Author: Michele Dubuc

Worship Services 

Sunday, July 7: Clearing Out:  A Hidden Key to Deepening Your Spiritual Life

Speaker: Jeannette Bessinger

Marie Kondo’s books and philosophy on the “magical art of tidying up” have swept much of the world by storm. Her message, though simple, is a timely balm to our “congested” lives and over-full minds. The practice of clearing out – in your living spaces, your mind, your belly and even your schedule – can have an immediate and profound effect on your energy levels, your ability to make change, and your inherent-but-untapped connection to the Flow of Life itself. Join us for an exploration of this under-utilized spiritual practice that’s available in every phase of life.

 Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC, interfaith minister and real food expert, is an award-winning educator and author of multiple books featuring healthy eating. Designer of a long-running and successful, hospital-based, lifestyle change program and countless transformational workshops, Jeannette has helped thousands of people make lasting changes to deeply entrenched habits that no longer serve them. 

Sunday, July 14: Misunderstanding Science

Speaker: John Prevedini

What is science, really? How is it distinct from “STEM”? And what is its role in the humanities?

Longtime Channing member John Dante Prevedini is a composer, educator, and public speaker living and working throughout New England. Drawing upon a variety of fields of knowledge, his overall work aims to examine unconventional facets of everyday life through a multidisciplinary lens.

Sunday, July 21:  Not because they are easy but because they are hard   

Speaker: Tom Beall

The United States, in terms of its ideals, has always been at war with itself.  It is a war of Christian dogma versus secular enlightenment.  The Apollo voyages to the Moon 50 years ago represented the pinnacle of the latter, the striving for greatness as a human adventure.  50 years later we have moved far in the direction of Christian dogma.  Is that a good thing?

Tom Beall has been a member of Channing for 18 years.  He is a collector of rare books and documents on America’s space program.

Sunday, July 28: Guideposts for Making Moral Decisions

Rev. Bill Zelazny

Making decisions always requires making choices. Making choices in our complex lives, is, well, complex.  This Sunday, Bill is stepping in to lead the service.  His sermon will walk us through some questions we may wish to take into consideration that may guide us in making major “life issue” decisions.

Sunday, August 4: Barnabas Bates~UU Leader and Father of Cheap Postage   

Speaker: Christine Laudon

The LaFarge windows dedicated to the memory of Barnabas Bates have long been the source of a mystery.  What did he do to become the Father of Cheap Postage and why does that matter?  What is his connection to William Ellery Channing?  Come and find out the many nuances of his life work and participate in an historical drama.

Chris Laudon is a Channing member who has been involved in the architectural preservation of our buildings and a tour guide for the Newport Restoration Foundation and Channing Memorial Church.

Sunday, August 11: Oceans in a Changing World: What can we do?    

Speaker: Drew Carey

The world’s oceans are so closely associated with climate that we have to consider how changes in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide will affect the oceans in our state and community.  What is the scale of the problem and what can we do locally to respond?

Drew Carey is a marine scientist engaged in assessing the health of the seafloor across the world.  He is also engaged in local issues of stormwater, ocean health and resilience of coastal communities.

 Sunday, August 18: Freedom Moves West       

Rev. William Zelazny

In the 19th century the United States expanded westward and along with it Unitarianism.  Bill will look at our movement out of New England past the Allegheny mountains to become a continent-wide expression of free religious thought and practice.  Along the way we will stop in Lawrence Kansas to see how Unitarians supported the abolitionists’ fight for a slave-free Kansas.

Meet Channing Church!

This Sunday friends and members of Channing Memorial Church are invited to bring a neighbor or friend to get acquainted with our church and the Family Ministry Program.  Rev. Bill and JoAnne Ritchie will be available to talk about Channing Church and what we can offer people looking for a doctrine-free progressive religious home.

Sunday, August 25:  “The immigrants are coming!!  What’s a Unitarian to do?”

Speaker: Eleanor Doumato

1891 was a banner year for immigration into the United States, and that year the Rev. George W. Cutter gave a sermon from our pulpit warning of the dangers of an unfiltered mass of foreigners coming to our shores.

Eleanor Doumato, Board President and historian, discovered the sermon while cataloging our Channing archives and her talk will be a reflection on Rev. Cutter’s admonitions and the meaning of his advice for our time. 


Worship Services 

Sunday, June 2: It Takes a Village. . .

JoAnne Ritchie and Rev. Bill Zelazny

It takes a village. . . to raise a child because a village is comprised of a diverse array of people of all ages and experiences, each of whom has something to teach a child.  JoAnne, our Family Life Coordinator, will talk about how it “takes a village” to implant a spiritual dimension in our children

It takes a village. . . to run a church. There is much to be done for a church to operate and fulfill is mission.   Bill will discuss how it is necessary for people to take on responsibility for church functioning if a congregation is to be successful and grow.

This Sunday JoAnne will recognize the people who make our religious education program function and Bill will recognize the many people who give their time and talent to help the church’s ministries and programs.

