Our History


Construction on St. Stephen steeple+Ordination at St. Stephen Lutheran Church+Fixing the archway at St. Stephen+New Welcoming Door at St. Stephen

1956

  • Pastor Allan H. Fenner arrives as Mission Developer as a result of a survey that revealed 75 Lutherans in the area, plus 50 Lutheran students at the College of William and Mary.
  • In September, the first service is held in the Wren Chapel on the campus of the College of William and Mary.
  • In December, the congregation is formally organized with 74 confirmed members.

1957

  • In January, at the first Annual Meeting, Paster Fenner is called to become the first full-time pastor to St. Stephen Lutheran Church. He is installed in May.
  • In June, the current building site on Jamestown Road is dedicated.

1960

  • In March, Pastor Fenner resigns and returns to Pennsylvania. The summer supply pastor is seminarian David L. Blackwelder.
  • In October, Pastor John F. Byerly, Jr. is installed as the second pastor of St. Stephen.

1962

  • In March, groundbreaking services are held for the first church building.
  • In October, the date stone is place under the altar during a ceremony.

1963

  • On January 6, the first services in the new St. Stephen Lutheran Church are held. Sister Doris Abernethy is sent by the Board of American Missions to assist our programs.

 1964

  • On April 19, the St. Stephen Lutheran Church building is dedicated.

1965

  • In response to a demonstrated need in the community, the St. Stephen Nursery School and Kindergarten begin with 80 students.

1968

  • Outreach to tourists expands with the arrival of seminarian Robert Schmeelcke.

1969

  • Mr. William Dollhopf, a graduate student at the College, is employed to assist the pastor in Campus Ministry.
  • Ms. Alice Moberg is the first member from St. Stephen to become a candidate for a divinity degree.

1970

  • Mr. Richard Carter is installed as Lay Chaplain for Tourist Ministry.

1971

  • On December 12, in conjunction with St. Stephen’s 15th anniversary, an Educational Building addition, which includes a College Room for the Lutheran Student Association at the College of William and Mary, is dedicated.

1973

  • In January, Pastor Byerly accepts a call to First English Lutheran Church in Richmond, Virginia.
  • Seminarian H. Benton Lutz, one of St. Stephen’s supply pastors, is called to become the third full-time pastor at St. Stephen.
  • On July 15, Pastor Lutz is ordained and installed.

1975

  • Mr. Ted Miller is named Graduate Assistant for Campus Ministry.

1976

  • Pastor Jack D. Nussen comes to St. Stephen to assist in Tourist Ministry outreach and serve as associate pastor.
  • The St. Stephen Hostel program provides low-cost lodging for youth groups on the Bicentennial Trail.

1977

  • Pastor Nussen leaves for a call to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hampton, Virginia.

1979

  • Vicar Willetta B. Heising serves her internship at St. Stephen.

1981

  • On July 1 (her birthday), Pastor Heising is ordained and accepts a call to Grace Lutheran Church in Franklin, Virginia.
  • On December 6, St. Stephen celebrates its 25th anniversary.

1987

  • In May, Pastor Philip G. Emanuel is called as Associate Pastor to St. Stephen. He serves through August 1989.

1988

  • In December, construction on the expansion of St. Stephen’s sanctuary begins. Many worship services take place in Morton Hall at the College.

1989

  • In August, the St. Stephen congregation returns to the completed worship space, now with handicapped access to the sanctuary.
  • In September, a dedication is held.

1990

  • In July, former Lutheran Student Association member, Mr. Randy Lohr, is ordained.
  • On November 4, the new organ is dedicated.

1991

  • After 18 years, Pastor Lutz moves to South Carolina to establish a counseling practice.

1992

  • In July, Pastor Lawrence A. Shoberg is called to St. Stephen. He is installed in October.

1993

  • In September, the first Worship in the Park and annual congregation picnic is held.

1994

  • In September, ten members of the congregation are commissioned as the first class of Stephen Ministers.

1995

  • The congregation votes to develop a Capital Fund program to fund a building renovation project.

1996

  • The cross on the front door of St. Stephen is painted a bold red, becoming clearly visible to all who pass on the street and giving witness to the community.
  • Former Lutheran Church in America Bishop James F. Crumley becomes the first Theologian in Residence.
  • In December, St. Stephen celebrates its 40th anniversary.
  • Wm. Henry Harris and Associates, Inc., of Richmond, Virginia, are contacted to complete a Master Plan to enable St. Stephen to expand its service to the community.

1997

  • The Tape Ministry to provide recordings to those who cannot attend services at St. Stephen is started.

1998

  • St. Stephen enters into a partnership with Mongai Lutheran Parish in Tanzania.
  • Chris Carr and Todd Payne, members of St. Stephen, begin their training for the ordained ministry.

1999

  • St. Stephen purchases the house and property at 608 Jamestown Road.

2000

  • Pastor Shoberg retires from St. Stephen.
  • Pastor John Mark Vought serves as Interim Pastor.
  • Congregation member Ms. Cheryl Griffin begins her training for the ordained ministry.

