A Brief History Of St. Stephen’s

St. Stephen’s was officially organized as a mission on December 16, 1914, by the Rt. Rev. John White, Bishop of Michigan City, later renamed Diocese of Northern Indiana. The members first met in other member’s homes and then in a small white frame building on East 4th Street. Area priests and Benedictine monks living in Valparaiso served the congregation.

Among the earliest members were Richard and Mary King (grandparents of current member Bob Mattix), William Devonshire, L.W. and Rebecca Applegate, Mrs. F.Y. Keator, Louise and Elbert Ripley, Mrs. Thomas Parker, B.B. and E. T Bale, Alfred Epps, F. Isabel, Doris, N.B., Isabel and G.B. White, Mrs. Earl Ramsey, Mr. and Mrs. William Glynn, and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Ruchti (grandparents of current member Fritz Ruchti).

In 1948 the church was moved to 3rd and Washington Street to land donated by a parishioner. A parish hall and rectory were built and the church had its first full time priest, Father Wilbur Dexter. Subsequent resident clergy were the Rev. Fathers Hayward Crewe, W. Sumner Ferguson, Charles H. Sutton, John R. Smith, Karl E. Marsh, James W. Curtis and Leonard J. Brinkmoeller. In December, 1993 Father Brinkmoeller was called to a parish in Michigan.

For the next three years the parish was served by supply clergy, mainly Father Ross Mack of Valparaiso and M. Richard Miller, a deacon (and since 2002, a priest) assigned to St. Andrews, Valparaiso. In January 1997, the Rev. John B1akslee was elected priest in charge. His assignment at St. Stephen’s, however, is for less than full time.

Needing more space, the congregation purchased land on 14th and State Street, and from 1960-62 the rectory was moved to the east side of the street, the parish hall to the west side and a new church was built adjoining and the hall bricked over to match.

Saint Stephen’s was originally a diocesan mission but became a parochial mission of Christ Church, Gary, in 1968. Following rapid growth and stability, the mission was granted parish status at the diocesan convention November 9, 1985.

A new organ was dedicated on December 3, 1989 and a building fund was started.

In 2000, a former member who grew up in the parish, and members of his family, wanted to present a stained glass window to St. Stephen’s in memory of their mother, Stelle Hill Fetsch. Stelle was very active in the parish until disabled by illness. Her children no longer lived in the Hobart area. David Hill presented a working plan for the window and the vestry thought it would be a fine addition to the building. The window was installed and formally presented by the Hill family and dedicated by the congregation on Sunday, May 14, 2000, the first Mother’s Day of the new millennium.

The window was conceived, designed and constructed by David Hill. The family says that, “The Holy Spirit Window represents our Christian commitment throughout life and eternity. The Dove has represented the Holy Spirit since biblical times. In the window God the Holy Spirit is placed in front of the Apostles’ Cross, representing our Christian commitment. The circle surrounding the Holy Spirit and Apostles’ Cross represents our mortal lives. The background of pink, blue and white opalescent glass inside the circle is the colors of a sunrise. This represents the promise of new and joyful days for all true Christians.

The eye of the Dove is a dichotic jewel, which is an ivory color when there is not any light behind the window. When light passes through the window the eye turns blue or pink depending on from where it is viewed. This color change represents God’s judgment as mentioned in the Nicene Creed. The deeper blue stained glass outside the circle represents the darkness without the Holy Spirit. The window is made of 300 pieces of which 156 are beveled clear, crystal type pieces.”

In the summer of 2001, the parking lot was paved, a sidewalk from the parking lot to the church was added, and and. outdoor pole lights were installed.

On All Saints Sunday, November 3, 2002, the following were dedicated by the congregation: (1.) A new sanctuary light, in memory of Michael Sandala. (2.) A new Paschal Candle holder, in memory of Michael Sandala. (3.) Altar and Eucharist linens in memory of Michael Sandala. (4.) American and Episcopal Church flags, in memory of deceased members.

With God’s help, we look forward to the future growth of our parish, both in numbers and in Grace.

In 2005 a garage for storage was constructed at the south edge of the parking lot. Renovations to the nave, parish hall, and rectory, including new windows, were completed during the first decade of this millennium.

A gift from Alice M. Rogers was partly used to construct a hallway, bathroom and meeting room at the west end of the narthex. It was dedicated by Bishop Ed Little on December 14, 2008, two days before the parish’s 94th anniversary.

On November 2014, Father Blakslee retired his position as priest at St. Stephen’s effective at the end of the year. Father Michael Dwyer, from CEMP, offered assistance with supply priests until we were able to decide the next step for our parish.

On December 14, 2014, St. Stephen’s celebrated their 100th Year Anniversary. The Eucharist was celebrated by Bishop Ed Little.

On October 2016, the Vestry voted to become members of CEMP. We look forward to what God has in store for us!

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