Member, Deacons Chair

Brief info

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.

Q. Describe your faith journey:
A 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, 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.

Favorite Quote: “Love is what we know of God and that is enough”

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. It was love at first sight.

Q: What are the people like here?
A: 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.

Q. What do you like about Kingston Congregational Church?
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.

Q. What gets you up for church on Sunday?
A. 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?

Q.What is something we don’t know about you?
A. 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.

Q. How have you felt Gods’ presence in your life?
A. Love is what we know of God, and that is enough.

Q. What do you appreciate about being part of this faith community?
A. 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 a church member, 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.

Q. What activities are you involved in at KCC?
A. I am chair of the Deacons 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.

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