November 2019 Newsletter

Central News

Nov 2019 Vol. 28, No.  3

Download a PDF version of this Newsletter

From Rebecca

Dear Friends,

“Eat, drink and be merry.”

This phrase rings in our hearts and our ears as we look forward to Thanksgiving, a time truly to gather together, to reflect on the year, to savor times past, to remember and appreciate the harvest, to share a feast together, to invite the outsiders in, to articulate our blessings.

And yet, too often, we forget this is only half the saying. This first part comes from Ecclesiastes 8:15, “Then I commended mirth, because a person has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.”

The second half, of course, contains these words from 1 Corinthians, 15:32, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Both halves of the saying are poignant…and true. And it is good to remember both! “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.”

Some of you have inquired about the phrase I occasionally use with the benediction following our worship. These words come from Henri Frederic Amiel, a Swiss philosopher of the 19th century.

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”

Those words, in a softer, gentler tone than our Biblical mandate, remind us not only of our mortality, but also of the significance of community, of reaching out to our brothers and sisters, giving the benefit of a second chance to those who may be treading a
particularly rocky path just now, those who may be difficult to love, those who push us away when we attempt to reach out in kindness. Reaching out not in some vague distant future, but TODAY.

This November as the days march toward the darkness of wintertime, may we at Central always remember to be grateful for the blessings of eating and drinking and being merry together, remembering God’s gift to us of life itself — here and now!

Yours in the spirit of Thanksgiving,

Help us Fill Thanksgiving Baskets

Camp Street Community Ministries is seeking donations for 400 Thanksgiving baskets.

Items needed include stuffing, brownie mix, packets or cans of gravy (no glass, please), canned vegetables (corn, green beans, peas), and frozen turkeys.

Cash donations to buy needed items are also welcome.

Camp Street Community Ministries is a partner with the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and distributes to neighbors in need in Providence’s Mount Hope neighborhood.

Please help us brighten the holiday for our neighbors! We are grateful for your help.

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with the family of Timothy Groves following the death of his father, Ralph Groves.

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. 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.

New Member Sunday November 3

Inquirers’ Meeting
Wednesday, January 22

Faith Exploration
Tuesday, January 28

New Member Sunday February 2

The Deacons’ Bench

There was a coup in Haiti. The democratically elected Rev. Aristide was forced into exile practically overnight. Thousands of Haitians fled the country. The Organization of American States applied pressure to restore Aristide to power with no success. So the United Nations (U.N.) authorized a fuel embargo. I was a young naval officer at the time; my ship’s crew had extensive experience searching for contraband: arms in the Middle East, drugs in the Caribbean, and now fuel in Haiti. There were many ships to search and little direction. Within days we were sick and tired of the operation.

I was trying to sleep when a close friend came into my berthing. He wanted to tell me a story and said he could not tell anyone else. That got my attention.

The day before this conversation, my friend led a boarding party onto a small boat and discovered 38 barrels of diesel — too little to be of concern. He radioed for permission to let the boat pass. Permission was denied; he was ordered to dump the fuel. The men on the boat refused. They had risked their lives on the ocean in a leaky little boat to bring their village rice and fuel.

My friend radioed again. This time they said they would run it up the chain of command. Hours passed. The small boat took on water and risked sinking. The Haitian men were getting angry; their lives and their village’s future were at greater risk with every passing minute. My friend wondered, “Is this why we are here, to drown these men and starve their village?”

He talked to his men, then to the Haitians. He knew what he had to do. He radioed once again, and this time he lied. “That is affirmative; the fuel has been dumped.” The small boat was now authorized to return to Haiti. He escorted the boat and watched it safely reach shore.

As my friend told me this story 36 hours later, the U.N. commander had just given permission for the small boat to pass with its fuel. Unfortunately, it would have sunk hours before.

Most people think about physical courage when they think about military service. That is something we have asked of our young men and women for nearly two decades. And, for that we owe a debt of gratitude. But this story isn’t about physical courage. I would suggest my friend showed moral courage. Not COURAGE, just a little courage to do the right thing. He had his orders. They were clear. He chose a different path, and there could have been serious consequences.

I believe lots of folks are drawn to our faith community for a chance to be of service to the world. That is not unique to Central. My friend had thought about becoming a Catholic priest before joining the military. But there are many ways to serve in this world. I think my friend found the one that was best for him.  Michael Hopkins

New Member Luncheon

Join us in welcoming new members to the Central family!  The Membership Committee provides main dishes, but you can share a favorite side dish, casserole, salad, or dessert.  Sunday, Nov. 3, after Worship.

