A New Home

Photo: Cecelia Lynch

It’s no accident that the Rev. Jack Lynch and the people of San Jorge, Central Falls chose the first Sunday in Advent as the day they would become San Jorge, Pawtucket. When 92 members of the Spanish-speaking congregation gathered for their first worship service at the building they will now share with St. Luke’s, Pawtucket, they were focused not on the building they were leaving behind in Central Falls, but on new opportunities and ministry ahead. “Yo voy a empezar algo nuevo, y ya he empezado a hacerlo,” read the congregation’s Facebook page. “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)

“We have more visibility in a community that is growing more diverse while continuing to serve Central Falls,” Lynch said of the move to the building at 670 Weeden Street in Pawtucket. “It is a real opportunity for evangelism.”

Last year diocesan leaders, in concert with the leaders of San Jorge, determined that the building in Central Falls where San Jorge had worshipped for decades could not adequately be repaired. Collaboration with St. Luke’s, Pawtucket, located less than a mile away, ensued, and on Sunday, the leaders of St. Luke’s welcomed the people of San Jorge warmly, with good spirits and extra signage in Spanish. The congregation includes people of 14 different nationalities, including many immigrants from Central and South America and a number of second- and third-generation Americans.

“We are excited to work with other Episcopalians in the community,” Lynch said. “Together, we can explore new ways of doing things together in a part of Rhode Island that is changing rapidly.”

Although Lynch describes response to the new location as “very, very positive,” he knows that maintaining the congregation’s longstanding holiday traditions will be even more important this year. On Saturday at 7 p.m., San Jorge will host La Fiesta de las Velitas, a traditional Colombian celebration of the Virgin Mary’s conception. The evening will include worship and a reception with hot chocolate and sweet bread, and everyone is welcome to attend.

Seizing the moment for racial reconciliation education

On his first day in the office at St Thomas’, Greenville, new Priest-in-Charge Rev. Dante A. Tavolaro had a phone call from the church’s Center for Reconciliation (CFR) liaison. “Let’s DO something,” was her message. The next day, Tavolaro proposed to the vestry that they seize the moment and begin educating the congregation about theracial divisions in our country. The vestry enthusiastically agreed.
St. Thomas’ is mapping out a series of educational opportunities to allow the people of the congregation to learn more about racial reconciliation and while privilege. They will be starting by reading James H. Cone’s “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” using the CFR’s curriculum. Tavolaro has made arrangements with Books on the Square in Providence to purchase a copy of the book for everyone who wants one.
In partnership with The Church of the Redeemer, St Thomas’ is considering a workshop on the topic of Implicit Bias. Redeemer has already begun doing reconciliation work in its community, and the hope is that a connection between the two churches will strengthen both their efforts.
It is not expected that everyone in the congregation will be eager to engage in this work, but Tavolaro believes that any reluctance is part of why the work is needed. He plans to reach out to all members of the congregation and hear all sides.
Ex-members, members of other congregations, members of no congregation are all welcome to learn about and engage with these difficult issues. If you are interested in the work at St Thomas’, contact Tavolaro (dante@stthomasepiscopalri.org), and if you are interested in learning more about the work at Redeemer, contact the Rev. Patrick Campbell (pcampbell@redeemerprovidence.org).

Revamping Space to Save Revenue

Reconfiguring portions of its parish hall building is creating new opportunities for ministries at Trinity, North Scituate.

“For the past two years, our vestry has been working to address sustainability,” explained the Rev. Johanna Marcure, rector. “In an effort to reduce our dependence on two annual fundraisers and with the hope of using those events to fund outreach instead of our budget, we’ve been exploring ways in which our buildings might help to supplement our income.”

Last fall, the vestry voted to move the church’s thrift shop from a location in the village of Scituate, and move a food ministry which serves about 60 families regularly, from the lower level of Graham Hall.

They’ll be housed upstairs in Graham Hall, above the parish hall. Sunday School and youth group rooms also are being reconfigured. The church library will move from Graham Hall to the first floor of the church, which will provide more space for study and meetings.

