St. Mary's & St. Stephen's were two churches that officially combined in November, 2014 by vote of the Annual Convention of the Diocese of Western North Carolina. The two congregations began meeting and worshipping together for a few years beforehand under the guidance of their shared priest, Rev. Francis King.
St. Stephen's was founded in the late 1890's by a group of African-Americans in the upstairs of a black-owned hardware store in downtown Morganton. They were not welcome at the 'white' Episcopal churches and founded their own. They built a worship space on Bouchelle Street, opening on August 17, 1949, on land donated by longtime choirmaster Ms. Annie Avery. Local craftsman woodworker, [Name], built the altar, chairs and Rector's kneeler (which now resides in the Morganton History Museum) and other items.
St. Mary's was founded in 1901 as the 'country' Episcopal Church. What today is only a 5 minute drive from downtown, back in 1901 it took a few hours to journey across the Catawba River. Originally founded as a school by members of Grace Episcopal Church for the youth living across the river and meeting in the McDowell House, became an official church in 1901. The beautiful stone sanctuary opened in 1941 just down St. Mary's Church Rd from the McDowell House. The fellowship hall, Harrison Hall, opened in 1952 named after longtime member [blank] Harrison. The red brick Rectory opened in 1963.