Author: Michele Dubuc

Worship Services 

Winter Storm Updates/Closings: In the case of extremely bad weather Sunday Worship Service may be cancelled.  A cancellation decision will be made usually late Saturday afternoon (7AM on Sunday morning at the latest) and conveyed to media outlets, TV Channels 10 & 12, and radio stations WJAR, WHJJ, WPRI, WWBB, and WSNE. You can check the website: for church and other closings, as well as parking bans.  The church phone message will also contain information if the worship service is cancelled: 401-846-0643. Even if the service is not canceled, congregation members should make the decision to travel and find parking that is best for them and their mobility and health condition. We cannot guarantee that all areas on the church property will be free of ice/snow.

Sunday, January 6: Rev. William Zelazny 

Repackaging Life: Maybe or Maybe Not        

We chose the path that feels most right for us. We either jettison roles and tasks that define us because they are no longer working or we decide to keep them because they work just fine.  Sometimes it feels right to repackage our life so it makes more sense, and sometimes it is OK to just “keep on keeping on”.  On this first Sunday of a new year, Bill will reflect on options we have for our life.

Sunday, January 13:Rev. Jeannette Bessinger

What if our failure to heal was just a trick of the Light?

In this era of cascading health epidemics, we are looking for healing in greater and greater numbers. By dividing up our issues according to “body”, “mind” or “spirit”, however, we can find ourselves running out of rope with a medical doctor when our physical pain crosses into the emotional realm, or with a mental health professional when psychological challenges seem tied to eating certain foods. By shifting our current divided, mechanistic model of self to one of an interconnected “network”, we are one step closer to recognizing in ourselves the unalterable Flow that sources it all.

Sunday, January 20: Rev. Bill Zelazny

The Radical Martin Luther King Jr.       

Dr. King is known for his civil rights work, but near in the late ‘60s he took on many issues that made Northern “white folk” who had supported his desegregation work uncomfortable because they hit close to home.  On this MLK Sunday Bill will talk about King’s challenge to the social issues of the time in addition to his fight against racism and where we are as a society a half century after his death.

Sunday, January 27: Rev. James Ishmael Ford

Telling Stories CANCELLED

Reverend Ford believes that what makes us interesting, and perhaps unique among animals, is how we tell stories. They help shape reality for us and often carry great meaning. Today, he will retell a story from the Canadian writer A. S. Bayatt and in thinking about it open possibilities for us as religious liberals making our own way in the world.

The Reverend James Ishmael Ford is a UU minister, a Zen priest, an author of six books, and a retreat leader. He is minister-emeritus of the First Unitarian Church in Providence. Today he lives in Southern California with his spouse Jan Seymour-Ford and guides the Empty Moon Zen Network. His most recent book is “An Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons.”

Worship Services 

Sunday, December 2: Rev. Ellen Quadgrass


We are surrounded by messages telling us what success looks like and how to achieve it – perfection is an ideal toward which we are to strive. Yet all of us are also imperfect, vulnerable, and human. How do we cultivate an appreciation for our unique and irreplaceable selves in this often unforgiving world?

Rev Ellen Quaadgras is a minister, writer and musician who cares deeply about issues of social justice. A graduate of Andover Newton Theological School, she has served Westminster Unitarian Church since 2012 and is looking forward to connecting with all of you this Sunday.    

 Sunday, December 9: Rev. William Zelazny

A UU Looks at Hanukkah

Depending on who you ask, Hanukkah is either not a significant festival or it is of major symbolic importance in the Jewish faith  This Sunday, Bill, who is not Jewish, will take a look at this festival from a UU perspective.

This Sunday we will also conduct a new member signing ceremony during the service (see Joining Channing Church article on page 8 of the December Catalyst ) 

Sunday, December 16: Rev. William Zelazny

Incarnation is Real:  Seeing the Divine in All Things

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The word became flesh, and dwelt among us,” (John, Ch 1) That is what incarnation means. According to Christian teaching the incarnation is the mystery of the nativity of Jesus and it was a one-time thing.   But Unitarian Universalists have a different perspective.  As UU minister Galen Guengerich says, “each of us are the face of God in this world, and God’s voice and hands.”  In this, the first of two sermons reflecting on theological aspects of Christmas, Bill will explore the notion that mystery and wonder are incarnate in all, including each of us.

