Author: Michele Dubuc

Web Channing Sundays

We will not hold in-person services in the sanctuary until at least Fall. During the month of June , Rev Bill expects to continue our Channing Church Sunday Web Service posted each Sunday by 10:00am on Channing’s YouTube channel: .  If you “subscribe” and click the little bell icon you will receive notifications by email as new videos are posted. The 15-20 minute service includes a homily, chalice lighting, music, and meditation.    Bill’s homily theme for the week is posted in our Friday email (contact to be added to our email list).    Music is provided by Janet Grant and others.  John Burnham provides the technical assistance. 

For the latest news and events check our June monthly Catalyst newsletter here:







Web Channing Sundays

We are unsure when we will be able to hold in-person services in the sanctuary. During the month of May, Rev Bill expects to continue our Channing Church Sunday Web Service posted each Sunday by 10:00am on Channing’s YouTube channel: .  If you “subscribe” you will receive notifications by email as new videos are posted. The 15-20 minute service includes a homily, chalice lighting, music, and meditation.    Bill’s homily theme for the week is posted in our Friday email (contact to be added to our email list).    Music is provided by Janet Grant and others.  John Burnham provides the technical assistance. Rev. Bill invites you to email him ( ) suggestions for homilies, readings or meditations for the upcoming weeks.

For the latest news and events check our May monthly Catalyst newsletter here:








Web Channing Sundays

For the next several weeks we can anticipate the church being closed for regular Sunday service.   However, for the duration. Rev. Bill Zelazny will continue to provide an abbreviated service with a homily posted  Sunday mornings on You Tube, please go to: 


April 5: Looking at Jesus in the UU Tradition

This week begins Holy Week in the Christian calendar with its focus on the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the last meal he and the disciples shared and his crucifixion.  We UUs don’t talk about Jesus much, but Jesus is an important part of our U and U church history and his teachings are valuable to many UUs today.   Bill’s homily will look at how Jesus fits into our heritage and in current times.


April 12: Easter and Transformation

You do not have to believe in the resurrection of the dead to appreciate the power of transformation that Easter symbolizes.   Today, Bill will help us look at the message of transformation that is represented by the Easter story.


April 19: What are You Thinking?

Bill would like to provide a venue for members of Channing Church to share with each other our thoughts about the coronavirus. He invites you to send him, by Monday, April 13, your thoughts, reflections, poems about what you or society are experiencing in this time of living with coronavirus.  Keep it relatively short.  He will assembly your reflections and incorporate them into his homily this Sunday


April 26: The Road Not Taken

Everyone has regrets, but we almost always think of our regrets as the mistakes that we think we’ve made. But, in truth, as the old adage says: it’s not the things you do in life that you regret, it’s the things you don’t do.  Today Bill will reflect on the life issue of the road not taken and the question “are you going to change anything today or tomorrow?” when you think about life’s regrets.







Worship Services 

Sunday, March 1: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Revisiting Feminist Theology

In the later part of the 20th century a new theological perspective began to emerge in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, that reconsidered the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies from a feminist perspective.  In the second sermon in his series on types of theology, to honor women’s history month Bill will revisit feminist theology, and look at its development over the past fifty years.

Sunday, March 8: John Prevedini

Modern Grace

What does “grace” mean in modern life? How do we achieve it? And what place does it have in a world thirsting for justice?

John Dante Prevedini is a Unitarian Universalist contemporary classical composer, educator, and public speaker. Drawing upon a variety of fields of knowledge, including linguistics, the fine arts, the physical sciences, religion, and philosophy, Dr. Prevedini’s overall work aims to examine unconventional facets of everyday life through a multidisciplinary lens.

CANCELLED Sunday, March 15: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Wisdom: Knowing what to control and what to let go 

A wise person once said, “Don’t worry about things you can’t control because you can’t change them, and don’t worry about things you can control because you can change them.”  This idea expresses an aspect of ancient Stoicism. This Sunday Bill will have us look at the how the wisdom of the ancient stoics might have a answer to our rush-about, demand to be “concerned about everything” modern world.

Channing Memorial Church will not hold worship services or other events  as suggested by the state leadership and the UUA.  This closure is not mandated and at this time no one within the Channing community has been directly impacted.  This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution to help mitigate the potential impact of large gatherings and to protect our community’s health and well-being. We are engaging in this closure in an effort to delay the possible spread of this contagion by keeping people away from each other. We all have a role to play in keeping each other safe and healthy. 

