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Dear Friends in Christ,

I have been pondering for several days now our deacon event that is planned for Sunday afternoon. It has been carefully orchestrated to be within the bounds of what the state allows but there is concern on the part of many about gathering at all. It seems like such a simple gathering. We will be socially distanced. We will wear masks. But, the response of several people has been that they are concerned, especially now that the virus is on the rise again.

As our church and presbytery continue the journey of educating ourselves about white supremacy and racism, I have also been made aware of groups that are “ableist.” For those on the spectrum of being self-ambulatory, this can mean that thought is not given to how communion will be shared with someone who can’t make it to the communion table when we serve by intinction. Or those who are not able to partake even of the bread or juice because of allergies or other conditions. We assume that others are like us and not because of malicious intent but because we are simply not aware. We make plans that might exclude others. 

We can also consider the Session’s choice to continue to worship using Zoom. I understand the desire and the yearning to be together again in the sanctuary. We recognize that not everyone feels comfortable gathering in a space with such poor ventilation, however. We have a member who is a teacher who recently learned that one of the students in another class at her school has been exposed to COVID-19. She is being careful about who she interacts with right now. If we were meeting as a whole, she would not be able to be with us. 

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians: “As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor…If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (v20-23a, 26).

Together we face the hardship of being apart. Together we hold up those who are more susceptible to this disease than others. Together we are the church. There is a real feeling of COVID fatigue – we are all tired of having to wear masks and stay at home so much and not be able to hug those who have meant so much to us, those who were there with us each Sunday. But the only way to overcome these restrictions, it seems, is to buckle down and continue to observe careful precautions. 

In Psalm 30 the psalmist sings, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (v. 5b). That phrase gives me hope but it also makes me think. How long does the night last? I’m pretty sure that often it’s not just 12 hours. My life has been full of many a long night. When I put my faith in the Divine One, though, I know that eventually the morning does arrive. With all its spectacular beauty of sunrise and hope.

I am willing to meet with anyone who needs a face to face meeting – as long as we are distanced and masked. Phone calls are also available and I can even set up individual Zoom meetings! If you would like to meet in any of these ways, please let me know. My phone number is (585) 703-0987.

We shall get through this time of trouble. As the Israelites continued their journey through the wilderness, there were many times when they just wanted to give up and go home. God gives to Moses a blessing that Aaron and his sons were to use when the people were feeling downhearted. I love this blessing. It is known as the priestly blessing:

    The LORD bless you and keep you;
    the LORD make his face to shine upon you and 
        be gracious to you;
    the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
    — Numbers 6:24-26

May God, indeed, bless you and keep you. And when we are together again in the sanctuary may our joy shine through us and bring us peace.

Peace and grace,
Deb
Sunday Worship 10/18 @ 10am via Zoom

Welcome to online worship with PPC! If there's a problem with zoom, check your email for backup plans. Children: please bring a coin with you for the children's sermon.
Click here to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns:
Bulletin
 
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.
Paying Taxes to Caesar
Click here for printable activities based on this week's Scripture.
And bring a coin with you to the children's sermon at Worship this weekend!
Cancelled: Tomorrow's Outdoor Gatherings

The small in-person outdoor gatherings scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday) have been cancelled due to the recent uptick in COVID cases in our area, as well as out of sensitivity for those who are at heightened risk or otherwise unable to attend in-person events. If you would like a call or a socially-distanced face to face meeting with Pastor Deb, please call her at (585) 703-0987.
Youth Group Update

The group had a great time today solving the corn maze at Salisbury Farm! Thanks to Jo for organizing, and to everyone who came!

Our next activity will be on Sunday, November 1 at 1pm – mark your calendars and stay tuned for details!

 

Here's Something You Can Do

Feeling isolated these days? Powerless as you try to cope with life during a pandemic and an economic crisis? Seriously concerned about a racial reawakening? Frightened by a political nightmare? All of the above and more?

Some of us in the PPC book group have a suggestion and request: Convert those thoughts and feelings into something concrete, useful and much needed. Join us in making a financial contribution, large or small, to a college scholarship fund for high school grads in RI to which we have contributed 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.

Here's what to do. 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"

You can learn more about the sorority and its work here – see if you can spot Millie!

Building & Grounds Help Still Needed

While our church building is unoccupied during the epidemic, we have several indoor projects and a few outdoor projects we would like to get done and need help with. If you have some time to give, please get in touch with Sheryl Mason at (401) 206-7839 or sgmason65@gmail.com. Thank you!
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 revdeb02@gmail.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 
monicavanderbaan@gmail.com or to Pastor Deb at revdeb02@gmail.comIt just takes a minute and it is so helpful for keeping us connected!

Election day is Tuesday, November 3
Continuing Opportunities

Please contact the leaders listed below if you're interested in any of these ongoing opportunities for fellowship and service:
Resources

If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if possible, or otherwise contact deacon Matt Harrison at morattico@gmail.com 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 smclouthaffigne@gmail.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.

You may continue to reach the church by phone message (401-861-1136) or email (provpresri@verizon.net), both checked daily. Pastor Deb Packard may be reached at revdeb02@gmail.com.

Submitted by Marianne Harrison, Tech & Communications Committee

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