St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Hicksville was founded 100 years ago when parents who were attending a German-speaking parish down the road decided to form their own church because they wanted a place where their children would speak and hear more English.

Today, parishioners at St. Stephen's with German ancestry still make up about one-third of the congregation, which has expanded with other ethnic groups, mainly from Europe, said the Rev. Stephanie Pope. The church celebrated its 100th anniversary over the weekend with a gala dinner and a religious service.

"It is good to be among such caring people who reach out to the community in serving their neighbors," the pastor said. She noted, for instance, that children in the church's Sunday school classes collected about $1,700 worth of pennies to make a donation to Heifer International, a group that gives livestock to needy families around the world.

For the past year, the church also has collected 100 food items each month to donate to local food banks, she said. They also collected 165 school items for needy children.

The church has about 350 members, including Henry Brengel, 88, who has attended his entire life, Pope said. The congregation now includes people of Irish, Italian and Latin-American backgrounds.

Pope said about 165 people attended Friday night's banquet, and about 150 attended Sunday services.

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