August 2001



The Newsletter of Channing Memorial Church, Newport, RI
Unitarian Universalist

Page 1 Sunday Morning Worship Services Page 2 New Board Meets; Leadership Retreat Planned
  From the Minister   Minister on a Pilgrimage to Transylvania
    Music Series Update
    Many Thanks!!
Page 3 Beth and Russ Become Grandparents Page 4 August Church Calendar
  Help Wanted!!  
  Got a Little Spare Time?  
  We Need Your Help!  
  Do You Sew?  
  UU Bed & Breakfast Weekend on Vineyard  
Page 5 Hello's and Goodbye's Page 6 Thoreau as Spiritual Guide
  Help Needed   Hip, Hip, Hurray !!!!
  Ingathering to Feature Water Communion  
  Soup Kitchen  

[Previous Catalysts]
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Page 1

Sunday Morning Worship Services

August 5 - Nicole Yalanis Robinson will be back in our pulpit for a second service, with a sermon entitled "Just Relax, It's Summer." In this service she will explore Taoism and the benefits of living without worries. Summer is the perfect time to explore the wonderful concept of not thinking too much.

August 12 - "Spiritual Companions" is the topic of Gretchen Robinson's first service at Channing. Of the topic she says, "As fellow seekers, how best can we companion one another along the spiritual paths we have undertaken, individually and together? Let us look to what is called 'spiritual direction' (and its less directive form, 'spiritual companioning') and uncover possibilities that are relevant to Unitarian Universalists. We can find ways to enrich and deepen our spiritual journey by developing more intentional connections within our congregations and circles of accountability."

Gretchen is a writer, poet, activist, teacher and workshop leader. She and husband Bill (who will preach the following week) attend Andover-Newton Theological School where she is pursuing a Masters Degree in Psychology and Religion. She also has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University. Gretchen enjoys preaching in UU churches all over the district and leads workshops and services at First Universalist Church in Woonsocket once a month.

August 19 - Gretchen's husband, Bill Robinson, will speak on "Celebrating the Second Half of Life." We are all getting older. That's just the way life is. Many of us have already discovered that certain things don't seem to work quite as well or as easily as they once did. It requires an extra effort to get out of bed in the morning; an extra breath or two to climb stairs. And there's an awareness of a slight pain, probably in the lower back, that wasn't there before. It's not easy growing older in our culture. We deserve a lot of credit just for being willing to do so.

In this service we are going to talk about a view of aging that may be unfamiliar. It certainly is not a view that is prevalent in our youth-oriented popular culture. This looks at the "second half" of life as an opportunity to be seized and enjoyed to the fullest. This view honours us. After all, we have earned the right, haven't we?

Bill is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity Degree at Andover-Newton and is a candidate for the UU ministry. He has been a frequent worship leader in churches throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He is also a past President of the Ballou Channing District and currently serves as Chair of the District Nominating Committee. Bill and his wife, Gretchen, are long-term members of Murray Church in Attleboro.

August 26 - Alan Stuart-Tilley, who spoke during last year's summer service will be back with a sermon entitled, "Learning from Job." In the biblical story of Job, he is anything but patient in the midst of a terrible heavenly wager. What is the Book of Job really about? And what message might we learn as UU's from the heroism of Job and his wife?

Alan, originally from England, has lived in Hingham, MA, with his wife and son for nearly 13 years. Alan works as a research assistant in a biochemical/molecular biological research laboratory, and is half way through a part time M. Div. Degree at Andover-Newton. He will serve as the student intern minister at the UU Church of Weymouth, MA, starting in September.

From the Minister

This summer I witnessed one of the finest expressions of Unitarian Universalist ideals. In June, I had the pleasure of being a delegate of our congregation to General Assembly, which was held this year in Cleveland, OH. This GA had a record attendance of more than 4,400 UU's. During the Opening Plenary session, banners from hundreds of our member congregations paraded through the auditorium to the beat of rock and roll music (Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after all.). Bright colors stitched together to represent the symbol of each church or organization---hands, chalices, church buildings, rainbows, are just some of the images that I can recall. Each banner was carried proudly in a seemingly endless stream. The banners were then displayed as a backdrop on the stage where worship and business meetings were held. The individual panels hung side-by-side like a magnificent quilt of UU ideals. Through out GA those banners served as a tangible reminder of both the individual congregation and the larger movement that we share.

You may be familiar with Chief Wahoo, the smiling mascot of the Cleveland Indians. Despite a drenching rain, I marched with hundreds of UU's as an act of solidarity with Cleveland Native Americans. "People, not mascots!" was the rallying cry as we walked from the Cleveland Convention Center to the baseball stadium, Jacob's Field. This was part of a resolution passed during GA 2000 to speak out against the racism implicit in the use of symbols, names, and mascots, which Native Americans find offensive.

This was an election year for the leadership of the UU Association. Since no lay delegates from Channing Memorial Church were able to attend this year, absentee ballots were cast by John Burnham, Mary Alice Smith, Joy Benson, and Bill Peresta as well as my casting a vote in person. William Sinkford was installed as the 7th President of the UUA and Diane Olsen as Moderator. What an historic moment! As reported on the UUA website: "In the same city where, 33 years ago UU's were nearly torn apart by racial strife and division over black empowerment, an African American minister became the Association's President." As a fellow Starr King graduate, I believe that Bill brings great skill as a leader to our movement.

