Diocese of Rhode Island closes cathedral

The Cathedral in Providence is to be closed, at least temporarily, April 22 due to rising costs and declining income, according to the Providence Journal. Members seemed surprised although according to the letter from the interim dean indicates it is an ongoing issue:

The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John — which began as King’s Church in 1722 and is the Diocese of Rhode Island’s fourth oldest church — is shutting down, with a final service set for April 22.

Parishioners of the cathedral church, the seat of Bishop Geralyn Wolf, learned the news on Sunday from the Right Rev. David Joslin, the cathedral’s interim dean, and Deacon Barbara May-Stock, during the parish’s annual meeting on North Main Street.

Letter from web site is here

Letter to the Cathedral membership below:

Dear People of the Cathedral of St. John:

On Sunday, February 19, 2012, the Annual Meeting was held at the Cathedral of Saint John. In this letter I want to report on the central focus of that meeting.

As you know, the Cathedral parish has experienced growing financial difficulty over a period of years. Now it has become more than a difficulty. Simply put, we are now out of money. Last year we had a deficit of about $250,000 which was covered by reserves. Now those reserves have been used up.

The Chapter has engaged in much prayer, anguish, and discussion. We have consulted with the Bishop and her staff and our former Wardens. As a result, the Chapter realized that we must suspend services and parish life at the Cathedral. Our last service will be on Sunday, 22 April 2012 at 9:30 AM, followed by a time to celebrate our past life together and to thank those who have faithfully served here.

As Acting Dean of the Cathedral of St. John, I announced this decision at the Annual Meeting. I can’t exaggerate the pain of this process. We dreaded the conclusion but having exhausted all alternatives we found it was the only thing to do.

Please note that while services and parish life are being suspended it does not mean that the Cathedral is being permanently closed. Suspending services now leaves open the possibility of new uses for the Cathedral in the future mission strategy of the Diocese.

Let me add a personal note. I have greatly enjoyed my association with the Cathedral and with you, its people. When Bishop Wolf asked me to be the Acting Dean following Dean Krauss’s retirement I was very pleased and looked forward to ministering with you. But I also knew of the financial difficulties we faced and the pain I would share with you if the Cathedral had to be closed.

I must tell you that the members of the Chapter -which is the governing body of a cathedral- aided by the advice of former Wardens have worked together magnificently with sorrow and yet with hope for God’s call into the future. As in the 23rd Psalm, we believe we are walking through a shadowy valley but led by the Good Shepherd who sees the new pasture we cannot yet see.

Indeed, the Rector of Grace Church on Westminster Street has already invited our people to come to Grace and we are assured of the hospitality of other Episcopal churches in the Providence area.

We are also working on ways to continue pastoral care for Cathedral members who are no longer able to participate in worship on Sundays. If you want to make sure that you are included in this ministry, or that a family member or friend is, please contact the Cathedral office at 401-331-4622.

Please know that you are constantly in our prayers, and that we are available for you, if you wish to be in touch with us about this. We hope you will keep up your attendance at the Cathedral and your participation in its life in the time ahead. Please help with your contributions so that we may lovingly and effectively preserve the Cathedral and its contents for the future. May God continue to bless you in all your days, and help us to find peace in this difficult decision.

And please remember to put the 22nd of April on your special calendar.

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. David B. Joslin, Acting Dean

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