October 2021 Newsletter

Central News

October 2021      Vol. 30, No. 2

Download the PDF version of the October 2021 Newsletter


From Rebecca

Dear Friends, The parking spots on Diman Place are taken early. Little kids skip along to Child’s Play holding a parent’s hand. Bigger kids chat together, backpacks bulging, as they walk toward school. The sun is still beautiful in that crisp way that makes you appreciate the day even more, as we realize summer is leaving us. Children growing up and seasons changing remind me of how important it is to treasure everyday miracles. This is not mere theological reflection. This is important for life itself. This poem, “Apples,” strikes me as one we must commit to our hearts in these early October days.

Apples, by Bonnie Thurston

In our local grocer
I watch folks buy
At vast expense
Tasteless, waxed
Red Delicious.
Surely that was not
what the Virgin offered
the Christ Child
in Memling’s diptych.

Unconsciously I begin
internally to chant:
Baldwin, Bramley Cox,
Cortland, Gravenstein,
Jonathan, Lodi,
Macintosh, Melrose,
Pippin, Rome, Russet,
Stamen, Winesap.

I think of the variety
grown by Amish farmers
across the river,
in the Sisters’ orchards
across the ocean,
remember windfalls
eaten with wasps.

If the snake offered
Mother Eve an apple,
I hope we did not
surrender Paradise
for a Red Delicious.

Martin Luther once said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” I don’t think the world is going to pieces tomorrow, and maybe we can’t all plant an apple tree. But my hope is that you can enjoy a crisp apple soon, or the sight of a maple turning beautiful scarlet, the quiet blush of someone you have just complimented or a cardinal’s flicker.

May none of us surrender Paradise for anything less! Yours in the love of Jesus Christ

– Rebecca

A Special All Saints Sunday

All Saints Sunday is always a joyous occasion at Central. The church school children not only create posters of the saints in their lives and parade into the sanctuary during worship, they collect grocery items for those who are hungry.

This year, All Saints Sunday – November 7 – will be all that and more. In addition to our traditional All Saints’ Parade, we will welcome new members into the Central family. We will also 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 saints of history and of the present-day – those who have touched our lives as Christians.

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 is 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
Wednesday, October 27, 7 pm

Faith Exploration
Wednesday, November 3, 7 pm

New Member Sunday
Sunday, November 7, 10:30 am

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.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island needs volunteers on the East Side of Providence for its Home-Delivered Meal Program. Meal deliveries are Monday through Friday from 10 am to 2 pm. For more information and a volunteer application, visit www.rimeals.org or call 401-351-6700.

Wisdom Stoves

The 12 stoves funded by Central’s donation are out for delivery! With COVID-19 travel restrictions lifting, these stoves are about to be transported to Zimbabwean women impacted by Cyclone Idai in 2019 – a six-hour drive! Wisdom Stoves provides safe, portable, sustainable, fuel-efficient stoves to reduce health risks for women and children who cook over open fires.

Haiti Task Force

The Haiti Task Force has created an emergency donation site to support our Haitian mission and friends who are impacted by the violence there. To help, go to https://gofund.me/db948e2f

Deacon’s Bench

Last year, I wrote about spring and the newness of life it brings. Now it is fall, and I can see that autumn brings its own kind of renewal. When I taught high school, the new school year always brought a sense of optimism: I would have perfect classes, brilliant ideas to encourage my students, and rejoin my colleagues in our joint purpose of enlightening kids. (I am not always a realist.) The truth is, I never had a perfect class nor did I offer them consistently brilliant lessons, but I did always have a renewed sense of purpose buoyed by my colleagues and the eagerness of my students (well, most of them) to give me fresh energy in the fall.

I now work at Brown, but I am a researcher, so my job does not vary with the arrival or departure of students, and yet, fall does bring a sense of excitement and optimism. The excitement of students is palpable, even though my office is primarily surrounded by other researchers whose jobs also change little with the seasons. This year, September also brought my return to my physical office space and face-to-face contact with colleagues. I have actually enjoyed many aspects of working from home for the past 18 months, but I deeply missed this collegiality.

Gathering Sunday at Central also brought a sense of newness. I had attended church fairly regularly all summer, and loved that. Taking her lead from the lectionary, Claudia taught all about David and Solomon. The fuller sanctuary on Gathering Sunday, though, reminded me that our church community is larger and more vibrant when we are all together. The choir sang! (That deserves a little more emphasis!!!). Their music filled me. Kids ran around making joyful noises. Some doors were blocked off to protect us from the construction work ongoing in Chapel Hall, closed doors that signal not a barrier, but the preparation of a new space where our community can gather in greater comfort, able to hear each other better, and celebrate our faith together.

