We learn much about the church of Jesus Christ in the New Testament as we examine the lives of those people whom God called together to be members and servants of that Church. One such person is Stephen, about whom we read in Acts, Chapters 6 and 7. We see clearly how his character, conduct, and calling serve as an example and pattern for the life of faithful Christians today.
The character of Stephen is well established in the early verses of the sixth chapter of Acts (6:3, 6:8): he was of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, and was full of grace and power. Being chosen by the thousands of Christians in the Jerusalem church to be one of the seven deacons tells us of the trustworthiness and integrity which his brethren saw in him. We believe that these same qualities of character are fruits of God's grace and essential to the Church in our time.
The conduct of Stephen is a direct outgrowth of his character. This conduct, also, is very vividly shown in the face of opposition and persecution (Acts 6:10, 6:15, 7:55-60). When his enemies rose up against him and argued with him, Stephen spoke with wisdom and was led by the Holy Spirit. As they forcibly and falsely brought him to trial, his face was like the face of an angel. In the time of death, he looked to God as sovereign, trusted his life in the hands of Jesus, and prayed for and forgave his enemies. In these days of widespread ungodliness and lawlessness, faithful Christians can expect hostility, opposition, and persecution. We believe that such conduct as Stephen showed will be used by God as a witness to Himself.
The calling of Stephen is likewise clearly revealed here in God's Word (Acts 6:3, 6:8, 7:1-50, 7:51-53). Because of his character and conduct, the Lord used Stephen mightily in ministry. He was called upon to serve tables--that is, be sure that provision for widows and orphans of the church were made each day. He performed great wonders and signs among the people, probably including the healing of the sick and delivering those oppressed by the devil. He spoke out with courage and prosecuted sin with boldness. We believe that this four-fold calling of providing, performing, proclaiming, and prosecuting will fulfill our Lord's commission to "go into all the world and make disciples..."
Therefore, in taking the name of St. Stephen for our church, we are humbly committing ourselves to a character, conduct, and calling which will be pleasing to God. It is our desire, as a church, to "see the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."