History of Saint 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 renaed 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.

Our Centennial will be celebrated on December 14 with a Holy Eucharist celebrated by our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Edward Little, at 4:00 p.m.  A catered dinner will follow. Those intending to stay for the dinner need to contact the church in order to let us know they are coming.

Among the earliest members were Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Ruchti, grandparents of Senior Warden 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 preist, 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 Blakslee 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.

The Holy Spirit Window of Saint Stephen's 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 and her children had moved from the Hobart area.

 The installed window was formally presented by the Hill family and dedicated by the congregation on Sunday, May 14, 2000, the first Mother's Day of the new millenium. The window was conceived, designed and constructed by David Hill.

The family says, "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 dichroic 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 where you view it. 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 ismade 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 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 llinens 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.

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