St. Mary’s Episcopal Church began in a little hand-me-down building in downtown Stuart. It was consecrated by Bishop John Durham Wing in January 1932 during the depths of the Great Depression. As Stuart grew, the congregation outgrew the facilities and our present property was acquired through the generosity of Mrs. William Barstow of Jupiter Island. Ground was broken for the current church building in the fall of 1949, and Bishop Henry Louttit presided over opening services on Palm Sunday, April 2, 1950. St. Mary’s Church, previously a mission, gained full parish status in 1951.
The Reverend Arthur A. Smith served as rector for 25 years and he led St. Mary’s through many changes while working closely with St. Monica’s Church in East Stuart, and helped to establish St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Port Salerno, and the Church of the Advent in Palm City.
Through the years, there were many additions and alterations to the church. Smith Hall and the Cracker Barrel thrift shop were constructed in 1974. The Cracker Barrel has been operated by the Episcopal Church Women since 1961. Beside its numerous uses by the congregation, Smith Hall is the primary site for our community outreach programs. Hundreds of our neighbors participate in numerous programs offered in this wonderful hall: AlAnon, AA, NarcAnon and Spanish Class, just to name a few. Mary’s Kitchen began feeding needy people in our community in October 1994 and continues to serve 200 every Wednesday.
The Reverend Thomas T. Pittenger II became our Rector in 1991, the size of our congregation soon doubled. More space was needed for our many ministries, as well as more worship services to accommodate our expanding membership. The opportunity to “Save Our Future” occurred when the former Martin County Library became available for purchase in 1999, and on that site we built the Parish Life Center which was completed in April 2001. To provide room for more young families and their children the congregation embarked on a program in 2003 to “Shape Our Future” by building a new nursery and a Youth Ministry Building. Upon the retirement of Fr. Pittenger, the Parish Life Center became the Pittenger Center.
Following two years under the skillful leadership of the Reverend Canon Kerry Robb, who served as interim rector, the Reverend Dr. Todd Cederberg became the fifth rector of St. Mary’s in February 2011.
On January 22, 2012 St. Mary’s celebrated its 80th Anniversary. Just as the earlier members of St. Mary’s provided for our needs, we are now providing the facilities for future families to hear for many years to come the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of this promises a future rich with opportunities to “GROW INTO JESUS AND REACH OUT WITH LOVE”.