Wednesday, April 23

Transition in the Communications Ministry of Diocese

Our Communications Director, Ruth Meteer, has been accepted into Yale Divinity School to do a Master of Arts in Religion and Literature. After much prayerful discernment she has decided that the time is right to enroll for this fall, which means that after nearly 6 years with the Diocese of Rhode Island Ruth will be moving on to the next step in her career.

Our quarterly RISEN Magazine is an award winning publication. All but two of our churches now have websites, and most of our churches are active on social media as well. The story of all the great things happening in the Episcopal Church in RI is gaining traction church wide, and local RI media has been running near-weekly stories about our churches and programs. In a few more months we will launch our new mobile responsive website, and begin to put into action some of the work Ruth and the Digital Giving task force have done to explore mobile giving options. Ruth's role in the process that has gotten us to this point can not be overstated. We owe her a great deal of thanks.

Ruth has said

“I have never worked in an office as supportive, fun, and full of integrity as the Diocese of RI and will be very lucky ever to find such a place again. I will deeply miss every member of this staff and all of you, the wonderful people I have worked with in our churches. I want to tell you though, that I am confident your next Communications Director will be inheriting a position with all the tools they need to succeed.

This is the perfect time for a fresh set of eyes to come in and strategically maximize all that we’ve put into place over the past 6 years. The Episcopal Church in RI has an exciting future ahead, and everything necessary to share that future with the world. I know God is working in this place. Have you felt the excitement building in this diocese lately? I have! I am blessed to have been a part of it, and can’t wait to see how the Holy Spirit works here in RI the future, and in my own life as I enter this new stage.”

I have been working on a job description for Ruth’s replacement, which you will soon find on our website. Anyone interested in the position could begin by contacting The Rev. Canon Linda Grenz. We are hoping to hire our next Communications Director over the summer months so that we can have as smooth as possible a transition in this important ministry.

While Ruth and I have only worked together for the past two years, I am grateful for her presence on my senior staff and for the creativity and wide knowledge of this evolving field that she brought to the position.

Pray with us as my office begins to discern who may be the next hire for Rhode Island!


+Nicholas Knisely
XIII Bishop of Rhode Island

Tuesday, April 22

St. Martin's, Providence calls The Rev. Mark Sutherland as Rector

The Reverend Mark Robert Sutherland has been called as the 12th Rector of St. Martin’s, Providence. Mark has been serving as Canon for Congregational Formation at Trinity Cathedral in the Diocese of Arizona, the same church where Bishop Knisely served as Dean before his election and consecration as the 13th Bishop of Rhode Island.

In an Easter Monday letter to the parish, St. Martin's Wardens Elizabeth Welshman and Sean Mulholland say "The Discernment Team voted unanimously to recommend Mark as the next Rector of St. Martin’s, and the Vestry voted unanimously to accept the decision of the Discernment Team. For St. Martin’s this announces an exciting new stage in our journey as a Christian community."

Mark is a native of Christchurch, New Zealand, where all of his family still live.  In 1977, at the age of 22, he graduated from the University of Canterbury with an LLB and, shortly thereafter, left on a Kiwi walkabout from which he never returned.

After 5 years in the UK in 1982 Mark began training for priestly ministry at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, the Church of England’s first and oldest theological college at Oxford University. Two years later he went as an exchange student to Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. In 1985 he returned to England where on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Mark was ordained deacon in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. He was ordained priest one year later and he served for seven years in two parishes of the Diocese of London.

Early on, Mark was drawn to a ministry to those in emotional and spiritual distress.  To better serve in this ministry, he began training in psychoanalytic counseling at the University of London, eventually obtaining an M.A. in Adult and Continuing Education, as well as an M.A. in Transpersonal Psychotherapy from the University of East London. For 12 of the next 18 years, Mark directed one of the largest departments of spiritual care in the UK at the South London & Maudsley NHS Trust. The Trust included the world famous Maudsely and the Bethlem Royal (Old Bedlam) Hospitals together with community mental health facilities in South East London. He became a nationally recognized educator, speaker, and writer on the complex interface between spiritual life and emotional development.

In the spring of 2010, after a year as a chaplain resident at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center Bishop Kirk Smith appointed him Canon for Congregational Formation (Canon Pastor) to Trinity Cathedral. He is also a member of the Bishop’s Commission on Ministry. In August 2012 Bishop Smith invited him to become the Interim Dean. He served as Interim Dean for the next 16 months before resuming his position as Canon Pastor after the arrival of the current Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix, AZ, in January 2014.

