Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Dear Friends in Christ,

I write today to inform you of the decision of the Vestry of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Rochester, to close the church and transfer the assets to the diocese. By formal action of the Vestry, the final public worship service will be on February 19, 2023, and the transfer of assets will take place in June. My staff is working closely with St. Stephen's to assure a smooth transition.

The closing of a church is always very sad. There is no way to capture the meaning of the years and years of ministry and formation, the pastoral care, the celebrations, the baptisms, the weddings, and the burials, that have occurred in that place. The meaning of all that is held close in the hearts and memories of the members and their families.

In St. Stephen's case, there have been many, many efforts over the last two decades to secure the community and the building for the future. The changing demographics and the cultural realities of our time have led the leadership to determine that there is no longer sufficient energy or financial support to continue. I have been part of those conversations, and I sadly concur with the Vestry's decision.

I believe nothing is ever lost to God. The work of St. Stephen's, the love, and the ministries that have been shared over several generations, will continue to resonate in the heart of God and in the lives that have been touched. God will continue to hold what has been offered and will use it for our good and the good of the world.

Under the rules of The Episcopal Church, the memorials and sacred objects of the church and the official records will be secured. The members will be assisted in finding new spiritual homes. The contents of the building will be inventoried. The building itself will be secured and cared for while the Trustees of the Diocese consider alternative uses for the building. In due time, a service of deconsecration will be announced. This process will undoubtedly take a number of months.

The work of the Gospel continues even as this community of faith disperses. I invite your prayers for the good people of St. Stephen's as they labor faithfully to bring the life of their church to a conclusion.