November 2021 Newsletter

Central News

November 2021      Vol. 30, No. 3

Download a PDF version of the November Newsletter


From Rebecca

Dear Friends, this poem – “Goldenrod,” by Mary Oliver – says it all.

On roadsides,
in fall fields,
in rumpy bunches,
saffron and orange and pale gold,

In little towers,
soft as mash,
sneeze-bringers and seed-bearers,
full of bees and yellow beads and perfect flowerlets

and orange butterflies.
I don’t suppose
much comes of it, except for honey,
and how it heartens the heart with its

blank blaze.
I don’t suppose anything loves it except, perhaps,
the rocky voids
filled by its dumb dazzle.

For myself,
I was just passing by, when the wind flared
and the blossoms rustled,
and the glittering pandemonium

leaned on me.
I was just minding my own business
when I found myself on their straw hillsides,
citron and butter-colored,

and was happy, and why not?
Are not the difficult labors of our lives
full of dark hours?
And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far,

that is better than these light-filled bodies?
All day
on their airy backbones
they toss in the wind,

they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness,
in the pure peace of giving
one’s gold away.

A peace-filled November and a blessed Thanksgiving to you all! – Rebecca

50th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

On Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m., Central Congregational Church will host the fiftieth Interfaith Thanksgiving Service – initiated in 1971 by St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and Temple Beth-El. This service was designed not only to bring diverse congregations together in thanksgiving, but also to celebrate and generate greater understanding of their differences and similarities. So far, we are expecting 14 Providence congregations to join us!

This year’s speaker, Baha Sadr, refugee resettlement director at Dorcas International, will discuss the challenges of relocating 250 Afghan refugees to Rhode Island. The Thanksgiving service offering will go to aid these Afghan families. Central Organist and Choirmaster Patrick Aiken and Cantor Judith Seplowin of Temple Beth-El will lead the music for the service, which will include “Shehecheyanu” by Beth Styles. Commissioned by Seplowin and Temple Beth-El Rabbi Sarah E. Mack, this piece uses the text of the Hebrew blessing for joyous occasions. Masks (provided if needed) and socially distancing will be observed.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to worship together, give thanks together, and help our newest neighbors,” said senior minister Rebecca Spencer, “as we reflect on the gifts we receive as part of a diverse, interfaith community.”

A potluck reception will follow in Chapel Hall. Please bring individually wrapped finger foods: crackers, chips, finger sandwiches, grapes, etc.

The Deacon’s Bench

Training: After saying goodbye to our sweet old dog, Tobi – and feeling that our younger dog, Gracie, may be feeling a bit lost and lonely without him – we decided to get her a puppy. (Read “impulse buy” here.)

Enter GiGi (short for “Georgia,” which is where we got her). It felt good to rescue this sweet little girl from an uncertain future. We knew there would be work and training in- volved, but … oh boy!

So, okay. Fine. This is going to take more work and time and money than we anticipated. We’re going to have to learn the most effective ways to train this little dog to do the right things and to stop doing the wrong things. It’s about consistent rewards and corrections. It’s about patience and diligence. It will require forgiveness, even before she does the wrong thing. Which we know she will.

This experience made me consider the similarities and differences between the “learning” of animals and humans. Animals can be trained to know that some behaviors result in good things, while some result in undesired consequences. We can help them know what “good” and “bad” behaviors are. But do they understand more deeply? I was told by a teacher once that the thing that makes humans different than all other animals is that “We know that we know.”  Join the Campaign!

~ Bill Connors

Day of Remembrance

Sunday, Nov. 7, will be a day of remembrance and celebration. We will welcome new members and enjoy the church school’s traditional All Saints’ Parade. We will honor Central veterans and reflect on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering time to remember those who died since the lockdown began in March 2020. And, because we were not always able to gather to celebrate the lives of these loved ones, we will lift up their names during worship. We encourage you to invite friends and neighbors to this poignant service as we remember and celebrate those who have touched our lives as Christians.

Thanksgiving Food Baskets

Camp Street Community Ministries is once again seeking 
donations to make 400 Thanksgiving food baskets for our neighbors in need. They need frozen turkeys, instant mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, canned green beans, canned sweet potatoes or yams, and packets or cans of gravy.  No glass containers, please.

Or, if you prefer, Camp Street is equally happy to accept monetary donations.

