First Unitarian Church of Providence
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List of Summer Services, 2016
Services are listed below in order presented, with more recent services at the end. All sermons include titles, names of presenters, dates, and synopses; when full-text is available, it will be linked via the sermon's title. When audio recordings are available, an embedded player will appear below the synopsis.
Please note: not all presenters provided text and/or audio for inclusion here.

Sunday, June 19
J. Bela Teixeira
"Every Great Dream Begins with a Dreamer: Reflections on the Long Road to Freedom – First of August to Juneteenth"
Two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were to be set free from chattel slavery. June 19, 1865, became known as Juneteenth, the last official day of slavery in the United States. In the north, other holidays, such as the First of August, developed to commemorate key dates in Black history in the early years of the Republic. We will learn about some of these historical events and celebrations, as well as the early African Americans whose contributions they recognize.

J. Bela Teixeira, a member of First Unitarian Providence since 2015, is an artist, works as a health promotions/advocacy grant coordinator, and was executive director of the RI Black Heritage Society for 12 and a half years. She has been engaged in the exploration of Rhode Island’s social history, particularly the contributions of Blacks in Rhode Island to the body politic and race matters, specializing in related topics of slavery and emancipation in New England.



Sunday, June 26
Rabbi Alan Flam
"Our Hands Are Not Enough"
Ending homelessness in Rhode Island is not only possible, it is within our sights to accomplish. We can reach this goal with focused and determined actions.

Rabbi Alan Flam is the Executive Director of the Helen Hudson Foundation for Homeless America and a past president and current board member of the RI Coalition for the Homeless. From 1982 to 2000, he worked as Jewish Chaplain at Brown University; and from 2000 until April; he worked as a Senior Fellow at the Swearer Center for Public Service. He is a founding member of the RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty and a secretary of the Economic Progress Institute of Rhode Island.



Sunday, July 3
Rick Richards
"Spirit in Life"
One of the remaining vestiges of Rick’s Catholic upbringing is a preoccupation with the nature of spirituality. In the Catholic tradition, there are many artifacts that codify spirituality: prayer, spiritual practice, and saints come to mind as examples. Do these have analogs in a spiritual, but more secular, tradition such as Unitarianism?

Rick Richards feels fortunate to have married someone with Unitarian proclivities. Following her to church allowed him to understand that religion can be meaningful and relevant, and to grow over the years through exposure to Unitarian values. They joined First Unitarian after moving to Providence in 1982, and raised their children in the church. Now, in their retirement, the church is an old friend who cumulatively gained their affection as they participated in diverse adventures over the years.



Sunday, July 10
StrongHousian Quartet
"Encouraging Spiritual Growth - Applying the Third Principle"
Beth and Stew Armstrong, David House, and Janice Okoomian are the vocal quartet Strong- Housian. These two life-long and two midlife-convert Unitarians all experience a spiritual lift in the presence of music. Like all Unitarians, each has distinct ideas of what faith means to them and how it impacts their lives. Yet they are united in expressing appreciation for blessings arising out of their unique approaches to spiritual life. This service is a collaborative effort in expressing that appreciation in music, meditation, and word.



Sunday, July 17
Barbara Barnes
"Re-Building Faith in the City of Hope"
Two hundred years ago, after a devastating fire in 1814 had destroyed the 21-year-old First Congregational Church, resilient and committed church members built a new worship space in which the congregation still gathers today. Since 1816, the First Unitarian Church of Providence, as it is now known, has been a symbol of leadership, stability, and spirituality in the Benefit Street neighborhood and in all of Providence. What difference does this historic church make in a city first founded on hope?

Barbara Barnes worked as a tourism manager and walking-tour guide in Providence from 1990 to 2015. Many tours she led for the Providence Preservation Society and the Rhode Island Historical Society included special visits to the First Unitarian Church.



Sunday, July 24
Katherine Ahlquist
"Why Not Me? Some Thoughts on Cancer, Life, and Getting through It All"

Katherine Ahlquist has been attending First Unitarian since 1995, when her oldest daughter, Kaileigh, came with a friend and really, really liked it. The next week she insisted her family come, and some of them have been attending ever since.



Sunday, July 31
Kelley Smith
" In the Water with the Seventh Principle"
Kelley had a “conversion experience” six years ago when she was living and working in American Samoa: that is, she became a passionate snorkeler and lover of marine life. She will explore how snorkeling has become a spiritual practice for her, and how it helps her to live into the seventh UU principle.

Kelley Alison Smith is a writer and health researcher living in Riverside, RI with her wife, Samantha Cole, and daughter, Carson Cole. They have belonged to First Unitarian for about three and a half years. Kelley sings with Community Band and serves on the Worship Committee.



Sunday, September 4
Keith Brown
" Chinese Friends, a Broken Mast, and the Price of Camphor, Or, What Edward Carrington Saw from Pew 5 in October 1816"
People have been sitting in the Meeting House pews on Sunday mornings for 200 years. While we know they were here in body, where did their minds roam, as they greeted one another and settled in to listen to that Sunday’s sermon? Sometimes they leave clues and traces, as if they meant to spark our own imaginations.

Keith Brown is a Brown University professor, reads whenever he can, and is the incoming President of this congregation.