Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Charleston in Charleston County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

 
 
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, January 5, 2012
1. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Marker
below is the National Register of Historic Places plaque
Inscription.
1822    Organized as a place of worship for those
             could not afford to rent pews in existing churches.

1824    Church built on Guingard St. as the first "free"
             Church of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

1835    Church destroyed in the Great Fire of June 6th.

1836    New Church built on this site and consecrated
                  by Bishop Bowen.

1864    Church damaged by Union bombardment.

1880    Church closed.

1911    Church reopened as a Mission of the Episcopal
             Diocese of South Carolina.

1923    A Methodist Congregation merged with St. Stephen's
             to form an all black Episcopal parish.

1987    After 165 years a "free" integrated congregation
             is again in operation - a new chapter in the
             life of St. Stephen's.

2001    Became a Parish Church.
 
Location. 32° 47.096′ N, 79° 55.862′ W. Marker is in Charleston, South Carolina, in Charleston County. Marker is on Anson Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Located between George Street and Society Street. Marker is at or near this postal address: 67 Anson Street, Charleston SC 29401, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, January 5, 2012
2. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. Joseph Johnson House   (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Peter's Catholic Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); William C. McElheran House (about 400 feet away); 14 George Street (about 500 feet away); The Moses C. Levy House (about 600 feet away); Washington Light Infantry 1907 (about 700 feet away); William Rhett House (about 700 feet away); Col. William Rhett House (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Charleston.
 
Regarding St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church holds a unique place among American Episcopal church as the first place of worship in the country where pews were not rented or sold, but free to all comers. The congregation, organized in 1822 under the auspices of the Charleston Female Domestic Missionary Society, met for the first two years in a rented room. In 1824, a small church was erected on Guignard Street. That building burned in the great fire of 1835, and a year later, the present structure on Anson Street was erected, being consecrated on November 24,1836.

The Three Sarahs

Sarah Hopton Russell, wife of Nathaniel Russell, one of Charleston's richest merchants, was instrumental in the establishment of St. Stephen's. An early advocate for the underprivileged, she
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and Marker seen along Anson Street image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, January 5, 2012
3. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and Marker seen along Anson Street
helped organize the Ladies' Benevolent Society, which provided home health care to the poor, and led the Charleston Female Domestic Missionary Society. It was she who donated the church's property on Guignard Street, and she worked tirelessly for the church. Her daughter, Sarah, who married Theodore Dehon, second Bishop of South Carolina, worked with her mother in supporting St. Stephen's, continuing with this work after her mother's death in 1832. Also active in the Charleston Female Domestic Missionary Society and involved with St. Stephen's was Sarah Rutledge, daughter of Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of South Carolina. She founded a Church Home for the education of destitute girls; and proceeds from her cookbook, The Carolina Housewife, went to St. Stephen's and the poor of the city. Known as "The Three Sarahs," these women are memorialized on marble tablets that hang on the north wall of the church as shown to the right. As women dedicated to philanthropy and religious education for all, they insisted that one would ever be turned away from St. Stephen's, regardless of race or condition or position. Sarah Russell tablet reads, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Early records indicate that the congreation was an integrated mix of whites and African Americans (both free
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church with small northside cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, January 5, 2012
4. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church with small northside cemetery
men and slaves).

Modern History

In 1923, an African American Methodist minister and his congregation joined the Episcopal Church and were
given St. Stephen's as their place of worship where they continued to worship for the next 65 years. In 1987, the congregation agreed to open its doors to whites as well as African Americans. The Biblical phrase that adorns the church doorway, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people," came alive as the congregation re-integrated.
Since its early days, St. Stephen's has been dedicated to serving the community. Besides a place of worship, it has housed on its property an orphanage, library, mission, parochial school, and kindergarten. Caring about and assisting others within the church and well beyond remain important to the congregation.
In 1892, the Reverend George Frederic Degen, City Missionary and priest at St. Stephen's, wrote of the church, "The poor will be always welcome, and so will the rich for St. Stephen's will know no distinction of persons. All are welcome who come not to criticize but to worship God." This tradition of warm, open, and accepting hospitality continues today.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church has been placed on the National Registry of Historical Places by the United
States Department of Interior.(from St. Stephen's Episcopal Church history)
 
Categories. Churches, Etc.
 
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church , National Register of Historic Places Medallion image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, January 5, 2012
5. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church , National Register of Historic Places Medallion
: Charleston Historic District (Boundary Increase) *** (added 1970 - - #70000923)
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 544 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement