Church History

 The House that Faith Built

St. Luke's Episcopal Church, has a rich history. It is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio and serves families in the City of Niles and the surrounding area. Niles is about 4 Miles southeast of Warren, Ohio and 8  miles northwest of Youngstown in the Mahoning Valley.

St. Luke's originated in November of 1870, when several people started gathering in their homes on the south side of Niles. These home meetings eventually grew, so services were moved to the old school house on Front Street (now called First Street). Over the next 10 years additional services were held, at the "old red Town Hall" where The William McKinley National Monument and Memorial Grounds are now.

The first Church building was erected in about 1880 on Chestnut Street just north of the present Lutheran Church. The Church furnishings were very simple. That building was torn down in 1914. 

Construction of the present Church began in 1897 on a lot purchased for $1,100. $950 came from subscriptions and $150 came from parish workers. The architect was C. Frank Cramer. Ground breaking and the laying of the cornerstone was held on June 7, 1897, with Archdeacon Brown, from the Diocese, officiating. The Priest was the Rev. R.J. Walker and there were eight Trustees present, who also composed the building committee of the parish.

First services were held in the basement on Good Friday, April 8, 1897, under the direction of the Rev. Charles D. Lafferty, who was ordained in Niles.     

In May of 1900, a meeting was called by the Rev. H. E. Cook of Christ Church in Warren, Ohio to discuss and consider ways to finish the Church. In June, at a meeting held in the L.S. Coles Store, bids were awarded to W. F. Thomas for the woodwork and to Davis and Salen for painting and varnishing. Dedication ceremonies were held on September 30, 1900, in the afternoon, by the Bishop of Ohio, Bishop Leonard, and assisted by the Rev. Mr. Cook. The choir from Christ Church came on a special street car, rented for $5, to sing at the service. They sang to an overflowing crowd. The first collection was $24.69. The Church was consecrated October 13, 1912, by Bishop Leonard, who was assisted by Archdeacon A. A. Abbott and the Rev. L. P. McDonald.

In August of 1913, a residence was purchased for the Priest to live in on Linden Avenue, next to the Church. In 1950, property given to the parish was encumbered and the adjacent property, garages and house were purchased on the other side of the  parish.

 On May 9, 1956, a dinner was held at the First Christian Church Parish House to present and discuss plans for a fund raising drive to build a new parish house addition to the Church. The Fund Drive was to last 3 years and the kickoff dinner was held on November 11, 1956, at the First Methodist Church. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on May 23, 1962, with Archdeacon Wonders officiating. The present building was dedicated by Bishop Nelson Burroughs on November 28, 1962. He was assisted by the Rev. Ernest Edmunds and the Rev. A. Malcome MacMillan of St. John’s in Sharon, Pennsylvania.

In 1968, the garages were torn down to make additional parking and the parish complex assumed its current size and shape. The parish has had   16 priests serve it faithfully over the years. Over the years, the growth of the parish has been steady, even in the midst of the great economic depression in the Mahoning Valley. However, in the midst of this, the sanctuary was re-designed in 1982 to house a free-standing altar. The worship is eucharistically centered and the “breaking of the bread” is very much the central focus of the parish’s current ministry.

                In continuance with this ministry, the original Baptismal Font was placed and dedicated in September of 1986. It was placed under the large stained glass window at the entrance of the Church. The Baptism, it represents, focuses on entering the Church through water and the Spirit then continuing on to the altar to receive the Body and the Blood of Christ. This emphasis on re-birth and continual feeding is inherent in the life of this parish family. It is to their end that this ministry of God will be preserved. All are welcome in this sacred place.

 In the years following, many improvements and upgrades have been done. In 1990, the roof was replaced with the help of a UTO grant of $3500. In 2000, the Sunday School children planted a Children’s Garden along the front wall. In 2001, with a UTO grant of $10,000 a chair lift was installed from the narthex to the main hallway and from the main hallway to the undercroft.  In 2003, the electric wiring was updated and emergency exit lights installed with a loan of $5,000 from the Diocese. Also, in 2003, the parlor was refurbished.  In 2010, air-conditioning was installed (to the delight of all). In 2011,  a water project was begun because of poor drainage. This included digging around the church to put in drains and replacing the gutter system.

Our Shepherds from the Beginning:

1897- Rev. R. J. Walker

1898- Rev. Charles D. Lafferty

1911-1913- Rev. L. P. McDonald, Priest in Charge

1915- 1916- Rev. Rev. L.A. Lemoine

1917-1922- Rev. Fredrick C. Roberts

1922-1927- Rev. William W. Ridgeway

1927-1928- Rev. Thomas B. Barlow

1928-1935- Rev. Harry L. Woodward

1935-1942- Bernis DeFrees Brien, Deacon in Charge,

                   Ordained as Priest 1936

1956-1967- Rev. Ernest Edmunds

1969-1972- Rev. Charles Ransom

1979-1980   - Rev. John Butts (Later changed name to Edson)

1981-1989- Rev. Keith Gentry

1991- 1998- Rev. Marion Mailey

1999-2007- Rev. John Wigle

2007- February 2018 -  Rev. Donald Hall

© Sep 15th, 2019 St. Lukes Episcopal Church in Niles