Food or checks – made out to Camp Street Community Ministries – should be delivered to Central or Camp Street (190 Camp Street in Providence) no later than Sunday, Nov. 14 at 12 noon.

Camp Street Community Ministries is a partner of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and distributes to neighbors in need in the East Side, Fox Point, and Mount Hope neighborhoods.

Mission Moment

This month’s dinner for the Mother-Child Reunification Project at Amos House will be Wednesday, Nov. 17.  And, Central’s Mission and Action Committee is once again looking for volunteers to help prepare food for 20 women and children.  Here’s what we need:

  • Two individuals to each prepare one recipe of Smothered Enchiladas 
(recipe provided);
  • One individual to provide a 16-ounce carton of sour cream, two jars of salsa, and three large bags of taco chips;
  • Two individuals to each provide salad for ten people, one of whom should include a bottle of salad dressing;
  • One individual to provide two bags of seedless grapes, washed and cut into serving sizes; and
  • Two individuals to prepare dessert for ten (must be nut free).

Please label food donations “Amos House,” and deliver to Central’s kitchen on Wednesday, Nov. 17, by 3:30 pm.  If you can help or have questions, contact Lynne Seacord at 314-413-3741 or

Thanks so much to October’s volunteers: Wendy Abelson (co-chair), Betsy Aubin, Tracy Baran, Marilyn Edwards, Stacy Fischer, Elizabeth Howland, and Ellen Miller!

New Member Potluck Buffet

Join us in welcoming new members to the Central family during Worship and then stay after for an informal reception in Chapel Hall. Instead of our usual sit-down luncheon, we’re hosting a stand-up potluck buffet. This way, it will be easier to stay masked and social distanced, as well as to mingle with our new members – see if you can meet them all! – and check out Chapel Hall construction. Please help out the Membership Committee by bringing your favorite finger foods (wrapped, please). Sunday, Nov. 7, 11:30 am, in Chapel Hall.

Leadership Development

Calling all committee chairs!  As Central moves beyond COVID-19 restrictions and face-to-face activities resume, the Leadership Development Committee will help all committee chairs prepare for and optimize their monthly meetings – while also serving as a resource for those interested in taking on leadership roles at Central. This month, we’ll review the Committee Chair Handbook and share ideas for committee leadership. Sunday, Nov. 14, 11:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

Memorial Flowers

If you would like to donate the flowers that grace our Communion table on Sundays, contact the Church Office. The Flower Committee will make an arrangement, and the names of your loved ones will appear in the Sunday Order of Worship.  A donation of $40 is requested.

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with the family and friends of Delight Immonen. A memorial service will be held at Central on Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 11 am.

Requiescat in pace

From Claudia

In “To Bless the Space Between Us,” John O’Donohue wrote that “a blessing is a form of grace; it is invisible. Grace is the permanent climate of divine kindness. There are no lim- its to it.” As November begins, we have the opportunity to think deeply not only about blessings, but also about the grace that undergirds them. Often, we offer a blessing at a meal and sometimes we even call that blessing grace. These two words have become intertwined, and it’s not always easy to separate them. Perhaps we are not meant to.

As Christians, we understand grace as a totally undeserved gift from God. A blessing may be given or spoken as a special favor or act from another, but especially so from God. There are so many nuances to the idea of a blessing that it can be difficult to pin its meaning down. However, we know one when we experience it, don’t we?

The secular world loves to help us “count” our blessings at this time of year. That is easier said than done. They can be hard to count. Some are easy, while some are not so easy. Some are readily apparent to us, while others only become apparent in retrospect.

O’Donohue continues, “For one who believes in it, a blessing can signal the start of a jour- ney of transformation. It belongs to the same realm as the inner life – its effect becomes only indirectly visible in the changed quality of one’s experience. Where before, gravity and deadness had prevailed, there is now a new sense of animation and lightness. Where there was grief, a new sense of presence comes alive. In the wall of blindness, a window of vision opens.”

Through God’s transformative grace, may we deeply feel the blessings of God in tangible and intangible ways as we ask our hearts to count our blessings this month. And may we offer our thanksgiving to the One who creates us and whose desire for us is to continually experience God’s unlimited, divine grace in and through all things. How I give thanks for the blessings of all of you!  Gratefully – Claudia

Reimagining Chapel Hall: An Invitation to Join the Campaign

Our vision for Reimagining Chapel Hall – designed to encourage growth for our beloved Central Congregational Church – is taking shape, bringing light, fresh elegance, and up-to-date technology to this remarkable gathering space. Honoring the original character of the sanctuary and Chapel Hall’s own origins from 1892, it is a beautiful recreation of an area so integral to community life at Central.

