The Parish of St. Stephen was founded in 1912, when it was a Mission of St. John’s Cathedral with Canons Faire and Murray responsible for the services. Mr. Roland Hall, a student in charge, conducted the first services in the old Municipal Hall and in the original Polson School. It was March 1912.
The first St. Stephen’s Church was erected on land donated by Morrison Sutherland and the building was officially opened and dedicated by Archbishop Matheson in January of 1913. In accordance with Roland Hall’s suggestion, the church was called St. Stephen after the church he had attended in England prior to his coming to Canada in 1911. Because of its isolation and being so far away from the centre of population in Winnipeg, St. Stephen’s became known as “The Little Red Church on the Prairie”.
The original Parish of St. Stephen also included Emmanuel Church (Elmwood), St. Saviour’s (Morse Place), St. Timothy’s (North Kildonan) and the Washington Avenue Mission. Of these, only St. Saviour’s remains and is a thriving, self-sustaining parish of its own.
The first Rector was the Rev. H.A.B. Harrison who served his parishioners for over three years. He enlisted for military service during World War 1 and died in England. In 1917, the Rev. J. A. Shirley became the new Rector and served for the next five years. It was during his incumbency that the Washington Avenue Mission was established in 1920. The work done in this area by a handful of devoted men and women can never be wholly assessed. The war’s outbreak in 1914, so soon after the founding of the church, placed extra burdens on the shoulders of the ladies of St. Stephen’s Parish, but they accepted the challenge, as they have always done, and carried on their work magnificently.
In 1922, the Rev. Joseph Blackburn came to the parish church and spent two and a half years until he resigned to become a missionary in the Diocese of Saskatchewan.
As there was not enough money to pay a Rector’s stipend after Rev. Blackburn left, the Church Army with Captain Smith in charge came to the parishioners’ assistance. The Rev. Canon McElheran of St. Matthew’s Church and many other Anglican clergy of Winnipeg were pillars of strength during this trying and testing time.
It was in 1925 that the Rev. Harry Sherstone came to St. Stephen’s, serving faithfully and conscientiously until he resigned after twelve years to take up work for St. John’s College. During this time, it was found necessary to renovate and extend the church building.
The Rev. Francis J. Ison was installed as the next Rector in September 1937, and he served for twenty-four years until he retired. His commanding leadership and imposing presence made him a figure well known in the community. During his time several important events occurred. On May 9, 1948, Archbishop L.R. Sherman held a Service of Consecration. The church was now free of debt, the culmination of many years of sacrifice and endeavor. It was on April 4, 1954, that a beautiful stained glass window was dedicated to those in the parish who had served in the Armed Forces in World War II. In 1959, a large new basement was added to house the parish hall with its many facilities and over which the new church would eventually be built.
The Rev. Jack Truman became the next Rector in 1961, serving his parishioners conscientiously for almost twelve years. During his incumbency, St. Stephen’s continued to grow spiritually and in membership.
With Rev. Truman’s move to assume a new clerical position in Ontario, near Ottawa, the Rev. E.H. Christmas served for an interim period in the fall of 1973. The Rev. Douglas Gregory came to the parish in November of the same year and his ministry brought and fostered a new spirit of friendliness and warmth in the church.
On May 19, 1976, a congregational meeting was called “to investigate the possibility of completing, expanding or relocating our church facilities”. As a result of the vote taken and subsequent approval by the Bishop and the Diocesan Council, the building of the new church complex was undertaken in January 1978. By September of the same year, the church complex was completed and on October 1, the Rt. Rev. Barry Valentine, Bishop of Rupert’s Land, conducted a service of dedication of the new church and of the property.
With the retirement of Rev. Gregory in 1983, the Rev. Paul Smith assumed the spiritual leadership of St. Stephen’s. During his tenure of office from 1983 to 1993, and since that time, the church has offered and continues to offer its facilities to an ever-increasing number of groups which are committed to alleviating many of the social problems facing society today. (mostly 12-step programs).
It was in April of 1994 that a new and vibrant period began in St. Stephen’s when the parish welcomed the Rev. Donna Mahussier as its Rector. Her impressive background in nursing and pastoral experience combined to provide a caring and insightful approach to the congregation and to many in the community.
The church’s adaptation to ever-changing conditions and the modernization of its facilities are very evident in the day-to-day life of both the parish and community. The Good Neighbours Retirement Centre rented space downstairs until they built their own building at the Bronz Park Community Centre
To enhance the utility of the church the installation of an elevator system was completed.
June of 1998 saw the consecration of the new building and the Parish of St. Stephen undoubtedly dedicate itself anew to the extension of Christ’s Kingdom both in the community and in the world beyond.
For the year of 2003, Rev. Fletcher Stewart resided over the parish as the Interim Priest providing care and guidance to the vibrant and energetic parish.
The Rev. Diane K. Guilford served with us from 2004-2013. She added enthusiasm and energy to our church.
The new rector of our parish is The Rev. Liz Richens.