 Sunday, March 22:  Jeff Thomas

Finding Zen                         

Zen is simply everyday life lived with awareness. It is a practical and spiritual method of living that can bring simplicity, balance of nature, and clarity into our daily lives. This Sunday, Jeff will share what he has learned about Zen philosophy & practices. Additionally, Jeff will talk about how Zen can provide guidance in working through strong emotions, such as fear or anger, to reach a sense of tranquility.

Jeff Thomas is a new member of Channing Memorial Church. He was attracted to the principles of Unitarian Universalism and the compassionate and caring spirit that the U.U. community fosters. Jeff grew up between Aquidneck Island and Florida. He studied Communications at St. Petersburg College. One of his favorite hobbies is moderating and producing an internet-based talk show where panelists engage in thoughtful discussion on a variety of topics such as music, climate change, and Zen.

Sunday, March 29: Captain Thomas R. Beall, U.S. Navy (Retired)

What are your core values?  Do you live by them?

In a time when even our political leaders seem to lack honesty and a moral compass, our individual core values may be the only thing we have to ground ourselves and live morally upright lives.  We will explore this idea during this service.

Captain Beall commanded U.S. Navy sailors at Guantanamo, an experience that taught him a lot about the fundamental importance of core values.







Worship Services 

Sunday, February 2: Guest : Julie Mallozzi

Life Lessons from Film Making

Filmmaker Julie Mallozzi will speak about what she has learned through her work creating social issue documentaries.  Her recent film CIRCLE UP in particular provided many life lessons about forgiveness, justice, and accountability; about trying to be restorative in everything you do; and about defining your own success rather than letting others define it for you.

Julie Mallozzi is a documentary filmmaker whose work explores the ways cultural traditions from around the globe intersect, hybridize, and are turned to new social purposes far from their original context.  Her films have won awards at numerous festivals, been broadcast nationally on public television, and screened widely in educational and community contexts.  Mallozzi received her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. Mallozzi has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Boston University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Harvard University, where she is currently a Lecturer in Art, Film, and Visual Studies and Administrative Director of the Film Study Center.

After the service,  Julie will introduce a 14-minute viewing of her film “Circle Up” and respond to your questions. “Circle Up” is about mothers seeking true justice for their murdered sons— justice that involves not revenge and mass incarceration by forgiveness, accountability, and community healing.

Sunday, February 9: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Resilience is a call of the Spirit

Some people in this congregation have come through a difficult time and some are about to enter a difficult time, but most of us are just trying to have the strength and courage to make it through one more day or week or year. And all of that takes the emotional power of resilience.  A colleague of mine once said that “Resilience cannot be about merely recovering from one trial or another. Resilience is also a proactive skill and a way of life…” And this proactive living skills is in its own way spiritual.  This Sunday Bill will explore the notion of resilience in living and its spiritual character.

Sunday, February 16: Rev. Bill Zelazny

The Big Love

The box of chocolates or the flowers or the card, or the charge card receipt for the quiet dinner that were the visible symbol of eros love, sexual love, may still be sitting on the table or buffet. That kind of love is very important for everyone.  But today, while we are still in the aura of Valentine’s Day, Bill invites us to consider what he names “The Big Love”, the kind of affection that is a call to action for us to let Love guide us in all that we do.

During Fellowship on Sunday, February 16 we will hold our Annual Chocolate Fest.   Bring a homemade or store-bought favorite chocolate dessert, candy or other decadent offering to share at Fellowship. The Chocolate Fountain will be flowing so anything that can be drenched in chocolate (fruit, marshmallows, graham crackers, gummy bears, maybe even broccoli!)   No need to sign up…just come with your surprise chocolate offering and join in the fun. 

Sunday, February 23: The Great Treasure of Unitarian Universalism and Channing Church

Our faith comes out of six religious and spiritual sources.  They are described in that long paragraph few of us ever read that follows the Statement of Purposes and Principles.  They, in effect, say, that people with very different theological and spiritual perspectives can join together in religious community and live in harmony.   This melding of diversity is Unitarian Universalisms and Channing Memorial Church’s treasure. Bill and members of our congregation will look at the six Sources this Sunday as we consider the power and potential this treasure bring to this congregation.


