The Rev. Canon Anna Stewart Powell, 69, rector of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Lumberton

Anna S. Powell
Anna S. Powell
Posted: June 24, 2014

The Rev. Canon Anna Stewart Powell, 69, of Lumberton, rector of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church there from 2001 to 2012, died of cancer Thursday, June 19, her birthday, at home.

She was a canon for the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey in Trenton, said her husband, the Rev. John Charles Powell.

Mother Powell "did a marvelous job" at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, parishioner Marsha Cavender, said.

"When she went there, it was a mission with seven to 12 people who attended regularly. And she took it all the way to be a parish."

Cavender added that was "quite phenomenal [because] to become a parish, St. Martin had to become self-supporting."

Mother Powell's effect on Cavender was life-changing, she said.

"After being away for 40 years" from organized religion, Cavender met Mother Powell and eventually became St. Martin's senior warden, a job which she said is "top of the laity in the Episcopal Church."

Born in Neosho, Mo., Mother Powell earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Metropolitan State College of Denver in 1977.

After marrying John Powell in 1974, she earned a master of divinity degree in 1984 at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, which awarded her and her husband its Church and Society Prize for their essay "Homelessness and Hospitality."

In 1985, she and her husband were ordained Episcopal priests.

Mother Powell began her Lumberton career as vicar at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in 1986, which meant she was in charge of the congregation.

"She really did create in that parish a community that grew together into something much more than just the people who gathered there," her husband said.

"There was a woman who had retired from being a Pentecostal missionary - a Biblical scholar - and she was not comfortable and happy in the congregations" near where she lived, he said.

"And her little miniature poodle didn't like being left at home. And St. Martin's both comforted her and challenged her, at the same time as welcoming her dog" at religious services.

In addition to organizing parish retreats at local camps in winter, Mother Powell held monthly hoagie sales year-round that usually attracted 1,200 to 1,300 people at a time when St. Martin's congregation numbered only 80 to 100.

She was a member of Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey's trial court, ecumenical commission, environmental commission, liturgical commission, and committee on the diaconate.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, Gordon; and a granddaughter.

A Requiem Eucharist was set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 25, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, 489 Main St., Lumberton, N.J. 08048, followed by a luncheon in the parish hall.

Donations may be sent to the church.

Condolences may be offered to the family at

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

comments powered by Disqus