St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Oak Harbor

By God's Grace, All Are Welcome

Our Challenges


Our hopes and positive energy as we move forward are tempered by our knowledge of the challenges we face.  We are keenly aware of the need to address each of these issues in the months and years ahead:


  1. Rebuilding our parish community in a time of pandemic will be difficult, since Covid still seems to wax and wane, and some of our members are reluctant to return to full-time participation.  This must be a constant focus for our new Rector and the Vestry.


  1. Our large campus and aging buildings suffered years of deferred maintenance during the Anglican breakaway period (2007-14).  Although we have done most of the urgent repairs, others still need to be addressed.  We also have a very large amount of landscaping which requires constant attention.  Because we have only a small endowment fund, we may soon need to begin a capital campaign to pay for major improvements.


  1. Our parish family is old and getting older.  During Covid, our youngest members could not be with us.  We face the prospect of declining membership if we do not address the need to attract new members in the very near future.


  1. We are very dependent on key volunteers. We are approaching the time when we may need to have a paid office manager, at least part-time.


  1. We are too dependent on a relatively small number of “big” pledgers; our “top five” represent about 40 percent of our 2021 budget, and the next seven represent another 25 percent.  We must continue to seek a broader base of pledgers.


  1. Our aspiration to raise our visibility as a welcoming, inclusive church is a challenge because the faith “environment” in our relatively small community is “crowded” with almost 50 other churches.  This can make it difficult for us to “rise above” and be seen by those looking for a church.


  1. Being on island is both a blessing and challenge for us.  Our setting is physically beautiful and population density here is low, but skill sets and resources we need to maintain our campus and grow parish can often be scarce.  Also, although before Covid we were blessed with younger families, there are fewer people in their 40s and 50s, because our island job market has very limited “upward mobility.”  This can limit the number of people we have in prime “volunteer” years, once small children are grown.