Power of Prayer

St. Luke’s will host a spe­cial ser­vice on Sat­urday af­ter­noon to com­mem­or­ate its found­ing in 1861.

An Epis­copal church in Bustleton cel­eb­rates a key an­niversary, thanks to gen­er­a­tions of de­voted con­greg­ants.

The people at St. Luke’s Me­mori­al Church be­lieve they have plenty to cel­eb­rate as the church marks 150 years of ex­ist­ence.

Bish­op Charles Ben­nison, of the Epis­copal Dio­cese of Pennsylvania, will be the cel­eb­rant at the an­niversary ser­vice, sched­uled for Sat­urday at 4:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s, 1946 Welsh Road in Bustleton.

A din­ner will fol­low in the par­ish hall. The ser­vice is tied to St. Luke’s feast day, which is Oct. 18.

 “For it to sur­vive so many years is a real test­a­ment to the people who have been here,” said the Rev. Timothy L. Griffin, rect­or at the church, who will as­sist Ben­nison dur­ing the ser­vice.

The Me­mori­al Church of St. Luke the Be­loved Phys­i­cian, as it is form­ally known, opened in 1861.

Two years earli­er, a wealthy wo­man named Pau­line E. Vander­kemp Henry was hon­ey­moon­ing in Eng­land when her hus­band, 

Dr. Bern­ard Henry, a U.S. Navy sur­geon, was lost at sea. In his memory, she built an Epis­copal church on what then was coun­try farm­land with a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Today, the sil­ver­ware that is used every Sunday for Com­mu­nion was donated by Mrs. Henry as a me­mori­al to her moth­er. The al­tar cross was giv­en in memory of her fath­er. Pau­line and Bern­ard Henry are me­mori­al­ized with large marble medal­lions on the back wall of the church.

The prop­erty in­cludes a buri­al ground. Among those bur­ied there are former state Sen. Louis Far­rell, who died in 1953, fallen Civil War sol­diers and Eli­as Toy, a crew mem­ber of the fu­ner­al train that car­ried Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln’s body home to Illinois.

Griffin, the church’s 18th rect­or, ar­rived at St. Luke’s in 2004 after a six-month stint as an as­sist­ant at All Saints Epis­copal Church in Cres­centville. That church has since closed.

In ad­di­tion to his du­ties at St. Luke’s, he is the part-time priest in charge at St. An­drew’s-in-the-Field Epis­copal Church in Somer­ton.

Griffin lives on the grounds at St. Luke’s with his wife, the Rev. Har­riet Kol­lin, the as­so­ci­ate rect­or at St. Mar­tin-in-the-Field in Chest­nut Hill. They are joined by a cat and a dog, who is named, ap­pro­pri­ately, Luke.

St. Luke’s has a little more than 100 mem­bers. Ser­vices are held on Sunday morn­ings and Wed­nes­day nights.

 “It’s a very fam­ily kind of en­vir­on­ment,” said Griffin, who wrote a re­li­gion column for the North­east Times from 2005-08. “It’s a close-knit group, and I’m hop­ing we con­tin­ue to grow.”

Be­sides con­duct­ing weekly ser­vices, Griffin’s du­ties in­clude vis­it­ing ail­ing church mem­bers and of­fer­ing spir­itu­al dir­ec­tion.

The rect­or feels blessed to head a con­greg­a­tion whose pa­rish­ion­ers take pride in the ap­pear­ance of the cam­pus. He tries to provide an up­lift­ing liturgy that en­cour­ages mem­bers to make their Chris­tian­ity a way of life.

Church mem­bers are com­munity-ori­ented, led by the Wo­men’s Out­reach Wing and Girls’ Friendly So­ci­ety.

 “We have a very act­ive group of wo­men in the con­greg­a­tion,” Griffin said.

St. Luke’s is a par­tic­u­larly gen­er­ous donor to the Somer­ton Food Bank. The char­it­able ef­forts of the con­greg­a­tion have also in­cluded donat­ing blankets to can­cer pa­tients, school sup­plies to dis­ad­vant­aged kids, Christ­mas toys to kids in home­less shel­ters, Thanks­giv­ing din­ners to the needy, gift cards to wo­men’s shel­ters and per­son­al-care items to a shel­ter for run­away youths.

Also, mem­bers have de­livered homemade cards to shut-ins.

 “We’re very for­tu­nate that we have a group of ded­ic­ated people,” Griffin said. “We have a lot of good stuff go­ing on. I think we do well for a little place.”

Among the act­ive con­greg­ants is Sta­cey Car­mody, who joined St. Luke’s in 2006, in part be­cause she liked Griffin’s mes­sage in his news­pa­per column.

Car­mody thinks the ca­marader­ie and com­mit­ment of the flock have St. Luke’s po­si­tioned well as it passes the 150-year mark.

 “I love the people here. They’re very wel­com­ing,” she said. ••

St. Luke’s Me­mori­al Church, at 1946 Welsh Road, will cel­eb­rate its 150th an­niversary with a ser­vice on Sat­urday at 4:30 p.m.

The church holds a weekly Sunday ser­vice at 10:30 a.m., fol­lowed by a cof­fee hour in the par­ish hall.  New mem­bers are wel­come. For more in­form­a­tion, call 215-969-3645 or vis­it www.stlukes­bustleton.webs.com

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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