Upcoming Events

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: ribroadcasters.com 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: ribroadcasters.com 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.