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Susan Berman is a retired librarian. She and her husband, Mark, live in South Kingstown just a stone’s throw from the church. Her career as a librarian spanned 36 years at the North Kingstown Free Library. She now volunteers with the Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Rhode Island.
I grew up in an American Baptist church in Wisconsin. I was baptized by total immersion as a teenager. But from the time that I went away to college until I was in my fifties and found KCC twelve years ago I was not part of a church community.
Reading is a way of life for me. I was an English major and gravitated toward classics, poetry, and literary fiction. Favorite American classic: Moby Dick; favorite 20th century American writer: Faulkner. I also read nonfiction—especially letters, memoirs, etc. Some years ago, I became particularly interested in spiritual journeys. I think reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, began my return to my own spiritual seeking. Some time after that, I read The Accidental Buddhist. I read The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris, and Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamotte. Some of the literature I loved—War and Peace, for example, made me think more about faith. I began to long to be part of a faith community.
Just as I was beginning to talk about finding a community, my husband, who is Jewish, mentioned colleagues at Kingston Congregational Church and thought the church might be a good fit for me. On a beautiful Sunday morning in June of 2001, I walked up to church to give it a try. The sermon was on Matthew 7:3—asking why you focus on the speck in your neighbor’s eye without noticing the log in you own. For some reason, that was exactly what I needed to hear.
I had planned on looking at different churches and going through a process to find the “right” one. After coming to KCC first I didn’t even look anywhere else. Tt was love at first sight.
The people here are a community. We are human beings—funny, sometimes foolish; fierce and frail—but ourselves in community and honestly seeking truth and justice. Of course we don’t always agree with each other. But we love each other.
In Travelling Mercies, Anne LaMotte writes about her membership in a church that makes her feel both loving and loved. That’s how I feel about KCC.
The church is the congregation, and I love that this congregation has been worshiping together since 1695. Also—I love having different generations all worshipping together. I’m happy to find myself, in my mid-sixties, sitting behind a friend who is 100 years old and between a friend who is 89 and one who is 39—with her daughter who is 10.
I love the service. The sermon is very important to me—takes me out of myself. I come needing this and leave feeling nourished and encouraged. I love singing and worshiping and being grateful together. And, of course, I feel loving and loved. Who wouldn’t get up for that?
You probably don’t know that I’m shy. And you may not know that I am a descendant of Roger Williams, which didn’t do me any good growing up in Wisconsin, where nobody seemed to have heard of him.
Love is what we know of God, and that is enough.
I’m going to answer this question by telling a story. It was the night of 9/11 and you remember how surreal that day was. I had worked at the library all day and it was just when we were beginning to have public access computers. People were coming in all day to use the computers to find out where they could give blood and other ways they could respond. I got home that night and received a phone call from Jack Whitehead. He was calling me to see if I would be interested in joining the Sunday morning book group. I joined. That was the beginning of my becoming part of the larger community. This community is life- affirming. This is not to say that we deny loss and anguish. It is just that we come together to find a balance and to trust—no matter what happens. I was so glad I had joined this community prior to 9/11. I am gladder every day.
I am co-chair of the mission board. I participate in most of the adult education programs offered through the church. I’m still part of the Sunday morning book group and I attend the Thursday noontime lectionary discussions.
Rem and Lori Remington live in North Kingstown with their teenage son. Rem works for Balise Toyota as an automotive service technician, Lori is assistant manager at Cap’N Jack’s in East Matunuck. Rem relaxes with good science fiction, or outdoors camping, hiking and playing disc golf. Lori likes to knit and gardening with plants and flowers. Their son is a Life Rank Boy Scout. He likes to play soccer and x-box.
We have been members for five years.
God, Jesus Christ, and the people at KCC!
Lori was raised and confirmed as a Catholic. I had been part of the Congregational faith tradition my whole life and was raised at Peace Dale Congregational Church. We were out of touch with church for about fifteen years but started wondering how to teach our son about God. My sister-in-law told me to check out Kingston Congregational Church. So I went to one service, listened to the sermon and thought, “This is what I’ve been missing.” The rest is history and our son was confirmed at KCC on May 19, 2013.
Our life is blessed. We see God in nature, science, and the people of Kingston Congregational Church.
The people here are caring, giving, living. We witness people caring, giving, loving, and living every time we interact with people from this congregation.
Lori likes green, Rem likes Skyrim, our son is flyn-ginger.
Well, we are busier because of KCC because we always want to help. We appreciate that we always have a safe place to go at KCC and the loving people.
Lori is active in the Women’s Fellowship. Our son is active in the senior high youth group activities. Rem serves on the board of trustees. We love the progressive dinner!
Linda and Angelo Mendillo both hail from New England and have lived in Kingston since 1975. Linda, a retired science teacher, spends her time now caring for grandchildren, gardening, working cross-word puzzles and doing water aerobics. In her spare time she works at keeping ground hogs from eating the fruits of her labors, and as the tax collector for the Kingston Fire District. Angelo is retired after working as a federal grants administrator for URI and the RI Department of Health. Angelo is also long-serving officer of the Tavern Hall Preservation Society and has served as moderator for the Kingston Fire and Water Districts for 22 years.
Linda and Angelo have been married for over four decades and have two grown children, Amy and Kate.
We began our experience with KCC in 1975 and became members soon thereafter.
We had been looking for a church community advocating freedom of belief and real commitment to social justice—along with great preaching, great music, and developed fellowship. In KCC we found all of this and more.
We both see God’s presence at KCC in the experience of congregational worship and in the depth of friendships we’ve been blessed to have in the KCC community. We experience God in the beauty of the world, in the kindness of people, in the quest for justice for all, and in the love of family and friends. We both believe in the transcendent power of worship, of art, of music—we think that God can be experienced in these things.
Linda and I think the people at KCC are---above all---kind, generous, and loving. KCC is a diverse group and we don’t all hold the same positions, but we respect one another and we’re always eager to listen to everyone’s views. The people at KCC care more about what binds them together than about their differences.
We are both interested in classical music, theatre, art, and literature, and we are longtime subscribers at Trinity Rep, at the Gamm, and at the Boston Symphony. We find chamber-music concerts to attend—there are quite a few of these in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, if you look for them. We have visited some of the world’s greatest museums and look forward to visiting more of them. We are on a quest to see all 35 of the known paintings of Vermeer and are well along on that goal.
We believe that the loving inclusion of everyone is KCC’s greatest asset.
Linda has served on the Board of South Providence Neighborhood Ministries, as well as co-leader of a Brownies troop there. At KCC she has served on the Board of Deacons and on the Flower Committee, has taught in Sunday school, and was Clerk of the Church.
Angelo has served the Rhode Island Conference, United Church of Christ as chair of the Church and Ministry Committee and as president of the Conference.
At KCC he has served as moderator and as president, and as a member of the Music Committee, the Stewardship Committee, and the Board of Christian Education.