St. Luke has a long history of being deeply engaged in issues of peace, justice, and healing change. The biblical call to bring hope to all of God’s creation is at the core of what St. Luke believes and tries to exemplify.
Below are some of the highlights of St. Luke’s journey into living our faith.
Founding – October 13, 1957 – More than 100 adults and children assembled at 10:00 a.m. at Groveland School for the first worship service of St. Luke Presbyterian Church. Fifty-two adults signed the charter. The organizing worship service was June 29, 1958.
Peace Bonds – In the spring of 1971 we asked the question, “what does it mean to follow the Prince of Peace?” In response, St. Luke sold Peace Bonds, raising over $25,000 for relief aid through the Red Cross for North Vietnam. We shared our vision of peace-making with over 30 congregations around the country and supported Members of Congress for Peace Through Law. We also catalyzed a cooperative effort of seven major church denominations to develop, with the Johnson Foundation, a network of Peace Churches.
Food Co-op – The St. Luke Community Co-op, now called Lakewinds Natural Foods, opened in April of 1975 in response to the congregation’s concern for hunger, both locally and worldwide.
Sanctuary Movement – In 1982, John Fife was invited to preach at St. Luke about the experience of his border church. Later that year, after many discussions with the congregation, the session moved to “actively resist the immoral and illegal policy of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service by declaring this church… to be a ‘sanctuary’ for refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala.” René Hurtado arrived to wide media coverage and moved into the church. St. Luke's support of his struggle to remain in this country legally ended 25 years later when the government lost its final court appeal. St. Luke people appeared on the CBS television program “60 Minutes” in a segment about the Sanctuary Movement; the show aired on Mother’s Day in 1985.
Sweat Lodge – In 1986, St. Luke invited the American Indian community to build a sweat lodge on the church property and we continue to share space as they experience this vital part of traditional worship. St. Luke’s connections to the native people continue to be deep and meaningful, including trips to reservations to assist in housing and sewing, as well as local grass-roots gardening efforts that provide much needed fresh produce.
More Light – In 1988, the Session adopted a “More Light” resolution declaring its intent to allow gay and lesbian members to participate fully in the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA). We are proud to celebrate victories with all LGBT people and continue to work for education, understanding and acceptance.
Environmental Focus – In 2008, a new focus group centered around environmental issues was formed. There is a growing interest in issues of permaculture, sustainability, and ways of living which reduce our impact on the earth. Since then we’ve mobilized to oppose oil pipeline construction, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and are vocal opponents of fossil fuel use. Because we believe so strongly in “walking the talk,” we installed solar panels on our church’s roof in 2014.