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St. Stephen’s Parish Church—20 years later

[NOTE: This is the first of a series of three reports in preparation for the annual Parish Meeting on May 25th. Next week the Treasurer will present his report followed by the Rector’s Report.]

2014 is a year of anniversaries for St. Stephen’s. Twenty-five years ago, in 1989, Father Guy Hawtin answered the call to become Rector of this parish, joining a cadre of dedicated founders intent on maintaining traditional Episcopal worship in Baltimore.

Much of Fr Guy’s energy during the first five years of his tenure was expended working with the founders to find a permanent home for the parish—to literally build a church. Twenty years ago, in September of 1994, the Most Rev. John C. Gramley, Presiding Bishop of the United Episcopal Church of North America, officiated as the sound of trumpets opened the Service for the Dedication of St Stephen’s Traditional Episcopal Church.

As the parish grew so did the building. The front of the church, originally a covered porch, was enclosed to provide the space now dedicated to the memory of Tom Cadwalader. In 2006 the Parish Hall, Sacristy, bathrooms, and kitchen facilities were expanded, and a “mezzanine” office created for the Rector and clerical staff.

And this year we look forward to literally “raising the roof,” adding a new office for the clerics and the treasurer, and establishing an extensive Anglican academic library and meeting room.

Responsibility for maintenance and care of the building and church properties has been faithfully attended to by the People’s Wardens—initially Jack vanRoden and most recently by Paul Douglas and Gordon Turner. The fine condition of our facilities is a tribute to their stewardship throughout the years.

St Stephen’s has always been blessed with parishioners willing to jump in and do what needs to be done. As if by magic the Sanctuary gets cleaned, lawns cut, bathrooms sparkle, paint gets touched up, and a myriad of other small maintenance jobs are handled.

All by volunteers. In fact, the only service for which we routinely contract is snowplowing.

Last fall significant repairs were made to the south exterior wall of the Sanctuary. Years of water intrusion had rotted the panels under the windows along the foundation line and water was beginning to intrude into the building. With the help of Brock Johnson and Martha “the hammer” Miller, the rotted wood was removed, new panels and cedar battens installed, gutters re-hung with new brackets, and all was painted.

Also significant this year was the re-lamping of the Sanctuary with energy efficient LED lighting. Through a program of rebates available through BGE, all of the lamps in the Sanctuary and the outside floodlights were replaced at a final cost of about $180. These new lamps consume about 20% of the power of the old lamps and will save us literally hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs.

A special thank you to John Woodall for his invaluable help in this project. He not only provided his electrical expertise, wit, and humor, but also provided a hydraulic hi-lift to reach the lamps some 30 feet above the floor. And, the hi-lift was great fun to operate!

This coming September we will be re-dedicating our church during the visit of Bishop John Vaughan, and so we will work hard to make it sparkle as it did 20 years ago.

Next week new carpet will be installed in the Chancel area of the Sanctuary, replacing the well-worn and wax speckled carpet in the area around the altar.

And we anticipate having the library and office addition done in time for the Bishop’s visit.

Thank you to all who have jumped in with your time, talent and, sometimes, money. Through your stewardship we are well prepared for the next twenty years.

Don Ruthig

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