Worship Services 

Sunday, January 5: Rev. Bill Zelazny

A Question Basket

Research has shown that by asking questions we improve our emotional intelligence, as well as our intellectual intelligence.  So, let’s perhaps improve both and have some fun with an open question basket service where you get to guide what we talk about during the sermon time.   Been itching to ask that questions about Unitarian Universalism, the UUA, human existence, Bill’s favorite soup? (Please no political questions).  This is the Sunday to ask and Bill will try to answer them and if he does not have the answer, he will try to research an answer.  Everyone will be given a card when they come in on which to write their question. They will  be collected right after the opening hymn. Bill will answer as many questions as he can within the allotted sermon time.

Sunday, January 12: Virginia Spaulding, PhD

Joy through Generosity

Path to Enlightened Stewardship

“Living is giving. We live life best as we give our strengths, gifts, and competencies … We are called to serve, not survive. Our giving makes a difference in our families, our community, and our faith.” –( from Kennon L. Callahan). Stewardship is more than just giving money.  This Sunday we will examine the broader meaning and implications of stewardship for our lives.

Ginny Spaulding is a member of the Channing Board of Trustees and has a private counseling practice in Newport.

Sunday, January 19: Rev. Bill Zelazny

In the Midst of it: Southern Unitarians and Universalists in the Civil Rights Era

Unitarians and Universalists in Southern cities were in the midst of the fight against segregation, often engaging in heroic efforts to confront this social evil, sometimes at the risk of attack to their person and their churches.  On this Martin Luther King Sunday Bill will recall for us some of the episodes of U and U churches doing what they could to combat segregationist attitudes and practices.

Sunday, January 26: Rodney Davis

Taking a Stand Does Not Mean Standing Still

What does it mean to take a stand? Why should I? What does it require for me to really do? These questions often run through our minds when we are approached to get involved with some issue or cause. Yet we are seeing more and more people standing on the sidelines and not engaged in the fight. Long-time community leader and activist, Rodney Davis will address this issue with the sermon: His talk will address some of the challenges that we face and how we can be courageous in these critical times.

Newport native, Rodney Davis, has worked with the educational reform organization, Big Picture Learning, the group that created the Met School and a network of 200 schools around the globe. In 2019, he was selected as a Diversity Leadership Scholar with College Unbound and is pursuing a degree in Organizational Leadership and Change.  He served as president of Rhode Island Pride for 20 years and president of the Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.  He continues to be actively involved in community advocacy and education.  He lives in Coventry RI with his partner Brian Mills. 


Worship Services 

 Sunday, December 1: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Beauty’s Deeper Connection

Beauty is not decorative. It touches us deeply.  It has the power to dissolve our conscious control, and connect us to levels of our being well beyond our day-to-day concerns.   Humans need beauty to live as much as we need food to live.   As we begin this season of beauty – snow on tree branches, the Messiah, lights decorating houses and trees, family and friends talking and laughing, festive meals, people helping those with less – Bill will explore the concept of beauty.

Sunday, December 8: Professor Robert M. Thorson

Humanism Runs Amok

Humanism, with its nearly exclusive focus on human needs and critical thinking is an important element in UU spirituality.  This species-specific perspective has been largely responsible for a planetary transformation so complete that a new geological epochis required — the Anthropocene. In his talk, professor Thorson will explore the philosophical and spiritual implications of having our own epoch. On balance, the prospect looks good.

Robert M. Thorson, a long-time member of Channing Memorial Church and former board member, has spoken to the congregation about earthly matters twice a year for the last 13 years.  Away from Channing, he’s a professor, writer, journalist, speaker, and consultant.

Sunday, December 15: Rev. Bill Zelazny

On Awe

“He . . . who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”  Words of one of the ultimate logical thinkers, the theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein.   On this Sunday in the middle of the Holiday season, Bill will ask us to pause in wonder, to contemplate the mystery of conscious life, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe, to try to comprehend the intelligence manifested in nature, to deeply observe life. In other words, to think about living in awe.

During the service we will welcome everyone who wishes to officially join Channing Memorial Church in a new member signing ceremony.

Sunday, December 22: Rev. John H. Nichols

Filling in the Manger

The Christmas story we hold dear in our thoughts and memories is what we want and need it to be. Technically it has two authors — Matthew and Luke — but many of us have crafted the story to be the news we most need to hear. “Be not afraid.!”   This sermon is part of my recently published book, which will be on sale for $19.99 which can be purchased at the coffee hour.

