About twenty years ago, two struggling congregations merged to become Providence (Rhode Island) Presbyterian Church. Ten years ago, only thirty to forty people attended Sunday worship. These persistent, faithful people held a candle in dark times for their congregation. As the neighborhood changed, so did the church. New people joined — from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Korea, China, Japan, Liberia, and Kenya.
Long-term pastor Joe Miller helped keep the church alive, even becoming part-time in order to call a co-pastor, Chris Foster, who had skills for redevelopment. When he retired, David Watermulder was called as co-pastor. With his skills in foreign languages and international service, and his youthful attitude, growth took off. During his first year he was called on a full-time basis.
Providence is now the fastest growing congregation in the presbytery and regularly has 140–150 people attend worship. Its diversity is astonishing — in ethnicity, race, generation, and lifestyles. The church fosters member-led projects and has blended worship. A college-age choir sings periodically. Young people lead the congregation in contemporary music. During Tuesday Nights Together the attendees share a simple meal and study. A candidate for ordination leads folks in home Bible studies. Immigrants from Ghana sing enthusiastically once a month.
This congregation's giving to denominational mission is the highest per capita in the presbytery. The members and staff think that has a lot to do with their faith attitude, growth, and the glory the congregation gives to God.
Published in the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study