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St. Stephen United Methodist Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2021 Cohort

St. Stephen United Methodist Church

Mesquite, Texas

St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite, Texas, has challenged contemporary norms in architectural design and approaches to ministry and community engagement since its founding in 1959.

St. Stephen United Methodist Church by Charles Davis Smith

St. Stephen United Methodist Church by Charles Davis Smith

2021 Cohort

St. Stephen United Methodist Church

Mesquite, Texas

St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite, Texas, has challenged contemporary norms in architectural design and approaches to ministry and community engagement since its founding in 1959.

The congregation formed during the Civil Rights era to be a “visible witness” in the community, campaign for justice and love, and challenge oppressive structures. The avant-garde church was constructed in 1962 with a design by James Pratt, Harold Box, and Philip Henderson that captured the organic nature of the liturgy through biomorphic forms. The building references Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut Chapel (1955) in France and is an early example of a church in the American South questioning traditional ecclesiastical forms. The architects employed innovative facade technology by spraying a combination of Portland cement and fiberglass over concrete blocks laid without mortar, further differentiating this building from the surrounding postwar architecture of the Dallas suburbs.

St. Stephen UMC actively engages “its surrounding community in an effort to promote the general welfare of its peoples,” according to the congregation. Outreach programs over the past 60 years have focused on economic, racial, social, political, and physical well-being. The church invites the community to conversations on dismantling racism, mental health, suicide prevention, and affordable housing, and to social events such as family movie nights in the courtyard. During the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Stephen UMC has hosted over 30 blood drives in the sanctuary, providing life-giving aid to 2,700 people.

With a $100,000 National Fund grant and $100,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation, St. Stephen UMC will complete repairs to the building facade and roof, replace and relocate the HVAC system in the sanctuary, and increase accessibility between interior and exterior spaces. Philip Henderson, one of the original architects, will serve as a consultant on the project. This work will allow St. Stephen UMC “to move forward with strength to provide a creative, model-breaking community space to convene, connect, and collaborate for the next generation.”

St. Stephen United Methodist Church by Charles Davis Smith, FAIA
St. Stephen United Methodist Church by Geoffrey C. Moore

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