The history of our church is not spectacular but we have a record of service and faithfulness.
It had its beginning as a Bible School in 1867. Then, in 1868, five Brown University students, working with some interested mothers, formed an Episcopal Sunday School that met in the Town School House.
On June 8, 1870, the cornerstone was laid. The little wooden ‘Carpenter Gothic’ church in Watchemoket Square was well on its way. By the fall of 1871, it was consecrated and the parish was admitted into the union with the Diocese of RI.
In November 1887, the Rector received a little child that was boarding for the summer with a communicant. During the winter, 4 or 5 other children had to be provided for. St. Mary’s Orphanage was then opened in 1878 and incorporated in 1879. The work of the orphanage grew and became a Diocesan Institution. St. Mary’s Home, as it is now called, moved to North Providence in 1928 and is still in operation.
In 1894, St. Mary’s became an independent parish.
In 1942, there was a possibility of moving St. Mary’s out to ‘the country’ away from Watchemoket Square and onto the property near where East Providence High School now stands. It was to have been a central East Providence Episcopal Church with expanded facilities, adequate parking, and a mission to the wide area of the town. Nothing came of the opportunity and plans were laid to rest.
One major project of the Parish Aid Association was our famous chowder luncheon. That, now has also gone the way of all things. We have had clam boils at a different facility from time to time. This brings people together and a good time is had by all.
Baptisms and confirmations reached an all time high by 1955, despite the population mobility and construction of the freeway at the churches front door.
Watchemoket Square has changed considerably over the years but whatever happens in the years to come, St. Mary’s has a strong foundation built on the prayers and labors of multitude of people in the past and on that foundation we stand ready for the next 138 years.
As we look back in satisfaction, we thank God for what has been accomplished through hard work and commitment.