For pastoral emergencies: contact The Rev. Andrew J. Hege at:
Office: (828) 295-7323 Cell: (336) 848-4052
St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church
140 Chestnut Drive
Post Office Box 14
Blowing Rock, NC 28605-0014
Church Office Hours
Monday - Thursday 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Friday 8:30 am - 12:30 pm
To contact members of the Vestry, please contact the Church Office.
The Rev. Andrew J. Hege, Rector
Andrew is originally from Thomasville, North Carolina and has served as the Assistant to the Rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, Kentucky, since July 2014. He is a graduate of Montreat College, Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and Virginia Theological Seminary.
Andrew’s greatest joy as a priest is the privilege of walking through life’s many seasons with people and communities. He is a passionate follower of Jesus, committed to the belief that we are all called to the holy work of sharing God’s love, mercy, and justice in the world.
In nearly five years at Good Shepherd, the Reverend Hege has been a part of significant growth in the life of the parish and has developed new programs of preparation for youth and adult confirmation. He also led the formation of a Justice Ministry Team that joined with nearly two thousand people from twenty congregations in Lexington to organize for just solutions to community problems.
In spare time, Andrew is an avid reader, a runner, and a lover of golf. Andrew is married to Amanda Schroeder Hege, a Registered Dietitian and native of Cincinnati, Ohio. They have a daughter, Eleanor, who was born in 2017.
James Bumgardner, DMA, Director of Music
Jim has been director of music/choirmaster/organist at St Mary of the Hills since 1985. Jim holds a DMA in Vocal Performance from UNC Greensboro, and teaches on the voice faculty at both UNCG and Guilford College. Previous teaching posts include UNC-Chapel Hill and Appalachian State University. Jim also works as an operatic conductor, and is presently chorus master for Greensboro Opera. Past appointments have been as resident vocal coach and collaborative pianist for National Opera Company, director of music for Watauga High School Drama Department, director of music/conductor/chorus master for Horn in the West outdoor drama, and conductor/choirmaster for Summer Music chamber series in Blowing Rock. Jim’s professional affiliations include membership in the Association of Anglican Musicians and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. He is a standing judge in choral music for the Governor’s School of North Carolina.
Greta Wilson, Parish Administrator
Born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Greta grew up on the coast and then attended Salem College in Winston Salem. After college, she packed her bags and attended law school at the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama and so enjoyed the state that she stayed in the area. Greta was a practicing attorney and assistant District Attorney in Birmingham until May 2000. After moving to Blowing Rock, Greta started volunteering in the church office and then when an opportunity was presented she accepted the position of parish administrator. Greta says, “To me St. Mary’s is people from different walks of life who come together, grow spiritually and do many good things.”
Joe Raulerson, Financial Secretary
Bill Stroh, Sexton
Bill grew up in St. Petersburg, FL and spent his summers in Blowing Rock with his grandparents who were fulltime residents of the town. An electrician and master carpenter by trade, Bill moved to Blowing Rock in the early seventies to be near his extended family. In 1993, he became the sexton at St. Mary’s and quickly assumed other “jack-of-all-trade” duties including gardening, IT services and basic maintenance. He likes how St. Mary’s people are “appreciative and caring; they do things and are dedicated to service!”
Meagan Lawler, Alex Scheurer, Chloe Shaut - Nursery Attendants
IN THE BEGINNING
The Mission Church of St. Mary’s was begun in the summer of 1890 when a lot was secured for a church and four hundred dollars collected for a church building fund. The church, then called Church of the Holy Spirit, opened for services in 1891. In 1903, the Rev. William Savage was appointed by Bishop Horner to be in charge of the Valle Crucis Associate Mission, with residence in Blowing Rock.
