The History of St. Stephen’s
In 1886 Miss Flora McFarlane came to the swamplands of Coconut Grove, Florida, from London, England, and made her home here.
Pictured are Miss Flora McFarlane and Count James Nugent, another Coconut Grove pioneer.
The first few years were spent in raising funds to build a church, and in 1912, work on the first St. Stephen’s Church building on Main Highway began – the building that now houses the “Heart of the Grove Art Gallery and Gift Shop.”
Pictured is St. Stephen’s Church on McFarlane Road, circa 1912.
The Rev. C.P. Jackson was priest-in-charge of the “Mission” of St. Stephen’s in the early days of the church (1910 to 1914). He resigned, as was the custom, when the church was established and a permanent Rector found.
Father Soper was St. Stephen’s first Rector and served here for 28 years, from 1915 until his death in 1941. During his tenure, Coconut Grove was a sleepy little vacation spot, isolated from the rest of the country and largely ignored by travellers. In 1919, the Church was enlarged and the cloister added under his supervision.
Pictured is Rev. William Benjamine Soper
During World War II, thousands of soldiers and sailors descended upon South Florida for training, and services were soon overflowing under Father Wilkes. In 1945 he wrote: This was a year of extremes, of tensions, calamities, and celebrations. It was the year of victory in Europe and the Far East, the Year of the San Francisco Conference, the Year of the Atomic bomb. Men do not quickly rebound from such events. He considered us fortunate in that Coconut Grove had no hotels and few rooming houses, so that our congregation was fairly stable by comparison to those in other parts of the country. But still, he lamented what he called “a shifting fringe”of continually new members.
Pictured is The Rev. Rex Wilkes, March 1942 to December, 1948
Rev. William D. Hanner, January 1949 to August 1956
Ground was broken for the new Church building on McFarlane Road in 1954.
The new church on McFarlane Road was consecrated and dedicated to the service of God on October 4, 1959.
Pictured is The Rev. Don Copeland, 1956 to 1963
The Rev. Richard N. Walkley, Interim Rector from Jan 1988 – August 1989
The Rev. Howard Stowe, Interim Pastor from December 1999 – August 2001
Today, we take pride in our diversity. We are located in the center of the ever-changing business and entertainment district of Coconut Grove. The parish runs the St. Stephen’s Arts & Crafts Festival, consistently ranked in the top 50 shows in the nation, and a parking concession. It also owns a retail offices on Main Highway.
The congregation at St. Stephen’s not only gives generously to the community through its own outreach programs, but it contributes regularly to community charities: the Homeless Assistance Center in Miami, the Coconut Grove Food Pantry at Christ Church, Trinity Cathedral’s “Feed My Sheep” program, the Thelma Gibson House, and the Lotus House, among others.