St. Stephen’s AME
Oldest Church in Town Celebrates 125 Years

The St. Stephen's edifice, constructed in 1885, originally housed

Church edifice was  constructed in 1885 and purchased in 1889 by St. Stephen’s congregation. (Wave photo)

November 17, 2014

St. Stephen’s AME Church held their 125th Anniversary Celebration Sunday, November 16. The guest speaker was the Rev. Timothy Johnson, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Eastville. St. Stephen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest surviving church structure in Cape Charles, according to the National Register of Historic Places. The building was constructed in 1885 as Bethany Methodist Episcopal church and originally was located at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Plum Street across from the Cape Charles School.


St. Stephen’s (then the Cape Charles Mission) purchased the Bethany building 125 years ago in 1889 when Bethany needed a larger building. In 1897 the building was repaired and the cornerstone was set, and Cape Charles Mission became St. Stephen’s AME Church. In 1912 the building was moved to its present site at 511 Jefferson Avenue.

The pastor of St. Stephen’s is the Rev. Olivia D. Collins. Bishop William P. DeVeaux is Presiding Elder, Second Episcopal District, and the Rev. Chester W. Morris is Presiding Elder, Norfolk-Eastern Shore District. The Anniversary Committee is composed of Lenora Mitchell (chair), Jackie Holder, Robin Joyner, and Marian Ames.



3 Responses to “St. Stephen’s AME
Oldest Church in Town Celebrates 125 Years”

  1. Larry Beckett on November 13th, 2014 2:09 am

    I grew up listening to the church bell being rung each Sunday morning. The late Rev. Green was the pastor.

  2. David Kabler on November 14th, 2014 10:16 pm

    One of the most attractive features of Cape Charles are her church steeples and the sound of bells tolling on Sunday mornings, calling the faithful, and especially the not-so faithful, to worship. Thanks for such a special feature, Wave.

  3. Melvin W. Williams, Jr. CWO USCG (Ret) on December 8th, 2014 4:39 am

    Congrats to St. Stephens AME Church, its members, and congregation. Although I came across the article of the celebration, it was very heartwarming to see an article published in the Wave concerning the black community of Cape Charles. Like you, Mr. Beckett, although much older I too grew up listening to the those bells, went to and used to see all the people and the cars that were at that church for Sunday services and funerals. Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Ames, I remember both of your parents attending that church and I know both of you. It gives me great joy to see how the Lord has used you. I encourage the Wave staff to get more involved with the black community for there is a great history also. In memory of the late Mr. Albert “Sleepy” Williams (Grand Daddy), the first black used car salesman on the Eastern Shore.

    EDITOR’S RESPONSE: The Wave is pleased to publish news and events from all parts of Cape Charles and environs, but we rely on residents to submit it. Thanks to Lenora Mitchell for sending news of the St. Stephen’s church celebration. We would be honored to also publish news of passings of local African-Americans, and have expressed that desire to the Godwin family, operators of Grey’s Funeral Home.