STOCKTON — From historic to modern, there are over 400 churches listed in Stockton.
These places of worship offer a variety of architectural styles and features, from steeples piercing the skyline to stained glass windows that can be considered works of art.
Each church has a story or some sort of tidbit behind it.
Included are the following:
Central United Methodist Church may mimic Noah’s Ark from the outside.
The exterior cross rises 130 feet into the Stockton skyline.
But it’s the inside of this place of worship located directly across the street from the University of the Pacific – Pacific Avenue and Fulton Street – that you might get the feeling of “openness within the sanctuary.”
Built in 1964, this modern designed church occupies 30,818 square feet and the roof area extends 44,000 square feet.
“One will find a feeling of openness within the sanctuary,” according to the church website (www.cumcstockton.org). “As one looks out the window, no cars are visible, but only a view of the surrounding trees.
“It communicates the image of a ‘garden.’”
St. Mary’s steeple
I remembered Ruth Nyberg from my high school days.
What I didn’t know about Mrs. Nyberg was her various fundraising efforts including that one to put the historic steeple back atop St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Stockton.
In 1982, the 60-foot silvery spire crowned by a 6-foot golden cross was removed during repairs to a crumbling foundation. The church, after all, had been around since 1861, and is the oldest Catholic parish in San Joaquin Valley.
The steeple and ornate façade dated back to 1893. During the repairs, it stood grounded for two years until Mrs. Nyberg, who passed away in September, led a grass-root campaign to restore the steeple back on top of the church. Never mind that she wasn’t even Catholic.
When all was said and done, Mrs. Nyberg raised $41,000 thanks to the support of 2,000 donors.
The steeple was back in place in time for Christmas 1984.
St. Basil’s dome
About two years ago, I attended a wedding at St. Basil’s Greek Orthodox Christian Church at 920
W. March Lane near Precissi Lane.
This is the same St. Basil that is home to the Greek Festival, held annually on the first weekend of September.
What I found striking about this church is the dome structure accented atop with the traditional Greek cross.
Originally located in south Stockton, St. Basil’s moved to its present location in the early 1970s.
Planning for a much-needed church with a separate complex for Sunday school classrooms, an office and a multi-purpose fellowship hall took place a decade earlier.
Many donated to the cause, including the Alex G. Spanos family – the money was enough to wipe out the debt.
Ground-breaking of the current St. Basil’s took place on Feb. 1, 1970, with Modern Engineering & Construction getting the job done.
Another major fundraising campaign in mid 1970s helped shape the St. Basil’s complex.
Cathedral stained glass
The stained glass at the Cathedral of the Annunciation is second to none among area churches.
This modified Gothic Roman Catholic, aesthetically, is rich in detail and features, placing it high on the list of churches in the entire Central Valley.
But perhaps it’s the stained glass that’s the crowning achievement of the Cathedral of the Annunciation that celebrated its 70th anniversary about a year ago.
The windows feature New and Old Testament subjects sketched out by Monsignor William E. McGough. The stained glass design was made possible by Artisans at several San Francisco companies.
The details of the early Gothic windows have familiar Bible stories, symbolisms, and religious imageries.
The rich colors on the glass, to say the least, are magnificent.