A Brief History of St. Lukes

St. Luke’s Church begin its work in 1846 in a small building located on Hollins and Oregon (now Arlington) Streets.  In October of 1847 a congregational meeting was held, and elected its first vestry and named The Reverend Rubin Riley as rector of St. Luke’s.

In 1851, the vestry appealed to the Churchmen of Baltimore for financial support for construction of a new church.  A plot of land, located on the eastern side of the 200 block of Carey Street was given to the church by Mr. And Mrs. John Glenn.  In November of 1851 Bishop William Rollinston Whittingham laid the cornerstone.

800px-St_Lukes_BaltimoreAt that time, St. Luke’s counted 18 communicants. By 1859 the numbers had increased to 316 communicants with 500 pupils and 53 teachers in the church school.  Under the guidance of the Rev. Charles Woodruff Rankin, who became rector in 1854, and Mr. James E. Hewes, St. Luke’s had well over 200 names on the roll at their colored Sunday school until 1864 when the Civil War began..

The Civil War, with it’s stimulation of racial prejudice and consequent demoralization caused a decline in attendance, especially among its colored communicants. However, the parish records still showed that during that period St. Luke’s had twenty five colored communicants in their books, and by 1871 a small chapel, for the exclusive use of the African-American congregation, was filled every Sunday afternoon and night by those who came for instruction and worship.


In 1905, St. Luke’s completed Clergy House which served as the rectory for many years.

St. Luke’s was very active during both World Wars . Many of it’s young men who had been Altar servers enlisted in the armed forces. Many of the women of the Church worked with The Red Cross, USO, and other organizations.


After World War I. the parish commissioned a painting in which the crucified and risen Christ holds the body of a soldier killed in that war.  The painting still hangs on the north wall of the nave of the church.

Between the wars, St. Luke’s continued to serve the Episcopal Church with helping establish other churches. For example, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Woodlawn was “planted” by  the parishioners of St. Luke’s.

After WWII all the way through the 1970s, the Franklin Square neighborhood was devastated by the “block busting” and “white flight” that occured in many cities and was especially severe in Baltimore. During that era, the church membership declined precipitously. However a few of the faithful followers continue to have church on Sunday mornings. While the numbers were not enough to fill the pews, those few communicants did manage to keep the church open.

Today St. Luke’s is again growing and reaffirming itself as a beacon of God’s eternal love, with a growing commitment to it’s community. Our mission is to provide a safe, nurturing, supportive community that will encourage and empower young people in our inner city neighborhood to grow spiritually, prosper academically, and live more healthy, responsible, and productive lives.