St. Stephen’s honors its first rector and founder
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1834, St. Stephen’s lost its first rector, The Rev. James Montgomery, whom many (included himself) considered the founder of the parish. Rev. Montgomery developed his version of the earliest Episcopal high-church doctrines codified by his mentor, fellow Philadelphian, The Right Rev. John Henry Hobart, the powerful Bishop of New York. Montgomery and architect William Strickland designed the church according to a crucial belief in architecture’s role in sacredness and worship. In turn, Bishop Hobart publicly applauded the new building as the ideal modern Episcopal church in his sermon for St. Stephen’s consecration on February 27, 1823. That passage about St. Stephen’s remains a touchstone in studies of Hobart’s (and by extension early high-church) views of modern church architecture and inspiration from Gothic models.
—Suzanne Glover Lindsay, St. Stephen’s historian and curator