St. Luke's church celebrates 152 years by revisiting bygone era

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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photoSt. Luke's Episcopal Church choir member Pam Goodlett sings from the choir box as the church celebrates its 152nd anniversary on Sunday. The congregation used the original prayer book from 1789 and many parishioners dressed in period clothing.

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photoSt. Luke’s Episcopal Church dates to 1860. The present building was built in 1932 and remodeled in 1959.

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Members of St. Luke's Episcopal Church turned the clock back 152 years on Sunday.

Their church was consecrated on May 27, 1860.

"They are both Pentecost Sundays," signaling the end of the Easter season, said the Rev. Jaime Case, the church's rector.

The observance included about 30 parishioners who came in period dress.

"We were experiencing the first prayer book (1789) of our denomination," Case said. "It was a wonderful reminder of how much has changed and how little has changed."

For instance, Case said in 1860 women were not allowed to be part of a service and the church was not welcoming to people of color.

The first St. Luke's building was a repurposed schoolhouse bought in 1858, said church archivist Patrick Lawless. It was in downtown and today probably would be under Interstate 5, he said. The current church at 426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. was built in 1932 and remodeled in 1959.

Lawless said experiencing the same service delivered on May 27, 1860, was "a way for us to understand how we have changed and how we need to grow."

Considering the words and order of the service, he said, "It's at least 90 percent different from what we do today."

Lawless' wife, Kristeen, the church administrator, said the service was fun.

"I enjoyed it," she said. "It was nice to experience where we've come from. Different styles and language. It was old English with thee's and thou's. It was like Shakespearean language, the language of that day."

Kristeen wore a camel-colored skirt with a white blouse and a straw hat with black trim and ribbons.

"I also wore my husband's great-grandmother's apron, which was made in 1887. I had a gold locket from my great-grandmother and a separate piece was a cameo pin set in gold that was my grandmother's" Kristeen said.

Patrick wore a tuxedo jacket with tails, a bow tie, white shirt and dark pants.

Certain touches were nods to the history of the church.

The silver chalice and paten (dish for the wafers) are replicas of the Beaver Collection brought to Vancouver in 1836.

A Hudson's Bay Company flag given to the church in 1980 was used in the opening procession.

The prelude and postlude were played on a reed organ that dates to 1868.

A photograph of the Rev. John D. McCarty graced one bulletin's cover. He was St. Luke's first rector and also served as chaplain at Fort Vancouver.

Service literature included an 1860 signed document by the Bishop Thomas Scott consecrating the building.

There was precedent for a historical service. In 2003, parishioners worshipped outdoors at Fort Vancouver, because that was where members worshipped in 1853, 150 years earlier.

The church has an estimated 500 members, and about 100 were there Sunday.

Case said he thought members appreciated learning how "our great-great grandparents might have worshipped."