Obituary: The Reverend Gordon J. Stenning (1930-2024)

The Reverend Gordon J. Stenning, 93, of Portsmouth, RI, passed away peacefully at home on March 21, 2024. Married on June 28, 1952, he was the husband of the late Barbara J. (Luther) Stenning for 68 years.

Born July 9, 1930, in Providence, Rhode Island, he was the son of the late John A. Stenning and Ethel (Gaskarth) Stenning.

Reverend Stenning attended the Providence school systems. He graduated from Brown University in 1952 and The Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1955. He was ordained by Bishop Higgins, as a Deacon on June 24, 1955, and as a Priest on March 24, 1956. Rev. Stenning served as the Curate at Saint Paul’s Church in Pawtucket, RI from 1955-1957, the Rector of Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, RI from 1957-1988, and as the Senior Vice President for Pastoral Care of The Church Pension Fund, New York, NY, from 1988-1995. He retired in 1995.

Rev. Stenning served as the Dean of Aquidneck Deanery from 1962-1966, and from 1969-1979, and as the Chairman on the Executive Committee of Seaman’s Church Institute in Newport, RI from 1960-1986.

Rev. Stenning represented the Diocese of Rhode Island from 1959-1988, he was the President of the Province of New England from 1984-1986. He was the second priest in the Episcopal Church to be elected to serve as President of a Province. Before this time, it was restricted to Bishops.

Rev. Stenning was elected Deputy to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church representing Rhode Island at 10 conventions from 1964-1988. He served on the Evangelism and Prayer Book committees. He was the Member Board of Advice to the President of the House of Deputies from 1984-1988, a Member of the Executive Committee of The Episcopal Church from 1987-1989, President of the Bible and Common Prayer Book Society of the Episcopal Church from 1993-1995, and one of the six signers of the original resolution to allow women to be ordained priests in the Episcopal Church.

He considered his greatest honors to be when he was asked by Bishop John S. Higgins (1953-1972), who had ordained him, to preach at his funeral, and when the family of Bishop Frederick H. Belden (1972-1979) asked him to preach at Bishop Belden’s funeral.

In his community, Rev. Stenning was in the URI Master Gardeners Association Hall of Fame, and an Amateur Radio Operator for many years with call sign WA1HXK.

Honorary pallbearers are those hundreds of people who helped Gordon in his ministry who over the decades were deeply appreciated as they worked and worshipped together to make his life what it was.

Rev. Stenning is survived by his children; Mark L. Stenning and his wife Christine, of Portsmouth, RI, and Pamela S. Caudill and her husband Charles of East Haven, CT. He is also survived by his grandchildren; Christopher Stenning of East Greenwich, RI, Emily Stenning of Bristol, RI, John Stenning Callahan of Philadelphia, PA, and Elizabeth Callahan and her wife Mary Kate of Columbus, NJ, and his great-grandchildren; Oliver and Evelyn Beth.

Besides his wife and parents, Rev. Stenning was preceded in death by his brothers, The Rt. Reverend Ronald E. Stenning and Norman Stenning.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2024, at 10 am, in St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 324 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI. Burial will follow immediately after the service in St. Mary’s Churchyard.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in memory of Reverend Stenning to Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2679 E Main Rd, Portsmouth, RI.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of The Reverend Gordon J. Stenning, please visit Memorial Funeral Home’s flower store.

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