Friday, August 21, 2020

Sunday 23 August 2020

Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter (1598) by Bernardo Castello (1557-1629).
Illumination on vellum. Louvre Museum, Paris, France.


Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Year A)
Isaiah 51:1-6
Psalm 138
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20


J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750)—Praeludium in C-dur, BWV 547

Plainchant—Missa VIII (De Angelis)

J. S. Bach—Fuga in C-dur, BWV 547


Welcome to Saint Stephen’s – S. Stephen’s Church is in the midst of Brown University and serves the communities of the East Side of Providence, North Providence, East Providence, and beyond. It is a parish of the Diocese of Rhode Island in the Episcopal Church in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Anglo-Catholic tradition informs and shapes our life together. We are a diverse community uniting all sorts and conditions in the worship of Our Lord Jesus Christ and aim to offer up the best we have in liturgy, music, preaching, teaching, fellowship, and service.


“But who do you say that I am?”

I simply love every time this Gospel reading comes up in the lectionary. It cuts right to the essential question at the heart of the Christian faith: Who is Jesus? How we answer that question reveals a lot about us – and it is the question that has defined and shaped the Church since its first days. It is the question that lies behind the emergence of the Church from its Jewish roots, to the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus, and even into the sixth century: who is Jesus? And what are the implications of the answer (or answers) to that question?

How we answer that question has everything to do with how we worship as the Church, particularly at S. Stephen’s. Jesus is God made Man – God Incarnate – the Second Person of the Trinity – who has left us a wondrous sacrament in which we continue to experience indwelling with him. Because of his Real Presence in the Sacrament, we enter worship with an acute awareness that we are entering into the presence of the Holy. Our worship, even though earthly, becomes a foretaste or anticipation of the heavenly.

And so we come to Mass and “present [ourselves] a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship,” as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans. St. Paul also has a good deal to say about the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ, and how that shapes our interactions and responsibilities to each other as fellow members of the Body. It is the perfect passage to be presented with as we begin to think about our time together: what gifts do we each bring to the table? How might we all use our gifts to collectively build up the Body of Christ that is S. Stephen’s Church in Providence? How will we continue to build on the successes of the past, while entering into a new season of life with a new Rector?

However we do it, it will be done with our focus on the one who calls us to follow him – the one who asks us, “Who do you say that I am?” Like Simon Peter, may we always have the boldness to proclaim him as “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” He is the Head of the Body, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Living Water, the Good Shepherd, and our true and living Bread, who sustains us in all our life’s journeys.


Welcome Back! – We’re delighted to be able to see you again this coming Sunday! While we continue to gather again, this privilege brings with it some protocols to keep us all safe. A summary of the safety protocols may be found here.

Thank you from Fr. Benjamin – Dear S. Stephen’s family,

I want to echo my thanks that I gave on Sunday morning at Mass, and thank you profoundly for the outpouring of generosity upon my arrival in Providence two weeks ago. The stocked fridge, pantry, and additional gifts, including gift cards to Petco and Adler’s Hardware were very thoughtful and have already come in handy! I am very touched, and cannot thank you enough. You cannot know what a gift a stocked refrigerator is in the midst of a move on a hot summer day, particularly when dealing with two cats. To the Wardens, Vestry Members, Society of Mary, Guild of All Souls, and every parishioner, “THANK YOU.”

An Update on Safety Protocols – Following a Town Hall style meeting with Bishop Knisely this past Thursday night, I have some information to share regarding the wearing of masks during the liturgy. Whereas before, when in-person worship was first resumed, the Celebrant and lectors were permitted to officiate without wearing masks, Bishop Knisely revised those guidelines to require that the Celebrant and others wear a mask at all times. This comes out of a meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci with the House of Bishops in which he communicated the most up-to-date scientific findings which show that the COVID-19 virus is spread primarily through droplets in the air, and that masks are extremely effective in containing the transmission of COVID-19.

I am aware that the wearing of a mask rendered parts of the sermon hard to understand for those in attendance on my first Sunday. Please know we are working to address this, and we will make sure the microphone is placed in a better position this Sunday as a first step in that direction. We are also working on measures to move more of our worship back into the Nave, utilizing once again the pulpit and lectern. Whatever frustration this might bring, the good news is that all of these measures are being put in place so that we can return to a place of “normalcy” as soon as possible. What a gift! What a wonderful thought! Worshiping in a way that resembles normalcy by October or November – or once again going to a football game in the fall.

