87 Narragansett Avenue
Jamestown, RI 02835
Set right in the middle of Jamestown, almost equal walking distance from the downtown harbor or Dutch Harbor on the western side of the island sits St. Matthews. In truth, I have never walked from Dutch Harbor, and a bike might be recommended if one is available. The walk up from the main harbor in Jamestown is shaded and not too taxing. No matter how you get to St. Matthews there are certain things that I found striking right from coming upon the parish.
First is the simplicity of the building more reminiscent of a Puritan house of worship than the traditional Episcopal churches. The lack of numerous stain glass windows or plaques praising benefactors from long ago give the church an accessibility I found quite beautiful. The ceiling soars with pine boards, not gothic arches. The stained glass behind the altar is lovely but extremely simple. Perhaps most breathtaking is after you take communion, you will turn to walk down the aisle and be greeted by this very large palladium window of clear glass. On the Sunday I was there the sun with bright and filtering through the trees outside the window. This window created for me a sense of being part of the world and the community looking out at God’s creation and allowing someone to look in or for that matter join in!
It is hard to say much about the congregation or the Pastor. I attended St. Matthew’s on the Sunday after July 4th, and the number of attendees was understandably small. The Reverand Lloyd who is the Priest for St. Matthew’s was on vacation as well. But those who did attend were of all ages, and when I found myself too far for handshakes during the peace, an usher made a point of seeking me out as did a member of the congregation who waved with enthusiasm. There was not a second when I didn’t feel entirely at home and welcomed.
A couple of worship observations; I guess that this is a pretty “low” church, didn’t see a lot of people crossing themselves and the prayer books are blue, and the hymnals are red! I don’t know why this struck me, but it is just the opposite of what I am used to.
For those moored in Dutch Harbor, the after church adventure is when a bicycle seems like a good idea because all the after church suggestions are at the other end of Narragansett Ave. The number one spot for a post-church breakfast has to be A Slice of Heaven, 32 Narragansett Ave. You will no doubt have to wait, but nobody seems to care. This Jamestown institution is a favorite meeting place, and the food is outstanding. It is an excellent place for good coffee, decadent pastries and breakfast food that is entirely satisfying. A Slice of Heaven also serves lunch.
Another institution of the very informal but reliable type is Spinnaker’s Café. A great selection of sandwiches and an extensive choice of ice cream flavors make this a favorite at any time. Spinnaker’s opens at 8:00 AM daily and is not to be missed at 3 Ferry Wharf. I must confess that I spend time in Jamestown every summer and I never miss any of the above choices. In fact, I have been known to visit Spinnaker’s and A Slice of Heaven daily.