Mark lives in central Phoenix with his spouse, Al Marcetti, and their Cocker spaniel, Charliegirl.
Mark’s blog can be found at and his sermons are regularly posted on the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral website

Mark and his spouse Al will visit St. Martin's on Sunday, April 27th and Mark will serve as guest preacher at the 8 and 10AM services.   Following each service, parishioners will have the opportunity to hear from Mark in a parish-wide forum.

In closing their letter, St. Martin's Wardens offer their gratitude for this exciting new call by saying "We would like to thank The Rt. Rev. Bishop Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of Rhode Island, and The Rev. Canon Linda Grenz, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Rhode Island.  They were always accessible and offered valuable guidance as we arrived at our Agreement with Mark.  We would also like to thank Mark.  He discerned a call to St. Martin’s and followed it. And finally, we would like to thank the Lord, our God.  He made all of this possible."

Monday, April 21

St. Mary's Home for Children & National Child Abuse Prevention Month

We received this letter from St. Mary's Home for Children, which many of you may not know is a non-profit with Episcopal roots, for which the Bishop of RI still sits on the Board of Directors. If you are looking for a good cause to support for National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Bishop Knisely suggests St. Mary's.

Dear Friend,

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to acknowledge the importance of working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and promote the emotional well being of children and families. With your help, St. Mary’s Home for Children provided therapeutic and educational services to 871 clients in 2013. Through our residential, out-patient, community-based and educational programs, we treat children and families from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds.

In the State of Rhode Island in 2012, RI Kids Count reported that there were 13,540 calls to the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families’ Child Protective Services Hotline reporting maltreatment of children. 6,784 of those calls resulted in complete investigations and 2,266 indicated child abuse or neglect. In our small state, too many children are being affected by abuse. Many of these children find a safe haven at St. Mary’s Home for Children.

The children we serve have experienced traumatic events. Our mission is not only to provide a safe environment for healing from these experiences, but also to help our clients lead fulfilling, meaningful lives – lives free from abuse and violence. We aspire to have a positive impact on the cycle of abuse by helping those we serve develop positive coping, social, and emotional regulation skills so that future generations will derive the benefits of healthy parenting.

We deliver a message of hope in all aspects of our work and find special value in providing those we serve with recreational, therapeutic and education experiences that treat the “whole” child. We recognize that our children have tremendous potential. Their abuse does not define them. For our efforts to be effective, we need your help. Funds raised from our friends and supporters enable us to provide the resources, services and activities that are instrumental in the children’s healing process.

Won’t you please support our programs during this significant month? Your gift will have a direct impact on a child in need.

Very truly yours,

Carlene Casciano-McCann
Executive Director

St. Mary’s Home for Children     The Shepherd Program     George N. Hunt Campus School

420 Fruit Hill Avenue     North Providence, RI  02911     401-353-3900

Thursday, April 10

St. John's in Newport Restores the Word Episcopal to its Sign

Before                                        After
The Vicar of St. John’s, Father N.J.A. Humphrey, will bless the restored sign at 9:00 a.m., following Morning Prayer on Friday, April 11th.

The Zabriskie Memorial Church of St. John the Evangelist in Newport's historic neighborhood called the point, has re-affirmed it's Episcopal affiliation by restoring the word 'Episcopal' to its sign and adding the phrase 'A member of the worldwide Anglican Communion'. St. John's is one of two Anglo-Catholic churches in the Diocese of Rhode Island.

11 years ago, in October, 2003, the former rector of Saint John the Evangelist Church changed the sign out front to read 'Anglican'. Through the years the former word 'Episcopal' could still be seen faintly in the blacked-out background, over which the word 'Anglican' was superimposed.

The 2003 sign change was intended as a protest against the consecration of Gene Robinson, a partnered gay man, as Bishop of New Hampshire. “I believe some people hoped that St. John’s would leave the Episcopal Church over this issue,” the current vicar, Father N.J.A. Humphrey, said. Fr. Humphrey has been the priest at St. John’s since August, 2013.

But St. John's didn't ever leave the Episcopal Church, and the term 'Anglican' on their sign gradually became misleading. Over the years breakaway churches across the nation began to claim the title 'Anglican' as a way of distancing themselves from the Episcopal Church, which is the official U.S. branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. Fr. Nathan Humphrey said  “As soon as I arrived, several people asked me what I was going to do about the sign. It wasn’t exactly my top priority, but I was bothered by the fact that it sent not just the wrong message, but a false one.”

