October 2019 Newsletter

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Oct 2019 Vol. 28, No. 2

From Rebecca

The Sun Never Says

all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”

what happens
With a love like that,
It lights the

Written by Hafiz, a Persian poet, in the 14th century, these lines are timeless.

The powers of love are truly miraculous. Not only do they light the whole sky, they light up each of our lives.

In his book, “The Second Mountain,” David Brooks writes about an evening with friends who spent the time discussing politics, economics, monetary policy. “The host’s wife was quiet, because she was suffering with Alzheimer’s, and her memory was going. When we were in the midst of our political discussion, she seemed particularly confused. Her husband turned to look at me, and there were tears in his eyes. We exchanged a long, powerful look that pierced down to something deeper than just empathy and care. I suddenly saw whole dimensions of experience deep in his eyes. At one level, we were a bunch of people talking monetary policy, but at a deep, silent level, it was the whole underplay again: the immortal chords of love, bodies living and dying, souls seeking deep gladness and spiritual peace, the whole thing animated by some mysterious life force, the patterns of life formed by and re-creating the eternal stories.”

Friends, we are part of these eternal stories. I imagine each of you has had a moment of connection like that. May we each and every day of this life we have been given, remember we are part of such a love that it lights the whole sky. In small ways, we make a difference in the lives of others. A gesture, a shared look, a gift of listening, an offer of help… these may not feel like they are lighting the whole sky… but they help us remember the power of love, generosity and grace-filled listening that never even thinks of saying, “You owe me.”

Rather, we just shine as we can and who knows what dark corners we will light.


A Great Gift

Please join us Wednesday, Oct. 30 in the Fireplace Room from 5 to 7 pm for an informational
reception to launch The Angell Society of Central Congregational Church, a legacy society.

Special guest speaker Deborah DiNardo, Esq., a highly respected estate attorney, will join us for a question-and-answer session about estate planning.

RSVP to Christine Dunn, 401- 331-1960, or Christine@centralchurch.us.

If you need a ride to the event, please let Christine know when you RSVP so we can arrange for a member to pick you up.


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
Wednesday, October 23, 7 pm

Faith Exploration
Tuesday, October 29, 7 pm

New Member Sunday: November 3

From Caroline Considine

The Newport Tree Conservancy gave me a gift of a chrysalis last summer as part of a program to engage people in the wonder of butterflies. I hung an inch-long, glistening jade chrysalis like a necklace on the knob of my white china cabinet. Each day, I marveled at the simplicity and the beauty of this fragile gem. One morning, as I went out for coffee, I looked over and double-checked … yes, it was there.

I gasped when I returned, not 30 minutes later. There, against the white cabinet, was … a Monarch butterfly. As the Conservancy suggested, I approached this miracle of nature and let it grasp my finger, so I could transport it outside to start its new life. It rested on the flower for almost two hours. I checked it regularly, and if I got close, it would gently open and close its glorious wings. On my last vigil, it simply took flight and was airborne to only God knows where.

I told a friend, who said it was a postcard from God. — Caroline Considine

The Sacrament of Baptism

Anyone interested in planning a baptism is invited to a meeting with the Rev. Rebecca Spencer on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 9 am in the Fireplace Room.  We will next be offering Baptisms on Sunday, October 20.

Memorial Flowers

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

Looking Ahead to November

An Interfaith Service for Thanksgiving is planned at Temple Beth El on Tuesday evening, Nov. 26. The time is TBA.

Music at Central

On Oct. 6, World Communion Sunday, the Central Congregational Church Choir will perform Solemn Mass in C-sharp minor by French organist/composer Louis Vierne (1870 to 1937). Almost completely blind from birth, Vierne studied with César Franck and Charles-Marie Widor. He became the organist at Notre-Dame Cathedral at 30 and held that post until his death.

Solemn Mass, composed in 1899, was originally scored for choir and two pipe organs. Music scholars have noted, “The whole work is animated by real inspiration. Vierne uses propulsive rhythmic figures in the Kyrie, Gloria and Sanctus to give a sense of forward momentum, allowing time for thematic development and imaginative expression. Following a solemn Kyrie and triumphant Gloria and Sanctus, the mysterious harmonies of the Benedictus introduce a new sound to that era’s French church music, and the long-breathed phrases of the Agnus Dei, echoing from choir to organ, bring the work to a serene conclusion.”

Children’s Choir Rehearsal:
Mondays, 5 pm; Sundays, 10 am

Adult Choir Rehearsal:
Thursdays, 7:30 pm; Sundays, 9:15 am

Spiritual Companionship

Come and join us as we explore where God is in our lives. Spiritual companionship is a very ancient tradition. It is a way to offer ourselves a a holy spaciousness by listening for God in our lives. We encounter our own inner wisdom as we seek where God is found in our daily living. Through the companionship of others we often find new possibilities in our spiritual lives and practices. Please RSVP to Claudia. Thursday, Oct. 3, from 6 to 7 pm in the Deacons’ Room.

