Christmas 2021

The Diocesan Staff will be celebrating Christmas from Thursday, December 23 through Sunday, January 2. Non-urgent emails and telephone calls may not be answered during that time.

We wish you a blessed Christmastide!

Advent RISEN

You may read  2021’s last issue of our Diocesan magazine, RISEN, available now.

The Rev. Ashley Peckham Celebrates 50 Years

On October 10, 2021, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church honored Reverend Ashley Peckham on his 50 years of service as an Episcopal Priest.  Priest-in-Charge Reverend Marilyn Mason and Reverend Canon Elizabeth Habecker lead the service with Reverend Peckham officiating at the Eucharist and Reverend Gordon Stenning giving the sermon. Father Stenning, the former rector at St. Mary’s Portsmouth (1955-1988), was Reverend Peckham’s mentor and presenter at his ordination.  His sermon was on the life and activities of a parish priest in the many aspects of the lives of his parishioners from birth to death as well as routine services to provide support, guidance, and comfort in the full range of circumstances of life as an engaged active parish priest.  This sermon, which was both appropriate and pertinent, was well received by the congregation and was applauded at its conclusion.

Although his ordination was at the larger Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Newport, St. Paul’s has been Reverend Peckham’s home church throughout his life.  His family on both sides has a long history in Portsmouth going back to colonial days and he has lived in the long-held family house for most of his life.  The family’s association with St. Paul’s goes back to its founding.  His religious education started with Sunday school and other activities. He served as an acolyte and in other positions of increasing knowledge, gaining experience.  His interest was noted by the clergy and lay leaders and he was encouraged to apply for higher positions in the church, including the priesthood.  He was a Sunday school teacher as a young man and with his wife and served as advisors to the Young People’s Fellowship.  He was educated in Portsmouth public schools and graduated from Rogers High School, then serving as the regional high school.  He then attended Barrington College.  During that time, he met and married Gudrun Elinor Christensen. He also worked for Pearson Boat Building in their Portsmouth facility.  The culmination of these accomplishments and encouragement was his selection to attend George Mercer School of Theology in Garden City, Long Island. This seminary was oriented to students with families and associated obligations.   Pearson Boat had been acquired by Grumman Industries, which had a manufacturing facility near the school so Ashley was able to transfer and work throughout his seminary education.

He completed his education and was ordained as a deacon in June 1970.  He then served as assistant to the Rector at Emmanuel Church. He was ordained on October 10, 1971 by Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island Bishop Frederick R. Belden.  After ordination Reverend Peckham served at various positions in the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island.  He served as rector at St. Albans in North Providence, St. Barnabas in Warwick, Holy Cross in Middletown and St. Mary’s in East Providence.  In his retirement as a parish rector, he has continued to serve as a priest.  He currently serves as New England Seafarers Mission Port Chaplain for the port of Providence, Narragansett Bay, and the surrounding area.  This involves meeting with the Master and crew of merchant ships visiting the area and providing assistance with their welfare, material, and spiritual needs during their visits to our local ports.  He assists at other parishes when they don’t have a priest.  He has an active ministry to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and shut-ins as well as visiting the sick.  Under St. Paul’s auspices, he does services such as funerals, weddings, baptisms, and others, mostly for family, friends, and those he has come to know through his ministry.

Ashley and his wife, Elinor had two sons, John and Michael.  Elinor died in 2007 and is greatly missed by Ashley and his family.  The family now includes Michael’s wife, a grandson, and a granddaughter.  Michael has followed in his father’s path.  He is involved in the production of videos to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ both in the U.S. and internationally.

The Reverend Ashley Peckham’s feelings for this support and recognition are as follows:  “Ashley is happy for the Lord and the people who loved and supported him.”

Grants and Loans for Churches

Grants and Loans for Churches

All Grants and Loans applications are reviewed through the Grants and Loans Committee to determine which commission should consider and process the application. Once an application has been reviewed by Grants and Loans Committee, the application is forwarded to the recommended commission to be considered and processed for funding through the Diocesan Resource Fund, Congregational Development Commission, a Revolving Loan, or a combination thereof. The recommended funding source may have their own application with questions that pertain to that specific funding source and may ask for the same information or updated information. In most cases, applications also must be presented to Diocesan Council for approval.

The Grants and Loans committee the first Monday of every month. The Congregational Development Commission meets the first Tuesday of every month. The Commission on Finance meets on the second Thursday of every month. Diocesan Council meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Standing Committee meets on the Third Tuesday of every month. Please plan accordingly, to approve Grants and Loans, Diocesan committees have several steps to go through before making decisions and dispersing funds. Email: with questions only.

