An Episcopal Church in Allen Park, Michigan was the dream of Hazel Malhiot and Hilda Balls, who met while grocery shopping in 1946 or 1947. After several discussions, Hazel contacted the Rector at St. Hilda’s in River Rouge, Michigan, and the Rector contacted Bishop Emrich, who asked Rev. William Saunders of St. Michael’s in Lincoln Park, Michigan to conduct an organizational meeting.
This organizational meeting was held in the old Lapham School on October 15, 1947. It was decided at this meeting to pick St. Luke as their patron saint and to use his name for the new mission, because this meeting was near St. Luke’s Day, October 18.
Services began on January 4, 1948, in the Sudman School, as a mission sponsored by the Downriver Convocation of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, with the Rev. Saunders in charge and Mr. Percy Watton as layreader. St. Luke’s was formally admitted into mission status on September 24, 1948. In February 1949, the mission moved to the old Lapham School.
In 1951, St. Luke’s was ready to call its first resident vicar, and on January 7, the Rev. Carl R. Sayers arrived to take charge. Father Sayers began holding two services each Sunday, the early one in the basement chapel of the vicarage at 9056 Niver. The chapel was fondly referred to as “St. Basil’s in the Basement.” Those were the days of the coal furnace, and the sanctuary sometimes had a smoky aroma. Those were hard days, days when they learned to kneel erect in prayer in stark simplicity. On Easter Sunday that year, the portable altar and other appointments were moved once more to the new Lapham School. In those early days, anyone coming to St. Luke’s would see a bare room transformed into a place of order for worship with an altar, appropriate hangings, a pulpit and lectern, all fashioned by the hands of one of the members and all made collapsible. These were all dismantled and stored for the next week’s use. In June of that year, the mission conducted its first Vacation Bible School for three weeks using practically every room in the vicarage to accommodate 53 children. The church moved to Arno School in October that year.
At this time, serious thought was given to building a new church, and the present site was purchased. A grant and loan were received from the Diocese, and with the money that had been raised, building was begun with a great Ceremony Groundbreaking on June 3, 1952. This first unit would house the sanctuary and ante-room, the office wing, nursery and kitchen.
The decision was made to have a free-standing altar so the priest could face the people when celebrating the Lord’s Supper, as was the custom of the early church. A balcony choir was agreed upon, so that the choir would provide leadership-support for the congregation rather than performing concert fashion from the chancel. Another outstanding feature of the sanctuary was a large Cross of Christ the King, which hung over the Altar.
Even though there was much rejoicing as the congregation moved into their church building on February 22, 1953, there was also some sadness as the last service was held in “St. Basil’s in the Basement.”
In March 1954, services for Church of the Good Shepherd, a new mission in Dearborn Township were sponsored, and a member of the St. Luke’s congregation, Everett Francis, eventually became the first vicar. In June 1956, services for another mission, Christ the King in Taylor were sponsored, and another member of the St. Luke’s parish, Harold Arnberg, served as Vicar of this mission until after his ordination in July 1959. The Rev. Alex Lawson came into St. Luke’s in 1957 as a Perpetual Deacon and served the parish until his death in 1964.
At the end of 1954, another piece of property was purchased by St. Luke’s on Wick between Quandt and Becker. More classrooms were needed, so with the help of a gift and a loan, Seabury Hall was built, named after the first American bishop. It included a hall with side classrooms, two restrooms, a new arrangement for the kitchen and a new sacristy.
The Rev. Carl Sayers held his last service at St. Luke’s Church on Christmas Day, 1960, to become the rector of St. Stephen’s in Troy. The Rev. Alex Lawson and other visiting priests conducted services until The Rev. Ward H. Clabuesch became Rector just before Easter, 1961.
In 1962, plans were begun for a rectory. Part of the additional church property was sold for a down payment, and with a bank loan, a rectory was completed and dedicated by Bishop Emrich on St. Luke’s Day, 1963. In June 1966, Dr. Raymond Staebler of the parish was ordained Perpetual Deacon and served in this capacity until his death in June 1983. Starr Kline of the St. Luke’s parish was ordained in June 1968 and began his ministry at St. John’s, Saginaw.
In 1967, additional funds were raised to remodel and add to the building. With Doecesan and bank loans, a church office, rector’s office, two lavatories and one large classroom that could be divided into three, and a new kitchen where the restrooms had been, were completed in 1970. During the 1960’s, the chancel was made larger by moving the altar rail and the large Cross of Christ the King back to the wall, and two faceted stained glass windows were added. Drawings were completed for three other windows, but those were never installed.
