St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
Jan 7, 1855 by The Right Reverend Jackson Kemper, Episcopal Bishop
of the entire Northwest Territories. “His kindness, friendliness, honesty
and concern for souls won him many friends throughout the Territory.
During his ministry Bishop Kemper organized eight dioceses: California,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin
and founded three colleges. He also promoted mission work among the
Potowatami, Seneca, Oneida and Huron Indians with whom he worked.”¹
1856: The cornerstone of our original building² was laid May 6, by Bishop
Kemper and it opened on November 16 with The Rev. E. P. Gray of Winona
preaching. Both congregation and preacher sat on boards supported by
nail kegs which served as seats in the unfinished building
1857: The original building was consecrated and the first offering totaled 25 cents. The Rev.
Timothy Wilcoxson resided in Hastings by this time and held services here every other
Sunday. He also his itinerant mission work was centered here and he walked to many other
towns in the lower Minnesota valley including Point Douglas, Basswood Grove, Prescott,
Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Faribault and Albert Lea. He spent 50% of his time in itinerant mission
work and “during the first seven months of this itinerancy he had walked nearly two thousand
miles and may be called the pioneer missionary of the Episcopal Church to the white
Minnesota Territory, worked to “guide the development of the Episcopal Church
in Minnesota, establish mission churches throughout the state and to provide
proper treatment and justice for all the poor and most especially for the Native
Americans. He made regular sojourns through the rural areas of the state, often
in mid-winter, preaching in cabins, school houses, stores, saloons, and Indian villages.
Until the diocese was financially secure, he pledged himself to personally support
several of its missionary clergy and assumed many other financial obligations of the
church.” He unified the diocese and while his work with native communities would be
viewed as unjust in today’s world, he and Bishop Kemper were considered radical
thinkers among their contemporaries, and Bishop Whipple become known as "Straight
Tongue" to many nations.
With the influence of both Bishop Kemper and Bishop Whipple, Episcopal congregations
including St. Luke's welcomed all peoples to their worship services and the women of the
church became active in mission work. Indian John, a friend to the settlers of Hastings,
is buried in St. Luke's Cemetery.
1868: The original Altar Cross, candlesticks, vases and Communion Silver were given.
The original Altar Cross is now in the window next to the sacristy. The other items
are in the cabinet in the gathering space.
1869: Subscriptions were opened to pay for the Good Shepherd window on the east wall
of the sanctuary. The church pews were also built and installed. The pews are built of
Butternut wood and though the ends were remodeled in 1881, they are the same ones in
use today. There were two small church pews and frontals located in the "tower room"
chapel of the LeDuc Mansion* in Hastings that match our choir pews and frontals. Two
of General LeDuc's daughters also taught Sunday school at St. Luke's and our historical
records include many references to the family.
1880: Our first building was destroyed on Dec 27, 1880 when the candles ignited the
Christmas tree during the Sunday school program. It was "a bitter cold night and the
supply of ladders and water were scarce. From the onset no hopes were entertained of
saving more than the furniture. The organ was hastily torn to pieces, and with the
altar, pews, chandeliers, windows, etc., piled up promiscuously on the opposite side of
the street. Willing hands were in abundance and the ladies worked hard to save the
cherished ornaments which adorned the edifice. In this they were favored by the west
wind and the fiery element worked slowly to the tower in front, the bell being about the
last to fall in a shapeless mass to the ground.” Hastings Gazette, January 1, 1881.
1881: “The windows for the church arrived from New York and are now in their
places. Many are plain enameled glass, with crimson or blue borders while others
carry different symbols” [Hastings Gazette, April 1, 1881]. The Good Shepherd
Window on the east wall is a triple lancet window, united by tracery under a
single hood. Our records indicate that many people contributed to the cost and
installation of the Good Shepherd window but individual subscribers’ names were
not listed. Our young people’s records indicate that they contributed $250 toward
the cost of the Good Shepherd Window. Our records are unclear on the specific
cost of the windows but our new building cost a total of $7,759.50 and it remains
our worship space today.
1882: 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.
Other Dates of significance include:
1887 - The Eagle lectern was given.1959 - A new parish hall was completed at the cost of $75,000
1892 - The gas lamps in the church were replaced with electric lights.
1902 - The new pulpit was given by parishioners.
1906 “The Last Supper” etching was given in memory of Mary Lemen Johns.
1912 - The windows on each side of the front doors were placed in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Edward Vose.
1943 - The last mortgage was paid.
1945 - "Christ The King" carving was donated and placed above above the entrance to the chancel.
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.
1997 - Air conditioning installed for the sanctuary and gathering space
2002 - A sound system was installed in the sanctuary
2006 - The Sanctuary roof was replaced using cedar shingles.
2012 - The pastor's office and youth room were updated and remodeled.
2017 - New flooring was installed in the nursery and office areas.
5 Hastings Star Gazette archives
* ref to a home chapel in 1869: in the Episcopal Church, having a home chapel or space
for worship was a common practice. The Book of Common Prayer (first published in the
1500s) was written to specifically include many prayers and services that the public could
read themselves and lead a worship service.