Central’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Following guidance from the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ (SNEUCC) we ceased in-person worship on March 8.


  • To protect the health of our congregation
  • In person worship is one of the riskiest activities because speaking, singing, and praying propel the air-borne particles that carry the virus
  • Many members of our church are among the most vulnerable to COVID 19

Worship Continued Without Interruption

  • Shifted to broadcast worship
  • To date, we have celebrated 37 Sunday worship services of “sacred distancing”
  • Worked continuously to improve the worship experience

Pandemic Task Force

  • Formed over the summer with representatives from church boards and committees
  • Followed the Phasing Forward document of the SNEUCC and monitored local public health conditions
  • Nothing can guarantee safety, so the pastor and Church Council have engaged in constant risk assessment with guidance from the Pandemic Task Force

SNEUCC Phasing Forward Document

  • Five phases based on local public health conditions
  • Base Phase: building completely closed, no in-person activities
  • Phases I-III: gradual increase of in-person activities, assuming widespread community testing, tracing and consistently shrinking cases of COVID
  • Phase IV: widespread availability of an effective vaccine and resumption of all in-person activities

Why Does it Matter?

  • We seek to protect the health of our church family
  • We seek to protect the health of the wider community
  • We seek not to place additional burdens on medical care providers
  • “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” John 10:10b

The Church Never Closed

  • Sunday Worship Broadcast Seen by Over 140 Households Each Week
  • Sunday School Meetings on Zoom and Videos on YouTube
  • Added Friday Worship Preview and Devotional
  • Weekly Saturday Community Breakfast Continued and Added Summer Service
  • Monthly Food Collection Drives for Seven Months
  • Easter Flower Deliveries
  • Phone Calls to Every Church Household by Called to Care
  • Congregational Meeting in May
  • Drive through Chocolate Tour in June
  • Formation of Broadcast Team to Improve Worship
  • Prayer Box Distribution to 200 Households for Rally Day
  • Outdoor In-person Youth Group this Fall
  • Resumption of Saturday Evening Meal Program this Fall
  • Women’s Ministry Weekly Check-In and Prayer
  • Prayer Shawl Knitters Meets Monthly or Bi-Weekly
  • Women’s Ministry Weekly Check-In and Prayer
  • Men’s Group Met for 8 Weeks
  • “Central Reads” Book Group Meets Monthly
  • Monthly Trivia Night
  • Free Little Library Installed Outside on Corner of Pleasant and Titcomb Street
  • Resumption of Chancel Flower Deliveries
  • Installation of Professional Broadcast Equipment
  • Congregational Meeting and Town Hall in November
  • Virtual Christmas Fair and Wreath Sale in December
  • Midweek Worship for Advent
  • Social Hall Painted
  • Jill and Amantha Have Cleaned and Repaired Many Areas of the Building; Jack Has Wound the Clock Weekly
  • Basement Cleaned and Bulkhead Rebuilt
  • Met all State and City Building Inspections
  • Increased Communication from the Church
  • Council and All Committee Meetings Continue Every Month

From the Pastor

Rally for Central

Sacred stories, faithful practices, rebuilding community: these are the themes for our Rally for Central this year.

Normally, Rally Day is a one-day event that happens on the first Sunday after Labor Day. It’s a day to welcome people back to church after the summer break. The choir returns to worship. Sunday school teachers greet the students in their classrooms. Members and friends sign up for activities in the fall.

That’s what normally happens, but nothing is normal this year.

This year, we continue to worship virtually because of the pandemic. Yet we know how eager people are to see each other. The isolation of staying-at-home has come at a cost and we yearn for connection and community. We also know that parents are preparing their children to start a school year that will be unlike any other, with unique challenges and stresses.

The Rally Day committee took all of these factors into consideration when making plans for September. Here’s the plan:

· Instead of Rally Day, we will celebrate a month-long Rally for Central with new elements added to worship and church activities over several weeks

· To reconnect with people and offer interactive worship activities, we will deliver a prayer box to every household in the church

· The prayer box contains materials to help make worship at home more interactive

· Some in-person, outdoor activities will happen this fall, so check the calendar and watch your email

· Called to Care will do another round of wellness calls to check in on our members and friends

In this unusual and unsettling time, a time when we cannot gather together, let’s focus our attention on what’s essential in the life of the church.

We are a community formed by sacred stories. These include the stories of the Bible—creation, exodus, the words of the prophets, the parables of Jesus, the promise of the resurrection. They also include our stories—the daily events of our lives and the family stories that are passed from one generation to another.

We are a community shaped by faithful practices. We gather for worship, we offer prayers and praise to God, we sing. We also eat together, even virtually during communion and coffee connection. We serve other people by offering warm meals and canned goods and other necessities of life. In our personal lives, we are shaped by our routines like walking the dog,

doing yoga or exercise, reviewing homework with our children. All of these regular activities shape our identity.

Finally, we will rebuild our community during and after this time of social distancing. All of us can play a part by showing up for worship, participating in activities and Sunday’s coffee connection, reaching out to friends from church with phone calls and cards and text messages.

