October 2022 Newsletter

Central News

October 2022 Vol. 31, No. 2

Join Us For Sunday Worship at 10:30 am!

Download the PDF version of the October Newsletter

From Rebecca

Friends, what do you think about this quote? “People are very open-minded about new things – as long as they are exactly like the old ones.”

This was in a cattle farming newsletter I receive, but I think it applies to all of us in our various endeavors and initiatives! While we all appreciate the comfort and reliability of our routines, sometimes we just need to change things up a bit.

And there are many ways we can do this.

Remember God’s words in Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new.” The newness can come in many ways. Here is a small example. When I watch my cows meander along their usual path, it is usually May or Patch who leads the line. The other day, young upstart April decided it was her turn to lead. This caused a bit of a muddle, but they all got to where they wanted to go … just in a different order. (This actually made me think of another familiar quote: “the first shall be last and the last first” … but that is another topic!)

But what if we humans tried in some small ways to embrace new ideas, new paths, and new initiatives? We could take a different route to work. Reach out to someone to whom we usually just give a nod – say, the grocery store cashier, or the mechanic who services your car, or your child’s long-ago first-grade teacher, or an old friend you haven’t seen in some time. We could make that phone call, engage in that conversation, try out a new idea, or initiate a new relationship.

Remember, theologian Sam Wells’ three most important words: Always With Wonder.

God is ALWAYS with us.

We are in this life in this shared earth WITH each other.

God has given us this creation so that we might live in it with joy and WONDER at what might come next.

Yours, always with wonder – Rebecca

Blessed Occasions

Was it entering the sacred space of Central’s sanctuary that put us in such a special mood on Sep. 25? Was it hearing our glorious choir and organ? Was it listening to Rebecca and Claudia – all in celebration of the wonder of God’s creatures – that filled us with such great joy?

For humans and the many pets both large and small attending the Blessing of the Animals, it was all of these things! This was a gift – a moment in time – to be savored and treasured.

Almost the entire congregation lined up – some with cell phone images of their best companions – to be individually blessed. Judy Martowska happily helped one child secure that blessing for her teddy bear.

After worship, both two- and four-legged creatures entered our Reimagined Chapel Hall, thrilled to see old friends and overjoyed with the progress on this beloved community space.

It seemed to many that another blessed occasion was in order – to celebrate not only the completion of Chapel Hall, but also reaching 81 percent of our fundraising goal. So mark your calendar for Friday, Nov. 18, when we’ll gather in Chapel Hall to toast the renovation and all of the hard-working people who have made it possible.

And here’s something to think about: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we reached our $1.25 million goal in time for this celebration? Now, that would really be a blessing! – Caroline Considine

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

In Memoriam

Our prayers and sympathy are with the family and friends of Marjorie Morse … and with the family of Bill Claflin, who was a friend and mentor to so many of us. Requiescat in pace

The Deacon’s Bench

Recently I’ve been reading books by the travel writer Jan Morris (1926 to 2020). Born James Morris, she underwent gender reassignment surgery in the 1970s and wrote eloquently about her life’s journey in “Conundrum,” published in 1974. As an avid armchair mountaineer, I was embarrassed that I hadn’t known that she first achieved fame by serving as the newspaper correspondent from “The Times” with the Everest expedition in 1953. When Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary successfully summited the peak, Morris hustled down the valley to the nearest link with the outside world and sent the exciting news in a coded message back to London, just in time for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

“Allegorizings,” a book of short essays, was published posthumously at Morris’ request. In a piece about a visit to Charleston, S.C., she wrote, “It was a Sunday morning [and] I made my way to morning service at St. Michael’s Episcopalian Church. I should really have gone somewhere more extreme. I should have gone to a Catholic church and been told that it was a sin to vote for a pro-abortion politician. I should have joined an evangelical congregation and had a dose of right-wing fundamentalism. But I chose St. Michael’s sure that in that splendid eighteenth-century fane nobody would be very radical either way, and I was right.” (A fane is a temple or shrine; I had to look it up!) As a child, Morris had been a chorister in the Anglican church, and I’m sure, as for many of us, she found comfort in the texts and music she knew so well.

During a summer Deacons’ meeting, we were talking about the importance of engaging in mutually respectful conversation with those with whom we do not have much in common. Surely right-wing extremism and the politics of abortion would be right up there among topics many of us find difficult to broach when outside of our Central cocoon.

Once in a while may we dare to venture out of that cocoon. – Gretchen Yealy

Mission Moments

At Central, we are committed to living the words of Jesus, “Love one another.” We strive to be a community of God’s people in a way that calls each of us to active discipleship. Our purpose is to work for the increase in the love of God and neighbor through worship, caring, sharing, and outreach. Our mission is to build loving relationships across all boundaries, within and beyond the church. We commit ourselves to involvement in a diverse range of projects – internationally, nationally, locally, and within the church; in human services, child welfare, health care, educational and spiritual support.

