Category: History of St. Luke’s

Works of Art

More recent additions include the 1987 ceramic Stations of the Cross by local artist and art educator Gawaine Dart. Prof. Dart placed his realistic depictions of the Way of the Cross in neo-Gothic frames with crockets and fleur-de-lis echoing decorative motifs in the church, especially the carving on the choir stalls.

Dart, retired chairman of Henry Ford Community College’s art department, along with his wife, Jane McAllister Dart, also designed the decorative stenciling in the Lady Chapel. The patterns used were original interpretations of authentic 19th century designs.


St. Luke’s has a large, auditorium-type nave – much like the Protestant meeting houses of the 18th and early 19th centuries – while the emphasis on the altar and the majesty of the Gothic architecture reflects the Church’s Catholic heritage. This balance of traditional and reformed elements is typical in a mid-19th century Anglican Church. The plan of St. Luke’s reflects the shift in taste in the Victorian era from religious architecture (based on Classical models) to those of a medieval flavor.

Although the interior has been remodeled and redecorated several times since the church was built in 1858, it has not changed appreciably since the 1940s when a dark oak and stained glass screen was erected to divide the narthex from the nave.

The organ now in use was donated by Dr. John Sill in 1885, during his tenure as principal of Michigan Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University). He also donated the altar that is still used. Other church furnishings were given as memorials over a period of time from the late 19th century to the present. Dating to an early period of interior redecoration is the altar, consecrated on Epiphany 1889.The brass eagle lectern and the wine-stem dark-oaken pulpit were memorials to the Rev. Dr. Gardham. The dark oak choir stalls, rail in front of the choir and fine brass gate were a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Quirk, given on Easter 1916. The present altar rail and matching reredos (the screen behind the altar) were installed in the 1950s, along with the lighting fixtures and pews.

At one time the walls of the nave featured joyous, colorful stenciling, likely dating to a decorative program implemented in the early 1900s by Mrs. Mary Chase Smith Gardham, wife of the rector of St. Luke’s. Mrs. Gardham, herself an artist, may well have been responsible for much of the late Victorian decoration of St. Luke’s.

Bricks and Mortar

While the parish of St. Luke’s began worshipping at the address currently designated as 120 North Huron in 1830, it wasn’t until March 14, 1840, that the property deed was conveyed from the City of Ypsilanti to the Right Rev. Samuel A. McKorsky, Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan, in consideration for $1,600. As early as 1814 this same plat had been sold to Gabriel Godfroy, Sr. (of Godfroy’s Trading Post) for the consideration of $100. Godfroy, in turn, sold it to Henry I Hunt in 1824 for $816.

The original structure was a simple frame building (probably originally built as a home), and by 1837, it was clear that a new structure needed to be built. It was completed in 1838 and dedicated on July 1 of that year. It was an uphill battle to get this project off the ground and, finally, completed. It turned out that the battle would not end there, though, as the parish had difficulty meeting its financial obligations and would have lost the building had it not been for a $1600 ($2000 with interest) loan from the Missionary Committee of the diocese.

At a meeting of the vestry in March 1856, it was resolved to enlarge and improve the then-existing church edifice, but this proposition soon turned into a plan to erect a new building on the location of the old church. This new building was consecrated on June 28, 1857 (though the spire and pews would not be completed until 1871). It was the first church building built by Ypsilanti contractors Ballard and Edmunds. (Both Arden Ballard and James Edmunds were sons-in-law of Benjamin J. Woodruff, having married, respectively, daughters Adelia and Angelina; and both were members of St. Luke’s. Ardan Ballad was a member of St. Luke’s first vestry.)

The total cost of this structure (furnished) was $15,000. It was designed by Detroit’s premier architectural firm, Jordan and Anderson, and is one of the oldest, thoroughly Gothic Revival churches in Michigan. The structure reflects the changing tastes in, and theories of, ecclesiastical architecture. Early 19th century architects had used pointed ornaments on their buildings and called the resulting design “Gothic.” The interest in building new structures based on medieval forms and decorations, even to the point of copying actual medieval structures, had its origin in the High Church movement of 19th century Anglicanism. The success of that movement is evident in the fact that, when most people think of church architecture, it’s medieval architecture that comes to mind.

