St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church of Ridgefield, CT 203.438.3789


The Clergy and Staff of St. Stephen’s


The Rev. Whitney Altopp                                                                                                                   

203-438-3789 ext. 13

The Rev. Whitney F. Altopp is the thirty-second rector of St. Stephen’s.  She began her ministry here in August 2012.

My personal mission statement:  I am a choreographer of God’s joy.  God’s joy is in God’s people.  I help people find ways to express God’s joy in them.

Things I love: God (because God continues to be bigger than I imagine), people (because their variety and complexity never ceases to amaze me.)

Whitney was ordained to the priesthood in 2003.  She began her priestly ministry as Associate Rector at St. James’, Upper Montclair, NJ and then held the position of Vicar at St. Thomas’, Whitemarsh, PA.  Prior to becoming a priest, Whitney worked in youth ministry.  She is the author of The Adolescent Beloved Disciple: A Young Person’s Experience of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel.  She is keenly interested in the organization of the church as a living organism.  Whitney enjoys knitting and dancing as her disciplined hobbies.  She and her husband, Michael, were married in 1992 and have four children.

Favorite Bible verse (currently): Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:6-7

2017 provides ways for us to consider how we might respond to the needs of a hurting world.  We have big initiatives: Visioning for Sustainability, staffing for Senior Ministry and Pastoral Care, and exploring what leadership we need in order to develop mission initiatives utilizing our many resources.  We have smaller new initiatives that engage us in the daily work of the Gospel: Participating in a micro-loan program that allows the poorest in our world to engage in entrepreneurship through working with N-GOs; an outdoor evening service for some period of time during the summer; a 3-day worship celebration experience in August; creating opportunities for inter-religious dialogue and fellowship.

Listen to a sermon by following the Sermon Podcast tab under Sermons.


Scott Toperzer – Minister of Music
203 438-3789 ext 24

St. Stephen’s Minister of Music, Scott Toperzer, is big fan of choral music.  His life-long experiences in the choirs of Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, and Dale Warland have given him a wonderfully varied perspective on the communicative power of the human voice.  Scott has served several churches as music minister, and spent some twenty years studying voice and singing professionally.  His performances with the Boston Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Plymouth Music Series have been heard over National Public Radio, and he has sung leading roles with opera companies and recitals in venues both in this country and abroad. Scott spent his collegiate years in Minnesota where he was exposed to the deep relationship between choral music and the church.  He always strives to bring the finest product to the worship services at St. Stephen’s and looks to inspire those in the congregation as well as those in the choir.


Arno Steinig ~ Parish Organist

Sara Armstrong ~ Children’s Ministry Coordinator

203-438-3789 ext. 10

Sara Armstrong has been a parishioner of St. Stephen’s since she and her family moved to Ridgefield in January 2015.  She has served as Hospitality Minister, church school teacher, VBS teacher, and Altar Guild volunteer. She is also part of the St. Stephen’s nursery school board. Sara joins us from MTV Networks where she worked in Digital Marketing before her children were born. She and her husband, Brian, live in Ridgefield with their young children Ava and Aidan. The Armstrongs love being a part of the Ridgefield community and feel blessed to be a part of the St. Stephen’s community, as well.”I am so happy to be taking on the role of Children’s Ministry Coordinator. My goal this year is to create an environment that’s both informative and fun for the children of St. Stephen’s Church. I am also very passionate about creating a place for families to come together, communicate and build lasting relationships. My door is always open and I look forward to an exciting year ahead.” Please contact Sara to find out how you can do your part in forming our young people in faith.


Jane Lindenburg ~ Youth Ministry Coordinator

Jane is a longtime parishioner whose two college age daughters attended nursery school at St Stephen’s. She is a management and communications consultant, working for a local start up mentoring company – Role Model Mentors– that matches high school students to younger students in town. She spent many years volunteering in the Ridgefield schools, developing art and cultural programs to enrich student learning. She is excited to help St Stephen’s teens get connected to learning and trying out the role that faith and community and service can play as they turn into young adults before our eyes!


