September 2019 Newsletter

Download the PDF Version of the September Newsletter.


From Rebecca

Dear Friends,

Henry David Thoreau wrote these words in his Journal on August 23, 1853.

One hundred eighty-six years later, they ring so true.

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of each.”

As the days of August pass by and we look forward to the brisk routines of September, I’m paying attention to Thoreau’s wisdom. This morning, the fog rolled in so beautifully, just now lifting, and I’m envisioning the plants thirstily drinking in the heavy dew after a season of dryness. I too am lining up cold waters in the refrigerator, to appreciate later in the day.

Too many times we are forced to rush through a day, bombarded by the latest news of violence or hatred, bigotry or greed. Thoreau’s influence makes a difference in how we live, and I do believe that one life lived calmly in its season has a positive effect on all of us. This way of life can seem invisible, but as the Little Prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s great book remarked, “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

What is essential is invisible to the eye. Yes, but our eyes and ears and lungs and tongues can also help us to appreciate this world we live in and share with others. Perhaps Saint-Exupéry and Thoreau are trying to share with us the same truth. We have just this one life here on earth to live. May we fully appreciate each of its seasons in this spinning globe we share with all God’s creation. May we take a moment to breathe before we get angry. May we appreciate a cold glass of water after a hot morning working outside. May we never forget the flavor of perfectly ripe peaches dripping down our chins. May we open ourselves to the influence of this spectacular world we live in and so make a loving difference in the lives of others. May we somehow understand how much we are loved and how our love for others multiplies its power.

Yours truly, looking forward to the rush of the fall, and still savoring the stillness of August.

See you in worship, where we will indeed share God’s love, Rebecca

Reimagining Chapel Hall

At last April’s Community Breakfast, we met to brainstorm ways to “Grow Central for Tomorrow.” There were many outstanding suggestions, but one met with almost universal consensus: improving Chapel Hall. This summer architect James Childress, who designed The Pavilion at Grace Church in Providence, worked with a team from Central to start imagining how the best options could become realities.

On Sep. 21, we’ll meet again for breakfast and present potential scenarios for reimagining Chapel Hall. Ronald J. Onorato, chair of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Rhode Island, will help lead the discussion. Professor Onorato is an expert on architectural history, published author on many aspects of architecture, and commissioner of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission.

Please join us Saturday, Sep. 21, 8:30 am to 12 noon, in Chapel Hall for this progress report and to discuss the options available to us.

The Deacon’s Bench

I’m sure many of you have heard Rebecca say you should have a person with whom you are truly friends in every decade.

Three years ago, a young man quietly slid into our pew at church. We exchanged pleasantries, and I began looking forward to seeing him every week. He would tell me about his classes and things going on in his life. Jack became such a part of my church life.

When my youngest son Aidan came out in middle school, I was thrilled that he was ready to share who he truly was with his family, but unsure about how to best support him. I turned to my church family for help. Rebecca turned to Mike Fournier who put together a wonderful panel of LGBTQ church members and friends to talk about their experiences. Jack was on the panel. I brought Aidan to the panel discussion. It was a wonderful moment for Aidan when he realized that his church family was supportive of who he was. Seeing Jack on the panel deepened my relationship with him as he immediately became an important role model for Aidan.

Now Jack is heading into his senior year at Brown University. He recently sent a text telling me that he had accepted a job offer with the firm where he was working for the summer. I have that bittersweet feeling that I had with each of my two oldest kids as they entered their senior years of high school. That bursting-with-pride over the adults they were becoming, but sadness that they would be leaving to start the next chapters in their lives someplace else. Jack will be living in New York City next year.

I’m using this, my last Deacon’s Bench article, to write about my “church son” because Pam O’Hara and I have decided to start a program to pair college students who come to our church with Central members who regularly attend Sunday Worship. If you’d like to be paired with a student, please contact Pam or me. – Beth Newberry, 401-447-6800,

Meet Jennifer Fallon

We have a new church administrator!  Jennifer Fallon joins Central on Sep. 3 with more than twelve years experience in human resources, providing high-level support to executives in both non-profit and corporate organizations; excellent references; and a clear desire to work at Central. She is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Johnson & Wales University.

Originally from California, Jenn now resides in Warwick with her husband Michael and two children: Caitlyn, a college student studying physical therapy, and Connor, a high school senior. In her spare time, Jenn enjoys the outdoors, antique shopping, live music, travel, and sporting events.

You can reach Jennifer at Please stop by the office to welcome her!

Thanks, Marilyn!

A special thanks to Marilyn Brown, who came out of her well deserved retirement to help us over the summer. As always, she has been invaluable. Marilyn will work with Jennifer Fallon, our new church administrator, for much of September to share her years of experience and ease the transition.

SNEC Orientation

On Sep. 15, Central will host an orientation session for the Rhode Island Association of the United Church of Christ – formerly the Rhode Island Conference (RICUCC) – for new and continuing delegates. Central members with an interest in the UCC in R.I. are welcome and encouraged to attend. The session will be informal to encourage discussion.

The orientation session will review the recent structural changes that brought about consolidation of the Mass., Conn. and R.I. Conferences into one large Southern New England Conference (SNEC-UCC), how and why this came about, and what it means for local R.I. churches like Central. The orientation will also include a preview of upcoming events and provide delegates with the information they need before attending the first meeting of the new SNEC-UCC in November. Current RICUCC Board President Frances Munro and SNEC-UCC Board Member Larry Kellam will be on hand to help guide the discussion. For more information, contact John Peters, 508-795-7091,

Sunday, Sep. 15, 11:45 am, in the Fireplace Room

In Memoriam

Our thoughts and prayers are with Claudia Demick and her family. Her father, Alan Perreault, dies on August 26. A private graveside service will be held at a later date.

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 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 p.m.

Faith Exploration
Tuesday, October 29, 7 p.m.

New Member Sunday:  November 3

The Sacrament of Baptism

Baptism is the beginning of Christian faith and life. If you would like to be included in this celebration of love and acceptance into the care of Christ’s church, please speak to the Rev. Rebecca Spencer. We will be offering Baptisms on Oct. 20. There will be a gathering for those wishing to be baptized on Saturday, Oct. 12, 9 am, in the Fireplace Room.

World Communion Sunday

On World Communion Sunday, Christians in every culture break bread and pour the cup to affirm Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church. Join us as we experience Holy Communion with the global community of faith. Sunday, Oct. 6, 10:30 am

World War II Memorial

We recently received an inquiry about Central members who served in World War II. But our war memorial’s list was compiled in 1946, so veterans who joined Central after that date aren’t included. If you know anyone whose name should be added, contact John Chaney at so we may pay tribute to all Central World War II veterans.

Memorial Flowers

If you’d 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.

From Claudia

The glow of these last days of summer often beckons us to experience all the remaining joys of the warm weather and the delight of the finally cool nights. September is such a glorious time of year, isn’t it? It is golden and ripe with expectation.

Wallace Stegner in his wonderful book “Angle of Repose” wrote about this time of year as, “That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”

September does feel like a page turned, doesn’t it? We look forward to seeing one another and comparing notes on where we’ve been and what we’ve done for the past few months. There is a renewed energy to our encounters and a sense of anticipation.

I’ve been trying to explain the cycle of the seasons to my three-and-a-half-year-old grandson. Certain physical changes are easy to explain, but the feelings that come with the change of seasons is something he will have to experience for himself.

Here at Central, we will begin our fall programming after a great summer filled with all sorts of activities, groups, educational experiences, Bible study and, of course, our worship together every Sunday. There was a lot going on. It’s been a wonderful summer, and now we are ready for fall to arrive.

And not only do we follow the physical and cultural cycle of the seasons, but as Christians we also follow the liturgical seasonal cycle. Try explaining both of them to a three-and-a-half-year-old! It is something that he will have to grow into, as did we all.

Beginnings and endings are cause for celebration as we continue in our worship of God together in every season. As we gather together, a page is turning. Robert Webber says, “Worship is an it-is-well-with-my-soul experience.” May that be your experience now and always in all seasons!

In Christ’s love, Claudia

Flames of Hope for Cancer Survivors

Last January, Central member Amy Weigand received a life-changing diagnosis: breast cancer. The Central community rallied to her support, as did friends and family and the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, which has provided emotional support, frozen meals, and seemingly limitless resources for the entire Weigand family.

The same day as her diagnosis, Amy received a parking ticket, but quickly forgot about it. By April, the fine had tripled, and she had to appear in traffic court before R.I.’s famous judge Frank Caprio. He compassionately forgave the ticket. Amy forgot about the incident until last month when the video of her court appearance went viral on Facebook, generating more than five million views.

