July 24, 2014
What is the Episcopal Church?
Our Parish Community
Come to the About Us section to learn more about our Parish community, and find out what we're all about!
Safe Church Policy (click here)
St. Luke's statement of policy for Safeguarding God's Children
Church Schedule, News and Events
Thoughts or readings of interest from Father Terry. Includes "On the Journey" spiritual resources. Click on SERMONS above. Then "Rector's Desk" for the blog, or "On the Journey" for resources.
Scripture Lessons for Proper 11 Sunday
Find out about our Youth Program and Sunday School.
History of St. Luke's Episcopal Church
On May 15, 1863 the cornerstone was laid for a chapel at the corner of 6th and Chestnut Streets in Lebanon. St. Luke’s Chapel was consecrated on October 21, 1863, During the midpoint of construction, the Battle of Gettysburg took place on July 1st to 3rd, 1863, within a day’s ride from Lebanon. In 1867 a Rectory was built at 519 Chestnut Street, a 2-story brick building.
In 1871 a Free Parochial School was established by Mrs. William Coleman., and within a few years, four schools with 125 students were in operation. The Free Parochial Schools were supported by Mrs. Coleman and they continued until her death in 1892. Mrs. Coleman also sponsored several Public Reading and Recreation Rooms, one at 613 Cumberland Street. A library was established in connection with the Reading Rooms.
In 1878 Rev. Abel resigned as Rector and traveled on mission to Oregon Territory. There he established St. Luke’s Memorial Church, Tacoma, before returning to Lebanon County in 1881. Rev. Abel was succeeded by the Rev. Chandler Hare as Rector of St. Luke’s Church, Lebanon. In 1878 Mrs. Coleman purchased Swatara Institute (also known as Heilman Hall) and deeded the property to Bishop Howe for establishing a Church Home for Children. On November 10, 1881 the Home was opened for residents, and the Rev. Alfred Abel was appointed house father and chaplain. The Home, later named Talbot Hall, remained open for 100 years and closed in 1981.
On October 18, 1879 the cornerstone was laid by Bishop Howe for a new St. Luke’s Church, built of stone in the Victorian Gothic style, at the corner of 6th and Chestnut Streets. The architect for the building was Henry Martyn Congdon of New York City, a well-known designer of Episcopal churches.
On October 18, 1880, St. Luke’s Day, the completed church was consecrated by Bishop Howe with many visiting Bishops attending. The original Chapel remained in place until the Parish Hall was built in 1903.
The Good Samaritan Hospital was originally started as a parish hospital by St. Katherine’s Guild of St. Luke’s Church, a group of women led by Mrs. Coleman and Mrs. Chandler Hare. The house at 711 Chestnut Street was the site of their first free clinic in 1889. The charter of the Good Samaritan Hospital was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County on November 23, 1891.
Following the Rev. James Hawkes, Rector from 1893 to 1896, the Rev. John Mitchell Page, served from 1896 to 1912. During this period the Parish Hall was built in 1903 with funds donated by sisters Isobel Freeman and Margaret Freeman Buckingham, cousins of Robert H. Coleman. In the 1930s Margaret Freeman Buckingham gave Cornwall Furnace to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be a Historic Site. She also gave to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. funds for the Canterbury Pulpit and established a trust to support the work of the Canon Missioner at the Cathedral.
In 1915 a gymnasium and club rooms were added to the Parish Hall during the tenure of the Rev. A.A. Binnington from 1913 to 1919 during which period World War I took place.
From 1957 to 1970, while the Rev. Lloyd Edgar Teter was Rector, interior renovations and updating of the buildings took place. Following the Rev. Henry Fairman, the Rev. Gerald Richards served as Rector from 1972 to 1996. In 1974 St. Luke’s Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A new Austin Organ was installed on 1978. John Milner Associates completed a Conservation Study of St. Luke’s Church and Rectory in 1986 Their report, with recommendations for external repairs to the buildings, was followed by a Restoration and Renewal Fund Drive from 1988 to 1991 to support the projects. Following the retirement of the Rev. Gerald Richards, the Reverend Robert Bruschi and a number of interim rectors served the parish. In 2004 the Rev. Terrence Wible became our current Rector. A Capital Campaign was conducted in 2006 to provide funds for additional work on the buildings and for Growth and Development. Today St. Luke's continues to build on its lively history, while serving God, enjoying our church fellowship, and living under grace.