The Parish

For pastoral emergencies:  contact The Rev. Linda Wofford Hawkins at:

Home: (828) 414-9231       Cell: (703) 244-7037

Office: (828) 295-7323      Other: (864) 836-2624


St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church
140 Chestnut Drive
 Post Office Box 14
 Blowing Rock, NC 28605-0014

Phone: 828.295.7323
Fax: 828.295.5086
Web Site: http://stmaryofthehills.org
General E-mail: office@stmaryofthehills.org


Church Office Hours
Monday - Thursday 8:30 am - 5:30 pm


The Vestry


  • Chip Myers, Senior Warden
  • Paul McGill, Junior Warden
  • Bob Miller, Treasurer
  • Mary Galke
  • Dick Kitchell
  • Ryan Postlethwait
  • Jim West
  • Bill Devereux
  • Lynn Searfoss
  • Amanda White
  • Crawford Cleveland
  • Bill Furr
  • Jane Milner


To contact members of the Vestry, please contact the Church Office.



The Staff


The Rev. Linda Wofford Hawkins, Interim Rector



The Rev. Linda Wofford Hawkins has served as Interim Rector since October 1, 2017, returning to the Diocese of Western NC where she was ordained and first served.  Her prior ministries include hospital and school chaplaincies as well as parish ministry.  She served in a variety of parishes including St. Stephen’s in Morganton, NC, Memorial in Baltimore, MD, and Good Shepherd in Ruxton, MD.   She retired after over fifteen years as rector of St. Barnabas’ in Annandale, Virginia. 

A native of Hartsville, SC, she attended Salem College for two years and completed the B. A. degree in English at Duke University.  Her theological education includes the M. Div. and the Th.M. in Pastoral Psychology at Duke Divinity School, followed by coursework in congregational development in the D. Min. program at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.   


The Rev. Sam Tallman, Priest Associate

Fr. Tallman was sponsored for ordination by St. Mary of the Hills Parish and continues to be canonically resident in the Diocese of Western North Carolina. He has served part-year as Curate and Priest Associate at St. Mary’s since his ordination. He has been at St. Mary’s during its high season from June to November. Fr. Tallman has also served since his ordination for part-year at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, St. Petersburg, FL, during its high season from December to May. He has served as Precentor and Canon for Pastoral Care. After a career in banking and finance at Wachovia Bank and as a partner in Knight, Tallman, & Van Tol, an international consulting firm, Fr. Tallman graduated General Theological Seminary in 2012, where he received the Bishop of Newark Preaching Prize. Fr. Tallman is also a graduate of Davidson College and received his MBA from the University of Virginia. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Davidson College and General Theological Seminary, as well as chairing the board of Valle Crucis Conference Center.



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, Emily Blackburn, Rachel Blackburn, Alex Scheurer -  Nursery Attendants



Department Chairs

  • Altar Guild - Sue Sweeting
  • Stewardship Committee Chair - Bill Furr
  • Flower Guild - Page Parsons
  • Nursery Director - Rachel Blackburn 
  • Environmental Concerns - Lynn Coulthard 
  • ECW  President - Suzanne Miller
  • Prayer Chain - Olivia Knight  
  • Building and Grounds Committee - Paul McGill
  • Finance- Bob Miller and Joe Raulerson
  • Personnel- Doug Galke
  • Librarian- Renee Lyons
  • Ushers - Garland Myers
  • Foyer Groups - Charlene Barham and Betsy Williams  
  • Chalice Ministers - Valerie Purcell 
  • Lectors - Kathy Dacchille
  • Greeters - Sabine Miller
  • Friends of St. Mary - Olivia Knight
  • Newcomer Committee - Sally Page and Betsy Williams
  • Acolytes - Michelle Curry
  • Publicity - Lynn Searfoss
  • Outreach Committee - Bp. Gary Gloster  
  • Creative Peacemakers Center & Camp - Lynn Coulthard
  • Hospitality House Meal Teams - Susie Morgan
  • Coffee Minute - Faith and Larry Jones


The Discernment Committee

  • Loy McGill, chairperson
  • Kyle Ball, seasonal representative
  • Doug Galke
  • Susie Greene
  • Marjory Holder
  • Jane Milner, vestry representative
  • Chip Monroe
  • Patty Patella
  • Tim Silver
  • Ed Springs


History of the Church



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 (a member of the Cannon textile family) 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.



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.