Sunday, December 23: Rev. William Zelazny

The Mystical is the Core of Living                                      

Mystical moments, although we cannot will them to happen, are available to us all.  And it is through mystical moments that we glimpse the awe of creation.   In this second of two sermons reflecting on theological aspects of Christmas, Bill will consider the intersection of mystery and wonder in our lives.

During the service we will conduct a Child Dedication ceremony.  (see the article “Child Dedication Ceremony” on page 5 of the December Catalyst)

A Christmas Eve Celebration!

Monday, Dec. 24, 5:00pm

Rev. William Zelazny, the Channing Choir and Guests

A celebration of Christmas-time with music, choral anthems, carols and readings with the Channing Choir, guest musicians, members of Channing Church and Rev. Zelazny concluding with the lighting of candles and singing Silent Night in the darkened sanctuary.  Come and bring family or friends for the traditional Christmas Eve service.

Sunday, Dec. 30: Andrea Greenwood

Turning Pages 

Every year for Christmas, my husband and I give each other a new datebook.  It is always a welcome – sometimes desperately so – gift, as all the appointments and events that are scribbled in margins or stuffed on scraps into the back of the book for the year just ending can be put in their proper places, and we can begin our march through the new year.  I suppose we are showing our age, in our failure to use phones for this purpose, but I like turning the pages of an actual book. What are we leaving behind, and who are we becoming?

Worship Services 

Sunday, November 4: Rev. Bill Zelazny

You Belong Here: Building a Beloved Community    

Not feeling apart of a group costs us something, whether as an individual or a cultural group. It takes a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. We all hope to someday find a home in a beloved community.  A Beloved Community is a place where everyone is welcome (though not every behavior is welcome) and a place that can be a prophetic witness against larger systemic injustices. Bill will discuss the concept of building a beloved community as part of the notion of creating sanctuary

Sunday, November 11: Professor Robert M. Thorson

Down Time –A Spiritual Practice

For equipment, “down time” is a period of inactivity, perhaps for maintenance and repair.  For society, it’s time set aside for relaxation and unwinding, perhaps a vacation without the travel.  For me, “down time” is the spiritual practice of getting down to the basics of all things, the stripping away of superficial complexity to reveal the bedrock simplicity beneath our lives.  Caring for my new grandson has given me new insights about this lifelong practice.

Sunday, November 18: Rev. Bill Zelazny

The Intersection of Faith and Land

In a few days we will be celebrating the bounties of the land. We should us this time to remember that he land and the food stuff it produces connects all of human kind. But as we celebrate on the one hand the gifts of the land that sustain us, on the other we abuse the land in many ways. However, faith can inform decisions about caring for the land and managing and consuming our food. This Sunday before Thanksgiving Bill will discuss how land and faith converge

This Sunday we will conduct our traditional bread sharing ceremony.   Members and friends of Channing are invited to bring some kind of bread that represents their ethnic heritage or in some way represents them or their family.  [We hope that some gluten free bread will also be brought so that everyone may share in the Bread Communion.]  We will cut the bread into pieces and distribute it so that we may share the ancient custom of breaking bread together to give thanks for this faith community.

The children and youth children will go directly to the Parish Hall at 10:00 for their community meal baking activity but will join us later in the service for the bread ceremony.  

Transgender Day of Remembrance Service  

Following the regular Sunday worship service on November 18, Channing Interweave will host a Transgender Day of Remembrance service in the Sanctuary.   to memorialize transgender people around the world who were killed this year.  A moving service of music and readings along with the reading of the names of the victims.  Free and open to the public. 

Sunday, November 25: John Prevedini

Meaning in the Arts

How does a piece of art convey meaning? What factors come together to create this meaning? And how do we, as observers, contribute to the meaning of the art we experience? Composer, educator, and public speaker John Dante Prevedini will explore these issues in a discussion that relates to the fields of music, painting, cuisine, and the broader arts in general.