The blend of worship, workshops, lectures, business, and social witness at GA is nothing short of inspiring. I hope that you will consider attending GA as our delegate next year. Save the date! GA 2002: Quebec City, Quebec, June 20-24.

In Faith,
Rev. Amy Freedman

Page 2

From the Board
New Board Meets; Leadership Retreat Planned

Channing's new Board of Trustees was elected at our annual meeting in May and met for the first time in July as our new fiscal year began. We have several new board members, which led to fresh discussions, including an intentional one about what the role of our board should be. Although there were some predictable points, such as being responsible for the church's finances, a common theme that emerged was one of facilitation and stewardship--setting up processes and systems so that the mission of the church remains in the forefront, so that there is good two-way communication with members, so that staff and volunteers have the resources to do their jobs, and so that planning is ongoing.

As I reported in the July Catalyst, we discussed the assessment of Channing's financial and organizational status and prospects, provided for us by UUA fundraising consultant, Rev. Harry Green. Not everyone agreed with all of his recommendations (see synopsis in the last issue or drop by the office for a copy), but it's fair to say that there were few surprises. Rev. Green did a good job of reflecting what we told him and essentially told us we had some homework to do, starting with revisiting our mission statement.

The main result of our board meeting discussion that night therefore focused on establishing the processes we ought to undertake in the year ahead to review who we are and what we are committed to doing. To get us started down this road, we decided to have a leadership retreat in late August, the focus of which will mainly be how to involve as many members as possible in developing our mission and comprehensive plan. Assuming we can meet the September Catalyst deadline, we'll have a report on this retreat in the next issue.

At the July board meeting we expected to receive a report on the condition of our steeple (which you'll recall was temporarily repaired in May) and recommendations for its repair, but we've now learned that we won't receive the report until mid-August so stand by another month for news.

At Rev. Freedman's recommendation, the board approved a new policy on the distribution of church keys. New locks will be installed for the first time in several years, and office, sanctuary, and Parish Hall keys will now be issued to all board members (and to committee chairs who need them) for the duration of their terms in office. Keys may also be signed out of the church office on a temporary basis. Members have often had some difficulty locating the key they needed in the past; come September, it should become much easier. All you'll have to do is find a board member. Following is the new list.

-- John Burnham, President, 849-1644(eve) 845-5106(day),
Mary Alice Smith, Peter Schoenbucher, Heather Gough,
Marcia Mallory, Tom Bandoni, Sue Fitzpatrick, Sally Hanchett,
Sheri Lussier, Mark & Dorothy Vissman, Ross & Valerie Gardner,
Ruth Jernigan, Kathy Takata (Note: some board positions are
shared by co-chairs of committees.)

Minister on a Pilgrimage to Transylvania

  Rev. Amy Freedman will be on a pilgrimage to Transylvania from July 30- August 18. Should an urgent matter or personal concern arise while she is overseas, contact the Chairperson of the Caregiving Committee, Nickie Kates (846-4166) or Channing President, John Burnham (849-1644) or Vice President, Mary Alice Smith (851-6906). They will be able to help you or refer you to a nearby UU minister.

Music Series Update

We are getting ready for the Fall Series. June Doolittle has been able to book Christine Lavin for Saturday, September 15 at 8. Tickets will be $18 & $14. We have 50 senior/children tickets and 300 adult tickets. On Sunday, October 14 at 4 we have Guy Davis. Tickets are $15 & $10. On Sunday, December 9 at 4 we have Tom Paxton and tickets are $18 & $12. For these last 2 concerts we have 250 adult tickets and 100 senior/children. Ticket prices are set by the artists. The tickets are ready now and Sylvia will be getting them to Runcible Spoon, The Quilt Artisan, and Pleasant Surprise. We will also have some in the church office and if Jill and Amy are willing, the office will take reservations.

Many Thanks!!

Many thanks to the caring committee and others who have expressed their sympathy upon the passing of my uncle, Arthur M. Barrows. My uncle always enjoyed his visits to Channing and our family will be forever grateful for his kind, loving ways, as well as his generous donation to the future restoration of the steeple.

-- Betsy Leerssen


Beth and Russ Become Grandparents

On Saturday, July 7, 2001 (Beth's birthday) Beth and Russ became Grandparents. Ed and Anita had a baby boy, Edwin Morris Jr. - 7 lbs 2 ozs - 19 1/2 inches.

Help Wanted !!


It will be added to the list of things to do!!!










And you are……..?????????

E-mail Russ at

We Need Your Help!

The professional office space in Channing House is still vacant, and we are looking for a new tenant. This spacious site offers 1,2000 square feet, a central Newport location with views of Touro Park. It features four large rooms with one and a half bathrooms. There is storage and washer/dryer hookups. Please be alert to anyone seeking office space in Newport and refer them to Mary Alice Smith (851-6906 in the evening) or (845-1617 in the daytime) or to our realtor, Steve Kirby at 846-1010.