Father Claubuesch resigned as Rector in 1971 to accept a position at Christ Church, Dearborn. Visiting clergy conducted services until October, when the Rev. Richard W. Smith, Jr. arrived. Toward the end of 1976, the church found itself in a serious financial condition. Although they had four successful building fund drives, the general fund pledges made it impossible to pay Diocesan Scale Salary for a full-time priest. Fr. Smith, therefore, resigned in March 1977 to return to Grace Church, Mount Clemens.
After many discussions and meetings, it was decided at a special meeting to sell the rectory in order to pay off the three mortgages and to do some badly needed building repair. Members were asked to transfer their Building Fund pledges to the General Fund in order to meet a workable budget for 1979. The Rev. Edwin W. Taylor was called as Rector in December 1977 on a part-time basis, and he also served the diocese as Bishop’s Assistant for Town & Country Churches.
Fr. Taylor resigned as of September 1, 2984. The Rev. Edward A. King became Deacon-in-charge on a part-time basis on May 1, 1985 and was ordained to the Priesthood on June 26, 1985. Fr. King also worked full-time for Channel 50.
St. Luke’s supports C.E.S.A., Seminary Education and the Episcopal Relief & Development Fund each year as well as donating food to Crossroads, clothing to Mariners’ Inn and Christmas gifts to adopted families. the congregation has tried to be a valuable member of the community by offering the use of its building weekly to Girl Scout troops and community organizations and renting its facilities weekly to one diet group and one exercise group.
In January 1996, the parish voted to be a part of a Cluster called Downriver Episcopal Area Ministry (D.R.E.A.M.). A joint Covenant was signed by St. Luke’s, Christ the King, Taylor and St. Hilda’s, River Rouge on August 25, 1996 to launch this Cluster Ministry.
The Rev. Edward King resigned from St. Luke’s on July 31, 1996 and became the Interim Clergy person for the D.R.E.A.M. Ministry Team on a part-time basis with supply clergy assisting in weekly services at each church. The Lay Eucharistic Ministers from the three congregations are also part of the Ministry Team. Each church has three representatives rotating on a three-year basis, and they and the Ministry Team make up the Cluster Council, which conducts the business of the Cluster with monthly meetings. The Ministry Team carries out the pastoral care for all the congregations. The Council plans and coordinates shared worship, fellowship, service and educational events and programs.
In 1998, the Rev. Donald Duford and The Rev. Michael Carr (full-time VA Hospital Chaplains) became part of the Cluster Clergy Team. The three clergypersons served at all three churches on an alternating basis.
In 1999, The Rev. Edward King resigned from the Cluster for a full-time position in Southbridge, MA. In May, The Rev. Donald Duford became the 3/4-time clergyperson, and with Fr. Mike and Supply Clergy, all three churches had services each Sunday.
Beginning January 1, 2000, Supply Clergy were no longer used on a regular basis due to financial reasons, with Fr. Mike and Fr. Don doing three services on a rotating basis.
The Rev. Donald Duford resigned from the Cluster on September 30, 2000, for a full-time position at St. David’s, Southfield. Fr. Mike became the clergy person in charge of the Cluster and doing services two or three Sundays a month. Supply Clergy were again used so that all three churches had services each Sunday, with Lay Eucharistic Ministers doing Morning Prayer services when needed.
On January 1, 2003, the Cluster hired The Rev. William Hale (a full-time Chaplain at Canterbury-on-the-Lake), who conducts services every Sunday. Due to the shortage of Supply Clergy, all three churches had a Morning Prayer Service averaging once a month with LEMs leading the service.
St. Hilda’s last regular service was held on October 2, 2011, followed by a Celebration of Ministry and closing on October 11, 2011. St. Luke’s and Christ the King remain in a yoked association. Following Fr. Carr’s retirement in 2012, Fr. Hale became Priest-in-charge and served both parishes. St. Luke’s combined its 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m services into a single service at 9:00 a.m., and Christ the King changed its service to 10:30 a.m. On July 1, 2018, Fr. Hale retired.
On July 1, 2019, we were blessed with a new Priest-in-charge, Fr. Mitch Yudasz. Fr. Mitch is serving both St. Luke’s and Christ the King. His first service was on July 7, as a joint service for both parishes held at St. Luke’s. On Sundays when Fr. Mitch will not be leading us in worship, we will have Morning Prayer services, conducted by our Lay Eucharistic Ministers.