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Episcopal cathedral in Rhode Island cathedral to include museum on slave trade

Episcopal cathedral in Rhode Island cathedral to include museum on slave trade

It seems appropriate to begin our last week of posting on the Cafe in its current form by spotlighting the good work of one of our original newsbloggers, Bishop Nick Knisely of Rhode Island. Here’s the story from the Providence Journal:

The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island wants to use part of the Cathedral of St. John for a museum that will look at those who made money in the slave trade — and those who opposed it. Churchgoers and clergymen filled both camps.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Rhode Islanders backed 1,000 trips between Africa and the Americas. Newport, Bristol and Providence were among the busiest slave trade ports in North America.

Rhode Island’s role in the slave trade “gives us both a responsibility and an opportunity” to confront the state’s past and racism today, Linda L. Grenz, Canon to the Ordinary with the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, said Sunday.

At the diocese’s recently concluded convention, Bishop Knisely said: “The ship building and shipping industry in Rhode Island were major players in the slave trade and much of Rhode Island’s economy was built with the profits of that trade. … Many … of those businesses were owned and operated by Episcopalians. So we feel we have both an obligation and an opportunity to speak the truth about the church’s role in the slave trade.”


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Nicholas Knisely

The one correction that should be made is only in the ProJo’s unfortunate headline. The cathedral is not the former cathedral. It’s not been deconsecrated, services were suspended.

God willing we will one day have worship services in the upper floors of the building again. Perhaps we’ll see the planting a new multi-cultural congregation on the northside of Providence as we find new ministry opportunities with the existing nave.

Nicholas Knisely

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