Approaching Our One-Hundredth Birthday
On September 13, 1914, Hannah Clark held the first session of the Meshanticut Park Sunday School in her home on Cranston Street. Assisted by her sister-in-law Mrs. William Jepson, she taught her own five children, plus six others. From this humble, faith-filled beginning, grew St. David’s on-the-Hill. Originally a mission of All Saints’ Memorial Church, Providence, St. David’s was incorporated in 1921, became self-supporting in 1946 and was accepted as an independent parish in 1950.
As was typical of most American cities, the Providence suburbs grew rapidly in the post-World War II years. St. David’s became part of that expansion and laid the cornerstone of its present church in 1954. It was a prosperous time when many, if not most, Americans attended houses of worship. St. David’s built a church to seat about 200 and provided a temporary interior wall so that the worship space could be enlarged. The parish house, built seven years later, has for 30 years housed St. David’s Preschool during the week.
St. David’s has a history of outreach and diocesan participation. Under the leadership of The Rev. Robert Reuss, the parish sponsored the immigration and settlement of several Cambodian families in the 1980s. It was active in the companionship diocese program, especially with Bangledesh. In 1987 several parishioners joined a walk for hunger from Seattle to Providence. In more recent years, despite deficit budgets, the parish sponsored an Episcopal Conference Center cabin dedicated to former rector The Rev. Edwin K. Packard, and raised $1500 for CCAP, a Cranston social service agency.
St. David’s has been hospitable to the ordination of women. In 1975 The Rev. Patricia Smith served the parish as the first woman deacon in the diocese. In the 1980s parishioners Jean Barry and Robin Higbie became vocational deacons, and Patricia Reuss, having been ordained priest, assisted her husband the rector. In 2002 St. David’s called its first woman rector, The Rev. Nancy A. Willis. Upon Rev. Willis' retirement the church welcomed the Rev. Beth Sherman as Priest-in-Charge on October 5, 2008.
True to its founding, Christian formation and ministry to families continue to be strong parish ministries. We pray that we may be faithful in carrying out our mission: St. David’s expresses faith in God in Jesus Christ through worship, fellowship, education, and service