has come, and with it new life. We see the world, old and tired though it may be, with a new lens of wonder, amazement, and hope. While we are in this in-between time of spring, summer is coming, and so I offer this Mary Oliver poem.

The Summer Day

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?

Sadly – prosaically, I might say – be sure to do a tick check on yourself after you kneel in the grass! And I would add that every day in our lives is about something much more than ourselves. But, I believe that is precisely Oliver’s point, what she wants us to see. Our prayers make a difference in this world – not only our individual prayers, but also our congregational worship together.

Prayers matter – for ourselves, yes, but also for the people of Ukraine; for the Afghan exiles, those who have been able to come to the United States and those still trapped by the Taliban; for our friends in Haiti; for your neighbor who is not well; and for strangers we have yet to meet.

Let’s pay attention with that Easter lens of wonder, amazement, and hope – today and in every day to come.

In faith – Rebecca

Yard Sale Central:  New Info!

We have exciting updates regarding Yard Sale Central, which will take place on Saturday, May 21, from 9 am to 2 pm out on the church’s West Lawn.

Thirty percent of the proceeds will benefit:

  • UCC Ukraine Relief Fund
  • Dorcas International: Afghanistan Refugee Resettlement
  • UCC Haiti Partnership and CONASPEH: National Spiritual Council of Haitian Churches

In addition, Central’s youth fellowship will sell refreshments to raise money for their summer mission trip (July 16 to 22) to Rainelle, West Virginia.

Webpage: We’ve set up a Yard Sale Central page on Central’s website. Click on “This Week” to preview sale items. The sale will offer artwork and posters, baby equipment, books, records, CDs, DVDs, electronics, furniture, housewares, tableware, jewelry, knickknacks, linens, luggage, sports equipment, toys, and games.

Payment: We will accept cash. Major credit cards may be used for purchases over $20, with a five percent processing fee. For Central members only, we will also accept personal checks and payments.

In case of rain, we’ll reschedule for Saturday, June 4, from 9 am to 2 pm.

The committee is still seeking volunteers to collect donations, price and organize sale items, set up, and work the day of the sale; donations in good/working condition; trucks and vans to use for pick-up; and dry storage spaces near the church.

To donate or volunteer, call the Church Office (401-331-1960) or contact one of the sale organizers: Nancy and Wayne Gage, Frances Munro, and Liz and Tom Viall.

The Deacon’s Bench

As the echoes of celebratory Easter music start to fade and another Lenten season joins the others in our memories, we take stock of what remains the same and what has changed. Among the list of what was different for me this year: I lost my Dad. My father, a pastor and counselor, was gifted with words. He never left a pun unused, but he also had a way of turning every conversation, no matter how small, into a blessing of which he was both celebrant and beneficiary. He had favorite sayings and observations that his sons collected as “Dad Wisdom,” and I thought I would share a few in tribute.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t need the credit.” That one needs no explanation, but I’m chagrined at how often I need to remind myself of it.

“Turn your anxieties into curiosities.” I find it intriguing to consider that all one needs to do to be curious about what awaits is to remove the “assumption of negativity.” With just that small nudge, sometimes you can indeed change your anxiety into curiosity. Even though we all have losses, mistakes, and missed opportunities, the way we rise to meet them is enough to be curious about. Standing as a perfect example of this is another of my favorite Dad Wisdom phrases, used best when perfection was notably absent: “Well … hallelujah, anyway!”

When I wrote the Deacon’s Bench in February 2020, I observed that while I love how comforting Central is, I hoped that we would not miss the opportunities Central provides to challenge ourselves, to shake things up, to avoid becoming too comfortable. Of course, I was unaware of the challenges a pandemic would bring. Yes, COVID has brought fear, loss, and grief. It also brought unexpected dissonance as we figured out how we were going to behave. It showed our resilience in figuring out how to remain a church, how to be a community, as we realized that we wear masks to protect ourselves and each other. So, as we peek out through this pandemic with hope and the recognition that things will never quite be the same, maybe we can say, “Hallelujah, anyway!” – Charley Rardin

Guest Preacher

While associate minister Claudia Demick has been on sabbatical this spring, you’ve undoubtedly seen the Reverend Caroline Patterson Inlow assisting senior minister Rebecca Spencer during Sunday Worship. Caroline will also soon serve as a guest preacher. Though you may know Caroline from her 29 years as a Central member, you may not be familiar with her professional accomplishments.

Originally from North Carolina, Caroline received a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Emory University in Atlanta and her master’s in education from Temple University in Philadelphia. She moved to Rhode Island with her children, Kate and Charles, in 1993 – and joined Central. Eventually, with Rebecca’s inspiration and support, Caroline decided to go into the ministry.

