713-528-6665   ---   1805 W ALABAMA, HOUSTON, TX 77098 --- SUNDAY WORSHIP AT 8:30 AM & 10:30 AM    --- info@ststephenshouston.org

Communications Assistant and Faith from the Margins podcast host Andrés Herrera sat down with the Reverend Lisa Hunt to discuss envisioning the future and direction of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and School on our neighborhood block. The following is Reverend Hunt’s message and invitation to the Church and School communities. This is Part 1 of 3.

Our Vision

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and School identified eight years ago, in 2015, that the buildings that we were occupying no longer fully served the mission that we were trying to accomplish with our Church and School. 

In 2015, the Church and School assessed the status of the buildings and the cost of renovating all of them and determined that renovation was not good stewardship. In this process, we learned that the value of our buildings is connected with the value of the land. Thus commenced the master planning process – to think about the ways in which we could salvage buildings that still met our needs, but also to supplement with new construction and to finance the work that we would need to do with our facilities. We recognized that we were a vibrant community but that the scale of our community had not yet reached its full potential.

The School Board and the Vestry created a Steering Committee to lead a process that would create a Master Plan that would incorporate the potential of generating income by leveraging the value of our land through potential mixed-use development by a third party. In this manner, we would be able to utilize the value of our land to serve our collective mission and ministry. 

Thus, we embarked on a holistic vision that we knew would take us over 20 years. This was the genesis of the phased approach in the creation of these new buildings. This is why we’ve been raising money both internally and looking at external partners who could create value for us to continue to grow our mission and ministry. 

In early 2020, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and School had been fully engaged in the process of designing this first phase of  the master plan and raising money for constructing it– a new building that will incorporate a new gathering space, classrooms, music facilities, and offices – when COVID hit our School and Church communities. The impact of COVID was significant, resulting in decreases in School enrollment and Church attendance and increases in the costs of construction and inflation. As a result, the first phase of the plan needed to be scaled back. 

This gave the Vestry and School Board the opportunity to entertain the possibility that the mixed-use development slated for the second phase of the master plan might be a vehicle for developing more revenue for both the Church and School now and into the future for the expansion of our facilities. This is why we are exploring Phase 2. We are engaging in a discovery process to see if the numbers generate the highest and best use for the land that will support our mission and ministry, help renovate and construct new facilities, and set us up for a sustainable future for our mission as a Church and School into the next century.

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