Progress on the construction is so exciting! One member said that even with the plywood underfloor, stage removed, and beautiful double staircase only framed in, the space looks larger and more intimate at the same time. Come see for yourself!

We’re providing regular updates on the Central website, so you can be fully informed as the transformation takes shape. A few photos appear on the right. For more, log on to and click on This Week! on the drop-down menu. Select Reimagining Chapel Hall, and scroll down to the Construction Photo Album.

Scroll down a little further and you can pledge easily and securely online. For details, contact Antonia Greco, church administrator, at 401-331-1960.

We still have $450,000 to raise! Our campaign’s success not only depends on a wide range of gifts, but also on enthusiastic participation from the majority of our members and friends. Please be a part of Central’s future!  Thank you, thank you! – Caroline Considine, Chair, The Campaign to Reimagine Chapel Hall

Save The Date

Saturday  •  Nov. 12  •  9 am to 12 noon

Fall Church Clean-Up

Come help us prepare Central’s building and grounds for the holiday season!

Buy Nothing Day

Time to clean out your coat closets. Buy Nothing Day (Friday, Nov. 26) is back! Central is collecting coats, jackets, and sweaters heavy enough to be worn as outer garments – for children and adults of all ages and sizes. We also need essential accessories: warm hats, scarves, gloves, and mittens. All items should be gently used and clean.

Drop off donations in the appropriately marked pews on the far left side of Wilson Chapel. Contributions will be picked up the week before Thanksgiving. Then, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, those in need of warmth will meet on the State House Lawn to gratefully repurpose your warm winter gear. Questions? Check out the Buy Nothing Day website at

What’s Your Talent?

Do you paint, samba, or love to bake? Would you like to lead a class or spend time with people who have similar interests? Let us know! We’re planning to organize several small groups of like-minded individuals – to learn new skills, share favorite pastimes, or simply enjoy a little in-person camaraderie. If you are interested in participating, contact Antonia Greco, at  or 401-331-1960 and share your interests, talents, and hobbies.

Women’s Retreat Group

The women of Central are invited to gather in solidarity to pray and check in the first Monday of every month. Monday, Nov. 1, 7 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.

Spiritual Companionship

Where is God in your life? Discover how the ancient tradition of spiritual companionship with others will help you listen for God in day-to-day living, encounter your own inner wisdom, and find new possibilities in both your spiritual and secular lives. Tuesday, Nov. 2, 6 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.

Women Gather

Central’s new women’s fellowship group will gather around the fire pit out on the West Lawn after the new member reception. We’ll have hot apple cider, s’mores, and other munchies fit for a fall picnic. Enjoy good conversation, meet new people, and reconnect with those you already know. Questions? Contact Claudia.  Sunday, Nov. 7, 12 noon, on the West Lawn.

Food For Thought Book Group

Claudia’s book group takes on “Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story,” by Bess Kalb. Recounting family lore and family secrets, this memoire introduces four generations of indomitable women and the men who loved them – especially the author’s irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated grandmother. Thursday, Nov. 11, 7 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.

Central Men’s Group

Central’s Men’s Group is back, meeting 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. New members of all ages are welcome!  Questions?  Contact Ed Bishop at 401-274-4666. Thursday, Nov. 18, 7:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

In the Gallery

Don’t forget to check out Central’s new online Gallery, featuring Torin Richards Jewelry. The abstract, rainbow-hued collection is Torin’s joyous response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Look under “This Week” on the Central website.

Adult Sunday School

How do we worship? How do we grow spiritually in difficult circumstances? How do we build community? The story of the Black church has much to teach us all. Let’s gather on Sunday mornings and ponder these and other questions against the backdrop of the faith and music of our Black sisters and brothers. Questions? Ask Claudia. Sundays throughout November, 9 am, in the Fireplace Room

Church School News

October ended on a high note, as the children came to church school dressed in their Halloween costumes! Now we’re moving into the month of November with an equal amount of energy. The children have been exploring the qualities of saints and have each drawn pictures of one or two people who they see as saints in their lives. It is a diverse and wonderful assortment. The children have attached their drawings to grocery bags and taken them home to fill with non-perishable goods. Then on All Saints Sunday, Nov. 7, the children will process into the church – our traditional All Saints Parade – bringing their pictures and filled grocery bags. It is a great finish to an all-church school project.