After graduating from Harvard Divinity School in 1999, Caroline served as chaplain at Women & Infants Hospital for 20 years and continues there part-time. Her expertise lies in grief counseling, compassionate care, and crisis intervention. Yet those who know her, know she also likes to laugh, dance, and be silly on occasion.

Now semi-retired, Caroline can often be found traveling to see her children, grandchildren, as well as other family members in Washington, D.C.; Burlington, Vt.; and Pinehurst, N.C.


Central member Mary Marran – president and chief operating officer of Butler Hospital – is a recipient of Providence Business News’ 2022 Business Women Awards for her work in health care services. The annual program recognizes women for their industry leadership in the business, government, and nonprofit sectors. Mary and the other honorees will be recognized at a lunchtime ceremony at the Providence 
Marriott on May 25 and featured in a special section of Providence Business News’ May 27 to June 9 print edition.

Mission Offering

On Palm Sunday, Central starting collecting this year’s special mission offering for One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS). To date, we have received $2,238 from 53 donors – approximately 80 percent of what we raised last year. We will continue to accept contributions through the end of June. Please consider even a small donation, so we can exceed last year’s offering.

For more than 70 years, OGHS has provided a way to share God’s love with neighbors in need around the world. Its programs work to serve individuals and communities lacking access to sustainable food sources, clean water, sanitation, education, and opportunity. From initial disaster response to ongoing community development, OGHS provides people with safety, sustenance, and hope.

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: Tuesday, October 25, 7 pm

Faith Exploration: Wednesday, November 2, 7 pm

New Member Sunday: Sunday, November 6, 10:30 am

New Member Reception

Welcome new members to the Central family during Worship and then stay after for an informal reception in Chapel Hall. Instead of the usual sit-down luncheon, we’re hosting a stand-up potluck buffet. This way, it will be easier to stay masked and socially distanced, as well as to mingle with new members – see if you can meet them all! – and check out the progress of Chapel Hall construction. Please help the Membership Committee by bringing your favorite finger foods (wrapped, please). Sunday, May 1, 11:30 am, Chapel Hall

Annual Meeting / Luncheon

Please mark your calendar for Central’s Annual Church Meeting. On the agenda: electing officers and committee members and approving the Annual Budget. A luncheon will follow (most likely chicken salad and our traditional strawberry shortcake!), and we’ll have a special program for young children. Sunday, June 5, after Worship, Sanctuary

Church Picnic

It’s back! We’ll eat hotdogs and hamburgers – and celebrate nine months of in-person worship. This is not usually a milestone, but it certainly seems like one after two-plus years of COVID. Plan on bringing some picnic sides or sweets, and we’ll enjoy the fresh air and warm weather as a community of faith! Sunday, June 12, 11:30 am, West Lawn

From Claudia

As you read this, I am halfway into the second month of my sabbatical. It was so wonderful to be back at Central for the weeks around Holy Week and Easter. Now it’s also wonderful to be back to reading my beloved books. Somehow as fast as I read, the “stack” never gets shorter. From the physical books from my public library to books borrowed from the online library and read on my iPad, it is all bliss. I’m never happier than when I’m surrounded by books.

I have always loved words and was a very early reader. When I was seven, I taught my five-year-old brother to read as we played school. I was six when I got my first library card. My mother had to sign for me, in case I proved to be an irresponsible borrower. As the librarians soon discovered, I might not have been good about cleaning my room, but I was very responsible when it came to books.

Every week I’d visit the very small library in our small town. I’d take out a stack of books that I could barely carry and read every single one of them within the week. When I left for college, I discovered new libraries to explore. One of the first things I do in every place I’ve ever lived is to get a library card.

Today I had a tour of the recently renovated Providence Public Library, thanks to one of our members who is a trustee there. It’s is an incredible space, filled with innovative ideas from creative librarians.

Sean Dietrich reminisces about the librarians of his childhood, who nurtured him after his father died and after he had to drop out of school in the seventh grade: “Librarians took a special interest in me. Each week, a guild of elderly women in reading glasses curated stacks of books just for me. They fed me a steady diet of Westerns, romances, thrillers, historical fiction, crime novels, biographies, travelogues, classics, National Geographics. They introduced me to Samuel Clemens. There are no two ways about it; I am a writer thanks to the American library collective. I am the love child of librarians and a county system that is funded by public taxation.”

Librarians are innovative. When my town’s former high school was transformed into our current library, townspeople formed a “book brigade” to pass the books from the town hall library stacks to their new home across the parking lot. Hand to hand, the books moved in order from the old shelves to the new ones.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away / Nor any Coursers like a Page / Of prancing Poetry / This Traverse may the poorest take / Without oppress of Toll / How frugal is the Chariot / That bears the Human Soul.”