Bring-a-Friend Sunday

Sunday, Nov. 24 at 10:30 am

The Membership Committee encourages you to invite a friend to our warm, wonderful and musical Festival Service of Thanksgiving. Please wear your name tag. It really does help guests feel welcome!

Fall Church Cleanup

All hands are needed on deck to help get Central cleaned up and ready for winter. Join us Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9 am to noon.

Join the Sandwich Brigade!

Every Sunday in November, Central provides sandwiches, fruit, and healthy snacks to Crossroads RI. Sunday Nov. 3 will be our take-home Sandwich Brigade. Signups for the take-home brigade will be during Coffee Hour at the end of October. All other Sundays, join us at 9:30 a.m. for sandwich making and fellowship! It’s a great way for families to participate in an important church ministry. (Children under 13 should be accompanied by an adult.) Sundays, Nov. 10, 17, 24, at 9:30 am in the kitchen.

“Breaking Bread at Central”

The Membership Committee is once again selling Central cookbooks to benefit the Youth Mission Trip. At only $10 each, they’re ideal gifts for teachers, friends, and neighbors. Nov. and Dec. Sundays after Worship in Chapel Hall and at the church bazaar.

Portrait Dedication

On Sunday, Nov. 3, after the New Member Luncheon, we will dedicate the restored portrait of the Rev. Leonard Swain, Central’s first minister. 2019 is the 150th anniversary of both Rev. Swain’s death and the year the portrait was commissioned by John Nelson Arnold.

The portrait had two small tears, which were previously repaired. It was also very dirty, and Rev. Swain’s face was somewhat discolored. The original gilded frame had been painted over with “radiator paint,” which was in poor condition. Now, the frame has been re-gilded, and the portrait cleaned and properly restored by a conservator in Boston, thanks to a gift from Susan Swain Tabor, Rev. Swain’s great granddaughter, given in memory of her father, Leonard Swain II (1891-1949)

Giving to Central

Please remember there are several ways to fulfill your pledge to Central:

  • Place your pledge envelope in the offering plate on Sunday mornings.
  • Set up online banking payments.
  • Use or Text to Give for electronic giving. (Central incurs nominal fees for most electronic donations.)
  • Allow the church to set up automatic withdrawals from your bank account.

Thanks for supporting Central!

Save the Date

Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving Tuesday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m. at Temple Beth El, 70 Orchard Ave., Providence

UCC Conference

We’re almost there! In June, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ approved the request of the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences to come together and form a new conference. That new conference officially comes into being on Jan. 1.

However, Nov. 1 and 2, our three conferences will gather a last time as separate entities at our third annual joint meeting.

The keynote speaker for will be Valarie Kaur, founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. Kaur is a Sikh racial justice activist, civil rights lawyer, filmmaker, educator and author of “Revolutionary Love.”

The meeting will include storytelling sessions, evening reception, and opportunities to worship together and to take part in small group sessions. The new conference Board of Directors will give an update on the vision for the transition, including information on leadership.

To register:

Musical Notes

Sunday Worship will be music-filled this fall with old favorites and new repertoire.

Nov. 3: It wouldn’t be All Saints Day without “When the Saints Go Marching In.” We welcome all instrumentalists to join us. Just bring your instruments to the choir loft for a 10 am rehearsal!

Nov. 10: We’ll observe Veteran’s Day with a perennial favorite: Harold Darke’s short cantata “As the Leaves Fall,” set to a World War lament for the fallen, by Lieutenant Joseph Courtney.

Nov. 17: The choir will sing “Summer Ended” by Charles Wood, which paraphrases “Come, Ye Thankful People Come.” Both use harvest and fields that come back to life in the spring as metaphors for life, death, and resurrection.

Nov. 24: Our Festival Service of Thanksgiving – with organ, brass, and timpani – will feature the anniversary hymn “Thanks We Bring” by our own Patrick Aiken and “Thanksgiving Te Deum,” an anthem of praise by Irish composer Charles V. Stanford.

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, Nov 7, 6 pm in the Deacons Room.  RSVP to Claudia.

CCC Adult Sunday School

This month we conclude our study of Orthodox Christianity and then move on to The Asphalt Gospel, which is about a 2,500-mile walk. Six ordinary people journey from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., on foot spreading a message of love and inclusion to change the face of Christianity in America. Sundays from 9 to 10 am in the Fireplace Room.  Questions? Ask Claudia.

Museum of Russian Icons Trip

As part of November’s Adult Sunday School study, we will carpool to Clinton, Mass. to explore the icons that are so important to Orthodox Christianity’s contemplative life. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the tearoom. Admission: Adults $10, Seniors (59+) $7, Students (with ID) $5, Children (3 to 17) $5. Sunday, Nov. 10, meet in the Gallery after Worship.