Known as an inspiring preacher, Dr. John Hay Nichols is now Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, where he served as senior minister for twenty-three years. He also served as interim minister for ten other congregations (including Channing) in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.

Tuesday, Dec. 24, 5:00pm: Christmas Eve: A Moment of Magic    

Rev. William Zelazny, the Channing Choir and Guests

The sanctuary is decorated, the candles are lit.  Come to a Christmas Eve Celebration for adults and children with the Channing Choir, guest musicians, members of Channing Church and Rev. Zelazny with carol singing, choral anthems, instrumental music, and scripture and secular readings, concluding with the traditional lighting of candles and singing Silent Night in the darkened sanctuary.  Come, bring family and friends for the our very special Christmas Eve service.

Sunday, December 29: Service under construction – the Worship Committee is putting together a “Moth”- like (think NPR’s Moth Radio Hour) Sunday’s service.  Like the Moth Radio Hour, this will be a theme-based service.   The theme, in recognition of the new year starting in a few days, is Renewal.

The Worship Committee is looking for several people who wish to tell a story – personal or published — or do a reading of a poem or essay – personally composed or from a published source – that illustrates renewal.  Want to be part of it?   Contact Rev. Bill (401-846-0643 or by December 18 to discuss your idea.  Let your creative or theatrical self shine out!


Worship Services 

Sunday, November 3: Rev. Bill Zelazny

To Remember….and Living Forward

Ancient wisdom tells us that at this time of year the veil between realm of the living and “the other side” is thin.  Our culture has its playful connection with the death with Halloween ghosts and skeletons, as well as, somber observances with events like All Souls and All Saints Days.  Both approaches are useful mental and emotional outlets.  This Sunday Bill will talk about remembering well those who have passed from this life.  This is not to be a sorrowful service, but one of joyfully remembering our loved ones

Everyone is invited to bring a small picture of a person or two who they would like to remember to be placed on our Table of Remembrances.

Sunday, November 10: Special Caregiving Service!

Waking the Spirit with Music

Research reveals how music affects our hearts, minds and physical wellbeing. Enjoy learning about and experiencing this truth with Barbara Russell-Willett, Nickie Kates, Linda Beall and the Choir!

We will have two collections of monies this Sunday, one general and another for the work of Caregiving.

Sunday, November 17: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Living on the Side of Love is Hard

Aleksander Solzhenitzyn, the Russian intellectual and writer wrote “The line separating good and evil passes through the human heart.” It is true that every human being has the capacity for good and evil, love and hatred, peace and fear. Which side of that line we decided to be on determines how we respond to the world. We Unitarian Universalists try our best to witness on the Side of Love*, but some people find it very difficult to accept, much less love, people who are different from them with gender identity, race, color, sexual orientation, sex.  This Sunday Bill will explore the challenge of fully recognizing the “other”, and the possible social consequences of not being able to accept the worth and dignity of all people.

*Side of Love is a UUA advocacy campaign to promote respect for every person and give witness against injustice and violence.

Special Service!

Transgender Day of Remembrance Service

Sunday, November 17, 11:30am, in the Sanctuary

Join us for music and the reading of names of the 2019 transgender murder victims from around the world.  A steeple bell will toll for each name.  All are welcome.

Sunday, November 24: Rev. William Zelazny

The Transformative Power of Gratitude

The fourth Sunday of the month is “Share the Plate Sunday”. All of the cash offerings and checks marked “STP” will be used to purchase bus tickets for local agencies serving the homeless.

Research has shown that cultivating personal attributes of gratitude, optimism, forgiveness, happiness, and compassion fortifies us to face adversity and emotional turmoil and leads to greater happiness and resilience. Of all the attributes one can develop, gratitude is most strongly associated with positive mental health.  Today, a few days before Thanksgiving, Bill will look at how and why showing gratitude is so powerful.

We will conduct our annual Bread Ceremony during the service where we share bread together as a symbol of community and friendship.  Members and friends are invited to bring a bread that represents their ethnic heritage, a family tradition or just because they like it. The breads will be cut and distributed in a “communion” ceremony during the service.


Worship Services 

Sunday, October 6: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Faith Needs Trust

A person’s faith is a way toward commitment and ultimately action.   But to live our one’s faith a person needs to have trust – trust in oneself, trust in others, trust in tomorrow, trust in the universe.  For some people that is easy, for others that is something very hard.   This Sunday Bill will look at the concept of trust and how it plays into a person’s faith.

