St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Welcomes You!
For information on upcoming services, please contact Father Michael Wallens of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Marfa, Texas at 214-862-7292
St. Stephen’s is in search of a Priest in Charge. If interested, please contact
The History of St. Stephen’s
Heralded as the oldest existing Protestant church west of the Pecos River, St. Stephen’s Church was originally constructed in Pecos, Texas (54 miles north of Fort Stockton) in 1896 and consecrated in 1903. Continuous services were held in this building, until 1958, at which time construction was began on the new St. Mark’s.
In 1956, after being slated for demolition, it was given to the members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Fort Stockton by Bishop Kinsolving of the Episcopal Diocese of New Mexico and Southwest Texas.
The Episcopal community of Fort Stockton, who had been meeting in Dr. D. J. Sibley’s office, due to the lack of a building, made plans to move this church to Fort Stockton. The building was placed on a block of land donated by Dr. Sibley.
St. Stephens is built along historic lines architecturally, with the altar at the east end and the entrance at the west. The tower or steeple was historically above the altar. In the English country churches, this architecture was modified with the entrance on the south side and the west side was closed to protect against prevailing westerly winds. The tower was also used as a fortified place against the Norsemen. From the tower, rocks, boiling oil and etc. could be thrown on the attackers.
These churches were generally built of stone with slate roofs and narrow windows. St. Stephens is constructed of wood and in the historic style of country or parish churches of England.
A member of the clergy from another denomination was asked why he thought a priest might want to come to Fort Stockton. Here is his answer:
Since the beginning of the Christian Church, followers of Jesus have sought the desert for a life of contemplation and a closer more meditative relationship with God and His Word. John the Baptist, the Announcer of the Christ, was called to ministry in the desert where people flocked, and Christ Himself came for baptism. Jesus our Lord spent forty days in the Judean Wilderness to experience the fullest of all temptations which are common to man. God’s Spirit led Philip to the desert road to meet up with the first Christian convert to an African region, the Ethiopian Eunuch. The original desert fathers set themselves apart to search for the Living Christ and find the meaning of His eternal word for the mission of the church in their time. Today, Christian pastors of all denominations find desert places and rural locations to be places of scope for the imagination and realms of meditation on God’s Word – the very best place in which to study in order to preach.
To elaborate further, unlike New York City, Fort Stockton is a great place to live, not just visit. At first glance, the desert terrain and dry heat eighty miles from a mall may be off-putting to people accustomed to the bright lights of the big city. But, if the visitor stays with us awhile, Fort Stockton will steal their hearts, and they’ll know they’re in God’s country.
The secret to Fort Stockton is its people: a hardy, caring, hard-working, friendly, multi-cultured group of people who are eager to extend the right-hand of Christian fellowship and embrace others on the journey of Christian growth and service. Specifically, the people of St. Stephen’s are eager for a priest-in-charge to lead us in spiritual development, Christian mission, and avenues of outreach.
Aside from the people, Fort Stockton has an arid, sun-soaked climate (we’ve had an occasional white Christmas, but we’ve also been known to have the air conditioner on as we decorate the tree).
We are at the gateway to Big Bend National Park and Fort Davis and Balmorhea State Parks where there are wonderful outdoor opportunities for the casual or seasoned hiker, camper, or SCUBA diver.
We are steeped in history with a first-rate museum and fort grounds to explore in both Fort Stockton and nearby Fort Davis. Also in Fort Davis is the McDonald Observatory.