Fourth oldest RI church closes doors

Friends comforted each other as they wiped tears from their eyes. The church they've gone to for decades has closed its doors. Now, the time they spent there together is just memories.

Rhode Island's fourth oldest church “The Cathedral of Saint John” in Providence had its last service Sunday. It is the central home of the Episcopal Church and a landmark on the national register of historic places. It was founded as the “Kings Church” in 1720 and rebuilt in the early 1800's.

As rain began to fall on the “Cathedral of Saint John,” tears ran down the faces of the people who've gone to service there for decades. Donations are down and the church can't afford to stay open.

Christine Watts has walked to the downtown Providence cathedral since she was 10 years old. Now she's 72 and is almost in tears knowing all she has left is memories of the time she spent there.

“I've just got all sorts of pictures that for years and years all the things that have gone on around here that I just tried to be a part of,” said Christine who dressed as the Easter bunny every year and handed out candy to the kids. She also said goodbye to her mom, brother, and son at the church.

“I've had funerals here,” said Christine, “I sure had planned for mine to be here, and I hope and pray somehow or another, even if it's just out on the porch, I'd still like to have it, because this is home to me.”

It's also home to the bishop, as the central church of the Episcopal Diocese in Rhode Island.

“It's a symbol of the bishop's teaching authority and pastoral work and so forth, and so when you lose that you lose that symbol,” said Dean David Joslin.

The cathedral is silent now. It's a reminder for those who rely on the church, they'll no longer be able to open the prayer books, or come to Sunday service there.

“It was hard, it was hard,' said the dean, “It's a lot more fun to start a church than to close one.”

Especially when that church is more than two centuries old and has a food pantry 250 people rely on.