2001

  • In April, Pastor Andy Ballentine begins his work at St. Stephen. He is installed in May.
  • In December, approval from the Architectural Review Board and the Williamsburg Planning Commission is received for the addition to the church building.

2002

  • In January, approval for the new building is received from the Williamsburg City Council.
  • In June, a demolition of the Educational Building and ground-breaking ceremony is held. O.K. James is chosen as the general contractor.

2003

  • In May, construction is completed.
  • In June, the building is dedicated with Virginia Synod Bishop James F. Mauney participating.
  • Congregation member Pastor James Nickols is called to Reformation Lutheran Church, Newport News, Virginia.
  • LSA member Mr. Joel Neubauer begins training for the ordained ministry.

2005

  • Congregation member Ms. Kathryn Schroeder begins her training for the ordained ministry.
  • In September, Cheryl Griffin is ordained at St. Stephen and begins her work as Associate Pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church in Newport News, Virginia.
  • St. Stephen Member, Marilyn Johnson, coordinates a drive to provide new sneakers for students living in Grove as they return to School.

2006

  • In April, eight members of St. Stephen travel to New Orleans to help with the reconstruction following Hurricane Katrina. They go back in October for a second mission trip.
  • LSA member Mr. Michael Powell begins his training for the ordained ministry.
  • In October, Pastor Ballentine becomes ill and spends five weeks in Norfolk General Hospital and then two months recovering at home. Retired pastors in the congregation and pastors from the community lead worship.
  • The celebration of the 50th anniversary of St. Stephen begins with a musicale in December.

2007

  • Pastor Robert J. Maier serves as interim pastor for the month of January.
  • In January, an Endowment/Planning Giving Seminar is offered in celebration of the 50th anniversary.
  • In February, Pastor Ballentine returns to St. Stephen in full health and the Theologian-in-Residence continues the anniversary celebration.
  • On February 18, the Lutheran Book of Worship hymnals are removed by the 11 AM worshipers and the new Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnals are brought into the sanctuary by those worshiping on Ash Wednesday.
  • In March, red carpeting is installed around the altar in the sanctuary and a special Anniversary Worship service is held with Virginia Synod Bishop James F. Mauney officiating.
  • In April, a Golf Tournament and Putt-Putt Golf Outing is held in celebration of the 50th anniversary. A “Fifties+” Luncheon is held in the Fellowship Hall for those members of St. Stephen 50 years and older, also in celebration of the church’s 50th birthday.
  • In June, a Grand Banquet Celebration is held at the University Center at the College of William and Mary, concluding the 50th Anniversary events.
  • In September, organist Michael Price moves to California to take a teaching position.
  • In November, Michael Monaco begins his music ministry at St. Stephen.

2008

  • In January, an Inaugural Organ Recital, presented by Michael Monaco, fills the sanctuary.
  • Congregation member Ms. Haley Poynter, daughter of Kate Schroeder, begins her training for ordained ministry. Lutheran Student Association members Ms. Brett Wilson, Ms. Leslie Scanlon and Ms. Deanna Scheffel also begin training for ordained ministry.

2009

  • Pastor Ballentine takes a three-month sabbatical, including a trip to our sister parish, the Mongai Parish in Tanzania.
  • Former Lutheran Student Association members Mr. Todd Payne and Mr. Chris Duckworth are ordained as ELCA ministers.
  • New chairs for the worship space are installed, unifying the look of the sanctuary. The used chairs are sent to Rejoice Lutheran Church, a mission church in Portsmouth, VA.
  • In August, Kathryn Schroeder is ordained at St. Stephen and begins her work as Pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jerome, Virginia.

2010

  • In April, Director of Family Ministries Robin Hudson leaves St. Stephen to pursue other interests.
  • In October, Doug Cummings is hired as Ministry Associate.

2011

  • Plans for renovating and expanding the narthex, adding new lighting to the sanctuary, and getting a new roof and forecourt are approved by the congregation.
  • St. Stephen celebrates 10 years of ministry of Pastor Andy and Patty Ballentine.
  • St. Stephen participates in the “From His Hands” ministry, joining area churches in feeding the homeless once each month.
  • Congregation member Marcie Clark begins her Health Ministry at St. Stephen, becoming our first Parish Nurse.

2012    

  • A renovated gathering space, new and efficient lighting, forecourt and roof were dedicated in February. The meditation garden, featuring a seven-foot metal cross was dedicated in October.
  • Former Lutheran Student Association members Brett Wilson Davis, Leslie Scanlon, and Deanna Scheffel Boynton are ordained as ELCA ministers.
  • The congregation raises money to support Rogathe John “Roggy” Tippe in his studies toward a BS in Wildlife Management at Soloine University in Tanzania.  The Vacation Bible School, Faith Formation children, and congregation also purchased more than 200 solar lights for students in our sister congregation in Mongai Tanzania.
  • Doug Cummings resigns as Ministry Associate to care for his two children.

