Church of The Epiphany Celebrates 75 Years of Serving The East Providence Community
Church reflects on its founding and future, including plans for renovations; Celebration planned for September 29th
This September, the Church of the Epiphany, an Episcopal church located at 1336 Pawtucket Avenue in the Rumford section of East Providence, will celebrate its 75th year of serving the community.
Originally founded in 1944 as St. Michael and All Angels church, the congregation will mark its historic milestone with a special celebratory day on Sunday, September 29, 2019 which will include worship services at 8 and 10:30 a.m. and a historical slideshow and presentation at 9:15 am followed by refreshments at coffee hour at 11:45 am. The public is welcome to attend.
“Although we are celebrating 75 years of our congregation’s history, our origins can be traced back even further than that, to the close of the last century,” states Church of the Epiphany Reverend Jennifer Zogg, who has served as rector for the past four years.
In the 1920s, prominent Rumford resident Florence Bridgham would invite Episcopalian members of the community into her home for a series of Lenten services. After her passing, her daughters Eliza and Ida carried on the tradition. They felt that the nearest Episcopal Church in the Phillipsdale area was too far for those without transportation and for children attending Sunday school, so they continued holding neighborhood services in their home in an effort to form a parochial mission. With over 25 members present, their persistence paid off and the mission was successfully established.
In 1944, the Bridgham sisters each donated a half-acre of land to build the current parish on Pawtucket Avenue and regular Sunday services began in September 1944 in the Grange Hall on North Broadway. Eventually, the congregation grew, raised money and completed the construction of a partially underground space on the donated land where services began in 1949. Over the years, St. Michaels and All Angels grew and built a permanent church building in 1954 and added a Parish Hall and offices in 1970. In 1990, they merged with nearby Grace Episcopal Church and then with St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in 2007, at which time they became known as the Church of the Epiphany.
“Today, our original mission continues, to serve the needs of families, the elderly and the poor, as we welcome all for Christian worship, fellowship and service trusting God to transform our lives and the world,“ continues Rev. Zogg. “As Christians, we live between memory and hope. We remember our past in order to appreciate where God has brought us, and strengthen our hope for what good is yet to come in God’s future.”
Evolution is a key factor in the Church’s past, present and future. Under Zogg’s leadership, the Church continues to push the boundaries to welcome all who seek spiritual enrichment, friendship, and service to the Greater East Providence community. Parishioners enjoy innovative programs and activities including “Holy Hiking” excursions, a monthly Broadway musical series, coffee hours for fellowship, Epiphany Advocates (social justice ministry), youth group and adult Christian education classes, like bible study and discussions of theology and current events. It is part of our mission, following Jesus’ example, to be aware of and involved in current issues locally, nationally and internationally so we can use our voices, informed by faith, to advocate for the dignity of all people as well as justice for the most marginalized and vulnerable. Church of Epiphany partners with other organizations in the community, such as a collaboration with other local parishes at Bread of Life Food Pantry open semi-monthly to provide groceries for our neighbors in need, and has partnered with a number of international mission organizations over the years. Epiphany has recently begun a new partnership by renting part of its space to provide a rehearsal home for the JDP Theatre Company, a local youth community theatre.
Where will the Church of the Epiphany be in the next 75 years? “We are always asking ourselves what the community needs and what God is calling us to do there,” Zogg comments. “It’s important to fulfill the needs of those we serve, which is a growing population with members from East Providence, Rumford, Riverside, Pawtucket and Seekonk. We are beginning renovations of the interior sanctuary to make it a more flexible and welcoming space.” Renovations to the sanctuary, entrances and other spaces are beginning sometime in the spring of 2020.
“One thing remains constant, that we are grounded in our history and values,” Zogg concludes. “We continue the legacy the Bridgham family has left us, by bringing the community together for worship, learning and service in the Episcopal tradition. We hope to serve as a community resource for all in East Providence, especially anyone seeking a spiritual home whatever previous religious experiences they may have had. The Church of the Epiphany welcomes everyone to our parish regardless of economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and age. Our legacy and purpose is to celebrate our 75 years knowing that God continues to call us to be an active part of our community and a place of hope, healing and grace in the lives of those we serve, today and in the years to come.”
Originally founded in 1944 with roots dating back to the 1920s, the Church of the Epiphany is an Episcopal Christian church located in the Rumford section of East Providence, RI. Its mission is to be a place of safety, comfort, strength, and learning, making God’s love known to all. All people are welcome regardless of their sexual identity, race, creed, or religious background. The Church is located at 1336 Pawtucket Avenue Rumford, RI 02916; Phone: (401) 434-5012; Web: http://www.epiphanyep.org.
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