“It is our vestry’s fervent belief that the moves will strengthen these important outreach ministries, better utilize our buildings and help in our meeting our finance needs,” Marcure said.

Volunteers have been working with leaders of both ministries to plan and implement the changes. With the Rev. Susan Carpenter and her husband Brian recently joining Trinity’s community, Marcure invited Susan to help facilitate the transition of the outreach ministries into their new space by heading up the Task Force. “With Susan’s leadership as a congregational development consultant along with her extensive retail experience, it seemed like the perfect ministry for her to step into at Trinity,” said Marcure.

“We have been meeting regularly via Zoom, and subcommittees are moving forward, identifying new ways these long-standing ministries could function. We are focused on broadening the base of volunteer workers,” Carpenter noted. “To do that, we home in on peoples’ spiritual gifts to help them find the best match for their ministry.”

New possibilities might include training members of the congregation to be part of a pastoral care team that will be available during hours that the facilities are open. Or opening the shop and food pantry more often and at varying times to better accommodate the people Trinity serves. Families and young people might find new ways to participate in these ministries.

Church members are doing much of the construction, and Trinity has donated all the merchandise from the existing thrift shop to allow a totally fresh re-opening — scheduled for August 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re acquiring new displays, racks and shelving, and the diocesan Congregational Development Commission approved a grant we are using for a washer and dryer; shelving and shopping carriages for the food closet; and a computer and printer for inventory for both ministries,” Carpenter added. “Every item donated for sale will be washed or dry cleaned. Elevating the cleanliness and being selective with donations will help attract more customers.”

Marcure said the project is helping the congregation learn a lot about change, noting that “adaptive change is not instantaneous, and it requires restraint and a lot of Holy patience, especially during a pandemic!” Marcure also noted that Trinity is hoping to repurpose and incorporate items that have been sitting idle: “For example, recognizing that our thrift shop ministry is sacred and holy work, we decided to refinish a deconsecrated altar no longer in use as our sales counter in the shop.”

Good Idea! Covid Conversations at St Luke’s

One of the newest “Good Ideas!” in the diocese is “Covid Conversations” at St. Luke’s, East Greenwich.

The occasional conversations — likely to be once or twice a month — began in late May, prompted by a newsletter article written by Senior Warden Mike Grady, about the experience of being “alone together.”

“I thought that so beautifully captured what we are dealing with,” said the Rev. Tim Rich, rector. “So I wanted to create an experience that highlighted our togetherness. I also felt like there’s all this talk about the pandemic but little of it in the context of faith, so I wanted to create a container of sorts where we could have faith and God as the backdrop to our experiences.”

The first conversation was a big success, with 26 participants and a duration that lasted well beyond the scheduled 90 minutes.

“People shared both their struggles and their experiences of good fortune,” Rich noted. “At one point we went down an interesting road, talking about how this virus has forced us to change — and in some ways for the better.”

For churches considering similar programs, Rich said there were no real surprises in that initial conversation: “Just be prepared for peoples’ deep desires to share their stories.”

St Augustine’s is buzzing

On Saturday, April 25, the grounds of St. Augustine’s, Kingston, became home to a hive of 10,000 bees, in their latest initiative.
The Rev. Beth Sherman, vicar, has long been interested in bees, but has not actually kept them until now. She teamed up with friends of the congregation, Judy and Diane Landry, to take a beekeeping class, and began to make plans. Now that the hive has arrived from Georgia, they are keeping an eye on the queen, hoping that she and the hive will accept their new home.
When the hive is fully established, the bees will begin producing honey, and it is expected that the honey can be harvested starting in 2021. Sherman would like to expand this effort, bringing in more hives, and selling the honey. She and her fellow keepers are thinking of “Wholly Honey” for a brand name.
Bees play a critical role in the natural world, and in the production of our food, as primary pollinators. Recently bee populations have been in decline due to pesticides, environmental issues, and other problems. The hive at St Augustine’s will require careful monitoring to help it stay healthy and to thrive.
St Augustine’s occupies an acre of land on the University of Rhode Island campus, and the congregation is committed to the stewardship of that land as God’s creation, having had it recently certified as a Natural Wildlife Habitat. A butterfly garden has been planted and earlier in April, bat houses decorated by the congregation’s children were installed.