Within hours of her newfound fame, Amy started receiving messages from people all over the world, offering love, support and prayers – and asking how they could help. Since she was already receiving plenty of assistance from friends and family, Amy decided to raise funds for Gloria Gemma’s Hope Bus, a 38-foot RV that provides education and support to cancer patients, survivors, and others in R.I.

Now Amy is in the running to become one of Gloria Gemma’s leading fundraisers! If one of the top five, she will be featured as a “torchbearer” at the Flames of Hope ceremony on October 5 in Providence. By then, Amy will have had surgery, 20 weeks of chemotherapy and, hopefully, be finishing radiation.

Your donation will support Amy in her recovery as well as in her efforts to pay it forward. Please visit

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. RSVP to Claudia. Thursday, Sep. 5, 6 pm, in the Deacons’ Room.

Help Amos House

Amos House needs backpacks (new or gently used), new underwear and socks (men and women), men’s short sleeve shirts (new or gently used/clean), and men’s pants (sizes 32 and up). Please share what you can on Gathering Sunday, Sep. 8, 10:30 am, on the Chapel Hall stage

Food For Thought Book Group

Join us for a lively discussion of this month’s book, “Divided Politics, Divided Nation: Hyperconflict in the Trump Era” by Darrell M. West. Thursday, Sep. 12, 7 to 8:30 pm, in the Fireplace Room

Coming up … Oct. 10: “All the Little Live Things” by Wallace Stegner.?Nov. 14: “Tenemental: Adventures of a Reluctant Landlady” by Vikki Warner.

Rebecca’s Book Group

We’ll be discussing “The Second Mountain,” David Brooks’ new book exploring the four commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose. Thursday, Sep. 19, 12:30 pm, in Rebecca’s study

Adult Sunday School

Explore “Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer,” a documentary on a prayer used since the Apostles, but largely unknown in the west. Hermits, monks and nuns bring us into their private cells, caves and sanctuaries to reveal this ancient prayer. The New York Times writes, this “understated and profoundly respectful” film demonstrates “the value of silence as a path to inner peace.” Questions? Ask Claudia. Sundays, Sep. 22, 29; and Oct. 6, 13; 9 to 10 am, in the Fireplace Room

Let’s Go to the Movies

Calling all Downton Abbey fans! We’ll check out the continuing saga of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. Stay tuned for details. Questions? See Claudia. Tentative date: Sunday, Oct. 6

A Quiet Morning

Enjoy a mini fall retreat with friends – breakfast, conversation, quiet time, and more – as we explore “sabbath rest” and learn how to incorporate it into our busy lives. RSVP to Claudia. Saturday, Oct. 19, 8:30 to 11:30 am, at Hamilton House


Growing Central for Tomorrow!

Saturday, September 21, 8:30 am

Enjoy breakfast as we present and discuss Chapel Hall improvements.

Church School News

“God’s kingdom is love. What does it mean to love? It means to be sensitive to life, to things, to persons, to feel for everything and everyone to the exclusion of nothing and no one. For exclusion can only be achieved through a hardening of oneself, through closing one’s doors.”

– Anthony DeMello

Greetings, Church School families!

We welcome you back with open hearts and hands to Church School on Gathering Sunday, Sep. 8, starting with our pre-worship Meeting & Munchies for all parents, children, and teachers in the Gathering Space (second floor) at 9:45 am. Thank you to the Religious Education committee for providing the snacks!  And thanks to each of you for your presence and commitment to the Church School program at Central! We look forward to the new year ahead and being the Beloved Community together!

Copies of our Church School registration forms will be available at the gathering meeting. These need to be filled out anew each year. Thank you!

Love and Peace,

Cathy (Clasper-Torch)
Director of Religious Education

From Joshua

It’s finally here! I have never been more excited for September. All the preparation and work of the summer has led us to this month, when Central Congregational Church’s Youth Ministries will see the launch of a host of revamped programs. We have built them; now we invite you to come! There are so many exciting things to tell you about, and this column cannot fit them all, so please make sure you are receiving Central’s Youth emails.

We have a new Confirmation Class curriculum for ninth graders, which focuses on controversial characters of the Bible. Through studying these stories, we learn about what it means to be human in a world that sometimes seems so broken, but was truly designed with redemption in mind.

We also have new youth groups starting up for sixth to eighth graders (NEOS) and ninth to twelfth graders (WORD). Our 19-39 group – for young adults age 19 and over – is already going strong, and we especially welcome returning college students to join in.

