Dear Friends in Christ,

Pandemic fatigue. It’s a real thing – yesterday I read an article in BuzzFeed about it. I’ve had more people say to me that’s it’s becoming harder to get out of bed. After the pre-Christmas rush and the Christmas celebrations (however diminished they might have been), the emphasis on the new year, the new administration getting in and sorting out the pandemic, suddenly there is a blank wall in front of us. I find that I’m struggling with impatience and the reality that, yeah, this isn’t ending soon. Now, there is just more waiting. I want to be able to meet a friend at a café and sit for a few hours discussing everything under the sun as we sip our coffee and eat our biscotti. I want to be able to meet a friend/colleague who lives 40 minutes away in Connecticut. Instead, here I am at home – waiting.

Reports of a rise in mental health issues for middle-schoolers and teens are unsettling. While there has been a dearth of mental health professionals before the pandemic, I fear that after we have achieved a herd immunity through vaccinations and continued masking, there will be a greater need for mental health professionals. Will we support that need?

In our reading from Mark this week, Jesus confronts, in the synagogue, a man with “an unclean spirit.” Two thousand years ago they didn’t have the same understanding of mental health and illness that we have today. They didn’t have the language to talk about mental illness. This doesn’t mean that identified conditions on the mental health spectrum didn’t exist. It only means that our ancestors had a different way of talking about them. One of the most common ways of identifying mental health issues was to claim that a person was “possessed.” He/she had an alien spirit inside of them and it needed to be brought out.

As someone who has lived with depression for many years, I wish it was a matter of getting the spirit out of me. What I have learned, though, is that it’s not something other than me. My depression is part of who I am. I have learned coping skills to help me navigate the rougher waters and to accept that part of me with its curse – and its blessings.

Jesus sees the pain in this man. He understands that the voice speaking is not who the man is, only his pain speaking. Jesus doesn’t ridicule this man or ask him to leave because of his disruptive behavior. He reaches into this man’s pain and gives him relief. With the “unclean spirit” gone, the man is now accepted as one of the group. He is allowed back into community with the others in his village.

In this difficult time of waiting, of having to be isolated from one another, we can learn from this encounter. We are not alone. We hope for the things unseen. We can be responsible for forgiving ourselves for experiencing feelings that are not always good ones. 

Everything wasn’t suddenly ok after 20 January. And yet, here we are, facing the same old tasks that existed before the inauguration. Perhaps we need a time of restoration and rest, in this month of January when winter descends for real. But, the work of justice making never ends. 

I know I quote this spiritual a lot, but the words give me such comfort:

“O Lord, oh Lord, keep your hand on the plow, hold on”

You can listen to Mahalia Jackson sing this:


Peace and grace,
Sunday School

Grades 1-5: Sundays from 9:30-10:00 am. Contact Jo Fisher at 617-839-0865 if you do not have the Zoom link and wish to be added.

Youth Grades 6-12: 2nd & 4th Sundays during worship at the start of the children's sermon. A zoom link is shared at that time in the worship zoom chat, and is also emailed in advance to the group. Contact Matt at if you wish to be added.
Sunday Worship 1/31 @ 10am via Zoom
followed by our Annual Meeting

Welcome to online worship with PPC! Youth Sunday school will meet during the second half of worship. Please stay on Zoom following the service for our annual congregational meeting.
Click on the image below to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns.
While we are unable to pass the offering plate during worship, we hope you will continue to support the mission and ministry of the church if and as you are able—online, through your bank's bill payment system, or with a check mailed to the church (500 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906). All offerings are gratefully received. 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.
Click here to view/download the
Providence Presbyterian Church
2020 Annual Report
Book Group - Today

The next book group gathering is today (Saturday), January 30, from 10:30am-12noon. We’ll discuss President Joe Biden’s inauguration speech, and if there's time it might also be fun to discuss Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem.

To join:
Bible Study

Join us at 5:30 on Tuesday evenings as we read about and discuss "The Challenges to U.S. Democracy," a four week study developed by The Thoughtful Christian. Let Pastor Deb know you are interested ( and she will email you the reading and Zoom link.
Notes from our PPC Financial Secretary

Providence Presbyterian Church thanks you for your faithful financial support of the church, in whatever manner you may wish to make your gift(s).

Statements of 2020 contributions (by check or cash) have been mailed. If you have made online donations, you should have received an email from “onlineservices” at the Presbyterian Foundation (January 25?) with a statement of your 2020 donations.

If you need a single statement of your contributions or if you have any question about these statements or your donations, please let me know: or 401 273-2435.

Given our present circumstances, it did not seem wise to order boxes of offering envelopes for 2021. If you would like to have them (or perhaps just a small supply of pre-addressed security envelopes), let me know. Thank you!

        —Dan Blackford
Continuing Fellowship and Service Opportunities

Contact the leaders listed below if you are interested in getting involved.
  • Youth Group (1st & 3rd Sundays of each month at 4:30-5:30): Jo Fisher 617-893-0865 or
  • Wednesday morning prayer gatherings (~8:00-8:30am via zoom)Suzanne Affigne 401-523-4907; Jill Moles 401-241-9812; Dan Blackford 401-273-2435
  • Mission and Outreach: Bipen Rai 510-499-7339 or
  • Nurture Committee: Kathy Cooper
  • Building & Grounds projects: Sheryl Mason 401-206-7839 or
  • Volunteer to be a worship leader: call Jill Moles 401-241-9812 or click the button to sign up here:
Submitted by Marianne Harrison, Tech & Communications Committee

For our full calendar please visit our website.
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