A brief history
"And a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6).
It was the death of Mrs. Creamer's grandson, Edward Keith Wiley, that originally prompted the Rev. C.F. William Hartlage to canvas this area in 1914 to see if a mission could be started in what was then known as "New Pittsburg."
There was no church or funeral home to serve the area, and Mrs. Creamer asked Pastor Hartlage, then pastor of Saint Paul's in Highlandtown, to officiate at the funeral with the child reposing in the Creamer home. After the funeral, Mrs. Creamer asked Pr. Hartlage if he would be interested in starting a mission in New Pittsburg and he agreed. On Saturday, January 31, 1914, Pr. Hartlage and Mr. Herman Storath canvassed the area for the purpose of starting a Sunday School. On the following day, Sunday, February 1, at the home of Mrs. Creamer, St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School was organized by Mr. Storath at 10 AM. The Creamer house is still standing today beside our present church parsonage, now a recovery house.
After meeting several Sundays in the Creamer home, the Sunday School moved across the road to a little red building owned by Judge Bayard Williams. The church record reads, "Mr. Bayard Williams, the owner, showing us his great kindness by letting us use the building gratis." On Sunday, July 12, 1914, a church service was held at 3 PM with 25 persons present. Then on Monday, October 5, Pr. Hartlage called a meeting for the purpose of the congregation, and according to the church's records, it was "Resolved to call the congregation 'St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church'." The first officers of the congregation were the Rev. C.F.W. Hartlage, President; Mr. John Vesper, Vice President; Mr. Herman Storath, Secretary; and Mr. John Fahslan, Treasurer.
On February 14, 1915, Mr. Oscar Buehner reported at the congregational meeting that "Mr. Bayard Williams is going to give us a clear title to the ground of our new church."On June 22, Mr. George P. Mueller was contracted to build the new church (as the low bidder) for $2480, size to be 24 x 40 feet, "with a slate roof." On Sunday, October 10, 1915, at 3 PM, the new church was dedicated.
In November 1925, Mr. John Lang donated a large bell. Also in 1925, St. Luke's built a new hall beside the church. It cost $7489 and was used for many years as a meeting place for Sunday School, scouts, church suppers, etc.
In 1929, after 15 years as St. Luke's Pastor, Pr. Hartlage left and the Rev. E.C. Moellman took over as new pastor. St. Luke's continued to grow. Another new church was planned, and in 1954, the congregation began holding services at the American Legion Hall while the basement of the new church was being built. Services were then held in the new roofed-over basement while construction progressed on the upper structure. In January of 1961, the present church was dedicated. It cost about $330,000.
In 1967, after 38 years at St. Luke's, Pr. Moellman retired. The Rev. Zoltan L. Nagy became St. Luke's third pastor in 53 years. In 1968, Pr. Moellman returned to St. Luke's Thanksgiving service to take part in the burning of the mortgage of the new church. In 1972, Pastor Nagy accepted a call at another church. Pastor Compton was Interim Pastor until January 1974, when St. Luke's received its fourth pastor, the Rev. Matthew L. Ernst. After 7 1/2 years, Pastor Ernst accepted a call to Atlanta, GA, and in February 1982, St. Luke's welcomed it's fifth pastor, the Rev. David B. Kaplan who faithfully served the congregation and Her Lord for fourteen years. After Pr. Kaplan received a call to Hagerstown, the congregation was served by several interim pastors: the Reverends Don Grohls, John Compton, Bob Harvey, and Ken Nehmer. The Rev. John F.C. Dornheim was called to be the sixth pastor and he assumed the pastorate in June 1998.
Over the years, St. Luke's has changed in many ways as it adjusts to serve the community. A new national church body, a new organ, new air conditioning, and many new faces. Yet through it all, one thing remains constant, namely the church's faithfulness to the ministry of Jesus Christ, her Savior and Lord. As we stand living into the second millennium, may she be ever faithful.