Adult Sunday School

Leave this busy, stressful world for a moment to discover the ancient and powerful Jesus Prayer.

Known by generations of eastern Orthodox Christians, this mystical prayer has been in use since the Apostles but remains largely unknown in the west.

Desert hermits, monks and nuns reveal the simple prayer, bringing us into their private cells, caves and sanctuaries in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Russia. The New York Times described the documentary film “The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer” as “earnest, understated and profoundly respectful” and said it demonstrates “the value of silence as a path to inner peace.” Sundays from 910 am in the Fireplace Room.  Questions? Ask Claudia.

Food for Thought Book Group

Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book, All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner. Join us Thursday, Oct. 10, 7 to 8:30 pm, in the Fireplace Room. Looking ahead, the group will meet Nov. 14 to discuss Tenemental: Adventures of a Reluctant Landlady by Vikki Warner. A Christmas Potluck and Book Swap is planned for December; the exact date and time to be announced.

Angellic Knitters

Come join the fun, whether you knit, aspire to knit, or just want to experience fellowship and participate in the blessing of the prayers shawls that are lovingly made for others! As an added bonus, if you’re always wanted to learn how to knit, we’ll teach you!  Questions?  Call Janice Libby or Claudia. Sunday, Oct. 13 at 11:45 am in the Deacons’ Room.

Rebecca’s Book Group

Join us for a group discussion of The Library Book by Susan Orlean. The book was inspired by a 1986 fire at the Central Los Angeles Library. Thursday, Oct. 31 at 12:30 pm in Rebecca’s Study.

From Claudia

There are so many things in our world that are extremely disheartening. Where do we turn in the face of the frequent bombardment of bad news? For Christians, the first place to turn is to God. We come from an inheritance of believers who fell on their knees for strength and inspiration through prayer. As Christians we have the great blessing of a community of faith.

Community is so important to navigating our world today. A good community will support each other through difficult times with strength and kindness. I was talking with a mother the other day who told me that above all she wanted to teach her young children to be kind and to care for others. She hoped she could find others who modeled kindness. She then wondered where she would find like-minded people to support her in this important foundation for the way she and her family would live their lives. This is not easy to do, is it? Of course, I immediately mentioned how welcome they would be at Central!

Our community exemplifies care and concern for our members and the wider community. What a blessing that is. The earliest Christians gathered into small communities renowned for their care of widows and orphans. In that society if you had no family you were in dire straits. This kindly care and inclusion of such ones was remarkable and others commented on it.

As for Central, we are known in the community by our many outreaches motivated by our care and concern for others. This is ongoing work. Nobel Peace Prize winner Emily Greene Balch reminds us that, “We have a long way to go. So, let us hasten along the road, the road of human tenderness and generosity. Groping, we may find one another’s hands in the dark.”

May we in this congregation continually reach out our hands in the darkness of this world individually and together as we build the beloved community espoused by another recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yours in faith and community,


From Joshua

You shall keep the Feast of
Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field
the fruit of your labor.

– Exodus 23:16

On one of the ancient, Biblical calendars, the year ends and a new one begins around this time of harvest. When I think about the word “ingathering,” I remember how Gathering Sunday filled our church with new life and excitement. After a long summer of preparation, it was so good to see the fruits of our labors and I want to thank theof Central for gathering with us.

I also want to invite the families of Central to our rich October programming, including Apple Picking on Oct. 6, a Parents’ Social on Oct. 7, Mission Sunday on Oct. 20, and our Youth Lock-In on Oct. 25. Please see your email inbox or talk to me at church for details. At Apple Picking and the Lock-In, both youth groups are invited to come together and we hope to see many parents at the social.

During this harvest time I also want to remind folks about donating warm clothing. Giving from our surplus is also rooted in ancient harvest ritual. Let go of things that no longer fit.


October Gallery Show

For our October show, the Gallery Committee is delighted to exhibit the works of Robin Halpren-Ruder.

Please drop by the gallery space to enjoy her colorful pieces, and join us on Friday, Oct. 25 for a reception to meet the artist. We look forward to seeing you then!

Meet the Artist: Friday, Oct. 25, 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Church School News

“The chief job of the teacher is to help us remember.”
    —Madeleine L’Engle, “Walking on Water: Reflections on Art & Faith”

Many a Sunday, after Church School is over, we teachers remain upstairs conversing and sharing with one another about how our morning in class went. It’s fun to process our lesson together, and hear how the kids responded, through artwork or insights.

Sharing like this affirms why we love being in the Church School wing! I am so grateful for a committed, creative and compassionate group of adults to teach with!

