St. Elizabeth History
In 1885 the Canonchet chapel was erected as a non-denominational church welcoming all to hold prayer meetings, church suppers, or any form of social gathering within its walls. The church continued in this capacity until 1938 when the force of the Great Hurricane shifted the chapel off of its foundation.
Neighbors and members of the chapel soon restored the building to its useful state. This endeavor coincided with a search conducted by the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island led by the Rev. John H. Wright seeking to establish an Episcopal Church in southwest Rhode Island. Rev. Wright, in 1939, reestablished the chapel in the Episcopal tradition and was able to gain acceptance in the Diocese of Rhode Island as an organized mission.
The chapel was formally named St. Elizabeth’s in honor of Deaconess Elizabeth Trask who had worked tirelessly toward establishing the chapel as an Anglican Mission. On June 11, 1939, the Rt. Rev. Grandville, Bishop of Rhode Island, administered the first service of Confirmation and on June 18, 1939 St. Elizabeth’s was dedicated to the Glory of God.
St. Elizabeth’s served the surrounding villages and towns through the 1940’s and 1950’s having expanded by converting a horse barn into a parish hall. Additional land was purchased in the late1960’s and in 1972 a new parish hall was erected providing kitchen facilities, sacristy, organ room, nursery, and a vicar’s office as well as a place for church activities. In 1976 a parking lot behind the chapel was laid out and paved to accommodate the growing parish.
About 15 years ago, Saint Elizabeth’s church was blessed with the gifts of beautiful stained glass windows. Behind the altar are panels commemorating both the Eucharist and our patron saint, Elizabeth. Both sides of the nave have windows highlighting the Old and New Testaments. Our parish hall windows are adorned with various, different designs of the cross from around the world helping us to embrace the Anglican Communion in this great room. Our great joy comes in knowing the love that these windows represent, they were crafted by our former vicar and his wife, Fr. Bob and Sunny Cummings.
In 70 years, St. Elizabeth’s has grown from humble beginnings to a self-sustained church of 95 congregants.