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Episcopal minister leaving job here to run cathedral in Providence, Rhode Island



Richard Singleton and a few others were standing oh the corner of Huron and State Street in 1968 with a big sign which read ‘Remember Hiroshima.’ Almost 20 years later Singleton is doing the same thing.

The only thing that has changed, Singleton says, is that “I believed I was going to really change the world. Now I’m more realistic about how hard it is for change to come about.”

But most importantly says the 47-year-old Episcopal minister, “I am no less determined.”

Singleton, who has been the rector of St. Aldan’s Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor since 1980, and president of the Interfaith Council for Peace, will now become the Dean of the Cathedral of St. John in Providence, R.I.

Singleton came to Ann Arbor in 1966 and has since guided St. Aidan’s growth and development as a joint ecumenical ministry with Northside Presbyterian Church. When he first started it had a congregation of 13; now Singleton says it has at least 200 active members. He also worked for seven years part-time on the staff of St. Andrew’s.

“I felt I was called to become a priest in the church - and now I’ve been called to the Cathedral,” said Singleton.

His duties will be much the same he says. “I’ll have more responsibility in the leadership role in the diocese, and I’ll assist the bishop and run the Cathedral.

He says he expects to be just as active in peace and environmental groups as he has been in Ann Arbor. Singleton has been involved In everything from nuclear disarmament to protesting the University’s involvement in defense projects and apartheid in South Africa.

He and his wife, who has been an active, full-time member of Women’s Action for Disarmament, have a daughter, 23, and a son, 21.

“Martin Luther King was the major influence on my life,” said Singleton, who marched with the civil rights leader in Washington D.C. and in Boston.

“But I see myself both as an activist and an evangelist - a church builder, and I plan to build a church there, too.”

“The diocese is more conservative in Rhode Island, and I expect to get a lot more flack, but they know me and what I’m about,” said Singleton.

He will not miss Ann Arbor, he will miss the people. “I like big cities with a large cultural mix, something Ann Arbor doesn’t have."

The life of a priest has been good, says Singleton, who was ordained when he was 26 after attending the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass. “I don’t regret a single day. It’s been a wonderful life to be a priest. You really get to know people and love them . . . and that’s what life is all about.”

It may be wonderful, but it hasn’t been easy. “It’s an unbelievably difficult job. One minute you can be doing something administrative, and the next minute you’re dealing with a suicide.

“I’ve always said it’s everything from celebrating communion to changing a tire,” said Singleton.

It is this kind of dual quality in Singleton’s life that he thinks brought him to the Episcopal Church.

“On one hand the Episcopal church offers a great sense of tradition in the liturgy, and on the other there is a great sense of ethical freedom. No one would ever tell you you were right or wrong,” said Singleton.

There is one message Singleton says he would like to leave: “I’m convinced the over-arching problem that our society is facing is the unbelievable waste of human and economic resources to support militarism - and if it doesn’t change, it will be America’s downfall. It is, bluntly, a dead end.”


Singleton says he expects to be just as active in peace and environmental groups as he has been in Ann Arbor. He has been involved in everything from nuclear disarmament to protesting the University's involvement in defense projects and apartheid in South Africa.


. . .felt call to become priest