You are a beloved community and together we will continue to support and care for one another as we Rally for Central.

Grace and Peace,


Pastoral letter to New York City Congregations – by Rev. Christopher Ney

In mid-April, I heard reports from two colleagues in New York City about the impact of the pandemic there. The Rev. Emma Jordan-Simpson, the Executive Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation and pastor of the historic Concord Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn and the Rev. Kaji Douša, a leader in the New Sanctuary Movement and pastor of my former congregation Park Avenue Christian Church, both reflected on the demands of pastoring in the epicenter of the COVID-19 break out. I wept after hearing their comments and felt called to act. With guidance from the Rev. Don Remick of the Southern New England Conference-UCC and my peer support group, I drafted this letter and circulated it among clergy in Southern New England. Over 90 pastors and lay people added their names and it has been distributed to churches in the New York Metropolitan Area.

“Seek the welfare of the city…and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your own.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

In a time of exile, the prophet Jeremiah urged our ancestors in faith to care and pray for the city.

As clergy and lay people in the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, we want to express our care and offer our prayers particularly to our fellow clergy and lay people of New York City during this pandemic. While many of us feel vulnerable in new and unfamiliar ways, it is clear that the burden of this pandemic has not been equally distributed. The contours of social situation and the circumstance of geography have meant that some communities and areas have suffered much more grievously than others.

We are acutely aware that New York City and the surrounding metropolitan region have been widely recognized as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic within the United States. As of this writing, an estimated one in 800 residents of New York City have lost their lives.

This level of human suffering is beyond anything we have seen in this country for generations; for most of us it is beyond imagining. Yet we know that religious leaders in the New York metropolitan region are responding to this crisis with courage, determination and compassion to provide comfort and support to their communities.

To the clergy of NYC—we want to say that we see you and honor your service. We are praying with you—and for you and the people you serve. Many of us in New England feel deep ties to New York City. We have friends and family who live there. We enjoy all that New York has to offer its visitors. We love to cheer for or against your sports teams.

In this moment of crisis, we stand with you and your congregations in prayer and faith. As we move into the future and conditions change, please let us know how we can offer you more tangible support.

Serving Christ and God’s people with you,

The Clergy and Lay People of the Southern New England Conference of the UCC

Rev. Christopher Ney, Newburyport MA

Rev. Dr. Marlayna Schmidt, Beverly MA

Rev. Joan MacPherson, Amesbury MA

Rev. Alice W. Erickson, Gloucester MA

Rev. Rona Tyndall, Gloucester MA

Rev. Dr. Dennis B. Calhoun, Marblehead MA

Rev. Amy Bruch, Topsfield MA

Rev. Kent Siladi, Bridge Conference Minister

Rev. Don Remick, Bridge Conference Minister

Rev. Michael Ciba, Southern New England Conference, UCCTop of FormBottom of Form

Michele Mudrick, Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ

Rev. Cathlin Baker, West Tisbury, MA

Rev. Carolyn L. Young. Hamden, Connecticut

Rev. Vanessa Cardinale, Amherst, MA

Rev. David F. Peters, Roxbury, CT

Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree, Bloomfield, CT

Rev. Dr. W. Alan Froggatt, Chester, CT

Rev. Tom O’Brien, Memorial Congregational Church Sudbury, MA

Rev Emelia Attridge, First Congregational Church of Reading, MA

Rev. Peter Johnston, Monson, MA

Rev. Shawn Fisher, Bloomfield, CT.

Rev. Sarah Weaver Rehoboth, MA

Rev. Quentin Chin, Pittsfield, MA· 

Rev. Larissa Forsythe, Glastonbury, CT· 

Rev. Jeff Gallagher, United Congregational Church of Tolland, CT

Rev. Sara Krhla, Church of Christ Congregational, Goshen CT · 

Rev. Amy Lunde-Whitler, South Acton, MA

Rev. Dr. Rochelle A. Stackhouse, Hartford, CT

Rev. Kathy Cunliffe, First Church Wallingford, CT

Rev. Dr. Karen Nell Smith, Lunenburg, MA

Rev Christie Burns, West Parish of Barnstable, MA

Rev Bill Ferguson, Pilgrim Church Duxbury MA

Rev. Christa Swenson, Mystic Congregational Church, CT

Rev. Robert L. Livingston, Belchertown, MA

Rev. Dr. Maritza Angulo de Gonzalez, Manantial de Gracia, West Hartford, CT

Rev. Denise Clapsaddle, Plymouth CT

Rev. Dr. Sue Foster, East Woodstock Congregational, CT

Rev. Mark Pilletere, Berlin CT

Rev. Jane Rowe, South Church, New Britain, CT

Rev. Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham, First Church Guilford, CT

Rev. Mary Perry, First Congregational Church of Stoughton, MA

Rev. Jinny Smanik, Hampton Congregational Church, CT

Rev. Emily J. Kellar Congregational Church of South Dartmouth, UCC, Dartmouth, MA

Rev. Kevin Williams, Hebron and Killingly, CT

Rev. Kelly Thibeault, First Congregational, UCC, North Attleboro, MA.