The design of St. Luke’s is modeled after Gothic-inspired churches, including St. Paul’s, Detroit. The plan is basically that of a central, gable-roofed box with a tall tower and spire on one side of the facade, and a smaller turret – or pinnacle – on the other. The elevation features pointed arch window and door openings, prominent buttressing, pinnacles, and gables, making it a somewhat subdued example of mid-Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. Numerous churches were built in Michigan using this same basic plan. St. Luke’s was the first outside of Detroit and stands as a monument to the importance of the City of Ypsilanti in the mid-century. Inset over the west-end lancet windows is a great St. James Cross, an homage to the short-lived, fledgling Episcopal congregation of St. James which was reorganized into St. Luke’s.

The exterior view of St. Luke’s has not changed greatly in the past 130 or so years. Except, the spire (the tallest in Washtenaw County) was (sadly) taken down in 1971 in response to concerns about its structural integrity. Apparently, the heavy traffic on Huron Street created vibrations which lead to serious safety concerns.

The bell (manufactured by the Meneely Bell Casting Company in Troy, New York), which was originally housed in the spire, was then moved into the Cloister Garth memorial garden. Instead of tuning his bells, Clinton Meneely relied on exact profiles and, if necessary, cast again and again until he achieved the desired result. Two separate factions of the Meneely family operated two foundries which together are said to have produced 65,000 bells in their life. Alas, they are no longer in production today.

On October 20, 1974, the Rev. Sidney Rood consecrated the Cloister Garth (a small, enclosed garden) for the interment of ashes of deceased parishioners and friends of St. Luke’s. Designed by landscape architect and parishioner Arthur J. Howard and made possible by a gift from parishioner Marion Stowe, the Garth is a place of beauty and repose at all times of the year. In every season, flowers and shrubs enhance the New York bluestone and the St. Francis statue and the mural of the “Good Shepherd” by Jane McAllister Dart, a retired professor of art at Eastern Michigan University.

The church itself is built of soft “Chicago” red brick. The lintels, sills, water tables and other architectural elements, which appear to be stone, are actually of the same red brick, coated with a limestone-colored mortar. Unfortunately, this decorative treatment tended to trap dampness which, in the course of the freeze-thaw cycle and general expansion due to moisture, has resulted in some breaking of the bricks.

In addition to the sanctuary, St. Luke’s includes two other buildings to the north of the sanctuary.

  1. The original “Parish House,” built as a rectory, was removed in 1927 to make room for the current building, which was finished in 1928 (cost: $71,000). A housewarming was held in September 1929 and was packed by community members.
  2. The “50s” building – which houses classrooms and offices, a kitchen and meeting spaces, including the “Great Rood Hall” (named for the late Rev. Sidney Rood) was completed in 1955. This is truly a “50s” building, exhibiting the style (or lack thereof) of other buildings erected during this decade.

A Parade of Preachers

In 1834, Rev. Freeman resigned and Rev. John P. Bausman was appointed as “missionary in charge.” He stayed for only a year. It is unclear who was running the show from Rev. Bausman’s resignation until the diocese appointed the Rev. Charles Reighly in 1837, directing him to reorganize the parish; which he did, with the new name of St. Luke’s.

After Rev. Reighly’s resignation (probably in March 1839), Rev. F. Dr. Frances Higgins Cummings held services until the vestry invited Rev. Henry P. Powers to take charge.

Rev. John Andrew Wilson became rector in 1847. Wilson was truly a man of pioneer fortitude, routinely walking from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti and back. On June 10, 1872, Rev. Wilson celebrated his 25th anniversary as rector; the community and the diocese paid homage to him. Ten years later, he announced his decision to retire. In his touching, last sermon he said, “Each brick in St. Luke’s and the rectory has been baptized in my prayers.”

Rev. Thomas W. MacLean served as rector from 1882 to 1885. The Rev. Deacon John Mahelm Berry Sill, during his tenure as principal of Michigan Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University), appears to have been the sole clergy from the time of MacLean’s departure until the arrival of Rev. Montgomery S. Woodruff in August 1888. (Woodruff apparently has no connection to Benjamin J. Woodruff, founder of Woodruff’s Grove.) He remained at St. Luke’s for four years, also serving in Belleville during that time.

Rev. Montgomery Goodwin succeeded Woodruff in 1892. Four years later, when Goodwin was appointed to a chaplaincy in the U.S. Navy, Rev. William Hothersall Gardam became St. Luke’s rector. Gardam was born, educated and ordained in England and found the many traditions of St. Luke’s to fit well with his own.

The first mention of a rector’s wife is that of Mary Chase Gardam, who was great granddaughter of Bishop Philander Chase, first missionary bishop of Ohio and Michigan. She was, apparently, a tireless worker for St. Luke’s, visiting the sick and organizing the well.

Rev. William Heilman began his work at St. Luke’s in 1915, coming from Lexington, Kentucky. The times were unsettled and war was freely predicted. When the call for volunteers came in 1918 from President Woodrow Wilson, Rev. Heilman promptly responded, enlisting as a chaplain in the Army.

The next two years were full of uncertainties. Rev. Thornton Denhardt of Denver, Colorado, acted as supply rector for a time; and the diocese often supplied clergy, including Dr. William Sayers, who preached frequently at St. Luke’s.

At the close of the war, Rev. Berton S. Levering came to St. Luke’s from St. Peter’s Church in Delaware, Ohio. He preached his first sermon at St. Luke’s on January 12, 1919, and became rector just two weeks later.

Levering’s tenth anniversary was celebrated with a gala dinner on March 12, 1929; but in September, he announced his resignation – in order to take charge of All Saints Chapel in Detroit.

On January 5, 1930, the Rev. John Francis Sant became rector of St. Luke’s, coming from St. Joseph, Detroit, but left four years later for the larger Christ Church, Detroit.

He was succeeded by the Rev. Robert Lawson (1934-38), the Rev. Reginald T. Appleyard (1938-44), the Rev. Robert Lionne Dewitt (1944-48); the Rev. Hugh Carleton White (assistant from 1947-48 and rector from 1948-52) and the Rev. Richard Harold Schoolmaster (1953-58).

The Rev. Sidney Swain Rood arrived in August of 1957, having already founded churches in Houghton Lake and Gladwin. By all accounts, he was “. . . at the heart of caring for people in Ypsilanti. He worked with anybody in need – alcoholics, people in halfway houses, food drives clothing . . . . He touched the lives of many, many people.” Sadly Rev. Rood’s life was cut short (at 63) by a sudden heart attack while in the sacristy preparing for the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday morning in July 1982.

The Rev. Jasper Pennington arrived in 1983 and presided until 2001.

The Rev. Dr. JoAnn Kennedy Slater had an inauspicious beginning at St. Luke’s. The parish was in turmoil, and Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr. warned the congregation that the doors of St. Luke’s were in danger of being closed. That was the bad news; the good news was that he believed in St. Luke’s and offered diocesan help. Even better news: The parish believed in itself.

The journey from 2001 to 2006 was a bumpy ride, but St. Luke’s has emerged stronger and more alive than ever, building on the foundation of the last 177 years. A sign of that success was the appointment of the Rev. Slater as rector in November 2006.

In the Beginning

In a tiny birch-bark canoe one Sunday morning in 1802, a Church of England clergyman, the Rev. Richard Pollard, paddled across the Detroit River on his way from Sandwich, Ontario, to the small frontier trading post of Detroit. This, to many, was the beginning of the Episcopal Church in Michigan. For over 20 years, Rev. Pollard held services for some 30 families in the Indian Council House (at the present corner of Jefferson and Randolph Avenues). Thus his parish, St. John’s Church, Sandwich, has often been referred to as “the Mother Church” of the Diocese of Michigan.

Many, however, prefer to give this title to St. Paul’s Church, Detroit, organized in this same Council House on November 22, 1824, under the leadership of the Rev. Richard Fish Cadle. Four years later, Bishop Hobart of New York consecrated the first building of this first Episcopal parish in the whole Northwest Territory. This earliest Gothic structure in Michigan, with its two-storied tower, stood on lower Woodward Avenue, between Congress and Larned, flanked by a Presbyterian Church on the south and a Methodist Church on the north.

While Rev. Pollard was kept busy by his own parish in Detroit, he sometimes traveled through Washtenaw County, stopping in Ypsilanti to “read the service.” While it is not clear how often this happened, it is likely that it was as early as 1825 – the year the plat was recorded as “Ypsilanti.”