Books take us places and connect us in all sorts of ways. Come to think of it, we are each a book written by the finger of God.  Bookish blessings – Claudia

Volunteers Needed:  Amos House

Central is back serving breakfast at Amos House every Wednesday! Our fabulous group of pre-lockdown volunteers has jumped right back into the fray. But we are always looking for more! So if you are able to serve breakfast on any Wednesday morning from 6:30 am to approximately 8 am, contact Tracy Baron at 401-595-4212 or

Thanks for Pledging

Thanks to the more than 130 Central members and friends who have made their 2022/23 pledges. Making and fulfilling your pledge allows us all to share in Rebecca and Claudia’s spiritual sermons on Sunday and to help those in need in our community through our vibrant mission work at Amos House, Crossroads Rhode Island, and Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

If you have yet to make a pledge for the new fiscal year, which began May 1, you can still do so. We welcome and appreciate pledges of all sizes. Pledging is easy:

  • Call the church office at 401-331-1960 and pledge over the phone;
  • Send or bring your pledge card to the church office;
  • Place your pledge card in the collection plate during Sunday worship; or
  • Fill out the pledge form on the Central website. Just click on “Give.”

Thank you and God bless! – The Stewardship Committee

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 Ed Bishop at 401-274-4666. Thursday, May 19, 7:30 am, Fireplace Room

Rebecca’s Book Group

Take part in a lively discussion about “The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World,” by Laura Imai Messina. This beautiful novel tells a story of universal loss and the power of love. It addresses questions that we might all have: how to connect with those we have loved and lost and how to allow ourselves to live and love again. Tuesday, May 24, 12 noon, via Zoom. 
Contact Rebecca for an invitation.

And here’s a brief “review” from our resident bibliophile Claudia Demick: It’s a lovely book, beautifully written in a creative way with much to say about love and loss. I read it weeks ago and have found that it has stayed with me. And, yes, the wind phone booth really exists as does the garden around it called Bell Gardia.

Mission Trip Volunteers Needed

We are still looking for adults to join CCC Youth’s summer mission trip to Rainelle, W.Va., July 16 to 22. Chaperones must be at least 24-years-old, per UCC’s Safe Church Conduct. Please speak with Larry Kellam or Judy Martowska if you’re interested 
or would like more information.


A great big thank you to everyone who supported CCC Youth’s Easter Breakfast fundraiser! It took the work of many individuals – all coming together – as well as our hungry guests to make this a real success. All proceeds benefit this summer’s youth mission trip to Appalachia.

Save The Date

Central’s Annual Meeting will take place on Sunday, June 5, at 11:30 am. Please remain in the Sanctuary after Worship. A luncheon follows.

Children and Spirituality

Throughout my years of working with children and youth, I’ve had many conversations with adults who are concerned about making mistakes when talking with children about faith. Often, they feel inadequate or incapable of responding to questions with the “right” answers. They have frequently told me that they don’t think they know enough about the Bible and our faith traditions to speak adequately and effectively with children about faith.

It’s hard when you feel that way. But the good news is that there is another way to approach faith conversations with children. A way which not only makes good sense, but also will help alleviate any misgivings. Instead of seeing yourself as the one who must have all the answers, understand that both of you – adult and child – are on journeys of faith, growing closer to the divine. Each of you can help the other move forward.

So adults don’t need to have all the answers. (What a relief!) Instead, engage the child in conversation, listening and asking questions. “Wondering questions” are great ways to begin thinking about most any situation, as well as to foster connection with a Bible story. For instance, say, “I wonder how God feels when people are fighting” or “I wonder what Mary thought when she first saw Jesus’ tomb was empty.” These questions further the conversation and provide space for the Holy Spirit to work – without assuming that any one person has the “right” answer.

Children are curious, and curiosity is a wonderful gift. When a child asks a question for which you don’t know the answer, it is okay – actually, it is more than okay – to say, “I don’t know.” This can be followed with “What do you think?” or “Let’s find out.”

No one person has all the answers; only God. While quickly answering a question may be the easier choice, it is more important to enter into and continue dialogues that help children learn how to think about their questions and come to their own answers.

Peace and blessings – Judy

Chapel Hall: Ready for Phase III!

Today, in the chapel of the edifice in process of erection at the corner of Angell Street and Diman Place, services … will celebrate the first religious occupancy of the premises. – The Providence Sunday Journal, Easter Sunday, April 17, 1892

It is hard to imagine a space more dedicated to service than Chapel Hall. A time-lapse movie of events and alterations over the past 130 years would prove its use as a vessel of extraordinary utility to serve the needs of this community of God. To wit, the first “stage” was set up on sawhorses for a one-time performance!