A few months after Fr. Humphrey’s arrival, the governing board of the congregation authorized the sign’s restoration, and soon thereafter Fr. Humphrey raised enough money to cover the cost. “John Liptak of Liptak signs did a beautiful job,” Fr. Humphrey said.

This restoration is not intended to signal any recent change in the church’s ideology. Fr. Humphrey said “St. John’s is home to people on all sides of any given political or theological issue. We’re just like any other happy dysfunctional family in that regard...There are plenty of Anglicans who are progressive as well as plenty of Anglicans who are traditional in our theological and political outlook. He continued on to say "The plain fact of the matter is that to leave the word ‘Episcopal’ off of our sign was false advertising. We have been a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island since our founding as an Anglo-catholic congregation in 1875, and we have never ceased being anything other than a member of this diocese. Nor do we have any intention of changing that now or in the future.”

In fact, last Spring the governing board of St. John’s voted to request that the Bishop of Rhode Island, The Right Reverend W. Nicholas Knisely, make the parish a transitional mission congregation of the diocese, legally making the bishop the rector of the church. As Rector, Bp. Knisely appointed Fr. Humphrey, an experienced Anglo-catholic priest, to be his Vicar. The church consented. “I was recruited to help St. John’s reclaim its traditional identity as a joyful center of high church worship and caring outreach in Newport,” Fr. Humphrey said. “The denominational in-fighting of the past forty years effectively distracted many past members of St. John’s from our core identity as brothers and sisters in Christ, called to glorify God in reverent worship, to edify each other through attention to the Gospel of Jesus, and to embrace service to the world in Jesus’ name.

He continued "Our identity in Christ is the only identity that really matters, and anything, including what the sign says out front, pales in comparison to that. Thank God that St. John’s has members who have remained faithful to that core identity through thick and thin. Now is the time to broadcast that nothing will hinder us from proclaiming who we truly are: a Christian community in the Anglo-catholic tradition within the Episcopal Church.”

The Anglo-catholic movement began in the Church of England in the mid-nineteenth century. Soon, its emphasis on reverent beauty in worship and fidelity to the apostolic teaching of the early church was imported to many congregations within the Episcopal Church. “People like to say we are all about ‘smells and bells,’ but I prefer saying we have ‘all the pomp without the pope,’ though were the pope to visit us, we’d be pleased as punch to welcome him,” Fr. Humphrey quipped.

The sign change comes just in time for Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday on April 13th. “We are planning a procession from Storer Park to the church, beginning at 10 a.m. All are welcome to join our blessing of the palms in the park that morning, weather-permitting.” Fr. Humphrey continued, “I hope our neighbors and friends will join us, as well, on Maundy Thursday, April 17th, at 6:30 p.m. and Good Friday, April 18th, also at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, Apirl 19th, Bishop Knisely will preside over the Great Vigil of Easter, at which the clergy and people of the other Episcopal Churches of Aquidneck Island and St. George’s School Chapel, Middletown will participate. St. Andrew’s, Little Compton will also join us, since they are in the same deanery as St. John’s.”

The Zabriskie Memorial Church of Saint John the Evangelist is located at 61 Washington Street in the historic Point neighborhood of scenic Newport, Rhode Island. The 139 year-old church was founded in the home of a free black man named Peter Quire from Maryland. In the late 1800s, Sarah Titus Zabriskie gave the current 13th century style stone gothic church overlooking the Narragansett Bay in memory of her mother, Sarah Jane Zabriskie. The church has been identified with the Anglo-catholic, or “high church,” tradition since its founding, and is known for its friendly, racially mixed and economically diverse congregation.

Thursday, April 3

Reminder: First Cathedral Brainstorming Session is this Saturday!

Cathedral Brainstorming Sessions

Don’t forget that the first of our Cathedral Brainstorming Sessions is this Saturday, April 5th at St. Mark’s in Warwick, 10am to 12pm.  If you can’t make this one, there will be another held on Tuesday May 20th at church of the Redeemer in Providence from 7-9pm.

These meetings are open to the public, but will be geared towards facilitating conversation among Rhode Island Episcopalians worshipping in our 51 churches across the state, as our churches have a stake in the future of St. John's.