Worship Services 

Sunday, October 7:  Rev. Bill Zelazny

The Joy of Actively Noticing

Approaching the world with mindful awareness can enable us to more accurately assess and respond to situations, release judgment and stay open to possibilities. Limiting beliefs are pierced and we can be truly aware in the moment.  It’s the essence of engagement.  Bill will talk about what noticing means and how it can make life more fun.

This is our first official All Family Sunday where the children will be in the sanctuary for the service.  We will take a few minutes and join our children in an active noticing exercise, perhaps seeing something new in our sanctuary.

Sunday, October 14: Channing Caregiving, Channing Choir & Friends, Musicians

Caregiving Worship Service

Experience How Music & Other Sounds Restore and Comfort!

Sunday, October 21: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Creating Our Own Sanctuary

A sanctuary is a place that restores us, replenishes us, nourishes us. In this renewal, we are reminded, once again, of what really is important.  Everyone needs a sanctuary and that sanctuary is holy space, because it has the power to bring us back to what really is important. Bill will take a look at the concept of sanctuary and its importance in our lives.

Sunday, October 28: Rev. Tom Schade

Our Story is Our Covenant

What binds Unitarian Universalists together is the lessons of our journey together. What have we learned together through our experiences in the tumultuous 75 years of our country. I will try to sum up the lessons of our history.

Rev. Tom Schade returns for his fifth service at Channing.  Rev. Shade retired in 2012 after serving for thirteen years as minister of First Unitarian Church of  Worcester, and lives in Providence.

Worship Services 

Sunday, September 2:  Eleanor Doumato

What Jeff Sessions and the Rev. Channing Can Teach Us About Islam

Everyone likes to prove a point by quoting Scripture, even when quoting nonsense. Our Rev. Channing will have none of it, and with a little help from Bob Kieronski he’s paying us a visit, just to make sure we [and people of other religious traditions] get it.  Also visiting us is our friend and one-time Channing member Fredric Sirasky to play his ukulele and clarinet.

Eleanor Doumato is a retired professor of Middle East History who studies the religious underpinnings of the Islamic State.

In gathering Sunday, September 9: Rev. Bill Zelazny

The Value of Religion

A Religious Landscape Study done in 2014 found that Americans, as a whole, have become somewhat less religious in recent years by traditional measures of religious.  But, many people still are involved in religion.  It is, therefore, logical to ask, why do people — why do we — come to church and participate in religion?  What is the value of religion for people and for society?  On this in-gathering Sunday, Bill will explore what religion can give us that science and other institutions cannot.

Water Ceremony: As part of our in-gathering, we will have our traditional water ceremony where we will mix together the waters brought by congregation members.  Everyone is invited to bring a small amount of water from their home spigot as a symbol of bringing our home and secular lives into our church and religious life.

Congregation “Welcome Back” Potluck Picnic in Touro Park; The annual congregation potluck picnic will be held immediately following the service in Touro Park, weather permitting, or in the Parish Hall should the weather be inclement.  Help make it a sumptuous feast by bringing your best dish to share.  Don’t forget to bring a chair or blanket! 

 Sunday, September 16: Rev. Bill Zelazny, Irene Glasser, Channing Memorial Members and Guest Musicians

The Ancient Jewish Tradition of Introspection

In the Jewish religious tradition, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – the Day of Awe — is the time for personal introspection.   This Sunday, we will look at the Days of Awe, through personal stories, songs, traditional Hebrew music, prayers, and reflections.

Channing Community Fair: The Channing Church community fair, sponsored by the Program Council, will follow the 9/16 service. Stop by the committee tables to find out what the committees do and how you might incorporate your interests in with church activities and functions.

Sunday, September 23: Rev. Bill Zelazny

It’s Not What Vision Is, but What Vision Does

Sometimes people focus on the wrong thing, like having a vision for a better life or a better world, and not on what is important, having their vision be a reality.  Bill will reflect on how pursuing a vision is a way to live in harmony with one’s deeper intention.

Sunday, September 30: Rev. Jeanette Bessinger

Letting Go:  The deepest act of faith

In our very human attempts to improve or “fix” our external and internal environments, we often overlook the simplest and most powerful tool for life balance: letting go. Join us as we address the elegant art of letting go as receiving, as forgiveness, as surrender and as the shortest path to peace.