“Soup for the Docks”

“Soup for the Docks” supports a crucial part of our community

It can be cold and windy in Galilee. Yet on almost every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, a small band of volunteers faithfully sets up stations, in two places, to serve a simple, hot noonday meal of soup and crackers to the members of the local fishing fleet, its dock workers and others working in the adjacent fish processing plants.
In fact, those volunteers served 1,861 cups of soup in 2019, during 471 volunteer hours — an average of 22 cups of soup served per day.
The volunteers for this project — lovingly dubbed “Soup for the Docks” — come from four organizations: the Galilee Mission in Narragansett, the Chapel of St. John the Divine in Saunderstown, Church of the Ascension in Wakefield and the GFWC Women’s Club of South County.
“The port of Galilee houses largest the fishing fleet in Rhode Island, and the men and women working there are an important part of our community,” said the Rev. Rob Travis, head pastor at Ascension and St. John the Divine. “Our churches have historically been, and remain to this day, deeply connected through family ties to the fishing industry. So our support with this meal is an extension of that familial love, and an expression of the neighbor love that Jesus calls us to offer.”
The Galilee Mission originated the project 16 years ago, as a way of giving back to the South County community, which has been supporting the nonprofit’s activities since its founding in 1984. The mission offers residential, outpatient and court-ordered treatment, and recovery housing for individuals dependent on alcohol and/or illegal substances.
The ingredients for the soup and serving supplies are funded by the Galilee Mission, and the soup is made by the chef at the mission twice each week.
St. John the Divine was the original source of the volunteers serving the soup and has been involved ever since. Now volunteers from the two local churches and the GFWC Women’s Club come together in shifts of two or three, covering most weeks each month, weather permitting, through the entire year.
—    Kim A. Hanson

St Martin’s Church

Retail thinking benefits church thrift shop

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted the creation of all kinds of innovative online worship, but some church ministries have had to go on hiatus. When our buildings re-open, the shuttered ministries will re-open as well. What about using the down time to take a fresh look at what our ministries could look like in a post-coronavirus world? Here’s one example — a thrift shop revamp that St. Martin’s, Providence, undertook a couple of years ago that’s been a big success.

When’s the last time your thrift shop had a revamp? The Thrifty Goose at St. Martin’s had a fresh start two years ago, and the results have been impressive.

The shop, which has a 50-year history, has a new purpose, a new look — and new reactions. Income from sales has increased significantly, and the shop is attracting new customers.

“The Thrifty Goose and its companion ministry, The Cloak, are important in two ways,” said the Rev. Mark Sutherland, rector. “The Thrifty Goose enables us to participate in the re-purposing of high-quality clothing, and The Cloak gives us a way to channel items not salable in the shop for outreach and support to the homeless.”

The changes began with the appointment of Brigit Timpson as manager. Timpson had extensive retail experience in New Zealand, including ownership of a consignment shop. She and the volunteer team she leads began bringing retail thinking to the Thrifty Goose.

“With the appointment of a manager who brings retail and thrift shop experience, our volunteers are becoming more skilled in assessing real value and pricing appropriately,” Sutherland said.

Timpson explained that after beginning her new role, she and the volunteer team looked through the existing merchandise and “discovered we had many high-quality items in our inventory.

“We started increasing prices for those items, and we started to ‘show off’ the appealing items with different merchandising techniques,” she said. The merchandising is immediately visible in the shop, with items hung on the walls, multi-tiered table displays and lots of manikins modeling clothes.

“We try to create a pleasant, attractive atmosphere that looks and smells inviting, and do this through sound, scent and attention to detail,” Timpson explained.

The team also discovered a new product category that’s creating strong sales: men’s clothing. They expanded the product selection significantly and displayed the clothes like in a high-end men’s store.

“We’re selling lots of men’s clothes,” Timpson said. “We also sell lots of vintage clothes — young adults and students especially like them.”

Selling through other channels also has been highly successful. The team uses eBay extensively; one set of china sold for $1,200 — in one day.