Remember that there were only eight or ten families in Washtenaw County at this time!

In 1829, the Norris family moved to the area, with Mrs. Mark Norris immediately assuming a leadership role in the life of her new community. Her search for an Episcopal minister, at the request of an ill friend, resulted in a visit from Rev. Cadel from Detroit. Later that same year, he came to Ypsilanti to hold services in a vacant room a few doors west of the Hawkins House (on West Michigan Avenue where the Ann Arbor News currently has their Ypsilanti office).

Also in 1829, Episcopal layman Andrew Cornish, a Justice of the Peace, came to live in Ypsilanti. He held weekly lay services for a small group of Episcopalians (sometimes at a hotel, sometimes in a school house and often in private homes) until the arrival of the first resident priest.

That priest was Rev. Silas C. Freeman (“a man of more than ordinary talent, of commanding form and noble voice”), who came to Ypsilanti 1830. And thus, the Ypsilanti parish was born at 120 North Huron Street. Only the name has changed in the last 177 years, making St. Luke’s the oldest extant church in Ypsilanti.

On that first Sunday morning, the City of Ypsilanti had been chartered for just five years, stagecoach travel from Detroit had only recently become possible, and the military Chicago Road (now Michigan Avenue) would not be opened for five more years. Then, as now, the Huron River flowed steadily by.

In 1832, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan was organized by Episcopal parishes in the “territory” of Michigan (which included present-day Wisconsin). It would be five more years before Michigan became a state. With its founding predating that of the Diocese, St. James’ was named as one of the six founding parishes.

Gilbert Window

The Gilbert Window (The Incarnation Window) , memorializes Alice H. Gilbert (1861-1946), a member of an old Ypsilanti Family (whose legacy includes the Gilbert Residence for the Aged on South Huron, Gilbert Park, and the restored Gilbert Mansion). Like the Altar Windows, these over the West Doors are in fact three lancet-shaped windows and they depict the cast of characters which appear in the Christmas Story from the Gospels – shepherds, angels, wise men, animals – as well as the Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Ferrier Window

The Ferrier Window (Te Deum or Prayer and Praise Window) , was given by Charles P. Ferrier in memory of his wife, Nancy Quirk Ferrier (1850-1928), daughter of Daniel Lace Quirk and mother of Gertrude Ferrier (1854-1947). The eight medallions of the window depict:

  • Incense, a symbol of prayer
  • Praying hands
  • Petitions
  • Music
  • Candle in stand
  • A scroll with the words of the Sanctus (Sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus . . . Holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts)
  • A prie dieu, or prayer-desk
  • An adoring angel

Clark Window

The Clark Window (Sacraments Window) was given in memory of long-time merchants and parishioners, Charles Harvey Clark (1866-1946) and Harriet B. Clark, by their children Charles Townsend Clark (1919-1993) and Dorothy Clark, and their families.

  • The Clasped hands of Marriage
  • The Holy Spirit Dove of Confirmation
  • The Grapes and Wheat of the Holy Communion
  • The Font of Holy Baptism

Veterans’ Window

The Veterans’ Window was given by the Congregation in memory of the Veterans of World War II. It contains the heraldic devices of the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. Among the unique characteristics of this window is a small piece of medieval glass from Notre Dame Cathedral, Rheims, France, which was gathered by Daniel Lace Quirk while on a visit shortly after World War I.

Watling Window

The Watling Window (Symbols of Christ Window), was given by Mr. John W. Watling, in memory of his parents, John Andrews Watling (1839-1919) and Eunice Wright Watling (1842-l922) Beginning at the bottom of the Window, the symbols are:

  • A Shell, symbol of the Baptism of Christ
    • In early depictions of the baptism of Jesus, John the Baptist is shown pouring water from a shell.
  • INRI, the sacred monogram meaning Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus Christ King of the Jews)
  • The Phoenix, symbol of the Resurrection
    • According to legend, the phoenix is a bird which lives for 500 years, then burns itself on a pyre. From the ashes, a new phoenix appears.
  • The Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, symbolizing Christ, the Beginning and the End, surmounted by a Crown
    • “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
      Revelation 22:13
  • A Chalice, symbol of the Eucharist
  • Another early example of the Alpha and Omega symbol
  • The Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God
    • The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
      John 1:29
  • The IHC, another sacred monogram signifying the first three letters of Jesus in Greek (Ihsus or Ihcuc)

Devoted Members’ Window

The Devoted Members’ Window (Symbols of the Saints Window), given by the parish in thanksgiving for its members, depicts symbols of the saints:

  • St. Peter (Crossed Keys)
    • “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” St. Peter is recognized as the first pope, and the symbol of keys is still used by the papacy.
      Matthew 16:18-19
  • St. James (Three Shells or Escallops)
    • Many medieval Christians made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, which was believed to have been visited by St. James. As a badge of their pilgrimage, they brought home sea shells from the nearby coast.
  • St. John (Poisoned Chalice with Serpent)
    • Early writers state that St. John was one served poisoned wine; he survived because he blessed the wine before he put it to his lips, and the poison rose from the chalice in the shape of a serpent.
  • St. Andrew (Twin Fishes)
    • St. Andrew was a fisherman before he followed Jesus. The diagonal cross was the instrument of his martyrdom.
  • St. Philip (Basket with a Tau Cross)
    • St. Philip is symbolized by the bread basket, because of his role in the feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6: 5-7: When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”) The Tau cross was the means by which Philip was martyred.
  • St. Bartholomew (Flaying Knife)
    • St. Bartholomew is said to have been martyred by being skinned alive on the orders of the King of Armenia, so his symbol is a knife.

Quirk Windows

The Quirk Windows (Altar Windows), given in memory of Julia Trowbridge Quirk, is actually three lancet-shaped windows which contain symbols of the Four Evangelists or Gospel Writers as well as depictions of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The symbols of the Four Evangelists are often the winged creatures mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel as well as in the fourth chapter of Revelation:

  • St. Matthew (Winged Man)
  • St. Mark (Winged Lion)
  • St. Luke (Winged Bull)
  • St. John (Winged Eagle)

In these windows one sees the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Beloved; the Apostles, as well as Judas the Betrayer, and the Roman soldiers, as well as our Lord at Supper and Our Lord as the Resurrected Christ.

As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies.

Ezekiel 1:4-12


Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

Revelation 4:6-8

Towner Window

The Towner Window (Six Apostles Window), memorializes the Towner Family who lived at 303 North Huron for over a century. These included Norman K. Towner and his wife, Jeannette A. Spencer, and their five children: Carrie L. Towner; Guy C. Towner; Anna H. Towner; Tracy Lay Towner; Laura M. Towner. The window depicts symbols of the saints in four medallions:

  • St. Anthony (Bell)
    • The order of monks founded by St. Anthony were allowed to let their pigs run free in medieval England, and tied bells around the pigs to identify them. The bell thus became a symbol of St. Anthony.
  • St. Catherine (Spiked Wheel)
    • St. Catherine was tortured on such a device (now known as a Catherine wheel); however, it broke and she was martyred by beheading instead.
  • St. Stephen (Deacon’s Vestments with Rocks)
    • Stephen is known as Stephen the Deacon, for his role in the early church. He was stoned to death (Acts 6:5-7:60).
  • St. Cecilia (Harp)
    • St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians; hence her symbol.
  • St. Boniface (Sword and Book)
    • St. Boniface was martyred by a band of robbers; he held up a Bible toward his attackers, one of whom stabbed him through its pages.
  • St. Augustine (Bishop’s Vestments)
    • St. Augustine was the first bishop in England.
  • St. Christopher (Lantern)
    • St. Christopher is said to have carried the Christ child over a raging river on a dark, stormy night; a hermit on the other bank held a lantern to guide him.
  • St. Lawrence (Gridiron)
    • St. Lawrence was martyred by being grilled alive over a fire.

Gustin Window

The Gustin Window (Benedicite Window), in memory of Jessie McClure Gustin (1872-1947), was given by her daughter, Mrs. Ferguson, and is based on The Book of Common Prayer Canticle, “Benedicite omnia opera Domini” (A Song of Creation) from the Song of the Three Young Men, 35-65, in the Apocrypha (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 47). The eight medallions contain symbols of the cosmic order (water, Sun and Moon, stars, lightning and clouds) and the Earth and its Creatures (mountains and hills, whales, fowls, and human beings).

O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord;
O ye waters that be above the firmament, bless ye the Lord;
O all ye powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him for ever.
O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord;
O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord;
O ye showers and dew, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him for ever.
O ye winds of God, bless ye the Lord;
O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord;
O ye winter and summer, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him for ever.
O ye dews and frosts, bless ye the Lord;
O ye frost and cold, bless ye the Lord;
O ye ice and snow, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him for ever.
O ye nights and days, bless ye the Lord;
O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord;
O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him for ever.

Moore Window

The Moore Window (Acts of Mercy Window) , in memory of Mary Conway Moore, 1844-1888, given by Mr. Jay Moore and Mrs. Minnie Thompson, and depicting the Seven Corporal Acts of Mercy from Matthew 25:31-46.

  • Feeding the hungry (bread and knife)
  • Giving drink to the thirsty (glass and pitcher)
  • Clothing the naked (coat)
  • Ransoming the captive (chains and manacles)
  • Sheltering the stranger (house)
  • Visiting the sick (basket of flowers)
  • Burying the dead (coffin, pick and shovel)
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Matthew 25:31-4

Stained Glass Windows

The ten magnificent memorial stained glass windows by Willets of Philadelphia were installed between 1945-1949 under the chairmanship of Daniel Lace Quirk, Jr., and Charles K. Lamb. They replaced earlier Victorian glass and were a mixture of painted and stained work.

Willets of Philadelphia was founded in 1898 in Pittsburgh and moved to Philadelphia in 1912 where it remains today.

William Willet (1867-1921) and his wife Ann Lee Willet did great pioneer work in the revival of traditional craftsmanship and the renewal of interest in medieval glass. In 1921, Henry Lee Willet (1899-1983) continued his father’s work. With his wife Muriel Crosby Willet and his children, E. Crosby Willet and Ann Willet Kellogg, he helped to revive medieval glass-making techniques in the United States.

There are other delightful, stained-glass windows in the Chapel and in a small anteroom off the narthex, but no history has yet been discovered about them. There is also a “Josephine Pease” window in storage. While little is know about it, the inscription is from Frederic Pease to the memory of his wife.


Episcopalians have worshipped in Ypsilanti for nearly two centuries. In the late 1820s missionaries preached to the area’s first settlers and Rev. Silas C. Freeman and Andrew Cornish founded St. James’s Church in 1830. The congregation held services in homes and the village hotel and was one of the six founding parishes of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.

Despite its pioneering spirit, St. James’s soon faltered, and on February 13, 1837, the church reorganized as St. Luke’s. The new congregation acquired property on North Huron Street and began building a wooden structure for worship a year later. St. Luke’s grew quickly and soon boasted eighty communicants. With growth came the need for a larger, more permanent structure. In June 1858 the present sanctuary was consecrated. Designed by the Detroit firm of Anderson and Jordan, it cost $15,000 to build.

From its inception, St. Luke’s has stood for social justice and equality. African Americans have worshipped in the church since before the Civil War, and women have long been a vital core of the congregation. In 1863 female members organized a Parish Aid Society which funded missions well into the twentieth century .

For over a century the church has enjoyed a close relationship with Eastern Michigan University. Native American leader Andrew Blackbird worshipped at St. Luke’s when a student. In the 1880s university president John Mayhelm Barry Sill ministered to the congregation, donating the communion table that is still used to this day.

World War II brought new members and missions to St. Luke’s as the Willow Run Plant remade Ypsilanti into an industrial center. As the congregation grew, the church added the Church House in 1928 and the Parish House in 1955 which provided classrooms, kitchen, and theater. The current organ was installed in the 1940s, as were the stained glass windows, one of which commemorated the sacrifices of the congregation’s veterans.

The unrest of the 1960s and Ypsilanti’s deindustrialization presented new challenges for the congregation, but St. Luke’s has remained a vital house of worship. The church now welcomes an increasingly diverse population and, in 2001, appointed its first female rector. The mission work of the church has also expanded and now includes the EMU Campus Ministry.

Sincere thanks to those that have written the more detailed portions of St. Luke’s History, including:

  • Valerie Kabat, primary author
  • Tom Dodd
  • Luther B. Moore, Where the Saints Have Trod
  • Marcia McCrary
  • Gerry Pety
  • Jasper Pennington
  • And at least one unknown historian