Angellic 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  ou want to learn how to knit, we’ll teach you!  Questions?  Call Janice Libby or Claudia. Sunday, Nov. 17, 11:45 am in the Deacons Room.

Share a Thanksgiving Meal

If you would like to share your Thanksgiving meal with someone, whether you are hosting or would like to join others, please call the church office at 331-1960 and let Christine or Jenn know. We can then coordinate hosts and guests for this time of gathering together.

Caring & Sharing

At Caring & Sharing, women join in care, concern, camaraderie, and confidentiality for silent meditation and sharing what’s in our hearts and minds. This month, we’ll also enjoy a potluck lunch. Friday, Nov. 22 at 12:30 pm at Cathy Clasper-Torch’s house. Contact Cathy ( or Martha Nielsen (

Rebecca’s Book Group

This month’s book is TBA. Thursday, Nov. 21 at 12:30 pm in Rebecca’s Study.

From Claudia

As I write this our gardens are still blooming, even as they slowdown from the abundance of late summer and begin their decline toward winter. The bees still cover the flowers on warm days, but their activity is slowing down, too. At the height of summer and early fall the bees are truly “busy as a bee,” to quote Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.”

I recently witnessed the most remarkable thing. I wanted a very small spray of the flowers the bees were buzzing all over, but there were so many bees I decided to wait until dusk to get it. When I later went out I noticed a bee halfway in a partly opened flower. It was very still, and I thought it must be dead. Then, I noticed that there were many bees all over the flowers in the same pose, and I realized that they were sleeping! Who knew? I ran to get my camera to take photos.

Sirach, from the Apocypha in the Bible, writes, “The bee is small among flying creatures, but what it produces is the best of sweet things.” Indeed. What could be sweeter than honey? In the Bible honey is found in the expression “a land flowing with milk and honey” to mean goodness and blessing. It can be used to describe God’s words as in, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Psalm: 119:103)

Honey has been used medicinally since ancient times for what we now recognize as its antibacterial and wound-healing properties. It was used as a preservative. In fact, honey has been found in excavations of pyramids in Egypt, and even though it was 3,000 years old, it was still edible. Something to think about when watching bees buzzing around your flowers in the future!

May you and yours be blessed with tasting the sweetness of life God gives even when you are as busy as the bees. And, may you remember that even the bees find their rest in the perfection of a flower!

Love and blessings,

In the Gallery

November’s artist is the talented Kelly McCullough, an accomplished oil painter who specializes in portraiture. According to the Providence Journal, Mccullough’s portraits are “remarkably lifelike, with warmth of detail that is more appealing than an ordinary photograph.” Meet the artist at the Gallery Committee’s reception on Friday, Nov. 8, from 5 to 7 pm.

Church School Notes

Each of us is a story unfolding. – Rumi, 13th C. Persian poet, scholar, mystic

One of the many things I enjoy in Church School is the weekly sharing of “Highs and Lows” or “Blues and News” in the Dream-Maker (junior high) class. This is where we learn things about each other, and where the bonds of friendship and commonalities begin, through our three years in the Dream-Maker class. Each week feels, to me, like another chapter in a book. Each conversation is another entry on a page of an unfolding story.

And then there are the Bible stories we read and absorb all through our Church School years! We discern them, dramatize them, illustrate them, reflect on their meanings, struggle with them sometimes, and eventually take some kernel of each story into our hearts so it becomes a part of our own story. When we continue to read and reflect with one another, we grow and mature in faith. The spiritual quest is a story without an ending!

In the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to honoring the saints on All Saints Day (Nov. 3) and then filling our saints “bags” with food for Camp Street Ministries in anticipation of Thanksgiving. In Advent, we collect gifts under our Gift Tree for children in DCYF and tell the story of Jesus’ birth in the Christmas Pageant (Dec. 15).

This month of Thanksgiving, I give thanks to each of you, and the stories we’ve shared and lived together, in the past 25 years!

I give deep thanks and love,
– Cathy Clasper-Torch

From Joshua

What an incredible October! We should be very proud of our youth and how they came together on Mission Sunday. Every program was represented. Our programs are growing as more youth find fulfillment in the work we are doing.

This month I am learning too that growing and striving need to be the goal. Studying the Word and serving others is the Way that Jesus called us to walk. It can be tempting to try and glimpse at the future and set a limit, to draw a line that shows us when we have done “enough.”

Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…”

While I could easily fit a small bed in my office for regular naps, I don’t need to move into the church building permanently to live in the house of the Lord.

