Another beautiful day! Warm and sunny—I feel like I’m living in the South. Usually at this time of year I’m looking forward to the upcoming holiday season—I’ve lived where by now temperatures are in the thirties at night and the forties by day and one’s thoughts turn to cozying up in front of a fire. With hot cocoa (or a hot toddy!) in hand and feet being kept warm by the snug slippers on your feet.
Everything feels different this year. We are being advised to not leave the state for Thanksgiving. Over the river and through the woods will not be happening. I’ve read that there will be no trick-or-treating this year. Who will see the costumes? Our world is completely changing and I’m not so sure we will ever return to “the way it used to be.”
But maybe that’s not a bad thing. We’re unplugging the computer and then plugging it back in for a restart. Spending more and more on Halloween decorations (after Christmas, Americans spend the most on decorating for Halloween) and feeling that it’s not Christmas without the requisite lights may become a thing of the past. Maybe we’ll be drawn back to the simplicity of the holidays and remembering why we even celebrate them in the first place. Imagining holidays celebrated in small family groupings, spending time in talking with one another, brings an image of a holiday surrounded with a special glow.
This week we celebrate the Reformation. On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg castle church, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Church was never the same again. From the fire that Luther sparked, another reformer, Jean Calvin, a lawyer from Strasbourg, codified his beliefs and today we have the Institutes of Calvin. His life was largely spent in Geneva, a city state that was known for its religious tolerance. Calvin was very active in city government and is said to have started the first municipal garbage collection, recognizing how important it was to the health of the city. Public health had its early start here, perhaps! We take on these actions because we believe that each of us has a calling—even to be garbage men. And because we are so grateful for the many blessings God has bestowed upon us; we share that love with all.
John Knox, an early follower of Jean Calvin, after studying with him in Geneva, returned to Scotland, bringing with him the Calvinistic perspective. The Church in Scotland was born in Edinburgh and continues to this day as the home of Presbyterians. With the arrival of many Scotch/Irish immigrants on these shores, the Presbyterian Church in the United States was born in 1797 when the first General Assembly was held in Philadelphia.
We are the reformed branch of the Christian Church and our belief is that we “are reformed and always reforming.” We can’t remain with our feet planted firmly in the traditions of that early church. We recognize that we practiced the Doctrine of Discovery and stole land from the people already living here. We did this because our sense of justice came from the courts of England and Scotland. And the pope! We didn’t integrate our early churches—insisting that if we let them in the sanctuary that people of color had to sit in the balcony. We fought for more than thirty years over the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community for ordination and marriage. We wouldn’t allow women to be ordained as deacons, ruling elders, or ministers of word and sacrament. We must continue to reform as we reflect on what it does mean to be inclusive. We believe in sola scripture but we also believe that scripture is a living document and so the truth to which it bears witness can always be read anew. More light can be shined upon it.
Yes, the lives we knew BC—before coronavirus—will not return. Change is in the air. It’s exciting, really, to consider what tomorrow may bring.
Peace and grace to all,
PPC Book/Conversation Group – TODAY
We’re looking forward to our gathering today (Saturday, Oct. 24) from 10:30am-12noon. We will discuss three speeches from U.S. presidents (thanks for suggesting these, Millie!). As you are able, please listen to one or more and consider how each speech educates, confronts, and persuades. We’re looking forward to our conversation!
By phone: call +1 646 876 9923 and enter meeting ID 923 0136 8872
Sunday Worship 10/25 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC.If there's a problem with zoom, check your email for backup plans. This week: Children are invited to wear their Halloween costumes! Youth grades 6-12 will meet for Sunday school during worship; a zoom link will be shared at the start of the children's sermon in the chat and via email (contact Matt Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do not get the email and want to be added).
By phone: call 646 558-8656 and enter meeting ID 864 6572 5219
Click here to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns:
Receiving of offerings continues to be important to sustain our church community. While it is missing from our order of worship, we hope you will continue to give online or with a check mailed to the church (500 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906) as you are able. Gifts for the Peace & Global Witness special offering of the PC(USA) are also gratefully received (be sure to indicate of the purpose of your gift). Thank you!
We invite you to stay online after worship for our virtual coffee hour.
Transcripts and audio recordings of recent sermons can be found on our website here. Audio recordings of older sermons are available here.
The Greatest Commandment
Click here for a printable children's bulletin based on this week's Scripture.
Center for Reconciliation Webinar: Exploring the History & Meanings of RI's State Name
This season, Rhode Island voters will consider an amendment to the state constitution to remove “Providence Plantations” from the state name. Where did this phrase come from, and what does it mean now for communities across RI? This Thursday, October 29, at 4:30-6:00pm, Join the Center for Reconciliation and guest speakers to learn about why “Providence Plantations” is in the state name, the history of plantations in RI where enslaved people lived and worked, and the meanings the name now holds for different communities. For more information and the zoom link, visit cfrstatename.eventbrite.com. The Center for Reconciliation is a recipient of PPC's mission giving.
Something You Can Do
Feeling isolated and powerless as you try to cope with life during a pandemic and an economic crisis? Seriously concerned about a racial reawakening? Frightened by the current political climate?
The PPC book group invites you to join us in converting those thoughts and feelings into something concrete and needed by making a financial contribution to a college scholarship fund for high school grads in RI. We have contributed to this fund in the past—one that has long been actively supported by Millie Nichols. Because of the pandemic this year their usual fundraising events cannot take place, but the need and the scholarship mission continue.
Beyond the dollars you give, a donation would be a critical act of support, a concrete sign that we really mean it when we say Black Lives Matter, moving us beyond words and intentions into a significant expression of caring and relationship.
Send a check to: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc PAC, PO Box 40175 , Providence, RI 02940. In the memo line, put "Scholarship/PPC/bookgrp/Nichols"
Reminder: We Want to Hear from You
We are collecting stories and feedback from as many people in our congregation as possible (including children!) to get a better understanding of what draws us to this place. What about your life in this church has been meaningful to you? If there are areas of concern for you, include those also. We are trying to envision a future for this congregation that is satisfying and helps us grow spiritually. Your contribution will help Session as they consider what our next steps might be. Send your stories and feedback to Pastor Deb at email@example.com.
In addition, we are building an updated church directory. Please email your contact info (name, street address, email, phone/text numbers) to Monica VanderBaan at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Pastor Deb at email@example.com. It just takes a minute and it is so helpful for keeping us connected!
Election day is Tuesday, November 3
Continuing Opportunities & Needs
Please contact the leaders listed below if you are interested in getting involved in any of these ongoing opportunities for fellowship and service:
If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if possible, or otherwise contact deacon Matt Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-340-9444 and he will coordinate care.
If you have a prayer request or would like to be included in the prayer chain, call/text Suzanne Affigne at (401) 523-4907 or email her at email@example.com.
Milton has put together some helpful tips for using Zoom – read them here and here.
Our presbytery's website (psne.org) and our denomination’s website (pcusa.org) are great resources for information about our faith, connecting with the larger faith community, and opportunities for action.