St. Stephen’s has a history of mission work stretching back to the church’s founding in 1830. The idea for an Episcopal church in Pittsfield began with Edward A. Newton, a businessman born in Nova Scotia who worked in the Far East and was influenced by local missionaries to become a Christian. He settled in Pittsfield on his return and in 1830 began a campaign to establish a local Episcopal church.
At a meeting on June 18, 1830 at Pomeroy’s Coffee House the name St. Stephen’s was chosen after Stephen Higginson Tyng, a young priest and close friend of Newton’s. The first service was held Sunday, August 1, 1830 in the Union Church and services continued there until St. Stephen’s Church was completed in 1832.
In 1889 the church building was demolished to make room for a larger structure, built under the rectorship of the Rev. William Wilberforce Newton (whose portrait now hangs in the Narthex). The design was influenced by English Gothic with its heavy stone structure and proportions. Built of Longmeadow brownstone, its most notable feature is its massive tower.
The cornerstone was laid on July 11, 1889. Services began on May 14, 1890 and the church was consecrated by Bishop Phillips Brooks on November 19, 1892. The Parish House at the rear of the church, built in 1916, was expanded in 1956. The church underwent major renovations in 1984 when the altar was moved to its present freestanding location. The baptismal font was moved to the church entrance and the organ and choir were located behind the altar.
In June 1998 St. Stephen’s was designated a Jubilee Center by the Episcopal Church in recognition of the parish’s focus on outreach. Whether providing regular weekly meals at St. Stephen’s Table, emergency funding for those in need, volunteer labor for Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, or free laundry services for community members, St. Stephen’s continues to live out its mission to be the hands and heart of Christ in the world.