First Unitarian Church of Providence
news & notes

news & events
news & notes

Get all the latest news and events happening at First U this Fall in the most recent First U Newsletter!

Spiritual Development, May
Spring Path to Membership Classes
Tuesday evenings: May 2, 9, 16, & 23, 7:00p
Leaders: Rev. Charlie Ortman, DRE Cathy Seggel and Jenn Nardone
The Path to Membership class is for anyone who is interested in membership or in learning more about Unitarian Universalism or about First Unitarian. This four-session course is offered three times during the year. The classes are led by our Interim Minister, Charlie Ortman; our Director of Religious Education, Cathy Seggel; and our Membership Coordinator, Jenn Nardone.

For anyone unable to attend the Tuesday evening sessions, arrangements will be made to provide a “mini-course” as an alternative. Childcare will be provided if requested in advance. To register, contact: Jenn Nardone, Membership Coordinator ( or call the office (401.421.7970). She can also be found in the Newcomers’ Cafe behind the fireplace on Sundays!

Social Justice: May
Congregation Votes "Yes" to Becoming a Sanctuary Church
more info will be coming regularly - watch this space!
On April 23, it was announced to our congregation that we voted to become a Sanctuary Church. It has been a long and carefully considered process to reach this decision.

Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) met weekly since the beginning of the year to explore different options for becoming involved in the Sanctuary Church Movement. Last winter, they took the pulse of our congregation during Coffee Hour conversations and through an online poll; they concluded that an overwhelming majority of those who participated in these forums were in favor of First Unitarian becoming a sanctuary church.

After conversations with other congregations, pages of FAQs, person-to-person Q&As, and a well-considered resolution, our congregation decided to bring this important question to a vote.

Now that the decision has been made, we can look ahead to what comes next. At some point in the future, we may find ourselves housing, in our building, an immigrant who is in danger of deportation. There is also the possibility we could be supporting another church holding someone in sanctuary. There is still much work to be done in preparation for housing someone in our space, but we will rise to this task. We will work together with neighbors in other faith communities to help make a difference in the lives of immigrants in our state.

In the next month, we will begin working on an initiative with the ACLU which asks each of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island to introduce legislation to become supporters of sanctuary. We will continue to show up and speak out for immigrants at the State House and support the passage of the Community Safety Act in Providence. There is much work to be done, but together there is much we can accomplish.

For more information, contact Prudential Committee President Keith Brown via the office phone.

Prudential Committee & Community Life
Congregational Conversation: Outcomes of Vision Workshop
held this past November
The First Unitarian Prudential Committee hosted a Congregational Conversation to surface our shared vision and consider how this: influences our culture; aligns our actions both inside and outside of our church walls; strengthens our relationships; energizes our spiritual life; and binds us together as one community. Our vision work together is inspired by our mission, which you can find here.

We invited everyone in our beloved community at First Unitarian (all ages and perspectives) to join us for a series of gatherings over this church year as we reflected on our congregational history, discerned who we are at the present moment, and envisioned how we want to grow more into living our vision and mission in the future. Charlie Ortman, our Interim Minister, and Gary Lerude, a UUA facilitator from the New England chapter, guided our conversation as we began the vision process on November 5.

Updates on the outcomes of this well-attended meeting will appear here - check back soon!

Women's Alliance: May
Monthly Meeting: May 1- "Is Our Drinking Water Safe?"
Business Meeting: 10:00a
Program: 11:00a
Luncheon: noon ($10 or bring your own)

Speaker: Eugenia Marks
We turn on our faucets and take for granted that the uses we have for what flows out of the spigot will be fulfilled. What is the source of our domestic water? How is it protected? How does it get to our houses? How can we be more efficient in our water use?

Eugenia Seaman Marks was reared in the Unitarian Church of Orlando, Florida. She was educated at the Women’s College of UNC (where she participated in the lunch counter sit-ins of 1960), New York University, and Brown. After a peripatetic career, she served for 35 years with the Audubon Society of RI, culminating as Senior Director for Policy.