Special Service!

Celebrating National Coming Out Day

Wednesday, October 9, 7:00pm, in the Sanctuary

Honor and celebrate who you are with music, singing and spoken words at a special interfaith service for the LGBTQ community and allies. A reception to follow in the Parish Hall.

Sunday, October 13: Rev. Lark d’Helen

From There to Here. . .   

. . . the round-abouts that brought a midwestern, conservative Baptist preacher’s daughter to a service marking National Coming Out Day at Channing Church.

The Rev. Dr. Lark d’Helen is currently striving to be retired-ish. She spent many years as a pastor, hospital chaplain, teacher of University students.  She served at Channing Memorial Church for two years. Lark is a Fellow in Death, Dying and Bereavement and works for Memorial Funeral Homes.  She lives with her spouse, Joyce, and amazing dog, Boomerang. 

Sunday, October 20: Rev. Bill Zelazny

Liberal Religious Mind-set: Being Deeply Religious and Fully Modern

Current politics have made the word “liberal” verbum non grata in many quarters, including our churches. We are afraid to use that word to identify Unitarian Universalism.  But we are, in religious lexicon, a “liberal” religion.  In his sermon, Rev. Bill will explore what religious liberalism means and how it orients us toward the world.

Sunday, October 27: Rev. Jeannette Bessinger

Celebrating the Light, Honoring the Dark

An Exploration of Diwali and All Hallow’s Eve

At this time of year, religious and pagan traditions have celebrated both the light and the dark for millennia.  Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. All Hallow’s Eve, popularly celebrated as Halloween, is a Christian holiday marking the eve of All Souls Day. Throughout human history, the ritual honoring of the light and the dark has helped us navigate life’s continual, often bewildering movement between brightness and bounty and darkness and loss with more ease and grace.

Worship Services 

Sunday, September 1: Margaret Polski

Who’s Side Are You On?

Labor Day From A Unitarian Universalist Perspective

Today we face persistent and growing challenges to shared economic prosperity in Newport and across our nation. The labor force participation rate has fallen steadily since 1999. We have experienced long-term real wage stagnation and a persistent lack of economic progress for many workers. The “gig economy” holds the potential to undermine the foundations of our democracy. But we have faced these challenges in the past. What can we learn from our Unitarian Universalist forebears about how to approach these challenges?

Margaret Polski is a political economist, an Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval War College, and a member of Channing Memorial Church.

Sunday, September 8: Rev. Bill Zelazny

I Know this Rose Will Open

The sermon title comes from hymn No. 396 in “Singing in Living Tradition,” by Mary Grigolia, a seminar classmate of mine. She explains the song as a way to think about responding to the Universe/Spirit/Deep and Creative Self.  On this In-gathering Sunday Bill will reflect on what can happen when we allow ourselves to weather life disruptions and live into good expectations, and how Unitarian Universalism can help people, help us, let their rose unfold.

Water Ceremony: On Sunday, Sept. 8, we will also conduct our annual Water Ceremony within the service.  Everyone is invited to bring a small container of water from their home or other favorite place to mix with the waters of other as a symbol of how we bring our secular life into this religious community.

The annual congregation potluck picnic in Touro park will follow the service 

Sunday, September 15: Rev. Bill Zelazny

What do you believe is True for You?

Beliefs come before faith. All abstract knowledge is based on belief. Faith is related to belief because it supplies the conviction that the belief is true. This Sunday, as the first in a series of sermons on theological perspectives, Bill will look at the concept of belief, doubt and its relationship to a person’s faith in a UU context.

Channing Community Fair: After the service take a walk through the Channing Community Fair to see all the programs and ministries we have and how you can be part of making us the Ultimate Home of Progressive Religion.

Sunday, September 22: Rev. John Nichols

Expecting Miracles

They say there are ” no atheists in foxholes”, but I think there are times when all of us — religious or secular — experience something that we call “almost a miracle.”  What is happening then?

We welcome back to our pulpit the Rev. John Nichols who was the interim minister at Channing Memorial from 2010-2012.  He has served as a Unitarian Universalist minister for nearly forty years in congregations in Massachusetts, Illinois, and New York and holds the title of emeritus minister from the UU Society of Wellesley Hills, MA.  John is the author of “A Wind Swept Over the Waters: Reflections on Sixty Favorite Bible Passages”.

Sunday, September 29: Rosh Hashanah

Sermon and program on the spirit of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur