Equipped with an unfaltering faith, a stalwart group of God fearing people defied all
challenges and organized St. Stephen AME Church which began as a bush tent held together by
Determined to establish a more viable place of worship, the founders under the leadership
of Charles Simmons purchased five acres of land located on Maybank Highway, which became
permanent on October 21, 1929, for fifty dollars. Inspired by the AME reputation for formal
churches and educational network of schools and colleges, the Trustees invoked a Deed and
Trust to adhere to the rules and regulations of the AME Church.
The first pastor was Rev. Dart. Under his leadership a two story structure was erected
with no indoor amenities. Oil lamps were used for lighting. Parishioners were responsible for the
upkeep of the church. They used red bricks to scrub the floor.
St. Stephen was a circuit church. St. Matthew AME Church was her sister church. They
shared one minister. The two churches comprised what was known as the North Johns Island
In 1941a storm destroyed the church. It was rebuilt as a brick edifice under the leadership
of the Rev. Frank B. Clark. In 1971, seeing a need for upgrading the church, renovation began
with the additions of the kitchen, choir loft, and pastor’s office. In 2004 the property was
resurveyed and a plat was drawn to include a storage building. Because of the growth in the
membership, more renovation was needed; and in September 2009 the wall between the
sanctuary and the fellowship hall was opened and partitioned off to create an overflow area. In
July 2011 the final stage of the renovation process, the pastor’s office, was completed.
Over the years St. Stephen has grown from a small number of members worshipping in a
bush tent to over two hundred and forty members in a brick edifice. The church embodies two
Local Elders, one Licentiate, four choirs, one organist, twelve classes and numerous boards and
auxiliaries. St. Stephen is presently under the leadership of the Rev. Robert I. Gordon.