The beginnings of the Episcopal Church in Westborough date back to 1872. But the purchase of a house and stable at 71 West Main Street provided a permanent meeting place for parishioners. A plan was designed to convert the stable into a church. The first services in the new church took place in January 1899. The converted stable provided adequate facilities for many years.
In the years following World War II, Westborough and St. Stephen’s experienced a growing population. In 1954, during the tenure of the Rev. Edgar Sanford, a committee was formed to plan a building on land purchased from the Nason family on John Street. The building was directed by the belief that the church’s walls, roofs and spires should express the aspirations of the people who congregate there.
Ground was broken in July 1956, and St. Stephen’s new structure was dedicated on September 22, 1957. From 1958 to 1962, work continued on our parish hall, the Sunday School rooms, and the interior. Much of the work was done by the parishioners themselves. Used pews were refinished and installed, and wood from the old stable pews was fashioned into the crosses now worn by the acolytes.
But a church is more than a building, it is people and their mission. During Fr. Sanford’s tenure, we were graced by his wife, Agnes, known throughout the world for her healing missions. Their son, John, was been equally famous for his work on the intersection Christian faith and modern psychology. Every person brings something unique to St. Stephen’s and knows, we pray, the loving embrace of God through our life together.
The loving embrace of God was tried when, in 1991, an automobile accident tragically killed our rector and his wife. Fr. Jack and Nancy Lawton, who were deeply involved in parish life and in the wider community. They are still missed by many in the parish and town.
In 1992 the parish joyfully welcomed Fr. Dennis Jarry and his wife Barbara. Fr. Dennis served as rector to St. Stephen’s until late 2000. During Fr. Denis’s tenure, a new addition was added, which now contains the parish offices.
In 2002, Fr. William Martin accepted the call to be the next rector. Fr. Bill led the parish through renovation projects and helped with rebuilding after flooding in the basement Christian Education rooms. During his tenure, we updated the kitchen, installed new roofing and front sidewalk, painted the exterior, and completed a total renovation of the classrooms. Fr. Bill retired in 2010 and moved with his wife to Pennsylvania.
In September of 2011, Fr. Jesse Abell became our current rector. Fr. Jesse and his wife Allison brought energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of renewal to our parish. In his time here, he has lead developments in Christian Formation and family ministries, revitalized parish communications, and launched an internship program for seminarians in the area who want hands-on parish ministry experience.