This property is a key source of income for the church and we need to rent it promptly. Any help church members can lend would be appreciated.

Do You Sew?

In our effort to spruce up the Parish Hall, we are looking for someone to restore the cushions in the window seat of the Ladies' Parlor. The cushions and fabric are in tatters and we would like to see it replaced with similar material. Is this a project that you could handle? If so, please contact Joy Benson (847-7157). Thanks!

UU Bed & Breakfast Weekend on Beautiful Historic (and Blissfully Quiet in the Off Season) Martha's Vineyard Sept. 28, 29, 30

Stay in UU homes, eat great food, relax in great company shop, swim or walk the beach, fish, hang-out worship together. $250pp adults, (Kids 1/2 price) includes 2 nites, 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners, and a choice of fun and interesting activities. More info. and registration forms available at or by calling Diane at
508-693-8982. Advance registration required.

Page 4

August Church Calendar





Caregiving Committee
Hello's and Goodbye's

The Channing Caregiving Committee is pleased to announce the birth of Edwin Morris Milham, Jr., grandson to Beth and Russ Milham. Baby arrived on July 7 - Beth's own birth day! Welcome to Jeannette Porter. Jeannette has arrived recently from Oklahoma and is making her home here in Newport. Best wishes to Amy Freedman who has just left for her grand sabbatical adventure in Transylvania!

The Simone family is moving away. As Sam said when he lit a candle in church recently, "It's kind of sad." We'll miss them. Betsy Leerssen's uncle, Arthur Barrows died recently. He leaves behind a loving family and a generous legacy of giving to Channing Memorial Church. Sue White's mother also died recently. Though we haven't seen Sue in awhile, our thoughts of sympathy go out to her. Robert Allott's dad died recently. Our prayers go out to Bob and his family.

Longtime member Earl Schwass died on July 13. Earl was a noted community leader who will be much missed. Earl's wife Margaret survives him and the Channing Caregiving Committee hopes our community will reach out and assist Margaret whenever possible. Planned visits, rides and food items would be most welcome over the coming weeks and months.

The CCC coordinator for August is Alicia Spinner. She can be reached at 846-5899. Any committee member is willing and able to help you. Just call on us! Pass on any news also. As our congregation grows, we don't want to miss the opportunity to relay information to members and friends who are homebound or otherwise absent for a bit.

Our next meeting will be Monday, September 17, 52 Catherine St., Npt., 6 PM on the dot! Join us for the beginning of a year of fun and gratifying caregiving.

Your CCC! Channing's AAA for the body and soul!

Help Needed

Because the preschool is on vacation this summer, we have a golden opportunity to do some sprucing up of the Parish Hall. Some of us planning to do some inside painting. However, there are a lot of walls, and we need more volunteers to help. We plan to start August 6 and hope to get it finished that week. If not, we'll also be painting the week of August 13. If you can help out, please call Joy Benson, 847-7157 or Marcia Mallory, 849-5659 and let us know when you'd be available. Thanks!

Ingathering to Feature Water Communion

Over the summer months, members and friends, young and old, are invited to collect a small amount of water from some place special they have visited. All ages will participate in our Ingathering Service on Sunday, September 9th when the water will be received into a common container and will be used on special occasions throughout the church year.

Soup Kitchen

August's Soup Kitchen will be on Monday, August 20 in the Parish Hall. We continue to feed a lot of people even though it's summer. We're in real need of volunteers to help from 3:30 until 6:15 or anytime in between. Call 847-7157 for more information.

Our Soup Kitchen funds are running at an all time low. We expect some funding sometime in the fall but, until then, could use some help. We are not part of the church budget and depend on donations to buy food. Checks can be made out to Channing Church with a notation that they are for the Soup Kitchen and sent to the church office. Thanks in advance.

At our last meeting we discussed our goals, activities and schedule some events. We welcome Kathy Takata who is our new co-chair of membership. Keep the date of September 16th open for a Channing get together at the Richter's beautiful yard. Our next committee meeting is August 8th, 5:30 p.m. at the home of Marcia Mallory.

Page 6

Thoreau as Spiritual Guide

An Adult Enrichment course will be offered this fall by church member and Thoreau aficionado, Dana Mather. Participants will read Thoreau's classic book "Walden" for personal reflection and group discussion. Reflection topics will include:

The September Catalyst will include specific information on time, location, and registration. There will be no fee for this class but having a copy of "Walden" is required.

Hip, Hip, Hurray !!!!

Congratulations to Alison Kates Namzoff who has accepted the position as the Director of Religious Education. Alison is a long time member of Channing, participating on the Caregiving Committee, teaching RE classes and lay leading intergenerational worship. Alison will work in collaboration with the RE Committee to provide our children with an religious education experience based on our UU principles.

If any teachers have books or materials from last years RE sessions, please return them to the RE office in the parish hall, so that we may have all our materials ready for the start of the RE year.

Registration for RE classes will be held on September 9 in the parish hall. Re classes will begin on September 16.

The RE committee meeting will be held on August 16 at 7:00pm in the parish hall.