St. Stephen's began as a mission of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in the spring of 1955.
During the first year, land was obtained, and on December 8, 1957, the parish house was dedicated. In 1959 St. Stephen's became a self-supporting parish and the Rev'd Lloyd A. Clarke became the first Rector. The next year, Rev'd John R. Stanton became the second Rector.
On August 18, 1963, ground-breaking ceremonies were held for the church building. The Rt. Rev'd Bishop George P. Gunn led the procession into the completed building on May 17, 1964. A special dedication service was held on June 14,1964.
The final section of St. Stephen's physical plant was completed in 1968 with the addition of an education wing to the parish house. Extensive renovations were made to the original parish house in 1989–90.
In 1981, the Rector Stanton submitted his resignation to pursue a ministry with the elderly. In September of the following year, the Rev'd Edwin F. Gulick became our third Rector. During Rev'd Gulick's tenure, he was assisted at times by the Rev'ds Laura Edward-Jenks, Joseph Buchanon, and John Siviey.
Keith Owen came to St. Stephen's as a deacon in 1988 and was ordained to the priesthood in March, 1989. He served as assistant Rector until May, 1994.
On November 6, 1993, Father Gulick was elected Bishop of Kentucky and left St. Stephen's in February of the following year. After an extensive search, the Rev'd Marlowe Keith lverson was called in 1996 to become our fourth Rector. He served until June, 2002. In September of that year, the Rev'd Betty Long was called to be our interim rector. She served until, after another extensive search, in 2005 the Rev'd Scott Baker was called to become the fifth Rector of St. Stephen's.
St. Stephen's has staff positions heading up the mission to Christopher Newport University, our music ministry, our parish office, and our facilities.
The church also has three elective positions — two wardens and a treasurer — who, though not members of our vestry, sit in on its meetings. Their terms are for three years.
The senior warden is the primary elected lay leader of the parish, and serves as the principal liaison between the parish and the rector. As such, he or she leads the parish between rectors, provides support to the rector, and presides at vestry meetings when the rector must be absent.
The junior warden is responsible for the upkeep of church property and buildings. He or she presides over vestry meetings in the absence of both the rector and senior warden.
Protomartyr and Archdeacon
Patron Saint Stephen Saint Stephen (Gk. Στέφανος, Stephanos "crown, wreath") is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches. In the West, his feast day has been the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, because he was the first Christian martyr (Protomartyr). As the eldest of the first seven deacons chosen by the Apostles, he is termed the Archdeacon.
Stephen is described as "full of the faith and of the Holy Ghost" who did "great wonders and miracles." Tradition holds he was about 30 when he was killed. In the words of one Church Father, he was "the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed his blood for the Gospel."
Acts recounts how Stephen was tried by the Jewish priests for blasphemy against Moses and God and for speaking against the Temple and the Law. During his trial, Stephen accused the Jews of persecuting prophets:
"Which one of the Prophets did your fathers not persecute, and they killed the ones who prophesied the coming of the Just One, of whom now, too, you have become betrayers and murderers."
In the midst of his trial he had a vision: "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." This sealed his fate; he was stoned to death (c. 35 A.D.) by an angry mob in the presence of Saul of Tarsus, the future Paul. In the midst of his martyrdom, Stephen prayed that God would forgive his executioners.
In 415 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Honorius, the relics of Stephen were found and later transferred to a church built in his honor in Jerusalem. In the time of Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450 A.D.), the relics were moved to Constantinople. Gregory of Tours reported that the intercession of the saint preserved an oratory dedicated to him at Metz when the rest of the city was burnt by the Huns on Easter Eve, 451 A.D.
Saint Stephen is frequently depicted in art as a young, beardless man with a tonsure, wearing ancient deacon's vestments. Sometimes he is shown holding a miniature church or a censer (as in the contemporary icon, left), more often with three stones (a reference to his death) and the martyr's palm.
Right: Saint Stephen, from The Demidoff Altarpiece of Carlo Crivelli (1476). The rocks around Stephen's head and body refer to his stoning. He is shown holding a palm and the Gospel.
Below: Stephen (left) in a modern icon and (right) by Giotto in the 14th century.
The vestry is the legal representative of the parish.
In regards to its corporate property; it administers the temporal affairs of St. Stephen's. The rector presides over the vestry.
Help define and articulate the mission of the congregation.
Support the church's mission by word and deed.
Select the rector.
Ensure effective organization and planning by parish committees and groups.
Manage resources and finances.
In the third year of their terms, vestry members are liaisons to one or more of the church's committees or groups. From those positions they report back to the vestry about committee activities.
Qualifications and Term
Vestry members must be adult communicants in good standing — i.e., baptized, confirmed, at least 16 years of age, and who for the previous year have worshiped regularly and worked, prayed, and given for the spread of the Kingdom (National Canon Title 1, Canon 17, Sec. 1,2).
Our vestry members are elected to a 3-year term at the annual parish meeting in January; the terms are staggered. The desired number of members is 12, though at the moment we have only 9.
Meetings and Minutes
The vestry meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in the parish library. These meetings are led by the rector. Members of the parish may attend the first 20 minutes of each meeting and address the vestry on any topic. Minutes of vestry meetings are recorded by the registrar and posted in the parish office.