St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Baker County, Oregon
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The first service of the Episcopal Church held in Baker City was by the Rt. Rev. R. W. Morris, D.D., June 5, 1870.
The bishop found two communicants, in the city, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Henderson. Finding that there was a sentiment favorable to the enterprise of building a church a subscription paper was circulated and the sum of $900 was pledged for a building fund. That amount not being sufficient for the purpose, the matter rested for a time.
In June 1873, at the request of Bishop Morris, Rev. R. D. Nevius took charge of the mission in Grande Ronde and Powder River valley and began regular monthly services. A Ladies Mite society had been formed and a small additional fund raised for building purposes. In December 1873, a Woman’s Guild was established to take the place of the Mite society and continue the work of raising a building fund. Under the active leadership of Mrs. Brown a good progress was made, but upon her removal to Salem, the work ceased. Nothing more was done in the way of building until October, 1879, when a house of one room was erected for the use of the missionary and designed to be the vestry room of the future church, but the expense was not paid from the building fund previously described. A contract was let to Lew & Crabill to build a church, but when the material was obtained and paid for it was found that the funds on hand were not sufficient to complete the work and the contract was cancelled with the consent of the parties. Subsequently the plan was changed with a view to lessen the expense, and a contract to build the church was let to Clements & Manning who erected the building in the absence of the missionary, who was not well pleased with the job on his return.
Dr. Nevius removed to another mission in 1879 and during the three following years the Rev. Thomas Smith, of the Cove held monthly services by direction of the bishop, the Rev. O. Parker took charge in 1882, and built a residence adjoining the church, consisting of four rooms and costing $1500. Two years afterwards he relinquished his charge on account of his wife’s health, and Rev. Smith took his place and conducted weekly services for three years. During Mr. Smith’s ministry, the Ladies Guild, under the efficient leadership of Mrs. G. B. Moulton, its president, did much effective work in completing and furnished the church.
Mr. Smith was succeeded in 1888 by the Rev. J. N. T. Goss. During the two years of his ministration there was 65 baptisms, 38 confirmations, 16 marriages and 39 burials. A Young Ladies Guild had been established and did most effective work in assisting to improve the church property. In 1890 Mr. Goss resigned on account of poor health and for the next eighteen months the parish was vacant.
The Rev. Isaac Dawson, present rector missionary, took charge of the mission in May 1892. In the fall of the same year, a new rectory was built under the supervision of G. B. Moulton, Wm. Elmer and L. F. Cook, building committee, a neat cottage of six rooms, at a cost of $1,020; $883.70 being donated by members and other citizens. A. A. Houston constructed a splendid celler for the rectory, valued at $80, a donation from himself and wife. Other improvements are needed, the necessary funds for the purpose the rector is hopeful will be supplied at no distant day. The present membership of St. Stephens church numbers 200 persons. Missionary committee, D. D. Williams, Wm. Smith, Wm. Elmer, A. S. Shockley, Asa Brown. Organist, Miss Jocelyn Foulks. Regular services are held every Sunday at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday school at 10 a.m. Also services every Wednesday at 10 a.m. and Friday evening at 7 p.m. Holy communion on first and third Sunday of each month. The rectory missionary has charge also of church affairs at Canyon City, John Day City, Prairie City and adjacent points.