 2013    

  • St. Stephen joins with Williamsburg United Methodist Church to provide food and shelter to some of Williamsburg’s homeless during a week in January through the Community of Faith Mission. More than 60 members of the congregation participate.
  • Haley Vay Poynter is ordained at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in York, PA. She has been called to be Pastor for Children, Youth and Family Ministry at Zion Lutheran in York.

2014    

  • The congregation votes in January to call Pastor Cheryl Ann Griffin to serve as Pastor, serving with Pastor Andy Ballentine.
  • Organist Michael Monaco resigns in January to focus on work at Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Martin Barstow begins his ministry as Director of Music in August.
  • Rogathe John “Roggy” Tippe, upon completion of his studies of Wildlife Management, comes to the United States – visiting with Godparents for Tanzania in Roanoke, and spending two weeks with St. Stephen.

2015

  • St. Stephen members begin giving their time to “The Harbor,” a new daytime shelter for those experiencing homelessness.
  • St. Stephen sells the house it owns at 608 Jamestown Road; the proceeds pay down a portion of the mortgage on the church building. 

2016

  • Congregation member Regina Root is the subject of a documentary movie about her illness and recovery, “Regina’s Gift.”
  • A Preschool Task Group and the Congregation Council work to bring a new focus to the St. Stephen Lutheran Preschool.  Sandy Peterkin is named Administrator, Susan Berry-Ruane is named Lead Teacher.  The Preschool’s finances are re-structured to make it viable for the future and the Preschool is seen as an aspect of St. Stephen’s program of faith formation.
  • A “Reformation 500” planning committee, chaired by Ina Berkey, sets events for St. Stephen’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017, including two community-wide events with St. Bede Roman Catholic Church.
  • St. Stephen Lutheran Church celebrates its 60th anniversary.

2017

  • A banner claiming, Always Re-Forming: 1517 – hung over our Jamestown Road doors throughout the Reformation’s 500th anniversary year.
  • A Hymn Festival to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian unity was held at St. Bede Catholic Church. Nearly 150 singers from 17 area churches participated. St. Stephen received a grant to bring in Composer David Cherwien and Lyricist Susan Palo Cherwien.
  • Organist Martin Barstow resigns in April.
  • Pastor Ballentine officiated at the Blessing of the Bikes for the Williamsburg Community, sponsored by Bike Walk Virginia.
  • Karen Areheart Ives begins her ministry as Director of Music in August.
  • Diana Tiller-Dichtel joins Marcie Clark in our Health Ministry program as our second Parish Nurse.
  • Theologian in Residence event “After 500 years: Catholics and Lutherans Together on the Way.” Presenters were Dr. Katherine Johnson, Director of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs, ELCA and Bishop Denis Madden of the Baltimore Diocese and Co-chair of the joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic task force that produced the document, Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist.
  • Congregation member, retired Pastor Jim Cobb, delivered the annual Eric Gritsch memorial lecture this year.
  • Our Preschool celebrates Christmas with chapel time, telling the story of Jesus birth, followed by a lunch, complete with a birthday cake for the baby Jesus.

2018    

  • Led by Parish Nurse Marcie Clark, St. Stephen congregation and Preschool collected teddy bears to be given to children suffering through family crisis and to those suffering from dementia who will gain comfort from the soft plush bears.
  • St. Stephen member, Bonnie Raquet, is named the first female board chair of Thrivent.
  • We launch our presence on Youtube. St. Stephen member, Nancy Carter, has supervised the installation of a camera, recording the pastors’ sermons each Sunday and posting them on Youtube.
  • In June, a group of 20 members of St. Stephen travel to Germany to visit historic locations of Martin Luther, including Christ Church in Wittenberg.
  • St. Stephen joined with members of the Williamsburg faith community for a multifaith vigil following the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
  • We celebrated the wedding of Roggy and Conessa Tippe, our former student from Tanzania by sending a video of members offering the couple their warmest blessings!
  • In September, regular Pub & Grub Theology sessions began for informal discussions on current topics.
  • Using handbells borrowed from Walsingham Academy, choir director Karen Ives led the newly formed St. Stephen Bell Ringers during worship.

2019 

  • Marcie Clark retires after five years as St. Stephen’s Parish Nurse, Diana Tiller-Dichtel continues in that position.
  • St. Stephen is gifted with four octaves of handbells, along with music and stands from Grace Lutheran Church in Norristown, Pennsylvania as the time of Grace’s ministry ends.
  • In February, we celebrate five years of Pastor Cheryl Ann Griffin’s ministry to St. Stephen.
  • In May, Pastor Ballentine announces his plan to retire on August 1.
  • Virginia Synod Bishop Humphrey preaches at the 40th anniversary of Pastor Andy Ballentine’s ordination in July.
  • More than 200 attend the retirement celebration for Pastor Ballentine at the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary.
  • Assistant to the Bishop, Rev. John Wertz, Jr., leads the congregation in an exercise to determine the direction for St. Stephen in the coming years. At the conclusion to the exercise, it is decided to call a second pastor to work with Pastor Cheryl Ann Griffin.