Starting Nov. 14, another Central church school tradition will return. The children will once again join the congregation for the beginning of the worship service and participate in Children’s Time. We’ll lay out circles on the rug to ensure the children remain socially distanced. After Children’s Time, the children will head to the church school wing for their morning classes and activities. It will be wonderful to worship all together once again!

On Nov. 28, the season of Advent begins. The church school will explore what this season is all about – particularly the anticipation we feel as we come closer to the celebration of Jesus Christ’s coming to earth. We’ll also begin our work on the Christmas Pageant. I’ll have much more information on that as the month goes by.  Peace and Blessings – Judy

CCC Youth

Confirmation: The confirmation class will continue to meet on the first and third Sundays of every month. This is a very lively and engaged group. In November, they will be focusing on the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, and the Bible. On Nov. 7, we will host a gathering for the confirmands and their Deacon mentors. This will be an excellent opportunity for the pairs to become better acquainted with one another while enjoying light refreshments.

NEOS and WORD: On Oct. 24, our two CCC Youth groups joined forces for 18 holes of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf at Monster Mini Golf in Seekonk – with animated monsters at every twist and turn.

This month’s meetings will be held at the church. On Nov. 14, each group will go on a scavenger hunt. They will “travel” to various locations within the building, uncovering the clues that will eventually lead them to their ultimate “goal.”

Then on Nov. 28, WORD will either enjoy S.P.A.M. – soda, pizza, and a movie – or a Mystery Meet. At a Mystery Meet, we explore a serious topic through a series of activities. The topic is the mystery, and the youth will not know what it is until they meet and begin working on it. The teens will choose their preferred activity at the Nov. 14 meeting. Watch the bulletin, website, and your email for details.

NEOS meets on the second Sunday of each month, and WORD meets on the second and fourth Sundays. We encourage our middle- and high-schoolers to bring their friends. And, if you know anyone who may be interested in participating in our CCC Youth groups, please contact Judy. Everyone is welcome!

Family Trivia Night

Central’s annual Family Trivia Night, hosted by the Stewardship Committee, is back … live and in person!  We’ll meet – socially distanced, of course – in the Fireplace Room on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 5 pm. Pizza and beverages will be served. It’s a fun night for all ages and a great way to meet new people. More importantly, you’ll experience the fellowship and inner peace that come when we get together as a community of faith – something we’ve all missed since the onset of COVID-19.

RSVP to Jeff Baran, co-chair of the Stewardship Committee, so we have enough food for everyone ( We hope to see you there … and good luck!

Friday Film Fare

When a small Southern town is rocked by the brutal killing of a schoolgirl, a ruthless prosecutor (Claude Rains) knows who will make a handy defendant: a teacher from the North, who’s not “one of us.” Based on a 1920s Georgia murder, “They Won’t Forget” is an indictment of bigotry, crackling with courtroom suspense. Well ahead of its time, the picture also marks the debut of a dark-haired (yes, brunette) ingénue named Lana Turner. Needless to say, audiences didn’t forget her. And you won’t forget this powerful, landmark film. [95 minutes, b&w, not rated,1937] Friday, Nov. 19, 7:30 pm, in the Fireplace Room

November Events


1 Women’s Retreat Group 7 pm
2 Spiritual Companionship 6 pm
Faith Exploration 7 pm
3 Gallery Committee 9:30 am
7 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Calling Committee 9:45 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
New Member Potluck 11:30 am
Women Gather 12 noon
Family Trivia Night 5 pm
9 Board of Deacons 5:45 pm
10 Chapel Hall Design Committee 5 pm
11 Nominating Committee 5:30 pm
Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm
14 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Leadership Development 12 noon
NEOS 12 noon
WORD 1 pm
16 Plant & Properties 5:45 pm
17 Mission & Action Committee 6 pm
18 Central Men’s Group 7:30 am
20 Fall Clean-Up Day 9 am
21 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
23 Interfaith Thanksgiving Service 7 pm
28 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Worship – Communion –

First Sunday of Advent

10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
WORD 12 pm
30 Prudential Committee 7 pm

The Church Office will be closed Nov. 25 and 26 for Thanksgiving

Posted in Newsletters.