Timpson said the team has worked hard to build relationships with its customers: “We remember what they bought last time and ask them about it, and we find things we think they would like and would go with recent purchases — just like a boutique would do.”

The shop has outfitted people going to weddings with everything from shoes, to dresses, jewelry, coats and bags.

“People really trust our judgment and come to us first now, rather than to any other shop,” she said. “But what I think is really the key to our success,” she concluded, “is that we ‘start dressing rooms’ for people, we take their things on the counter for them and we act like we are Nordstrom’s!”

And through all the retail-related changes, St. Martin’s has continued to donate as much or more to people in need through The Cloak. Regular donations go to five shelters around the Providence area. The rejuvenated shop and continued commitment to outreach are providing a successful combination for the ministry of St. Martin’s.

“Perhaps of greatest significance in the operation is the wonderful evangelical opportunity provided by the Thrifty Goose ministry,” Sutherland noted. “It offers an invitation to members of the community to visit our campus and to experience our friendliness and the openness of our engagement with the wider community around us.”

Church Profiles

We have collected stories about many  of our congregations and their ministries, from stories in our eNews. Take a closer look using the links below.

Holy Trinity Church,  Tiverton
St Mary’s Church, Portsmouth
St Augustine’s Church, URI campus, North Kingston
S Stephen’s Church, Providence
Holy Cross Church, Middletown
St Elizabeth’s Church, Hope Valley
St Matthew’s Church, Jamestown
Church of the Holy Spirit, Charlestown
St James’ Church, Woonsocket
St Michael’s Church, Bristol
St Luke’s Church, East Greenwich
Emmanuel Church, Cumberland
Christ Church, Lonsdale
St James’ Church, North Providence
St Paul’s Church, Pawtucket
Church of the Epiphany, Rumford
All Saints Church, Pontiac (Warwick)
St Thomas’ Church, Greenville
St Paul’s Church, Portsmouth
Church of the Transfiguration, Cranston


Worship at Home

We Are the Church

As we are unable to attend worship services in person, here are a few suggestions for worshiping at home.

If you are looking for information regarding putting your congregation’s service online, start here. There are additional resources here, and here. Regarding the use of music online: OneLicense. A list of hymns available under public domain is here. Additional information regarding copyright is here.

The National Cathedral in Washington, DC will be live Sundays at 11:15 am.

Most congregations are holding worship services in person and online, please contact the parishes directly to learn more about their specific offerings. Search for a church in your area here.

Our parishes – online

Are you looking for a service to attend this Christmas?

St Matthew’s Church, Jamestown 24-Dec 4pm Zoom ID 401 423 1762 Passcode 196944 Family service with Pageant
St Matthew’s Church, Jamestown 24-Dec 5pm Zoom ID 401 423 1762 Passcode 196944 Carols and Lessons

During this moment of social distancing, we are seeking new ways of being together for prayer and fellowship. Below is a list of online worship services. It will be updated as often as possible.

Bristol St Michael’s Morning Prayer Tuesday March 17, 9am Morning Prayer
Cranston Trinity Church Holy Eucharist Sunday, 9 am https://www.facebook.com/trinitypawtuxet/
Jamestown St Matthew’s Daily Offices recorded https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYfdKoA8TVOH9JS-THnm47Q
Narragansett St Peter’s by the Sea Holy Eucharist Sunday, 8 am and 10:51 am https://www.facebook.com/St-Peters-by-the-Sea-Episcopal-Church
Pawtucket St Paul’s Daily Offices Morning and Evening https:www.facebook.com/StPaulsPawtucket
Providence S Stephen’s Evening Prayer Monday, Wednesday 5:30 pm https://www.facebook.com/sstephensinprovidence
Providence S Stephen’s Low Mass Monday, Wednesday 6:00 pm    archived video at www.sstephens.org/sermon-archive
Providence S Stephen’s Noonday Prayer Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 12:00
Providence S Stephen’s Low Mass Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 12:30 pm
Providence S Stephen’s Morning Prayer Saturday, 9:30 am
Providence S Stephen’s Low Mass Saturday, 10 am
Providence S Stephen’s Solemn Mass Sunday, 10 am