Avril Sweeny – Associate for Caring Ministries

Avril Sweeny, born and educated in England, has lived and traveled all over the world in the ensuing years. This led to an interest in World Religions that has continued to this day.Avril has been a lay minister at New Canaan Congregational Church since 2003. She became a Stephen Minister in 2005 and a Stephen Leader in 2009. Avril has trained many groups to become Stephen Ministers and has led a variety of different programs in the church. Avril has also been trained as an emergency Chaplain, able to minister to people of many faiths.In her busy work life Avril has been organizing professionally for many years. Avril’s background is in HR and sales/event planning, so it was a natural extension to take the expertise she had gained whilst moving worldwide and tailor those skills for helping people to de-clutter, downsize or move. Avril has raised two grown children, a son and daughter. They lived in New Canaan for twenty years and now Avril lives in the Silvermine area of Norwalk. In her spare time she enjoys walking, gardening, baking, and art projects.


Marilyn Jenkins ~ Seminarian

Marilyn is entering into her second year as a seminarian at Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal Seminary at Yale Divinity School.  Marilyn is the youngest of seven children raised in the Great Plains of Kansas.  Upon graduation from the University of Kansas, Marilyn was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and served as an intelligence officer for more than 28 years.   While not in New Haven, CT,  Marilyn makes her home in Washington, DC where she lives with her sister Martha.  Marilyn is a Postulant for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Washington.  She enjoys golf, bicycling, outdoor activities, and Kansas basketball.

Noelle Carr – Nursery School Director
203.438.6806 (Nursery #)

Noelle is in her third year as Director of St. Stephen’s Nursery School. Noelle came to us from The Discovery Center, where she was its executive director.  She spearheaded the center’s recent growth and developed and taught nature, art and history programs for many local children and their families.  Noelle is an artist educator and art historian with a degree from SUNY Purchase. She has worked at The Museum of Modern Art and The Pace Gallery, and has taught art programs for pre-school and school-aged children.

Ms. Carr lives in Ridgefield with her husband, Richard, and two young children, Evelyn and Vincent, and she is active in the community.

“St. Stephen’s Nursery School is an intimate school with a family-friendly atmosphere, and I look forward to spending time with all the children and their families.” For more information about St. Stephen’s Nursery School please call 203-438-6806 or email

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Ginny Fitzpatrick – Parish Administrator
203.438.3789 ext 11

A graduate of Fairfield University (where she met her best friend and life long partner ,Paul) and mother of 4, and proud grandmother of five, Ginny has lived in Ridgefield for twenty plus years. Ginny has a background in human resources. She has had the great blessing of spending much of her time volunteering for various organizations including Emmaus, HOME, Meals on Wheels, National Charity League and the PTA. Ginny has been at St. Stephens since 2000, first as a teacher in the Nursery School and beginning in 2006 as the Parish Administrator.

Suzanne Perlman – Parish Counselor
203.834.2497 (office)

Suzanne began her work with St. Stephen’s Church on February 27, 2006. She is responsible for meeting with parishioners and either providing direct counseling service or referring parishioners to individuals with the appropriate expertise or other resources in the local community.

Suzanne is a highly regarded professional with over thirty years of experience in clinical social work, clinical supervision, management, community education, teaching, employee assistance and corporate consulting.

Parishioners who are in need of counseling services can contact the Parish Counselor on a confidential basis and schedule and appointment.  If you are in need of this service call Suzanne at her office at 203-834-2497

Kay Gelfman – Financial Administrator
203.438.3789 ext 14

Paul Lyons – Sexton

Paul has been on staff since March 2000. Prior to joining St. Stephen’s Paul was a self employed tradesman. He received his B.A. from the University of Connecticut. Paul is married and has two children.

Susie McMullan – Administrative Assistant   203.438.3789 ext. 10