St. Luke’s has spread God’s word for more than 160 years
by Jane Lightbourn • Staff writer
Begun as a mission more than 160 years ago, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Seventh and Vermillion Streets, still reaches out to its members and community.
Here are some significant dates in the church’s history:
1850 - St. Luke’s, Hastings was organized as a mission established by the Rev. Jackson Kemper, the Episcopal Bishop of the entire Northwest Territories.
1855 - The first worship service was held Jan. 7, 1855, in the dining room of the Dakota House, Second and Sibley streets.
1856 - The cornerstone was laid May 6 by the Rev. Jackson Kemper. The building opened Nov. 16, 1856. with the Rev. E. P. Gray of Winona preaching. Both congregation and preacher sat on boards supported by nail kegs as seats in the unfinished building.
1850s - Bishop Henry Whipple, the first Episcopal bishop in the Minnesota Territory, worked to provide proper treatment and justice for the Native Americans. He was known as “Straight Tongue” to all nations. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church always welcomed Native and African Americans to their worship services. Indian John, a good friend to the settlers, is buried in St. Luke’s Cemetery.
1857 - The original building was consecrated and the first offering totaled 25 cents. The Rev. Timothy Wilcoxen held services every other Sunday. He walked regularly from St. Paul to Hastings, Point Douglas, Prescott, Faribault, Cannon Falls, Basswood Grove and Red Wing.
1867 - The church pews were built out of butternut wood. They were rescued from the fire in 1880 and are still used today. There were two small church pews and frontals located in the “tower room” chapel of the LeDuc mansion in Hastings that match the church choir pews and frontals. Two of General LeDuc’s daughters taught Sunday school at St. Luke’s and church historical records include many references to the family.
1868 - The Altar cross, candlesticks, vases and Communion silver were given to the church.
1880 - The first building was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve when the candles on the Christmas tree ignited it. The building was destroyed, but the furnishings were saved and placed in the new building that was finished in 1881. The cost of the new building was $7,759.50 and it remains the worship space today.
1882: The parish’s young people raised $250.00 to install the “Good Shepherd Window” above the altar and the Young Ladies Guild presented the Bishop’s Chair that was first used by Bishop Whipple when he confirmed a class in May of that year.
The stained glass windows date back to the 1800s. There are plaques with initials C.O.B. for Mrs. C.O. Ball, and G.P.P. for George P. Pringle. Both are names in the early years of Hastings history.
Other dates of significance include:
1887 - The eagle lectern was given to St. Luke’s.
1892 - The gas lamps in the church were replaced with electric lights.
1902 - The new pulpit was given by parishioners
1943 - The last mortgage was paid off
1959 - A new parish hall was completed at a cost of $75,000
1968 - The pipe organ was installed
1969 - The chimes were given
1980 - The lounge in Todd Hall was completed
1987 - The original church pews were repaired and refinished
1990 - The sanctuary was remodeled with new flooring and new carpeting
1992 - Completion of new meeting/gathering space and elevator added.
1993 - The nursery was remodeled, new offices and a new youth room
1997 - Air conditioning installed for the sanctuary and gathering space
2002 - A sound system was installed in the sanctuary
2003 - A new piano was given.
2006 - The sanctuary roof was replaced using cedar shingles.
2007 - New cushions were purchased for the church pews.
2012 - The pastor’s office and youth room were updated and remodeled.