Sunday, June 9: Answering the Call

Mary Benson, Beth Milham, and Sherrill Warch

Most of us who consider ourselves UUs do so because we believe in our seven principles.  While our principles make us sound like high-minded people, actual practice requires great courage, especially when applying our principles to those who need our help the most.  Let’s hear from some of our peers around this mindset as it manifests in the support and advocacy of LGBTQ people.

Sunday, June 16: In Praise of Tender Masculinity

Rev. Bill Zelazny

Our culture has developed two notions about men – the Macho Man (buff, distant) and Nice Guy (nerdy, brooding). Both are problematic.  On this Father’s Day, Bill will look at a third concept — Tender Masculinity. Tender Masculinity is a multi-layered understanding of maleness that comes from all backgrounds.  Celebrating tender men gives the next generation the male role models they deserve.

Sunday, June 23: Happy 206th Birthday to Charles Timothy Brooks 

Presenter: Jim Egan

Sunday, June 23, we’ll celebrate the 206th birthday of Charles Timothy Brooks (1813-1883) first pastor of the Unitarian Church in Newport and the driving force behind the construction of the Channing Memorial Church in 1880.

Jim Egan is the curator of the Newport Tower Museum, right across Toro Park from the church. He has written 20 books on Newport and Rhode Island history, and has delivered a Learning Center lecture on the “Roots of the Channing Memorial Church.” 

Sunday, June 30: Coping with Climate Change

Presenter: Mary Alice Smith

Description: We know that climate change is bringing drastic changes to the natural world and life as we know it. Catastrophic impacts on a million species is predicted by a UN study. How do we process this in our daily lives? What can we do? One person’s journey in caring about the environment we live in.

Worship Services 

Sunday, May 5: Lessons of Ramadan for Non-Muslims (and Muslims too)

Rev. William Zelazny

Observance by Muslim of the holy month of Ramadan will begin this evening.  Ramadan is so central to Islam that it is considered one of the “five pillars” of the faith.  While non-Muslims tend to only see this religious observance as a requirement for strict fasting, as with all great religions this Islamic ritual has lessons for all people.   Bill invites us to learn about Ramadan this Sunday.

All are invited to join us in the Parish Hall at 11:30 this Sunday to hear more about “Vision 2025,” an exciting restoration and development plan for our sanctuary building. Find out what needs to be done, what our church will gain, and how we’ll pay for it. Ask your questions and get some answers.Here is the link to the report:  Vision 2025: Campus Development Plan for Channing Memorial Church If you have time, please read it, and if you don’t, check out the FAQs at the end. We’ll begin right after fellowship, so come, hang onto your coffee mug and take a seat. We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, May 12: Open to Changing

Rev. William Zelazny

When a person decides to take on the task of mothering they must be willing to be curious and change.  Many parents have told Bill that they really had no idea how much their life would change.  “It wasn’t curiosity itself that killed the proverbial cat. What really got him in trouble was his inability to deal with the new situation. And when it comes to learning about new environments, curiosity is key,” says Kate Berardo, strategic development coach.  On this Mother’s Day Bill will look at curiosity and change, not only for mothers (and fathers) but everyone.

This Sunday we will hold our annual Flower Ceremony.   Everyone is invited to bring a flower (or perhaps a few) which we will gather before the service.  At the end of the service everyone will be invited to take a different flower as a symbol of our sharing of the beauty of this congregation.  

 Sunday, May 19: Choir Sunday

May 19 is CHOIR SUNDAY!!  This is Channing Choir’s annual service of beautiful music and inspirational thoughts.  Always a favorite service, be sure to attend!

Sunday, May 26: Reflections on Memorial Day

Members of Channing Church 

Each year the country honors its military veterans on this weekend. This Sunday several members of our congregation will share short reflections on how their military service shaped their lives.

Worship Services 

Sunday, April 7: Rev. William Zelazny

The Ultimate April Fool’s Joke: Life Will Mess Up Perfection

Many people describe themselves as perfectionists.  But life’s joke on all of us is that perfection in all things is not possible. Trying to live into perfectionism can doom us to unhappiness. Perhaps a more reasonable view of life may be what we can call “The way of wabi sabi.”  Come to the service where Bill will explore this philosophy.

Sunday, April 14: Rev. William Zelazny

The Power of Celebrating Everything

We regularly celebrate big success- the new job, the new house, the new baby.  But it is equally, maybe even more important to celebrate little successes.  that kind of celebration make us pause and be mindful and that boosts our well-being. Bill will help us reflect on the emotional and spiritual value of celebrating everything. We will lots of music provided by members of the Geezers, the group of musicians that gathers in our Parish Hall Tuesday evenings, and we will celebrate our 2019 canvass drawing to a close with an after-service reception.

Sunday, April 21: Rev. William Zelazny

Where the Passover and Easter Stories Point Us

This year the movement of the moon and the earth have determined that Passover and Easter overlap.  Though each event is a central element of their respective religious traditions Bill thinks it is important that we not get lost in concern about the literalness of their story.  Rather we should look the similar message that comes from the stories.