The original building for the Church of the Holy Spirit was located on Dogwood Lane. After the church moved to Chestnut Drive to a new building in 1921, the old building was sold and became a private residence. Also around 1903, a Mission House/Library was built on Main Street to house Father Savage and to serve as a lending library for the community. This building is now the Village Café and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1917, the congregation (led by Susie Parker Stringfellow) secured a lot at the south end of Main Street from C.E. Spencer for $2000. Construction began soon after, but Stringfellow, who was so instrumental in the beginning of this project, died before its completion. W.W. Stringfellow added greatly to the financial portion of this project as a memorial to his wife Susie and, it is said, in humble gratitude for cancelling his booking and thus not sailing on the first (and last) voyage of the Titanic.
The cornerstone was laid on September 26, 1918, and the church was consecrated as St. Mary of the Hills (Stringfellow Memorial) on August 7, 1921. The church remained a mission until 1972. At that time, St. Mary’s became a parish, signifying its capacity to be self-supporting and to maintain a full time priest.
As the congregation continued to grow, space became a great problem. In 1990, Architect Derald West was hired and a building committee formed. The primary instruction to both the architect and the builder was to maintain the integrity and uniqueness of the original structure. Also all three buildings on the church grounds - the church, the rectory, and the parish hall - were to be connected into one unit. Happily, it may be reported that both externally and internally it is hard to see where the original ends and the new begins.
In 2000, two members presented a challenge to the congregation to build needed Sunday School space above the Parish Hall. Using the same architect and builders, this project was completed in 2002.
In 2013, following a generous donation, the “Stones Will Sing” campaign completed a 1.3 million dollar fund drive. Funds were used to renovate the nave, choir, chancel, and sanctuary, correct the water problems under the church, and purchase a new organ.
Work began in November, 2013, and the project was completed by Easter Sunday, 2014.
SIGNIFICANT OR OUTSTANDING DETAILS
The painting of Madonna of the Hills by Elliott Daingerfield, located above the retable, was painted between 1917 and 1918. The painting represents the following High Country legend: On the summer solstice, the Lady Mary walks across the hills at dawn. If She walks in light, the fields will be blessed with a rich harvest; if She walks in the shadows, the year will be full of sadness.
The retable, located under the aforementioned painting, originated in the Church of the Holy Spirit.
The first organ was manufactured by the Reuter Company of Lawrence, Kansas. The organ had 730 pipes and nine standard stops operated electronically. The instrument was installed and dedicated August 5, 1973.
Following the 2013-2014 renovation project, a new organ, manufactured by Lively-Fulcher Pipe Organ Builders of Rocky Mount, Virginia, was installed in the summer of 2014.
The stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ were installed in 1972, 1990, and 1993.
The statue in the Mary Garden, “The Offering,” was completed by Marjorie Daingerfield Howlet, daughter of Elliott Daingerfield. It was dedicated in 1972 as a memorial to George Stenhouse, Jr.
“The Annunciation”, created and given by Alex Hallmark, is located on the St. Mary of the Hills gable facing Chestnut Drive. The artist used bonded copper with a verdigris finish in the work.
In Lent, 2002, Alex Hallmark began creating the 14 Stations of the Cross that line the nave walls. The work, composed of bonded bronze, was completed and dedicated during Advent, 2002.
The hand-stitched needlepoint kneelers are dedicated to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Dorothy Ella Smith, 1929-2002. Kerstin McDaniel of Asheville, North Carolina and Sweden was both the designer and finisher. The parishioners, both male and female, worked tirelessly on the kneelers. The project began in August, 2002, was completed in July, 2005, and was dedicated August 21, 2005.
The four bells in the tower were cast in Baltimore and installed in 1921, electrified in 1951, and still ring daily and on special occasions. The largest was dedicated to the men from Watauga County who fought in World War I. The ivy on the tower housing the bells is said to have originated from a sprig growing in the cloister at Westminster Abbey in London.
The votive light stand was a gift from Father Robert and Kay McCloskey in memory of Mrs. McCloskey’s father and in memory of the men, women, and children who suffered in the Holocaust.
The Della Robbia is the enameled terra cotta relief, finely crafted in Italy in the style of Luca della Robbia (1400-1485), situated over the front door of the narthex of St. Mary's.