St. Philip’s Church celebrates longtime clergy at hymn sing

Sep 5, 2023

MATTAPOISETT — While some Mattapoisett residents celebrated Labor Day weekend at the town beach, parishioners at nearby St. Philip’s Episcopal Church closed their 139th summer season by recognizing the contributions of three longtime priests on Sunday, Sept. 3.

Rev. Bob Malm, who came to the church in 1982; Rev. Phil Jacobs, who came to the church in 1982; and Rev. Jeffrey Cave, who first came to the church in 1975, have all attended the church’s summer services.

“[Cave] came to St. Philip's as a teenager when he was in college … and he was not yet a priest,” said Church Trustee Ruth Jolliffe. “But he has been a member of our family since then.”

Cave said that in his time at St. Philip’s Church, “Mattapoisett has changed dramatically.”

“Now you have people who commute to Boston, people who commute to Providence and New Bedford, and it's become a year round community,” he said.

Each priest received an icon of St. Philip, made at Mount Athos Monastery in Macedonia.

For Church Trustee Bob Iredell, who first attended St. Philip’s in the mid-1980s, the church is “such a special little place.”

“What struck me then, and even now, is the sense of history in this little chapel in Mattapoisett harbor,” wrote Iredell. “There are very few summer-only parishes on the East Coast any more. And for 139 years St. Philip’s has been hosting visiting clergy from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, Georgia, and even Toronto, Canada.”

The three priests weren’t the only ones who were recognized, Jolliffe herself was honored along with the three priests for her longtime service to the church. She was gifted with a watercolor painting of St. Philip's Church.

“For the better part of 40 years, she’s been doing all the things,” said Rev. Benjamin Straley, the rector at St. Stephen’s Church in Providence. “She enlists help … but she makes sure that the altar guild does their thing and [that] the flowers are there on Sundays … and she secures all the clergy who come in on Sundays in the summer. She does it all. A jack of all trades.”

Then, to close their season, a group of about 32 parishioners participated in a hymn sing, where people called out their favorite hymns, heard a brief explanation of each piece, and sang together as a group.

Cave started the church’s annual hymn sing 16 years ago.

“I think it's terrific,” he said, referring to the longevity of the tradition. “People just have their favorite hymns … and sometimes the one thing you hear as a priest is: ‘This is the hymn I'd like to be sung at my funeral.’”