Camp Street Community Ministries
Save your grocery receipts from Eastside Marketplace and place them in the collection box at the back table in the Atrium near the Haynes Room. The Women’s Alliance collects them for the benefit of Camp Street Ministries.

Established in 1882, the Women’s Alliance is unique among the organizations of First Unitarian in that it is an autonomous society of dues-paying members and has its own endowment. Many of its members played leading roles in education, suffrage, and social services. In 2014 the Women’s Alliance became an affiliate of the church. Its mission continues to be serving the community, both locally and at large, providing friendship and spiritual and cultural stimuli for its members, and supporting the church.

The Women’s Alliance meets monthly from October to June and features a variety of speakers, followed by a luncheon. Other activities include fundraisers to provide financial donations to local charities that support women and families; service activities such as hosting a tea at nursing homes, a garden project in partnership with the Tockwotton Courtyard residents, and signing up donations for the church’s Sunday Coffee Hour. The Alliance also monitors the maintenance of the Parish House parlors.

Stop by the Alliance coffee table on Sundays for information on membership, or contact Nori Duncan, Alliance President ( @ .com)

Art in the Atrium: May/span>
The opening of our guest artist Alfredo Lorenzo’s exhibit has been postponed until Friday, May 12, before the Parish Supper. His show, “One Way – Recollections of Texas,” features paintings done there at the beginning of this year. A RISD graduate in landscape architecture, Alfredo Lorenzo is known for his joyous pastel and acrylic work, reminiscent of the serenity and color palette of the Caribbean islands, his original homeland.

The month of June will host an exhibit of two well-known artists from our congregation: Amy Webb and Sally Barker. Their work will remain on display during the summer months.

If you would like to schedule a show next church year, please contact: Chiara Van Erp (

Gourmet Coffee Sale in the Atrium
Why settle for any old coffee. You can create your very own unique coffee using the gourmet coffees sold by the Women’s Alliance. We sell two bold coffees, one medium coffee, and two decaf coffees. All types come in both beans and drip-grind 16 oz. bags. And they are all organic and freshly roasted in RI! Perhaps you’d like a reduced-caffeine coffee but with just the right amount of caffeine for mental alertness. Or you might like to blend together several coffees for Your Special Coffee. It’s fun to experiment on these cold winter days. And you are helping the community. The Alliance donates the proceeds from the coffee sales to worthy causes. Check out our table and get adventurous!

Coffee sales will be in the Atrium at the Women’s Alliance table during the regular season.

Sign up to make or buy treats for Coffee Hour!
This cooperative effort is organized by The Women’s Alliance with donations from our congregation of baked goods, fruit, cheese and crackers, small sandwiches or similar finger foods.

Our Coffee Hour Co-op needs you! We welcome donations made at home or bought at a store. In order to feed all comers, every Sunday we need eight people bringing treats to serve 24 each. Sign-ups are preferred in order to plan for each upcoming Sunday. Sign up in the parlor during Coffee Hour and go home with a reminder.

Flowers for Sunday Services
Flowers at the pulpit each Sunday are donated by members and friends in honor or memory of a loved one. Donors are acknowledged in the order of service. Whether the flowers are a florist’s arrangement or picked from a garden, people always comment on how they brighten the pulpit.

Jacqui Nye will be glad to explain how you can provide an arrangement and to schedule your donation. Your flower offering will be greatly appreciated.

Contact: Jacqui Nye ( with "Sunday Flowers" in the subject line.

The Pantry Is Open to All
You probably know that volunteers at First Unitarian run a very well-attended food pantry. But did you know that members of the congregation who are in need are also welcome to take part and receive food? You do not have to be receiving government help or otherwise demonstrate need. Just come to the church after 2:30p on the third Monday and fill out a brief registration form.