Our traditional children’s Easter egg hunt will follow the service.

Sunday, April 28: Rev. Lee Whitaker

Sowing Seeds of Welcome

This Sunday Lee is inviting us to look into how a healthy welcome can transform all who
enter our church.

Rev. Lee Whittaker is a former member of Channing Memorial Church.   He earned his Masters of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry and is an ordained minister with the Progressive Christian Alliance. While at Starr King he served on the Admissions and Scholarship Committee.  Lee served on the Leadership Council for the Progressive Christian Alliance for two years. Presently he is the co-founder of Revolution Ministries which has the mission of creating alternative worship experiences.  He lives in Oakland, CA with his partner, Janelle, and two dogs, two cats, and two and sings with the Oakland Interfaith Community Choir. Lee is one of the original organizers of CMC’s Interweave and a founder of the Born this Way Prom.  

Worship Services 

Sunday, March 3: Rev. William Zelazny

 A Force with which to be Reckoned: Women of Transcendentalism      

The Unitarian women of the Transcendentalist Movement were strong individuals, with keen minds and strong political ideas.  To mark Women’s History Month, Bill will reintroduce us to these women and how they helped launch the 19th century American movement for women’s rights. 

Sunday, March 10: Professor Robert Thorson

To Build or Not to Build…

… a wall at the U.S. border with Mexico.  That is the proverbial question.

This fault line in American politics nudged me find out what the late poet Mary Oliver thought about the subject of walls in general. Reading her poem Knife offered critical insights that nudged me back to America’s most famous poem about walls, Mending Wall by Robert Frost. This service will include resonant readings of the full text of both poems in male and female voices, followed by commentary about what they say about the barriers between souls, whether a individuals or collectives.

Sunday, March 17: Rev. William Zelazny

Is it Getting Away, a Setting Out, or a Coming Home?

When you reflect on your religious or spiritual journey, do you see discovering Unitarian Universalism and Channing Memorial Church as an escape from an old religion, a coming home to the right place, or a safe place to setting off on a new journey of exploration.  On this Annual Stewardship Sunday kick off Bill with help us think about the role CMC had/has for us in our religious life.

Sunday, March 24: Lee Hardgrove

The Military Chaplaincy: Serving the Needs of Many Faiths  

This message will try to cover very briefly: History of Military Chaplaincy, court case challenge to the chaplaincy, requirements to become a chaplain and the most important: the mission of the Chaplaincy to all faiths.

Lee Hardgrove is a retired Lt. Col. of the US Army and a retired United Methodist pastor. He served several churches in the New York area and spent 25 years in the army reserve. He spent three years on active duty at the end of his career including a tour in Afghanistan . He also spent time at Ground Zero in NY City after 9-11. Lee is graduate of American University, Yale University, the Army Command and General Staff College and Rhode Island College.

Sunday, March 31: Mr. Charles Roberts

Driving While Black

“Driving while Black” means more than just literally being behind the steering wheel of a car. In his sermon, Charles will talk about the experience of an African American male confronting being looked at as “the Other” and how this relates to all of us as a family of human beings.

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, February 3: Rev. William Zelazny

M. L. King Jr.’s Real Message

Dr. King’s legacy has been mellowed over time.  He is seen now as a gentle man with a message that we need to be color-blind.  But his real message was more strident which made Northern “white folk” who had supported his southern desegregation work uncomfortable because it hit close to home.  Bill’s sermon, in honor of Black History month, originally intended for MLK Sunday, will look at King’s challenge to America then and now, a half century after his death.

Sunday, February 10: Rev. William Zelazny

Are You There for Me?

H.L Menchen, American social observer, said “It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.”  On this Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Bill will have us consider the issue of trust, the critical building block in personal and civil relationships.

After the service we gather in the Parish Hall for our annual Chocolate Fest during fellowship.  Everyone is invited to bring some of their favorite chocolate candy or a chocolate-based desert to share.  

Sunday, February 17: Mr. Rodney Davis

My Story, Your Story, Our History

History often does not reflect our story. At times it seems to divide more than bring people together. What lessons can we learn? What can we learn from the past help to reshape our future? In this sermon, Mr. Davis will explore this serious yet sometimes humorous topic.

Rodney Davis was born and raised in Newport. He served as president of Rhode Island Pride for over 20 years. He is also the past president of the R.I. Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights. He works as a marketing and special events consultant for Big Picture Learning. He lives in Western Coventry RI with his partner Brian Mills.  He last preached at Channing Church in 2017.

Sunday, February 24:  Rev. Ann Fox

What Is Your Guiding Light?

We all have a conscious or unconscious guiding light, an idea or value by which we assess what is acceptable or not acceptable in human behavior. What is yours? Let us consider what could be an effective guiding light for a new age of uncertainty in our mostly democratic society.

Rev. Ann Fox, is the Minister Emerita of Unitarian Memorial Church, Fairhaven, MA

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.