This is the Mission & Action committee’s mission statement. You may not have known they had one. Like all mission statements, it describes the committee’s purpose and guides its ongoing work. This year, for the first time, the committee has decided to bring greater focus to its efforts. 2022/23 is The Year of the Child.

This will be the theme of our 2023 Lenten Mission Suppers, which are returning after a two-year COVID hiatus. At the Lenten Mission Suppers, we come together for a simple supper of soup and bread – and a short presentation by one of our mission partners. This year’s speakers will be from organizations that work to improve the lives of children in Rhode Island. The suppers will be held from 6 to 7 pm on Wednesdays during Lent, starting the week after Ash Wednesday.


On Thursday, Oct. 20, The Providence Center will honor Central member Carol Barton at its annual Circle of Stars gala. Carol is being recognized for her many years of dedicated support and generosity. The event – held Thursday, Oct. 20, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the Rhode Island Convention Center – will help support more than 60 innovative, life-saving mental health and addiction care services provided by The Providence Center in our community.

Congratulations to Jackson Chambers, 16, who, on Sep. 15, earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement attainable in the Scouts BSA program, realized by only four percent of all Scouts since 1911. For his service project, Jackson, a member of Troop 28 in Franklin, Mass., built birdhouses for the three open-space parks in Franklin, each with informative plaques about indigenous birds of the area.

World Communion Sunday

Every year on the first Sunday in October, Christians around the globe celebrate World Communion Sunday. It is a day to remember that Jesus Christ is Head of the Church and that all denominations that promote Christian unity are one. Sunday, Oct. 2, 10:30 am

Baptism Sunday

Baptism is the beginning of Christian faith and life – and a vital part of our worship together. Join us as we celebrate this sacrament on Sunday, Oct. 2, 10:30 am.

Camp Street Ministries

Let’s fill the shelves! Camp Street Ministries’ food pantry needs non-perishable foods. Please bring food items to Worship and leave them in the baskets inside the sanctuary doors. Or, drop off donations in the church office during the week.

Christmas at Central

Our holiday bazaar is back … scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 4! Same format, same time, familiar faces, and hopefully some new ones. Department chairs will be in place soon. Please start thinking of how you can help, so we can make this our most successful Christmas at Central!

Thanks, Jim!

After more than 15 years hosting Central’s monthly Friday Film Fare, Jim Silverthorn, our resident cinephile, is taking a hiatus. Thank you, Jim, for bringing us your insights into movies ranging from classics and blockbusters to hidden treasures we never otherwise would have seen!

From Claudia

On Sep. 18, a group of us from Central went to the Crescent Park Carousel. It was a glorious Sunday. Perfect for a spin on the carousel! The youngest among us counted their ages in months, while the eldest counted their ages in many decades. We bought tickets and climbed aboard, a group at a time, while others sat on the sidelines waving and taking photos! The joy on the faces of children and adults was contagious. What fun!

Five generations of my family have enjoyed rides on that carousel! What a connection. Thinking about the ways we are all connected makes me think about how often we are segregated by age in our culture. How many intergenerational things do we get to experience? Church is one important place where multiple generations mingle – and most of us are not even related except through our love of Central.

In worship, at coffee hour, and at other events like the Religious Education committee’s game night; we bring generations together. We learn about God, we sing, we pray, we enjoy cookies and snacks, we talk, we play games, we walk around the block behind a “beast of burden,” and at times we might even color. What a gift that is! In our culture when people often do not live near grandparents and older family members, church is where we experience the gift of generations.

Years ago, I would take my children’s choir “on tour.” We would go on the bus to sing at a couple of nursing homes and have a special lunch somewhere. The children were in the fourth through sixth grades. One year, a sixth grader burst into tears when I announced the trip. As I talked quietly with her, she told me that people who were elderly scared her. I asked if she had grandparents. She did, and she loved them, but she seldom saw them because they lived far away. When asked, she told me that she thought they would love to have children sing for them. I always stressed that this trip was a gift, and I reminded her she’d be giving to people whose own grandchildren might not be there to sing for them. It took her a while to decide, but she went on the trip. The choir would always mingle with the residents after each performance. She was the very first one to do so every time.

May we too give the gift of ourselves to others … in all generations! See you in church where such amazing things happen in community with one another!

Love and blessings – Claudia

New Poet Laureate

On Sep. 13, Central’s Board of Deacons unanimously welcomed Barry Bayon as the church’s new Poet Laureate. He follows Ilse Kramer, our first Poet Laureate, who served faithfully until her death in 2021. Barry will offer poetry selections in the newsletter and during worship as he has in the past for Veterans’ Day remembrances.

Poet Laureate is a unique position for a church – first envisioned years ago by George Delany when he was a deacon. Even James Forbes, minister emeritus of New York’s Riverside Church, noted in his Darrell West Lecture that this position is both unusual and significant.

You may recall Ilse’s “April in Providence” poem series or Gallery exhibits of works by Central members. With Barry’s talent and leadership, we look forward to the continuation and expansion of this initiative.

Musical Notes

It’s been two years since children’s singing voices have made a joyful noise during Central’s Sunday worship services. But now that it’s safe for us to gather again, our Children’s Choir will resume this month!

The choir is for all children in grades three through eight. No experience is required; only a desire to sing and forge strong bonds with fellow choristers! In fact, we encourage choir members to bring a friend or two with them. It’s a lot more fun to sing with your pals. Children need not be church members; we welcome singers from all faith communities.

Central’s Children’s Choir program not only teaches children to read, understand, and enjoy music, but also to work as a team and, most importantly, to be leaders in worship. If you have questions, contact organist/choirmaster Patrick Aiken,

Rehearsals are on Mondays from 5 to 6 pm, starting October 24.

Tuesdays With Scripture

Think of this as a weekly community devotional. Every Tuesday morning, we’ll look at and discuss a short Bible passage. Each session is self-contained. Come to one or to all of them! Contact Claudia for a Zoom invitation. She’ll also send you the reading and questions to consider ahead of time. Tuesdays, Oct. 4, 11, 18, and 25, 8 am, via Zoom

Food For Thought Book Group

All are welcome to join Claudia’s book group for a discussion of “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood,” by Trevor Noah, the comedian’s memoir and tribute to his amazing mother. Questions? Ask Claudia. Thursday, Oct. 13, 
7 pm, in the Fireplace Room

Looking ahead to Nov. 10: “America for Beginners,” by Leah Frangui

Adult Sunday School

This year, we will begin with “Spiritual Audacity: The Abraham Joshua Heschel Story.” A major figure in the religious life of America, Heschel was a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., “a champion for Soviet Jews, and a pioneer in the work of interfaith dialogue.” Come, join in the conversation about this remarkable man! For more information, contact Claudia. Sundays starting Oct. 16, 9 am, in the Fireplace Room

Women Gather

Central’s women’s fellowship will gather around the fire pit out on the West Lawn after for s’mores. Yum! Enjoy good conversation, meet new people, and reconnect with those you already know. Questions? Contact Claudia. Sunday, Oct. 16, 12 noon, on the West Lawn.

Central Men’s Group

Open to all ages, Central Men’s Group is a monthly breakfast gathering for fellowship and spirited conversation on topics ranging from current events and ethics to trends and shared experiences. Questions? Contact Ed Bishop at 274-4666. Thursday, Oct. 20, 7:30 am, in the Fireplace Room

Rebecca’s Book Group

This month, we’ll discuss “Horse,” by Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, “Horse” is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism. Thursday, Oct. 27, 12:30 pm, on the West Lawn, weather permitting.

Save the Date

On Friday, Nov. 11, at 6 pm, the Rebecca L. Spencer Lecture Series: Stories of Faith will return.  Lorne Adrain and Meredith Pearson share their experiences assisting Ukraine refugees.

Children and Spirituality

Last month, I wrote about some of the benefits of church and church school – benefits that are not found in many other places. One of these is being part of a community with people of all ages, all races, all abilities, and all different faith journeys – a truly diverse group of individuals committed to living in the way of Jesus.

Our faith community has so many wonderful gifts and relationships yet to be discovered! So this year, the church school is looking for ways to enjoy and learn from your ideas, knowledge, talents, and life experiences.

To that end, we are asking you to come and share one Sunday with us in the Church School Wing. Our goal is to have one special guest each month. Jessie Callison has already joined us to teach the children about guide dogs – especially her dog Cameron and what a blessing he is in her life. Perhaps you can share a story with the children. Perhaps you have a craft you can teach. Perhaps you can talk about your volunteer work or special ways you show love to others. This sort of intergenerational learning promotes understanding, respect, and trust. Plus, it’s fun! To share your special gifts with church school children who are eager to learn, just contact me.

Grand Friends Day on Sunday, Dec. 11, is another opportunity for us to come together intergenerationally. To celebrate, the church school children are inviting Grand Friends – i.e., older members of the church – to make and decorate Christmas cookies with them. Mark your calendar to make sure you can take part in this very special day.

Blessings – Judy

CCC Youth

WORD and NEOS – Central’s senior high and middle school youth fellowship groups, respectively – are hitting the ground at full speed. Both groups are spending time in the new Youth Room, decorating, furnishing, and envisioning what they want it to be moving forward.