Rev. Pamela Wannie. Hyannis, MA.

Rev. Sue Timony-Hall, North Madison Congregational Church, UCC, Madison, CT

Rev Michael McSherry, Edwards Church, Northampton, MA

Rev. Joe Tripp, Newport, RI

Rev. Pamela Rose Vollinger, CT

Rev. Nancy Rottman, Lynnfield, MA

Rev. Marilyn Wilcox, Clinton, MA

Rev. Lisa Eleck, West Suffield Congregational Church, CT

Rev. Margret Hofmeister, First Church of Christ, Congregational New Britain, CT

Rev. Todd Weir, First Churches ABC/UCC, Northampton, MA

Rev. Joseph W. Bradley, Hartford, CT

Rev. Lucille L. Fritz, Huntington Congregational UCC, Shelton, CT

Rev. Robert W. Nolan, Warwick, RI

Rev. Sarah Sund-Lussier, Hadwen Park Congregational Church, Worcester, MA

Rev. Julia Burkey, First Church in Middletown, CT

Rev. Karl Duetzmann, The United Church of Christ in Devon, Milford, CT.

Rev. Kristen Provost Switzer, Newtown Congregational Church, UCC

Rev. Debra Adams, North Andover, MA

Rev Mary Luti, Lowell, MA

Rev. Kimberly J. Murphy, Quincy, MA

Rev Robin Bartlett, Sterling, MA

Rev. Karyl J. Leslie, Worcester, MA

Rev. Debbie L. Cipolletti, Mansfield, MA

Rev Paul Goodman, Plantsville Congregational UCC, Plantsville, CT and UTS 1983.

Rev Lindsey Peterson, South Church UCC, Springfield, MA

Rev. Meg Boxwell Williams, First Congregational Church, Stratford, CT

Rev. Cheryl A Caronna First Congregational Church of Canterbury, Canterbury CT

Rev. Lauren Lorincz, Colchester Federated Church in Colchester, CT

Kathy Jellison, Providence, RI

Rev Lynne Dolan, First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury, MA

Rev. Mia J. Douglas, Glastonbury, CT

Rev. Bill Ketchum, United Parish of Carver, MA

Rev. Rhonda Myers, United Congregational UCC, Torrington CT

Rev. Jennifer Geary, RI

Rev Liz Yoho, Congregational Church of New Fairfield, CT

Rev. Carla Dietz Fairfield CT (born in NY!)

Rev. Cleo Graham, Providence RI

Rev. Laura Westby, Kensington Congregational Church, UCC, Kensington, CT

Rev. Kelly Thibeault, North Attleboro, MA

Rev. Dr. Peter Wells, Springfield, MA

Patricia A. Barry

Leo Eliasson

Brittany Alison

Elaine Seval Gaetani

Bonnie Odiorne

Nell Fields

Christopher Farrington

Nancy Hamlin Soukup

James Darwin-Reiss Admans

Saturday Morning “Grab n Go” Free Community Breakfast – 8:00am – 10:00am


Grab n Go free breakfast on Saturdays from 8am to 10am for the community.

Hospitable volunteers prepare and serve up eggs, pancakes, sausage, fruit, cereal, coffee, tea and juice. Due  Corona Virus, we have Take Out Only. 

Join the crew of volunteers.  Look for Carol Larocque or Jean Moore who will gladly answer your questions.  The community breakfast is supported by the Central Church Council, Christian Outreach Committee and the Saturday Night Meal Program.

(On Hold till further notice) The Saturday Night Meal Program

What is Saturday Night Meal? Once a month, from September through June, Central Church people gather with churches and other groups to assemble about 300 meals which are delivered to families in need in our area. We meet at about 2:30pm at East Parish United Methodist Church in Salisbury Square.

How can I get involved? There are many ways you can participate: donate a casserole or two (see the schedule below to see what’s on the menu this month), donate jugs of milk, help assemble meals and deliver meals. The entire family is welcome, and teens can get community service credit.

Schedule for 2019 – 2020

The Saturday Night Meal Program Upcoming

2019 – 2020 Meal Delivery Dates

Twenty-Second Season


September 14th, 2019-American Chop Suey

October 12th- Shepard’s Pie

November 16th – Lasagna

December-No Meal

January 11th, 2020- Ziti/ Meatball & Sausage

February 8th – Turkey Dinner

March 14th- Mac Cheese & Ham

April 4th – Hamburger Casserole

May 16th – Chicken & Rice

June 13th-American Chop Suey

Prep Work and Delivery at the East Parish Church, Salisbury Square Unless Otherwise Noted

Enjoy and God Bless!

Sponsored By:

The Pettengill House, Central Congregational Church, Newburyport and Main Street Church, Amesbury

Thanks to: The East Parish United Methodist Church Salisbury

Who can I talk to about Saturday Night Meal?  See Diane Hawkins-Clark or contact the office.