2018-08-02 / Front Page

Rev. Lloyd departs St. Matthew’s after 12 years in pulpit

BY RYAN GIBBS


The Rev. Kevin Lloyd is returning to his native North Carolina after 12 years leading St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in town. While Lloyd said his family “really enjoyed our time here,” going back to the Tar Heel State was “an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” The Rev. Kevin Lloyd is returning to his native North Carolina after 12 years leading St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in town. While Lloyd said his family “really enjoyed our time here,” going back to the Tar Heel State was “an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” After 12 years preaching God’s word while overlooking Narragansett Bay, the Rev. Kevin Lloyd is going home.

Lloyd delivered his final sermon Sunday to an emotional congregation at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. Now, after “prayerful consideration,” he is heading back to North Carolina, 17 miles north of Charlotte, where he will serve as associate rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson.

“It’s hard to say goodbye,” he said.

While the average tenure for an Episcopal rector is six years, Lloyd has doubled that duration since introducing himself in February 2006.

“Every pastoral relationship between clergy and congregation does have a lifespan,” said Lloyd, 46. “Through a period of prayer, I decided the timing was right.”

The decision to leave Jamestown was not a rash one. Lloyd said he informally was searching for vacant clergy positions before the position in his home state appeared.

“It felt like an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” he said.

Lloyd’s final sermon was delivered in two parts. While his penultimate service reflected on his time on Narragansett Avenue, his final sermon addressed a looming question for his Episcopalian following: What lies ahead?

The interim period will be challenging, Lloyd admitted, but it also will be exciting.

“I talked about how this time is what we might call liminal space,” he said. “It’s a time where there’s uncertainty about what lies ahead. While that can be anxiety producing, it can also be a time of real growth. It provides them with the time and the space to reflect on who they are as a community, and where they want to go in the days and years ahead.”

Lloyd grew up in Rutherfordton, N.C., and was raised as an Episcopalian. He graduated from Wake Forest University with his bachelor’s degree in religion in 1993. While enrolled at the Virginia Theological Seminary, he met his wife, Julia, and they have been married for 18 years. They have two sons: Harry, 15, and Robert, 10.

After completing his seminary work in 2001, Lloyd spent a year in London as a research assistant to the Rev. George Carey, archbishop of Canterbury. In September 2002, two months before he was ordained as a priest, he was appointed assistant rector at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Hickory, N.C.

Lloyd arrived in Rhode Island following the retirement of his predecessor, the Rev. Frederick Spulnik. He discovered St. Matthew’s through a national database of Episcopal churches with vacant clergy positions. The Northeast was an attractive landing spot for his wife because she was raised around Boston, and once Lloyd started learning more about the community, it became attractive to him, too.

The search process including trips to North Carolina by St. Matthew’s representatives to watch Lloyd in action. That was followed by trips to Jamestown by Lloyd to see St. Matthew’s. He was hooked by the quaint feel of the town.

“My family and I were struck by the beauty of Jamestown and the wonderful, small community,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed our time here.”

According to Lloyd, the church’s vestry is preparing a search committee to find a replacement. Although there were 13 months between Spulnik’s retirement and Lloyd’s selection, the process has been streamlined. It may not take that long, Lloyd said.

In the interim, St. Matthew’s will host a temporary rector, although no decision has been made. A representative from the Episcopal Diocese of Providence is expected to lead the worship service Sunday and answer questions about the search process. After that, supply priests will fill Lloyd’s void while an interim is named.

While Jamestown is a tourist destination because of its yachting reputation, spectacular vistas and fine restaurants, Lloyd said leaving the people of Jamestown will hurt the most.

These have included longtime residents like Bruce Banks, who said Lloyd provided him with the foundation to lead a better Christian life.

“With your prayers and support, I have learned to be a better neighbor,” Banks said.

These also have included short-term visitors, like U.S. Navy Lt. Matthew Remkiewicz, who said one of his favorite moments of living in the Northeast was visiting the Episcopal church.

“I’m saddened to see the Rev. Kevin will not still be there the next time the Navy sends me your way.”

“It’s those relationships we miss the most,” Lloyd said. “That’s the hardest part of having to leave.”

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