WORD, led by Simone Punchak, has already organized a clothing drive for children in kindergarten through twelfth grade, working with Clothes to Kids. There are flyers in the Gallery listing items that are needed most. Donations can be left in the collection spot in Chapel Hall. Sunday, Oct. 9, is the last day to donate.

We are still working on the CCC Youth calendar for the year – because we want Central teens to have a say in youth fellowships plans and activities. Of course, some events are annual “musts”: the Christmas Wreath Sale to benefit their summer mission trip, A Time for Service when the youth lead the congregation in activities to benefit others, our Christmas Eve Family Service, the Homelessness Awareness Sleepout (always a favorite!), and the Easter Morning Breakfast.

We are hoping to schedule more than two meetings a month. This will enable CCC Youth to do more (last year we planned five outings that never happened due to lack of time). However, meeting more regularly also will help our teens develop stronger bonds with one another while also providing time for them to relax with friends and be in the moment. With our very scheduled and rushed lives, it is important for all of us to have some down time!

In The Gallery

The Gallery Committee is gearing up for a return to normalcy now that we are awaiting finishing touches to our newly renovated Gallery space. What better way to do that than to exhibit works of art by talented church members?

If you’d be interested in showing your work in a group exhibition of Central artists, please contact Donna Templeton (dftempleton122@gmail). We welcome two- and three-dimensional pieces. The number of items we’re able to display will ultimately depend on how many submissions we receive. The dates of this exhibit are yet to be determined, but we are aiming for November.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind: Puppy Raising!

Ever wonder what it takes to raise a guide dog? Central is hosting an information session about becoming a puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Volunteers care for dogs during their first 16 to 18 months – teaching them to enjoy being with people, cultivating the confidence they need, and preparing them for guide dog training. Guiding Eyes has provided more than 10,000 guide dogs, at no charge, to people with vision loss since 1954. When you raise a puppy, you change a life! Sunday, Oct. 2, 11: 30 am, in Chapel Hall

African American Museum Trip

Join us for a visit to Rhode Island’s only Black heritage museum. We’ll tour exhibits that illuminate the Black experience in Rhode Island, including the Black Church and African American Press. Guests will receive a map of early Providence Black history. The $5 admission supports free swimming lessons for black youth in Rhode Island. Questions? Contact Claudia. Sunday, Oct. 23, 12 noon, at Stages of Freedom (10 Westminster Street, Providence)

Confirmation Orientation

Calling all confirmands and their parents! At orientation, we’ll preview the confirmation process, review requirements and expectations, and discuss how classes will be structured. Confirmation is open to all ninth graders, as well as older teens interested in being confirmed. Questions? Contact Judy. Sunday, Oct. 2, 11:30 am, at the Labyrinth or in Chapel Hall, depending on the weather. The first Confirmation Class will be Sunday, Oct. 16, at 11:30 am.

Clothes to Kids

WORD, Central’s high school fellowship group, is organizing a clothing drive for children in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Pick up a flyer in the Gallery to see what items are needed most. And, please bring your donations to the collection box in Chapel Hall. Sunday, Oct. 9, is the last day to donate.


WORD and NEOS will meet together for “Around the Room in Questions.” Sunday, Oct. 9, 11:45 am, in the Church School Wing

WORD will meet again Sunday, Oct. 23, 11:45 am, in the Church School Wing.

Youth Mission Sunday

CCC Youth will lead the worship service and share experiences from their summer mission trip to Rainelle, W.V.  Sunday, Oct. 16, 10:30 am, in the Sanctuary

October Events

2 Stewardship Committee 9:15 am
Calling Committee 9:30 am
World Communion Sunday 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Orientation 11:30 am
Guiding Eyes for the Blind 11:30 am
4 Tuesdays with Scripture 8 am
5 Gallery Committee 9:30 am
6 Board of Deacons 5:30 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
9 Leadership Development 9:15am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
NEOS and WORD 11:45 am
11 Tuesdays with Scripture 8 am
Board of Deacons 5:30 pm
13 Food for Thought Book Group 7 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
16 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Youth Mission Sunday 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
Confirmation Class 11:30 am
Flower Committee 11:45 am
Women Gather 12 noon
18 Tuesdays with Scripture 8 am
Plant & Properties Committee 5:45 pm
Prudential Committee 7 pm
19 Mission & Action Committee 6 pm
20 Central Men’s Group 7:30 am
Newsletter Deadline 3:30 pm
Board of Trustees 4 pm
Chapel Hall Design Committee 5 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
23 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am
WORD 11:45 am
African American Museum Trip 12 noon
24 Children’s Choir Rehearsal 5 pm
Technology Committee 7 pm
25 Tuesdays with Scripture 8 am
Inquirers’ Meeting 7 pm
27 Rebecca’s Book Group 12:30 pm
Choir Rehearsal 7:30 pm
30 Adult Sunday School 9 am
Worship 10:30 am
Church School 10:30 am



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