A few exciting ideas have arisen out of our previous meetings with RI Clergy and members of the Cathedral’s former congregation. We will be presenting these to the people of the diocese of RI to discuss, along with any other ideas that come to light during the event.

Hope to see you there! Your opinion will be invaluable as we begin to narrow the wide field of opportunities for St. John, and start to define a real future for Episcopal ministry in that building on North Main Street.

Transfiguration in Cranston Plants a New Hispanic Congregation

Members of Transfiguration in Cranston have stepped outside their comfort zone, to canvass the neighborhood on recent Saturday mornings.  Theyre on a mission to let their neighbors know that a new Hispanic/Latino congregation is being planted at their church, and the first service is just around the corner at 5pm on Palm Sunday. 

In recent years the Cranston neighborhood surrounding Church of the Transfiguration has seen an influx of immigrants from around the world, with the majority being from Spanish speaking countries. The Vestry of Transfiguration decided it was time to pastorally respond to the spiritual needs of the neighbors just outside church doors, and with the guidance of The Rev. Mercedes Julian, Diocesan Hispanic Missioner, Transfiguration began talking to another Cranston church that found itself in this very situation a few years ago. 

Just down the road on the other side of I95, Church of the Ascension has founded a vibrant Hispanic/Latino congregation that is well integrated into that parish community.  Ascensions Spanish speakers and English speakers worship in separate services, but the congregations work together on much of the mission and ministry happening there. They learn from each other about their different cultural traditions and support each other in celebrating them, which has brought much new life to the whole community. 

Ascension is happy to help Transfiguration experience this new life too, and The Rev. Mercedes Julian has commissioned 12 people from church of the Ascension to actively help Church of the Transfiguration knock on doors and launch their new service.  Ten people from Transfiguration have been matched up with Ascensions volunteers, to canvass the neighborhood in multi-lingual pairs, inviting neighbors to the new Spanish language service, as well as all the other exciting things happening at Transfiguration.

What can you do to help? Attend their first service to help get them started -- especially if you speak Spanish. It will be a Holy Eucharist on Palm Sunday, April 13th 2014 at 5pm. And, of course, pray for Transfiguration in your own parish and personal prayers.

Wednesday, April 2

St. Mark's in Warwick Spreads The Word to Make a Difference

Spreading the word, expanding your reach

In the social media age, it's not enough just to have a good idea: You also need to spread the word and invite people to help you meet your goals.

Before                                      After
That's just what the Rev. Susan Wrathall of St. Mark's in Warwick has done, and the results are astounding. Four years ago when she arrived at St. Mark's, Susan recognized a hunger in her congregation -- a need for physical sustenance -- and has encouraged the congregation to work toward meeting that need.

Early efforts included putting together a "street sheet" listing community resources for those in need in and around Warwick. The church has since started a monthly free lunch program and food pantry.

The exciting thing is how these efforts have gained the support of Mayor Scott Avedisian and the entire Warwick community, as described in this article from the Providence Journal.

Susan writes that the results have been nothing short of extraordinary:
"If you look on our Facebook page, you can find pictures of the brimming shelves. What you can't see is just as much still in boxes. Our biggest donor was the Cumberland Senior Center with 30 boxes of food. Many folks have stopped by with bags and bags of nonperishable and toiletry items. Some folks who donated for the March lunch stopped by today to donate for the April lunch. A number of folks have indicated they want to do this monthly. And to date we have received close to $4,000 in monetary donations (a couple in memory of Fr. Franklin). There was one error in the Journal article that I want to correct: They said not everyone who needs the food pantry gets to visit it. What I said was everyone gets something but the first 50 percent of the folks get the best choice (we let folks choose what they put in their grocery bag) and for the last 15 folks or so there is often little left but canned veggies. In March we had a record 93 for lunch, and 65 households visited the food pantry (111 adults and 25 children)."
How might you leverage local politicians and local media to build up your own ministries?

Tuesday, April 1

8 Churches to Participate in Easter Vigil with Bishop Knisely at St. John's Newport

This year, Bishop Knisely will be presiding at a joint Easter Vigil in Newport. Every Episcopal congregation in the Aquidneck Deanery, along with the chapel of St. George’s School, has been invited to participate in the service which will be held at The Zabriskie Memorial Church of St. John the Evangelist on the Point in Newport, Rhode Island on Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. The Bishop’s Vicar, The Reverend Nathan J.A. Humphrey, will give the homily at the first Mass of Easter that evening. St. John’s is located at 61 Washington Street in Newport.

