St. John’s Restores Adjective

Zabriskie Memorial Church of St. John the Evangelist on the Point in Newport, Rhode Island, has restored Episcopal to its sign at 61 Washington Street, and the vicar sees a few points of significance in that.

The former rector of the church had changed the sign in October 2003 to replace Episcopal with Anglican.

“As soon as I arrived, several people asked me what I was going to do about the sign,” said the Rev. N.J.A. Humphrey, who became the vicar of St. John’s in August 2013. “It wasn’t exactly my top priority, but I was bothered by the fact that it sent not just the wrong message, but a false one.”

The sign change comes just in time for Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday on April 13th. “We are planning a procession from Storer Park to the church, beginning at 10 a.m.,” Humphrey said. “All are welcome to join our blessing of the palms in the park that morning, weather permitting.”

In addition to restoring Episcopal, Fr. Humphrey added the phrase “A member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

“It may be possible to be Anglican without being Episcopal, but it’s definitely not possible to be Episcopal without being Anglican,” Humphrey said.

“The plain fact of the matter is that to leave the word Episcopal off of our sign was false advertising. We have been a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island since our founding as an Anglo-Catholic congregation in 1875, and we have never ceased being anything other than a member of this diocese. Nor do we have any intention of changing that now or in the future.”

The church is located in the historic Point neighborhood of scenic Newport. The 139 year-old church was founded in the home of a free black man named Peter Quire from Maryland. In the late 1800s, Sarah Titus Zabriskie gave the current 13th-century-style stone gothic church overlooking the Narragansett Bay in memory of her mother, Sarah Jane Zabriskie. The church has been identified with the Anglo-Catholic tradition since its founding, and is known for its friendly, racially mixed and economically diverse congregation.

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