In January 2020, when the congregation voted unanimously to launch the $1.25 million capital campaign to Reimagine Chapel Hall, no one could have imagined the arrival of COVID. In hindsight, this vote was a “blessed decision.” Designs were completed, and almost all materials were ordered before we felt the impact of the pandemic. Despite closure of the church, construction continued uninterrupted. And thanks to Chapel Construction, Chapel Hall has remained accessible throughout.

So exactly 130 years after that first Easter Sunday service – on April 17, 2022 – the joy in discovering our Reimagined Chapel Hall was palpable, as more and more of Central’s members and friends returned to in-person worship.

While our reimagined Chapel Hall is not quite finished, people already stand and gaze in awe, taking in each thoughtful change. One person asked how the room became so much larger! It’s amazing what inspired design applied to “good bones,” abundant light, and the beauty of natural wood and soft colors will do! If you need a spark of joy, a jolt of awe, or a dose of creative wonder, come and see what you – as a part of this community of faith – have helped make possible.

As we prepare to launch phase III of the Campaign to Reimagine Chapel Hall, I am thrilled to announce that we have received pledges and gifts totaling $1 million! From Easter 1892 to Easter 2022, we have found a way to honor our heritage and build for the future. Thank you! 
- Caroline Considine, Chair, The Campaign to Reimagine Chapel Hall

From the Archives: Recently, Central archivist John Chaney uncovered several early photographs of Chapel Hall, featuring the activities of the Woman’s Home Missionary Association. One shows the stairway leading to second floor classrooms. (It was eventually removed to build the stage.) Others show portions of Chapel Hall and the two “ladies parlors.” You’ll find the women’s attire as interesting as the architectural and interior design details. The one recognizable constant is the bank of five exquisite arched windows along Chapel Hall’s north wall. See the photos for yourself in in the display case currently located in the Narthex.

Confirmation Class

May is a busy month for this year’s confirmation class. The confirmands are writing about their confirmation experiences as well as their faith statements. They are also crafting the service of worship for Pentecost on Sunday, June 5, when they will be confirmed. Sundays, May 1, 15, and 29, 11:30 am, Church School Wing

Teen Tuesdays

Judy is at the church every Tuesday, morning and afternoon. Teens are welcome to drop by her office – to say hi, talk sports, “speak geek,” study, share what ever is on their minds, or just hang out. Tuesday, May 3, 
10, 24, and 31 – all day – Church School Wing

A Day of Caring

On the second Sunday in May, we’re asking all CCC Youth not simply to do something nice for a loved one, but also to show love and care to a person who would greatly benefit from a random act of kindness. Send a nice note to an old friend. Drop off flowers at an elderly neighbor’s home. Bring baked goods to a person who is alone. Call a relative you seldom see. Do a household chore without being told or reminded. Use your imagination. Enjoy the day and give thanks for your blessings! Sunday, 
May 8, all day


At Central’s playgroup for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, children enjoy a variety of creative activities – games, crafts, music – and snacks. As the children play together, parents and grandparents can talk, share experiences, and support one another in the journey of parenthood. Friends are always welcome! Tuesday, May 17, 10 am, Church School Wing

Mission Trip Fundraiser

CCC Youth is continuing to raise money for its summer mission trip to Rainelle, W.Va. Central teens will be on hand at Yard Sale Central, selling baked goods and beverages. Saturday, May 21, 9 am to 2 pm, West Lawn

Go-Karts and Mini-Golf

All CCC Youth – both NEOS and WORD – are invited to a fun-filled afternoon of go-karts and mini-golf. More information to come! Sunday, May 22, time TBD

May Events

1 Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Worship / New Members 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
New Member Reception 11:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
3 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
Yard Sale Committee 5:30 pm
4 Gallery Committee 9:30 am
5 Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
7 Troop 28 Pancake Breakfast 8 am
8 Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Day of Caring all day
9 Nominating Committee 5 pm
10 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
Yard Sale Committee 5:30 pm
Board of Deacons 5:45 pm
12 Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
15 Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
17 Playgroup 10 am
Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
Yard Sale Committee 5:30 pm
Plant & Properties 5:45 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm
19 Central Men’s Group 7:30 am
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
20 Newsletter Deadline 3pm
21 Yard Sale Central! 9 am
Mission Trip Fundraiser 9 am
22 Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Eagle Scout Celebration 4 pm
23 Technology Committee 7 pm
24 Rebecca’s Book Group 12 noon
Teen Tuesday til 5 pm
26 Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
29 Church School 10:30 am
Worship 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
31 Teen Tuesday til 5 pm


The Church Office will be closed Monday, May 30, for Memorial Day



Posted in Newsletters, Updates.