While it is an inconvenience, it is a small price to pay with the larger goal in mind, and so I pray that we may continue to keep our eyes on the prize. Together, we can do this!

Fr. Benjamin

Virtual Offices and Masses – We offer Virtual Offices and Masses for those who wish to continue to participate safely from home. To access and view the LIVE (and archived) services, please visit the parish Facebook page here (you do not need a FB account to tune in). To access accompanying Daily Office and Low Mass readings and resources (as well as archived services), please visit the parish website sermon page here.

Virtual Coffee Hour – Please join us for our Virtual Sunday Coffee Hour this Sunday, 23 August, at 11:30 am. To attend, please click here. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact Junior Warden Alison Huff via call or text at 401-465-8029 or email (, or Jacob Ihnen via call or text at 712-348-5848 or email ( Thank you!

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle (24 August) – a major feast day of the church year, will be celebrated this coming Monday with Evening Prayer at 5:30 pm and Low Mass at 6 pm.

Meet the Rector – Volunteers are still needed to host a series of small group gatherings of 5 or so either in person or by Zoom. If you are interested in hosting, please contact Joy D'Ambra ( or Alison Huff (

Concerning Pledges and the Sunday Offering – Thank you to all who have been so faithful in maintaining your financial support of S. Stephen’s during this pandemic. As some are able to return to in-person worship while others understandably need to stay home, there are three ways to continue your giving to S. Stephen’s:
  • There is an offering plate in the back of the church where you may leave your offering.
  • Offerings can be sent to the church office through the mail.
  • You can give online by clicking here. Please contact us if you need assistance.
Again, thank you to all who have been so supportive.


Prayers have been requested for: Beverly, Patti, Ethel, Carl, Kade, Sherri, Charles, Sandra, Lola, Ruby, Norman, Diana, Sarah, Shannah, Lynne, Harrington, Joan, Robyn, Phebe, Hunter, Jay, Ann, Beth, Sandy, Kiersten, Beverly, Tom, Jill, Bryan, Angela, Bobby, Susan, Beverly, Rhoda, Crystal, and Christopher.

40th Wedding Anniversary: Fr. Bill & Ethel Locke (Sunday 8/23/80).

Birthdays this week: Patti Barnes (Wednesday 8/26), Florence Ferreira (Wednesday 8/26), Julie Pearson (Thursday 8/27), and Simon Newby (Saturday 8/29).

The faithful departed: Year’s Mind: Robert E. Latham (23 August 1999), Phoebe Robertson (23 August 2016), Thomas Edward Goode (24 August 1991), Florence Thorpe (24 August 1994), Sheila Kathleen Beresford (26 August 1986), and Jonathan T. Glass, Priest (28 August 2004). Recently Departed: Lorraine Slaney and Clare Powers MacLean.

Anglican and Diocesan Cycles of Prayer – In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, we are asked to pray for the Church of the Province of South East Asia: The Most Rev’d Melter Tais, Archbishop of South East Asia & Bishop of Sabah; in the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer, for students and leaders of our campus ministries at Brown/RISD, the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College.



Saturday 29 August
Epiphany Soup Kitchen (Meal Pickup Only)  2:30-4:30 pm



Sunday 23 August
Sung Mass  10 am

Daily Office and Mass Lectionary: Proper 16, Year Two

Monday 24 August
Evening Prayer  5:30 pm
Low Mass  6 pm

Tuesday 25 August
Louis, King of France, 1270
Noonday Prayer  12 noon
Low Mass  12:10 pm

Wednesday 26 August
Dominic Barberi, Priest, Religious, Missionary, 1849
Evening Prayer  5:30 pm
Low Mass  6 pm

Thursday 27 August
Monica, Mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387
Noonday Prayer  12 noon
Low Mass  12:10 pm

Friday 28 August
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Teacher, 430 (W)
Noonday Prayer  12 noon
Low Mass  12:10 pm

Saturday 29 August
Beheading of John the Baptist
Morning Prayer  9:30 am
Low Mass  10 am

Sunday 30 August
Sung Mass  10 am


Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Year A)
Jeremiah 15:15-21
Psalm 26:1-8
Romans 12:9-21
Matthew 16:21-28