The History of All Saints
The Anglican presence on the Outer Banks of North Carolina arrived with the men and women who established the first English settlement on Roanoke Island in 1587. During the brief existence of this colony, Manteo and Wanchese, two Native American chiefs, and Virginia Dare, the first child born in the New World to English parents, were baptized by an Anglican priest.
With the disappearance of this settlement, known today as the “Lost Colony,” there is no further history of the Episcopal Church in this area until 1849 when the original All Saints’ Church was founded in Nags Head by families from Elizabeth City and Edenton who spent their summers on the Outer Banks. This church stood until the end of the Civil War in 1865 when Federal troops under orders from General Burnside dismantled the building to provide lumber to build homes for freed slaves on Roanoke Island. For the next 50 years, church services were held in either private homes or the Nags Head Hotel.
In 1916, St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea was constructed in Nags Head and remained the only Episcopal Church in Dare County for almost 80 years. In the summer of 1987, St. Andrew’s began holding a Sunday morning service at Duck Methodist Church to accommodate the growing number of summer visitors to the northern beaches. Continued growth of a year-round population coupled with ever increasing tourism led the Diocese of East Carolina to support St. Andrew’s in establishing a mission church in Southern Shores. On May 28, 1995, Charles Gill, Rector of St. Andrews, officiated at the first service of All Saints’ Mission in the cafeteria of Kitty Hawk Elementary School as 65 persons gathered for a celebration of Holy Eucharist.
The members of the All Saints’ Mission worked diligently and parish status was attained by 1997. In February 1996 the first Vestry was elected and plans were begun to build a church and call a rector. A building fund was established, and with a grant of $100,000 from the Diocese of East Carolina, land was purchased on Ginguite Trail for a new church building. A search committee was formed, and Margaret Shepard was called in January 1997 to be the first Rector of All Saints’.
As a result of Margaret’s leadership, the church continued to grow as new members attracted by the vitality of this young parish were welcomed. Construction of the church building was completed in early 2000, and a jubilant congregation processed from the elementary school to the first service in the new church on March 5, 2000. The Bishop of East Carolina, Clifton Daniel, 3rd, presided over the dedication of the church several months later.
In the ensuing two years. All Saints’ has become known for its richness of worship and music and as a welcoming congregation warmly embracing and nurturing a growing parish family.
In December 2001, having laid a strong foundation for All Saints’, Margaret accepted a call as Rector of Grace Church, Mt. Meigs, Alabama. In March 2002, Edwin L. Bishop was called as interim rector. Under his guidance and leadership and that of the Vestry’s, All Saints’ continued to grow and flourish during the search process for its future rector.
In the summer of 2003, the Reverend Thomas E. Wilson accepted the Vestry’s call to become the Rector of All Saints’. He started his duties on August 1, 2003, and retired in the late spring of 2018 after many great years of leadership. In September of 2018, Robert Davenport was called as interim rector.
In the autumn of 2019, we were blessed to have the Reverend Cynthia Simpson accept the Vestry’s call, becoming the Rector of All Saints. Her first service was on October 13th, 2019.