Saylesville Meetinghouse, Lincoln, Rhode Island

Built in 1704 and expanded in 1745, the Saylesville Meetinghouse has been in continuous use as a gathering place for the Quakers for over 300 years. The modest design of the meetinghouse emulates the 18th century Quakers’ mandate for simplicity and plainness—allowing for clarity in purpose and desire so that one may “Walk cheerfully over the earth answering that of God in every person”.

Providence Friends Meeting, Providence, Rhode Island

The roots of the Providence Friends Meeting leads back to the summer of 1657 when The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) arrived into the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island. While Quakers do not believe that meeting for worship necessarily requires a special place, Providence Monthly Meeting was established in 1718 and due to the growth of the Quaker community in the area, a meeting house was established. Its current building, completed in 1953, reflects the philosophy of a Quaker Meeting House with its absence of liturgical symbols and simplicity of design. While it should be noted that the Quakers were not initially welcomed in Rhode Island, they did not face the persecutions that occurred in the neighboring state of Massachusetts. It is with great reverence that the Providence Monthly Meeting congregation firmly believes that, “In keeping with our belief that there is that of God in every person, Providence Monthly Meeting welcomes all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, race or color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability”.

Trinity Church, Newport, Rhode Island

Founded in about 1698, Trinity Church is the oldest Episcopal parish in Rhode Island. Inspired by Sir Christopher Wren’s London church designs of the late 17th century, Trinity’s structure was designed by local builder Richard Munday and constructed between the years 1725 and 1726. Built entirely of wood, this Georgian style church is believed to have the only remaining freestanding three-tiered, center-aisle chalice-shaped pulpit in America today. The placement of the pulpit confirms the significance of the sermon during Colonial times and it is where it continues to be held at Trinity. With this in mind, it is not surprising that Trinity Church’s mission states in-part that, “Our historic church is a living beacon calling all for worship, fellowship, and growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.”

Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Providence, Rhode Island

With roots that date back to 1832, the parish of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the mother church of the Diocese of Providence, celebrated its first mass in 1838 in what was then a modest church on the same location. In 1847, the church was promoted to “cathedral” when Providence became an independent diocese. From the designs of Irish-born New York church architect Patrick Keeley, plans to build a monumental cathedral began in 1878 and the Cathedral was consecrated in 1889. Its Romanesque style exterior, built of Connecticut Brownstone, graces the Cathedral’s facade, while the interior is distinctly Gothic. The ornate sanctuary, lighted in-part by large illustrative stained-glass windows, has a high, pointed arch, wooden roof and marble walls and floors. The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul’s intentional grand scale and placement within the community reflects the significance the Roman Catholic faith has in Providence.

St. Mary’s Church, Newport, Rhode Island

Established in 1828, St. Mary’s Church is the oldest Catholic parish in Rhode Island. Designed by noted church architect Patrick Keely along with clergy, this brownstone Gothic Revival style structure was completed in 1852 to meet the spiritual needs of Newport’s growing Irish population. With the sanctuary’s 42 stained glass windows, ornamental woodwork and vaulted wooden hammered beam ceiling, one may certainly bask in the beauty and grandeur of the interior, which can elicit a desire to contemplate the teachings of Jesus Christ.

United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial, Newport, Rhode Island

Exiled from Massachusetts Colony in 1637 due to religious beliefs, Dr. John Clarke, a medical doctor and Baptist minister, relocated to what is now known as the State of Rhode Island, which he helped co-found. In the spring of 1638, he and other exiles from Massachusetts gathered to form what is now known as the United Baptist Church. Its current structure, built in 1846, is constructed in the Greek Revival style and its sanctuary reflects the simple elegance of a New England meetinghouse with its high vaulted ceiling and pews. The United Baptist Church not only serves as a place of worship for the Baptist community, but acts as a memorial for Dr. John Clarke. Clarke, an advocate for religious freedom and author of the 1663 Rhode Island charter wrote in it, “that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter shall be any wise molested [harassed], punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony.” Clarke remained a pastor at the church until his death in 1676.

Emmanuel Church, Newport, Rhode Island

Formed in 1841 by three women who wanted to make the Episcopalian faith available to all who wished to attend, Emmanuel Church began with humble “cottage meetings” in local homes, which had quickly grown to eighty-eight parishioners by 1849. In 1855, the first structure was built to house the Emmanuel Church, and as the parish grew, a new and more permanent building was erected in 1901 and completed in 1902. Designed by Ralph Adams Cram of the architectural firm, Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, its current stone structure is built in the Gothic Revival style referencing the shape of a Latin cross. At the front of the church above the choir seats are oak carvings of faces that represent people of all ages, means and abilities—symbolizing the entire community the church wishes to serve. Through its fervent mission of being accessible to all, Emmanuel Church has become known as “the Church of the people” where the “rich and poor, high and low, great and humble—all worship and work together as friends.”

The First Baptist Church in America, Providence, Rhode Island

Gathered by Roger Williams in 1638, The First Baptist Church in America is the first and longest running Baptist church congregation in the United States. The present home of the First Baptist Church is currently housed in its third building. Completed in 1775, the structure’s architectural style combines Georgian with the traditional New England meetinghouse style with its plain walls, clear glass windows, and dominant pulpit. The lack of religious symbols follows iconoclastic Baptist thought, which regard all symbols, even the cross, as icons and idols. It is the first Baptist meetinghouse to have a steeple and bell in an effort by eighteenth century Baptist advocates to bring greater respectability and recognition to their faith. Roger Williams, the founder of this church and a significant campaigner for religious freedom, was in-part responsible for Rhode Island being a unique haven for religious liberty in the seventeenth century.

All Saints Memorial Church, Providence, Rhode Island

Founded in 1846, All Saints Memorial Church is the largest Episcopal church building in the state of Rhode Island. Designed by architect Edward Tuckerman Potter, the Gothic style structure was completed in 1872 as a memorial to the Right Reverend John P.K. Henshaw, who was the fourth bishop of Rhode Island. The eighteen lancet windows on the sides and rear of the 135 foot long sanctuary are a mixture of memorial windows and series depicting the life of Christ. At the front of the church above the altar is the 38 foot tall stained glass window, which portrays the resurrected Christ. The inscription at the bottom of the window reads, “Behold He Cometh!”

The Cathedral of St. John, Providence, Rhode Island

Sunday worship services at The Cathedral of St. John were suspended in spring 2012 due to surmounting repairs and a decreasing parishioner base. Protective plastic now wraps its windows, pews and lectern where sermons had been delivered since the Federal style structure with Gothic details was built over 200 years ago in 1810. Silence now replaces the voices of the choir. The Waterford chandelier no longer shines upon the congregation. Named the official seat for the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island in 1929, The Cathedral of St. John has deep roots in Providence. Originally organized in 1722 as King’s Church, nearly three centuries ago, its future is now uncertain.