Sunday, Nov. 18, marked a special day for the parishioners and congregation of the Church of the Ascension. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori, visited them. Schori was in Rhode Island for the ordination and consecration of Nicholas Knisely the day before at Saint George's School in Newport.
The parish was originally established in 1885 at the corner of Park and Wellington Avenues. When Route 95 came through, they relocated to their present site on Pontiac Avenue at the heart of the Auburn neighborhood and began worshipping in their present building in 1956.
In the summer of 2009, the Vestry of the Church of the Ascension voted to make the establishment of a Spanish-speaking worship service a priority of their parish. At that time, The Reverend Mercedes Julián came to them as the Hispanic Missioner, funded by the Diocese of Rhode Island. Since that time they have worked both to strengthen the worshipping community and to integrate both English and Spanish speakers into one united congregation. The vestry has members from both services, so planning is done jointly. They worship together a few times a year and share in outreach, stewardship and other ministries, as well as in social events.
"It is such a great honor for us at Ascension to receive a visit from the presiding bishop of our church. She is a very articulate and passionate spokesperson for the diverse and vibrant faith of the Episcopal Church in our day,” said Reverend Michael Coburn, Priest in Charge. “She comes to us here in Cranston to support the growth of our ministry in the Hispanic community as well as to encourage and affirm our parish's commitment to being a bilingual and inclusive community of faith. We believe that being a community which blends the richness of different cultures is the way that the Gospel should be proclaimed in this century, and we're grateful for her support and presence with us.”
Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in June 2006. She serves as chief pastor and primate to the Episcopal Church's members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses. She joins with other principal bishops of the 38-member provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion, seeking a common cause for global good and reconciliation.
Over the course of her nine-year term, Bishop Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of the church regarding the policies, strategies and programs authorized by General Convention. She has been vocal about the Episcopal Church's mission priorities, including the United Nation Millennium Development Goals, issues of domestic poverty, climate change and care for the earth, as well as the ongoing need to contextualize the gospel. The presiding bishop is charged to speak God's word to the church and to the world.
“Bishop Shori’s sermon focused on giving and coming together. I could not believe that someone that holds such a high level position could be so down to earth. The Bishop Head of the Episcopal Church, a 2.1 million-member church walked through the entire congregation, said peace and shook almost every hand. I was amazed that someone of such stature would take the time to speak one on one with almost everyone in attendance,” said Manny Miguel, a parishioner of the congregation.
The church regularly has two services in English, at 8 and 10 a.m., and one in Spanish at noon each Sunday.
“We are very active supporters of the Cranston Interfaith Food Pantry and members volunteer at a variety of local ministries. Our vestry, which is our governing body, has three members from the Spanish-speaking service and six from the English-speaking one. All of our activities are carried on jointly as best we can arrange it,” said Coburn.
Once a month, the church provides lunch for the residents at Starbirth, which is a shelter for mothers with addictions on Pontiac Avenue, as another way to support their local community.
For more information on the church and the programs it provides, visit their website at www.ascensioncranston.org