There is one basic application form for all Diocesan funded Grants and Loans. Again, the recommended funding source may have their own application with questions that pertain to that specific funding source and may ask for the same information or updated information.

Complete the Grant or Loan Application by clicking HERE

Review available Diocesan Grants and Loans below:

Diocesan Resource Fund Grant:

The Diocesan Resource fund is a grant source for congregations in the diocese. Applications that the CoF recommends for approval will be considered by Diocesan Council for final approval. Applications up to $20,000 will be considered with the documented financial need of the congregation. Projects over and above $20,000 may be eligible for consideration by the Revolving Loan Fund, and you will receive a recommendation to apply if the Commission deems it appropriate. Churches will receive no more than one grant per calendar year.

Congregational Development Commission:

Provides funds for programs that strengthen congregations, especially those that are field testing new programs/initiatives on behalf of the diocese, done in partnership with other church or are part of a plan to spur significant growth, expand ministry, etc. Complete the application above. To read more about the Congregational Development Commission, click here.

Revolving Loan Fund:

Loans are available to congregations in this Diocese that are planning capital improvement projects. Contact Joan DeCelles for more information. Complete the application above.

Episcopal Charities:

Provides funds for outreach and service ministries in Rhode Island

Grants, Episcopal Church

  • United Thank Offering — provides grants related to each year’s theme. Check their website to see if your project fits this year’s theme. Each bishop can submit one grant for his/her diocese. They also offer five seminarian and five young adult ministry grants.
  • Episcopal Church Scholarships — The Episcopal Church offers educational scholarships to students ranging from K-12 to continuing education.
  • Young Adult and Campus Ministry Grants — These grants are intended to provide funding for an Episcopal ministry (or ecumenical ministry with an Episcopal presence) in a diocese, congregation, or college/university that is currently engaging in or seeking a new relationship with young adults on and off college campuses.
  • The Genesis Advisory Group of the Episcopal Church is still receiving grant applications for mission enterprise zones and developing church plants which had received funding in the last triennium for a mission enterprise zone or discernment grant for those working to clarify and develop a church plant. There are four different grant applications – each for a different kind of mission planting endeavor:
  • An application for Mission Enterprise Zones
    An application for Church Plants
    An application for Hybrid Ministries
    An application for a Discernment Grant

Grants, Rhode Island

  • Basic Human Needs Grants by the RI Foundation help community-based agencies (including churches) provide emergency assistance to Rhode Islanders in need. Food assistance requires membership in the RI Food Bank and all require maintaining records on the number of recipients, assistance provided, etc.
  • Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund by the RI Foundation supports youth development and mentoring for Black youth and the promotion of the history, achievements, and culture of the Black community. In 2018, The Church of St. John the Evangelist in Newport received a Bannister grant for the Choir School of Newport.
  • Organizational Development Grants by the RI Foundation are for a variety of activities that strengthen and improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Equity Action by the RI Foundation is committed to enacting social change by championing initiatives and organizations that encourage justice for, provide support to, and improve the quality of life of LGBTQ Rhode Islanders.
  • Grant Shelburne Fund – grants to nonprofit organizations that provide basic human needs including food, shelter and healthcare to underserved populations in Rhode Island.
  • Champlin Foundation – provides capital improvement grants to churches up to $50,000
  • Need something else? Contact Joannie Collins


United Thank Offering (ECW)

United Thank Offering: A partner with The Episcopal Church Women

 The United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of The Episcopal Church created to fund innovative mission and ministry projects.  From its initial collection in 1889 led by Ida Soule and Julia Chester Emery, the ministry has focused on gratitude and the importance of making a thank offering to remember that all good things come from God.  Since its inception, the ministry has grown exponentially through the grassroots efforts of dedicated coordinators/organizers and faithful participation by all Episcopalians.  Thank offerings are collected in parishes, dioceses, and provinces, as well as at The Triennial meeting and General Convention.  These funds are then awarded by the UTO Board annually as grants for loving, liberating, and life-giving work through innovative parish and diocesan ministries that help people live more fully in the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.  The United Thank Offering has become synonymous with the Blue Box, a tangible reminder that encourages individuals to pray daily, give thanks to God, and make a thank offering into the Blue Box.

Contact the Chairperson for the UTO in our diocese to get your Blue Box and to know about the UTO ingathering in the Diocese of Rhode Island.

Your ECW diocesan board is the center for our local UTO ministry.

You may donate to the UTO by sending your check to The Episcopal Church Women Diocese of Rhode Island. Make your check out to Episcopal Church Women RI, write UTO in the memo line. Thank You!

National UTO information:

Facebook: @UnitedThankOffering or

Sign up for UTO E-News

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