This year’s teachers include:

Susannah Hopkins, Jamie Lavoie, Maureen Lapre, Pamela O’Hara, Amy Frazer, Amy Punchak, and Joshua Berkowitz; and youth helpers Gavin Rardin, Miles Rardin, Serena Lalli, Audrey Lee, Ela Heywood, Ebba Karlsson, and Aster Space. (Forgive me if I’ve omitted anyone — or added you unwittingly!)

If you would like to be on our teaching team, please let me know! It takes a village, and we are so grateful…

Love and remembering,
Cathy Clasper-Torch

Friday Film – 12 Years a Slave

October 18, 7:30 pm.

“Gone with the Wind” style myths of the Old South aside, what was slavery really like? Kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, Solomon Northup wrote an account of his ordeal after his rescue in 1853. His story became a bestseller and anti-slavery classic.?Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o. [139 minutes; color;
Rated R]

A Quiet Morning

Take some time for yourself with friends from Central at the end of your week 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? Find out that and more about how to incorporate some Sabbath rest into your own busy life. Please RSVP to Claudia. October 19 at Hamilton House, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. (breakfast included.)

Family Trivia Night Oct. 20

The Stewardship Committee would like to invite you to our 2ndFamily Trivia Night on Sunday, Oct. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Chapel Hall.

All ages are welcome as we will embark on an evening of camaraderie, questions, and answers in a variety of fun categories.

Pizza and beverages will be provided so please RSVP so we can order enough! We look forward to seeing you there.

RSVP to Jeff Baran

Possible Hiking Group

Have you wished for a chance to view fall foliage up close? Then you are invited to join a new group at Central for easy hiking!

One possible destination is the Tillinghast Forest Management Area in West Greenwich. Another pleasant hike would be the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy in Providence.

There are guided tours the first Saturday of every month. The next tour would be Oct. 5, so please get in touch with us quickly. Contact John Harkey or Russ Miller for more information, plus advice on what to wear.

Thank you…

I am so grateful for your many
expressions of condolence on the death of my father at the end of
From flowers to cards to your many kind words, I was surrounded by your caring concern. This is what it is to be in community with one another.
How blessed I am to be in this
community with all of you.

Much love,

Conference News

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 begins Jan. 1.

But before that happens, our three conferences will gather for the last time as separate entities at this, our third joint annual meeting.

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

The new conference Board of Directors will give an update on vision for the transition, including leadership.

The conference, Unbound: Cloud of Witnesses, will be held Nov. 1 and 2, at the DCU Center, 50 Foster St., Worcester, Mass. To register, or for more information: https://www.ricucc.org/eventdetail/120

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with Rebecca Gorham and her family following the recent death of Rebecca’s father, Halfdan Johnson.

We also pray for the Gardner family.  Margaret Gardner’s sister, Helen French Anderson, died last month after a long battle with cancer.

We also hold in our thoughts and prayers the family of Jean Edwards, who died September 13, and the family of Gordon L. “Lanny” Parker Jr., who died September 21. His service will be held Oct. 5 at 11:30 a.m. in the Redwood Chapel at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.

Movie Outing

After worship on Sunday, Oct. 6, join us to see the new “Downton Abbey” movie at Showcase Cinemas in Seekonk, Mass.

The time is TBA depending on the theater schedule that weekend.

Questions? Ask Claudia.

Welcome Our New Members

Please join the Membership Committee as we welcome our new members for a potluck luncheon in Chapel Hall on Sunday, Nov. 3, after worship.

The committee will provide main entrees, but everyone is encouraged to bring a favorite side dish, casserole, salad, or dessert to share.

The kitchen crew will be available before church to receive your cooked along with any warming instructions and ingredient notifications.

Wear your name tags! ’s another way to welcome new members and visitors!

October Calendar

Spiritual Companionship Group  6 pm
Religious Education       7 pm

Adult Sunday School      9 am
Confirmation Class 9:15 am
Stewardship 9:15 am
Worship/World Communion) 10:30 am
Apple Picking (NEOS,Word) 12:30 pm

Parents Social   7 pm

Deacons’ Meeting 5:45 pm

Membership Committee 6:15 pm

Food for Thought 7 pm

Baptism Meeting 9 am

Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Angellic Knitters 11:45 am

Plant and Properties 5:45 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm

Mission and Action 6 pm

CCC Men’s Group 7:30 am

A Quiet Morning 8:30 am

Adult Sunday School 9 am
Confirmation Class 9:15 am
Worship with Baptism 10:30 am
NEOS   12 pm
Family Trivia Night 6 pm

Inquirers’ Meeting 7 pm
Trustees 4 pm

Gallery Reception 5 pm

Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am

Faith Exploration 7 pm

Angell Society Reception 5 pm

Rebecca’s Book Group  12:30 pm

The church office will be closed on Columbus Day: Monday, Oct. 14.

Posted in 2019 Newsletters.