List of Summer Services, 2016
Sunday, June 19
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.
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
" 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
" 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.