There is another way to read the verse, as always! “One thing I ask of the Lord…that I will seek.” That is, I ask God that I will always be a seeker, always striving after justice and kindness (Micah 6:8).

Now it’s crunch time as we prepare for Christmas season and prepare for our trip to Appalachia in June. CCC youth needs you. We have work that requires spiritual and physical muscle: help with fundraising efforts, pizza sponsors for youth events, and even moving a giant Christmas tree.

Please contact me if you feel moved to lend a helping hand. As we learned on Mission Sunday, sometimes feeling “moved” comes after the work is done.

– Joshua

Friday Film Fare

When drifter Frank Chambers (John Garfield) sees the Man Wanted sign outside the Twin Oaks diner, he thinks it means he’s found a job. But as soon as he lays eyes on the owner’s much younger, sultry wife Cora, (Lana Turner), a second meaning occurs to him. And once the sparks fly, it’s not long before the two are contemplating the risk of wealthy hubby having, let’s say, a nasty accident. James M. McCain’s hard-bitten, best-selling novel got the film-noir treatment in this suspense classic. ?[113 minutes; b&w; not rated] Nov. 15, 7:30 pm.

Food for Thought Book Group

Join us Thursday, Nov. 14 from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Fireplace Room for a lively discussion of this month’s book, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston. Looking ahead: a Christmas Potluck and Book Swap is planned Dec. 12, and on Jan. 9, the group will discuss “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.

A Quiet Morning Rescheduled

Take some time for yourself with friends from Central at this mini-retreat on sabbath rest. We will enjoy breakfast together, conversation, quiet time, and more as we explore sabbath rest. Ever wonder exactly what that is? Saturday, Nov. 16, 8:30 to 11:30 am at Hamilton House.

Lunch at Gourmet House

What better way to continue giving thanks than to do so with friends from Central at lunch? Let’s continue to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday together with good conversation and a fabulously delicious lunch after worship on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 12:30 pm! The menu features Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes; prices can be found at RSVP to Claudia.

Amos House Seeks Donations

Amos House is asking that you keep their Women’s Shelter in mind this holiday season if you are replacing gently used household items. Amos House is a leading social service agency that also manages the largest soup kitchen in Rhode Island. Amos House provides social services to more than 15,000 people a year and houses nearly 165 men, women and children a night. More than 500 adults have graduated from its training programs. If you can help with a donation of silverware, dishes, cups, towels, or twin sheets, please contact Amos House directly at 401-272-0220, ext. 210.

College Care Packages

Please bring your leftover Halloween candy to church on Nov. 3 (Sunday after Halloween) to help pack a sweet treat for our dorm dwellers.

Youth Lock-In Rescheduled

The date for Central’s overnight Youth Lock-in event has been changed to the Friday night before Thanksgiving. Join us Nov. 22 at 8 pm in Chapel Hall.

 November events

UCC Conference 2:30 pm

UCC Conference 7:30 am

Adult Sunday School 9 am
Stewardship Committee 9 am
Confirmation Class 9:15 am
Worship 10:30 am
New Member Luncheon 11:30 am
Rev. Swain Portrait Dedication

Technology Committee 7 pm

Deacons Meeting 5:45 pm

Gallery Committee 9:30 am
Membership Committee 6:15 pm

Spiritual Companionship 6 pm
Music Committee 6:30 pm
Religious Education 7 pm

Gallery Opening 5 pm

Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Museum of Russian Icons 11:30 am
WORD  12 pm
19-39 6 pm

Membership Committee 6:15 pm
Proportional Giving Workshop 7 pm

Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm

Film Fare 7:30 pm

A Quiet Morning 8:30 am

Adult Sunday School 9 am
Confirmation Class 9:15 am
Calling Committee 9:30 am
Worship 10:30 am
Angellic Knitters 11:45 am
NEOS 12 pm

Plant & Properties 5:45 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm

Mission & Action 6 pm

CCC Men’s Group 7:30 am
Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm

Caring & Sharing 12:30 pm
Youth Lock-In 8 pm

Fall Cleanup at Central 9 am
Adult Sunday School 9 am
Festival Sunday Worship 10:30 am
WORD 12 pm
19-39 6 pm

Interfaith Service 7 pm

The church office will be closed Monday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day, and Thursday, Nov. 28, for Thanksgiving.

 Christmas at Central



Plans are already under way for our annual fundraising event! Please bring yourselves, your family and your friends to enjoy a yummy lunch and an incomparable shopping experience! Not only do we need your presence, we need your help with donations, set-up and with selling at some booths. Please call or email the chairperson to volunteer with setting up at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 and selling after Worship on Sunday, Dec. 8. Wherever your talents lie, please use them for our beloved Central Church!