Autumn in New England follows a trajectory that also reminds me of community. Early in the fall, I begin to notice the first one or two trees to change color. Then some of the maple trees in my neighborhood, trees that stand alone on an expanse of lawn rather than in a forest, burst into bright red and orange, and these trees stand out as singular examples of New England’s gorgeous fall season. By the end of October, though, few trees stand out with brightness, but New England’s many vistas are painted with undulating swaths of color – yellows, oranges, reds mixed with some greens and browns – merged into a palette that doesn’t have single dots of color, but beauty smeared across the canvas. The trees appear to be in community with one another.

In his book, “The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm,” Rabbi Harold Kushner writes, “I have spent my adult life teaching people that religion is first and foremost a source of community.” He explains that the Latin root of the word “religion” means “to bind together.” I strive to build my personal connection to God and to Jesus, but find I am more often enveloped by God’s presence when I worship with our congregation. The choir reaches me more effectively than does listening to a CD of hymns. I smile at the children participating in the children’s lesson, and I learn the lesson, too. I hear the wisdom in sermons better when I also see the people around me nodding, laughing, or sighing.

Some health issues I have faced recently have made me feel more in the autumn of my years than ever (an artful way of saying I feel old and creaky), but our community has sustained me. Members of the congregation have offered help, companionship and the very real hope that as long as I have this community and my faith, autumn can offer a sense of newness in the way I face life and take care of myself by reaching out to others. – Lucy Hanna

Helping Afghan Families

On September 20, Mary Frances Bishop, Mark McLaughlin, and Rebecca Spencer met with Baha Sadr from Dorcas International to discuss how Central Congregational Church can help with the resettlement of Afghan families coming to Rhode Island. The families are currently on a U.S. military base being processed and receiving health screenings and immunizations. All of the families are Muslim from multi-ethnic backgrounds. Their primary languages are Farsi and Pashtun – though we do not expect English to be an issue.

A Dorcas case manager and case aide will coordinate initial resettlement activities – temporary housing, medical care, job application skills, etc. – and keep Central up to date on their progress. The families do not yet have Refugee status; however, they will receive employment authorization four to six weeks after arriving in Rhode Island. The families will need immediate help with permanent housing, transportation, food, clothing, hygiene products, etc.

How can Central help? We are going to set up a task force to coordinate with Dorcas and gather essentials: diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, kitchen items, linens, etc. Once we know the constellation of “our” family, we can be more precise.

As a community of faith, we have met these challenges in the past and will continue our mission to meet them again.

Mission Moment

Since January, Central’s Mission and Action Committee has provided one meal every month for 20 women and children in the Mother-Child Reunification Program at Amos House. Now we need your help!

The next dinner is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 27. Mission and Action is looking for volunteers to provide part of the meal. Here’s what we need:

  • Two individuals to each prepare one recipe of Chicken Chili (recipe supplied);
  • One individual to provide grated cheese, corn chips, and sour cream for topping;
  • Two individuals to each provide salad for ten, one of whom should include a bottle of salad dressing;
  • One individual to provide two bunches of seedless grapes, rinsed and cut into serving sizes; and
  • Two individuals to provide dessert (must be nut-free).

If you can help or have questions, please contact Lynne Seacord (314-413-3741 or mehl.seacord@gmail.com).

Please label food donations “Amos House,” and deliver to the church kitchen on Wednesday, Oct. 27, no later than 3:30 pm.  Thank you!

From Claudia

Fall is such an interesting time since it encompasses endings and beginnings. As the leaves change color and our gardens start wrapping up their growing season, there is still the newness we find in the start of so many things around us. Winter rye may be coming up to protect the farmers’ fields, even while pumpkins are ripening and turning orange. Students are beginning all sorts of programs and delving deeply into the new school year. Program schedules are being distributed for arts organizations again. Sports are in full swing. Even in the uncertainty that we have experienced for a long time now, there is an anticipatory feel surrounding us that propels us forward.

For a long time, I have hoped we would form a women’s fellowship at Central. As you no doubt know, we have a wonderful Men’s Group. Late this summer, a few women gathered for ice cream one night. What happened was quite magical. Most people there didn’t really know each other, but we had “cones and conversations” that were simply amazing. We sat outside and talked and connected and talked some more. And, we laughed! We finally adjourned when the mosquitos came out! Saying our goodbyes, I realized that from that simple evening, something new was born.

Most of us met again the following Tuesday. Same time, same place, while more conversation ensued. We brainstormed what a group for all the women of all ages of this church might look like. Women Gather was born. Our inaugural gathering will be on Sunday, 
Oct. 3, at 12 noon after worship. We are inviting all Central women to a pizza party to be held outside on the front lawn of Hamilton House.

Please mark your calendars to join us then! We are at the beginning of a brand new thing, and we want YOU to be there with us! Come and enjoy lunch and conversation with those you may not know, as well as others you already know. What will we do next? Who knows? The sky is the limit. The most important thing is that we do it together, and it just won’t be the same without you!

In anticipation of new beginnings of all kinds – Claudia

Progress in Chapel Hall

If you have had the opportunity to enter Central Congregational Church through the Diman Place doors or use our beautiful new restrooms, you know that there is major construction underway in Chapel Hall. Actually, it is major destruction; we have removed the old stage and several layers of flooring, including a layer with asbestos. This is not an easy time to undergo construction. There have been challenges in obtaining necessary materials, and costs have been difficult to predict. But so far, there has been only one major surprise – an unexpected pipe – that needs to be accommodated in our plans.

Central’s clergy and staff have been enormously helpful and tolerant of the challenges of working in a construction site. And, our builder, appropriately named Chapel Construction, is trying to keep the building as usable as possible throughout the entire project, which we expect to last six months. Unfortunately, this means we need to envision a Christmas season with Chapel Hall still under construction.

However, the room already looks far larger, and it is exciting to envision what it will become as we rebuild this important gathering place – with a new stairway and doors; a lower, more accessible stage; and furniture stored away in closets. Ultimately, Chapel Hall will be renewed, with many of its historic features preserved.

I encourage you to see our progress for yourselves after worship on Sundays and regularly check out the “photo album” on the church’s website. Just click on “Reimagining Chapel Hall” under “This Week!” on the drop-down menu. And, please give as you are able to this visible and important investment in Central’s future.

– Elizabeth Roberts


November 21 at 10:30 am

Festival Thanksgiving Service of Worship

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 (finally!) 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 starting Oct. 3, 9 am, in the Fireplace Room

Women Gather

Central’s new women’s fellowship – for women of all ages – has scheduled its inaugural gathering. Join us for a pizza party – with a free will offering – and enjoy good conversation, meet new people, and reconnect with those you already know. Please RSVP to Claudia. Sunday, Oct. 3, 12 noon, on the Hamilton House front lawn

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, Oct. 5, 6 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.

Food For Thought Book Group

Join us for a lively discussion of “The Yellow House,” by first-time author Sarah M. Broom. As this memoir chronicles three generations of Broom’s family in New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane; it also examines race, class, politics, trauma, and inequality in America. Thursday, Oct. 14, 7 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.  Coming up … Nov. 11: “Nobody Will Tell You This But Me,” by Bess Kalb

Women’s Retreat Group

The women of Central are invited to gather in solidarity to pray and check in on the third Monday of every month, starting Monday, Oct. 18, 7 pm, via Zoom. Contact Claudia for an invitation.

Rebecca’s Book Group

At press time, the book for this month’s meeting was still to be determined and will be announced at a later date. Contact Rebecca with questions. Thursday, Oct. 28, 12:30 to 1:30 pm, in Rebecca’s study

Church School News

Church school has gotten off to a terrific start this fall.  It is wonderful to see children reconnect with one another after being apart for so many months.  The joy in their voices and the twinkle in their eyes say it all.

We have been thinking about how each one of us is special and important, and how, when we work together, we can do great things.  So we’re making a giant puzzle.  The children have designed their own pieces, drawing some of their favorite activities and using their favorite colors.  As more children come to church school, each will design a piece to add to our puzzle.  We invite you to stop by and take a look!

On World Communion Sunday, October 3, the children will hear how the sacrament began, why we celebrate it now, and with parental approval, receive Holy Communion. At Central, the communion table is open to all with the desire to come, and this includes children.  It is up to parents to decide when their children are ready to receive communion.  Rebecca, Claudia, and I are always available to parents to answer questions and discuss the sacrament.

Later in the month, the children will discuss the qualities of saints.  They will draw pictures of those they want to honor as saints, attach them to shopping bags, and take them home.  Then, on the first Sunday in November, the children will return the shopping bags filled with food for those who are less fortunate. – Judy

CCC Youth

Confirmation began September 19 with a meeting for the confirmands and their parents. We have a wonderful group this year of ten ninth graders. The confirmands meet together with Judy Martowska and Larry Kellam after church on the first and third Sundays of each month. Judy expects this year to be filled with the sharing of ideas, learning, and laughter. This October, the youth will explore their thoughts and beliefs on God and Jesus. And, one Sunday each month, a confirmand will serve as the scripture reader during Sunday worship. If you know a high schooler who might benefit from this year-long journey of faith, please speak to Judy or Larry.

Our youth fellowship groups, NEOS and WORD, got off to a fantastic start with a kick-off cookout on September 12. Thanks go to Larry Kellam and all the parents for their help with food preparation, grilling, and clean-up. The youth chose their activities for the first half of the year – which range from helping area animal shelters and Monster Mini Golf to mystery meets and rock climbing. In addition, NEOS and WORD will lead the worship service on Youth Sunday, October 10.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear the youngest members of the Central community.

NEOS, for middle schoolers in grades six through eight, will usually meet after church on the second Sunday of the month. WORD, for teens in grades nine through twelve, will meet on the second and fourth Sundays. This month, WORD will have a thoughtful meeting where they anonymously answer a variety of questions placed around the room. And at times the two groups will share in activities – as they will around Halloween when they enjoy a Monster Mini Golf outing. New members and friends are always welcome!

Website Photos Needed!

We love seeing your photos, and we need them too. We want our church to come to life on the website –events, committee and group meetings, mission work – anywhere happy people gather together as a community of faith, worshipping, having fun, and helping others. Would you believe that we don’t have ANY pictures of Central’s work at Amos House or Camp Street Food Pantry, NEOS and WORD, committee meetings, or any of our small groups?

Please become a Central photographer. We have only a few requirements: 1. Photos must be landscape or panoramic, so hold your cell phone horizontally. 2. Photograph children in groups – never individually. 3. Include some information about the event and people pictured.

Here are some tips for taking better cell phone photos. First, clean your camera lens. Enable grid lines for straight, centered photos. Don’t use manual zoom; the quality isn’t good. Then …

  • Tell a Story: A good photograph tells a story and is easily understood. Show the love, action, passion, and creativity Central brings to the table.
  • Lighting is Everything: Choose as bright a spot as possible. Natural light is a plus.
  • Set Up Your Shot: Stage your photos – even “candids” – so you get faces instead of the backs of people’s heads.
  • Get in Close: Too many people in a photo can be distracting. Focus on two to four at a time. Capture their actions, emotions, and facial expressions.
  • Get Creative with Group Shots: Shoot some straight-on images. But also try unusual angles and perspectives, like shooting from above or below.
  • Take Lots of Photos: It’s tough to get everyone looking just right at the same time. Plus people often relax after the first shot or two. So take a lot of pictures – even some frames before everyone is ready and some after they think you’re done. You want visually interesting photos that tell your story!

Send your best shots to Ellen Miller at esmiller@cox.net. Thank you!

Youth Sunday

NEOS and WORD fellowship will plan and lead the worship service, focusing on themes they find relevant and sharing their personal perspectives. Sunday, Oct. 10, 10:30 am, in the sanctuary

Around the Room

WORD teens will enjoy a contemplative gathering where they anonymously answer a variety of questions placed around our meeting room – and then discuss them. Sunday, Oct. 10, 1 pm, meeting place to be determined

Monster Mini Golf

NEOS and WORD will join forces for 18 holes of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf with animated monsters at every twist and turn. Bring a friend! Sunday, Oct. 24. Tee times to be determined.

Central Men’s Group

The men’s group will come together soon for one of its traditional morning meetings. If you are interested in participating, contact Ed Bishop at 401-274-4666 and let him know if you prefer to meet virtually or in person. Date to be determined

Friday Film Fare

Grab some popcorn and join us for “Rocketman,” the first in this year’s film series. It’s a rollicking musical biopic, about the Rocketman himself, Elton John. Friday, Oct. 15, 7:30 pm, in the Fireplace Room.

A Quiet Morning

Enjoy a fall mini-retreat with friends – breakfast, prayer, conversation, quiet time, communion, and more – as we explore our dreams, hopes, and aspirations for the coming year. RSVP to Claudia. Saturday, Oct. 23, 8:30 to 11:30 am, at Hamilton House

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.

October Events

1 Ruth Whitford’s Memorial Service 11 am
3 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
Membership Committee 11:30 am
Flower Committee 11:45 am
Women Gather 12 noon
5 Spiritual Companionship 6 pm
6 Gallery Committee 9:30 am
10 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship – Youth Sunday 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
NEOS 12 noon
WORD 1 pm
14 Nominating Committee 5:30 pm
Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm
17 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
Leadership Development 11:30 am
18 Women’s Retreat Group 7 pm
19 Plant & Properties 5:45 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm
20 Mission and Action Committee  6 pm
23 A Quiet Morning 8:30 am
Jake Kling’s Memorial Service 11 am
24 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
27 Inquirers’ Meeting 7 pm
28 Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm
31 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am




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