As we enter this harvest season, may God “bless you and multiply you” (Deuteronomy 7:13).

Peace, Joshua

Confirmation Class – Year One
Sunday, Sep. 15 and 29, 9:15 am

Confirmation Class – Year Two
Sunday, Sep. 22, 11:30 am

In the Gallery

The Gallery Committee kicks off the 2019/20 season with beautiful prints by Lisa Goddard. Her “Reasons for Joy” show will be hung on Wednesday, Sep. 4, and we hope you will join us for the artist reception on Friday, Sep. 13 from 5 to 7 pm.

You Can Help!

Our Mission and Action committee is always encouraging us to think of neighbors “outside our walls.” Here are easy ways you can do just that.

Place food donations for Camp Street Ministries in the baskets at the front of the sanctuary on Sundays during the first hymn.

Bring canned or boxed foodstuffs to your monthly committee meetings.

Send your children to Church School with cans of tuna fish.

Donate full-size toiletries for the women of Sojourner House, which supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence:  toothbrushes, toothpaste, bars of soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, disposable razors, and feminine hygiene products. The collection box is in Chapel Hall.

Meeting & Munchies

Parents, children, and teachers are invited to a pre-Worship get-together to celebrate the new Church School year. Sunday, Sep. 8, 9:45 am, in the Church School Gathering Space

Youth Ministries Kickoff!

All youth (grades six to twelve) and their families are invited for pizza, for a stellar presentation about CCC Youth’s plans for 2019/20 – and to register for confirmation and youth group. If you can’t attend, contact Joshua. He needs your paperwork! Sunday, Sep. 8, 12 noon, in the Fireplace Room

Confirmation Class

Central ninth graders begin their journey of spiritual discovery, investigating Christian faith, making personal decisions about their religious lives, and experiencing what it is to be a vital player in a Christian community. Sunday, Sep. 15, 9:15 am, in the Youth Room


Our NEOS fellowship for sixth to eighth graders is new and improved – and fun! Join us Sunday, Sep. 15 and 29, 12 noon, in the Youth Room.


Don’t miss the first meeting of WORD Fellowship (for ninth to twelfth graders) – which is also Year Two of Confirmation for tenth graders. Sunday, Sep. 22, 11:30 am, in the Gallery. We’ll start walking to Shake Shack at 11:45 sharp!  Pick-up is at Shake Shack at 1:30 pm or Central at 2 pm.

Chandelier Needed

The Care of the Interior committee is looking for a brass chandelier for Rebecca’s office:  traditional, candle-style, six to eight lights, with or without shades.  Contact Ted Radway, 401-488-4394,

Help Furnish the Youth Room

We are setting up a space exclusively for CCC Youth. If you can donate beanbag chairs, white Christmas lights, a rug in good condition, or an electric fan, please contact Joshua.



Sep 1
10 am Worship
Sep 3
6:30 am Amos House
Sep 5
6 pm Spiritual Companionship Group
Sep 8
9:45 am Meeting & Munchies
10:30 am Gathering Sunday
12 noon Youth Ministries Kickoff
Sep 10
6:30 am Amos House
5:30 pm Deacons’ Meeting
Sep 11
6:15 pm Membership Committee
Sep 12
7 pm Food for Thought Book Group
Sep 13
5 pm Gallery Opening
Sep 14
11 am Dan Fairchild Memorial Service
Sep 15
9:15 am Confirmation Class, Year 1
9:15 am LDC All Committee Chairs
10:30 am Worship
11:45 am SNEC Orientation
12 noon NEOS
Sep 17
6:30 am Amos House
5:45 pm Plant & Properties
7 pm Prudential
Sep 18
6 pm Mission & Action
Sep 19
7:30 am CCC Men’s Group
12:30 pm Rebecca’s Book Group
Sep 21
8:30 am Reimagining Chapel Hall
Sep 22
9 am Adult Sunday School
9:30 am Calling Committee
10:30 am Worship
11:30 am WORD
6 pm 19-39 Fellowship
Sep 24
6:30 am Amos House
Sep 28
9:30 am Camp Street Ministries
Sep 29
9 am Adult Sunday School
9:15 am Confirmation Class, Year 1
9:30 am Calling Committee
10:30 am Worship
12 noon NEOS

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

Adult Choir Rehearsal
Thursdays, 7:30 pm; Sundays, 9:15 am
The church office will be closed Labor Day:  Monday, September 2.







Posted in 2019 Newsletters.