If you would like your own table for arts/crafts, please call Cathy Clasper-Torch, 401-272-3942.


  • Helpers for Grandma’s Attic and Ye Olde Bookcellar
  • Items for Grandma’s Attic, books to sell,
  • Gift Baskets (Heidi will issue her own request, including the dropoff location)
  • General help on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 8:30 am. Please contact Martha Nielsen, if you are able to lend a hand!
  • Donations of sweets (to be brought Dec. 7 or 8)
  • Books


May be brought to the church on or after Nov. 17. Please be sure to place items in the designated spot behind the stage curtain in Chapel Hall.


Rev. Dr. Claudia Demick
in the office, 331-1960

Cathy Clasper-Torch
Martha Nielsen

Booths and Chairpersons

The Lunch Room:
New chairpersons needed!

Grandma’s Attic (collectibles):
Amy Hebb and Sandy Delany

Ye Olde Bookcellar (new or gently read books):
Margaret and Jim Gardner

Sweet Shoppe (treats from our kitchens):
Amy Punchak and Pam O’Hara

Gift Baskets (themed with wide appeal):
Heidi and Bill Iuliano

Craft Workshop (handmade crafts):
Cathy Clasper-Torch, 401-272-3942

The Gallery (multimedia art):
Jim Scott

Bursting Pomegranate (Third-world crafts):
Janet Jagger and Donna Chace-Larson

Wreaths by WORD:
Joshua Berkowitz

Liz Viall

Ellen Miller

New Member Biographies

Marc Hutchison
Cumberland, RI 02864

Marc moved to Rhode Island about 12 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He works as an office administrator for the Providence Preservation Society.

Some of Marc’s interests include music, art and history. In his spare time Marc loves hiking and enjoying nature. Marc and his husband, Eben, are also busy raising their beautiful daughter, Philomena, age 2. Welcome to Central, Marc!

Teresa L. Schraeder
Providence, RI 02906

Terry joins Central as an associate member. She has lived in Rhode Island for 16 years.

When Terry isn’t working as a physician, she enjoys singing, writing, exercising, hiking and yoga. She only lives a short distance from Central so she will enjoy her Sunday morning walks to church. Teresa would also like to get involved by joining a book group at Central. Welcome to Central, Terry!

Sharon and Edward Gutmann
Cumberland, RI 02864

Sherry and Ed join their son Marc Hutchison as new members of Central. Sherry and Edward moved to Rhode Island about a year ago from Des Moines, Iowa.

Since retiring, they have both enjoyed cooking, socializing and helping others. Their desire to help others is why they are interested in volunteering their time at a food pantry or joining the Calling Committee. After visiting several churches, they decided to join Central because it felt like a great fit for their family. Welcome to Central, Sherry and Ed!

Be sure to say hello at our New Member Luncheon on Nov. 3!

In Loving Memory

From our poet laureate, Ilse Kramer, is this poem, written in loving memory of our Conference Minister,  The Rev. Dr. H. Daehler Hayes.

“A Good Man,” someone called him,
One could not say it better.
He was born in 1936,
The year of “Hitler’s Games”
in Germany,

Where Jesse Owens won the gold.
We are all golden too,
We are all saints,
Though some of us
have tarnished halos.

One time I asked  him
(I was born in Germany)
What do we call the Conference
Minister in German?
“I am a bishop,” he said loudly
with a wink.

He was the leader and the guide
of some tours
To and within the Holy Land.
(Hello, Jerusalem,
Come see us in our Providence,
Rhode Island.)

We call Auf Wiedersehen in
the Golden Garden,
We hope to see you there
although quite tarnished.
But we believe that
God will bless us,
now and always.

Amen, Amen

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with The Rev. Joy Utter, senior minister of Seekonk Congregational Church, and her family following the death on Sept. 27 of her husband and former Rhode Island Conference Minister, the Rev. Dr. H. Daehler Hayes.

Young Adults: Consider 19-39

Central’s new 19-39 Fellowship (just ignore the hyphen and say “Nineteen Thirty-Nine”) is an opportunity for young adults to connect with like-minded people, build relationships, and explore how they can live their spirituality as they navigate college, first jobs, not-first jobs, serious relationships and marriage – as well as bond with peers, take on leadership roles, and raise young children. The group will meet for prayer and Bible study, as well as enjoy social activities and outings. Members will determine many of their own discussion topics and activities as they delve into how God’s Word speaks to us today and how they can put their faith into action.

Please join us at a November meeting! Contact Joshua Berkowitz at for details.

Posted in 2019 Newsletters.