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ABOUT US

St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Gilroy, California, USA, is a loyal and loving group of diverse people with a strong sense of family and a desire to be faithful witnesses to Christ Jesus and seek God’s will in all we do and say. By the Grace of God, we will continue to share our mission with a growing community.

Worship and Religious Education

We provide a Eucharistic community to worship God with two Sunday services (8 AM and 10 AM). Sunday School is conducted during the 10 AM service. Each Wednesday, at 12 noon, there is a Liturgy of Healing with the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Holy Unction. We hope all parishioners will develop a passion to seek spiritual growth.

Spiritual Growth

To encourage spiritual growth we have a monthly Men’s Prayer and Fellowship gathering twice a month, a weekly Bible study on Wednesday mornings, and have an active Daughter’s of the King chapter. Together we develop a deeper understanding for how God is working in our lives.

Prayer

The parish is active in seeing to the needs of its members. St Stephen’s provides nurturing though prayer and caring. We have a prayer chain and Lay Eucharistic Ministers take communion to those who are unable to come to services.

Music

Music is a developing ministry at St Stephen’s. Our music director has put together an outstanding Easter Sunday music program and we hope to repeat this at Pentecost and on other holy days. Our rector is very musically oriented and is a member of a Christian band. We also have a newly donated live sound system. All together with our organist and bell choir we are well equipped to see what God can do with our joyful noise.

Outreach

St Stephen’s also provides resources and assistance to those in need in our community, through our Resource Center. The Resource Center is open two days a week and is staffed by volunteers. We support St. Joseph’s family center, Santa Maria Urban Ministry, Episcopal Relief and Development Agency, and The United Thank Offering.

We want all of God’s children to feel welcome at St Stephen’s. The parish is composed of people from different social, economic, political and cultural backgrounds. And although we are a diverse community, we are strongly bound together by our faith. St Stephen’s is a church where we get out of our pews to spread the Peace with our neighbors. A defining characteristic of St Stephen’s is its sense and commitment to the parish family.

History and Church Description

The first Episcopal services were held in Gilroy in 1867. St Stephen’s became a Mission of the Diocese in 1875 and a parish in 1948. The present church was built in 1967. We have been a parish in transition from a conservative charismatic emphasis during the period of Episcopal renewal in the 1970s to an emerging mainline church with a diverse population today. The membership has slowly declined from the 1970s. Much of our decline in size is due to the mobile California population and stresses within the Diocese or National Church. From 2000 until July 2006, a retired priest of the Diocese who had a ministry of reconciliation and revitalization had served us. Under his leadership, the parish came together in vision and purpose, and achieved the goal of becoming a mainline church. We are now led by our rector and have initiated a plan for growth through evangelism within the community.

Location

St Stephen’s Episcopal Church is located in a middle-income neighborhood, about one block from a main business street. The sanctuary is large, seating approximately 200 people. Stained glass windows surround the sanctuary with a large stained glass cross in the wall over the altar. We have a parish hall that accommodates about 150 people, several classrooms, a nursery room, and the Resource Center office. There is a central courtyard of grass and trees with play equipment for the children. The facilities are shared during the week with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, TOPS, and Diocesan meetings.

Where is Gilroy?

Gilroy is centrally located within a short driving distance of Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz, the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. It is close to the geographical center of the Diocese of El Camino Real in Salinas. Gilroy is best known as the “Garlic Capital of the World” and is home to the Garlic Festival each July. The city is also known for its peaceful residential environment, its award winning parks, golf courses and recreation programs. Gilroy Gardens, a horticultural theme park, is another major asset for the community. Gilroy is becoming the home to many new, young and promising families who commute up to Silicon Valley. 2005 demographics show the population within a 10 mile radius of city hall is 93,021. The ethnic breakdown: 42% White (non-Hispanic), 31% White (Hispanic), 10% Asian and 2% Black, and 15% all others. There are 13 public schools, 5 private schools and one Community College in Gilroy. Historically Gilroy’s economy has been based upon agriculture and food processing, and that is still an important element of its economy. The modern era has seen an increase in interest for Gilroy as a location for expansion of Silicon Valley.