The Great Vigil of Easter is the single most important service of the Christian Year, and amongst the most ancient liturgies of the Church, documented as far back as the year 215 A.D., and believed to be apostolic in origins, that is, dating back to the communities founded by the twelve apostles of Jesus.

The Easter Vigil consists of four parts: The Service of Light, at which the Paschal Candle is lit from a great fire kindled in the rear of the church; The Service of Lessons, during which Biblical accounts of central events in salvation history are recounted in the darkened church; Christian Initiation, held in candlelight, which may include baptisms, confirmations, and the renewal of baptismal vows; and the Holy Eucharist, with the administration of Easter Communion in the context of a bright and joyful Mass. The Great Vigil of Easter is preceded in Holy Week by Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and the three services are known collectively as the Triduum Sacrum, the “Three Holy Days.”

The clergy and people of each participating congregation will take an active role in the celebration of this most solemn and joyful service. The service is free and open to the public. It is recommended that attendees arrive early in order to secure a seat. All participants are invited to bring hand bells, securely wrapped, which will be rung with great joy and fanfare at the proclamation of Easter. Parking is available on the street in the historic Point neighborhood, as well as in the garage at the Newport Visitors Center, 23 America’s Cup Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, conveniently located a short walk from St. John’s at 61 Washington Street, Newport.

In addition to St. George’s School Chapel and the hosting congregation, St. John’s, the participating congregations will be: Trinity, Newport; Emmanuel, Newport; St. Columba’s, Middletown; Holy Cross, Middletown; St. Mary’s, Portsmouth; St. Paul’s, Portsmouth; and St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea, Little Compton. Holy Trinity, Tiverton will be unable to participate due to a prior ecumenical commitment with the churches of Tiverton that evening.

Church Beyond the Walls Seeks New Partners in Ministry

It has been almost exactly a year since The Rev. Edmund Harris and parishioners from Church of the Epiphany did their first outdoor Eucharist & sandwich meal in Kennedy Park, Providence.

Since then, Church Beyond the Walls (CBW) has grown into a community that feeds the physical and spiritual hungers of those outside our Church walls.

The experience has been a moving one for the Church of the Epiphany parishioners who have been involved and CBW hopes to help congregations across the state to similarly share their worship life and hospitality with those who might never set foot inside our church buildings.

This year, CBW is looking to form active partnerships with Episcopal congregations throughout Rhode Island. Youth groups, outreach committees, and formation programs, and individuals can easily set up a one-time visit or commit to a season of service.

Partnering with CBW is perfect for churches:
  • Looking to take the next step in their spiritual journey
  • Longing for a deep, meaningful formation experience
  • Yearning to serve others
  • Seeking the "living water" that Jesus speaks of with the Samaritan woman at the well
  • Willing to challenge themselves...and to transform!

What sort of opportunities are there for you and your church to participate in? Each week CBW needs a Hospitality Coordinator, six Food Ministers, a Clothing Minister, 5 Worship & Hospitality Ministers, two Volunteer Drivers, and at least one person for the Altar Guild.

For more information on how you or a group from your church can get involved, please contact Waylon Whitley.

Wednesday, March 12

St. Paul's Pawtucket's unique take on Bishop Knisely's "Cosmos" Meditation

In his meditation for the first Sunday of Lent from "Lent is not Rocket Science" Bishop Knisely spoke of the cosmos, saying "The universe is essentially a great empty, soundless, cold, chaotic void...we believe that the same God who animates the vast cosmos, knows each of us individually by name and loves us."

At St. Paul's in Pawtucket, a Sunday School class lead by Joe and Ivy Swinski was struck by this, and came up with the idea to create a powerful physical representation that their whole church could participate in.  For Lent, the class created a visual representation of a desert, thinking that there is a part for each of us in this journey through the desert. The Desert had a big blank black backdrop to represent the cosmos as Bishop Knisely spoke of them.

Then this past Sunday as congregants left from having received communion, the students were at the exit of the sanctuary.  The students handed each person a star, to take back to the pew and write their name on. Then at the end of the service people went to the "great empty, soundless, cold, chaotic void and hung their star in that place where "God knows each of us individually by name and loves us."

The end result was that the black void is now full of light and love, and many parishioners were in tears.  Check it out!