Providence Church Closing Because Of Money Woes

The fourth oldest church in Rhode Island is closing its doors. The Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John has stood in Providence since the early 1800's, but can no longer afford to stay open.       

The problem is a combination of fewer people going to the church and the ones who do go giving less money.

Marjorie Beach goes to church at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John every week. “It picked me up when I found myself alone and was good to me,” said Beach.

Beach moved to Providence when her husband died nearly 30 years ago. The hundred or so people who go to the downtown cathedral have become her family, so when she found out the church would close in two months she was heartbroken.

“It's my major root here,” said Beach, “And I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm coping with it.”

Assistant Bishop David Joslin said the announcement was shocking to everyone. On April 22nd, the more than two century old church will celebrate its last service.

“When a person who's been here for 80 years comes into the church, they look up to the front and see all those wonderful things that have happened to them over life and they live again for that moment,” said Reverend Joslin.

He said the church has been running a quarter million dollars in the red for about three years, and now even the reserve money is gone, which leaves parishioners and the 250 people who rely on the church's food pantry with no place to turn.

“I'm just going to try and figure out where the next meal is,” said Willie Jackson, “That's the best I can do for now. It's one thing at a time, I guess.”

That's what Beach said she's doing too. “Well there's an enormous grief,” said Beach, “There really is an enormous grief. This was a huge part of my life, and we'll have to deal with that slowly. We're still in a state of shock to some degree.”

Reverend Joslin  said he's trying to find a new place for the church's food pantry and soup kitchen.