St Luke first’s designation means it has over 90 years of African American history in between its walls and many many events and stories to tell about Black history in the city.
It is nestled within the expanding campus of Texas Southern University and a few blocks from the University of Houston at 3530 Wheeler Avenue.
The Reverend Francene Young is the current Rector at St. Luke the Evangelist. While working as a Vice President in Human Resources for a global energy company, she attended the Episcopal Diocese of Texas’ Iona School for Ministry. After successfully completing the three-year program, Francene was ordained a Transitional Deacon in 2011 and a priest in January 2012. She is one of several bi-vocational priests in the Diocese of Texas.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, she attended the Baptist Church until being introduced to the Episcopal Church as a teen. At age seventeen, the Rev. Young joined the Episcopal Church, after participating in a citywide Episcopal youth group in the Diocese of Ohio. When she was a junior in college, she led a parish on Cleveland’s near west side during their transition between rectors. In the Episcopal Church, she has been Senior Warden, Treasurer, Head of Lay Ministries, Verger, Christian Formation instructor, and Lay Eucharistic Minister.
In addition to her position as Rector at St. Luke, the Rev. Young is a member of Episcopal Diocesan Commission on Ministry, the Commission on Black Ministry, the Committee on College Ministry and President of the Board of Trustees for Westover School, an all-girls private school in Middlebury, Connecticut.
Rev. Young has a Master’s Degree in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and an undergraduate in Social Services from Cleveland State University. She is married to Kenneth Jones.
St. Luke the Evangelist Episcopal Church began as a mission under the name, St. Clements Episcopal Church in 1923. The first service held in the organizational stages of the church was on the second Sunday in May 1920, in the basement of the Carnegie Library at Robin and Frederick Streets. The Reverend George Walker, Rector of St. Augustine’s, Galveston, Texas, preached the first sermon. Dr. R. O. Roett is credited with organizational efforts to make this venture possible.
From the basement of the Carnegie Library, the church moved to a building at 2409 Hadley Street. On December 2, 1922, the first service was held in the new Chapel with an attendance of seven. The first kindergarten was opened September 17, 1923, with 16 children and the Vicar, The Reverend W. Payne Stanley, as teacher.
The organization of this mission represented the third church for African-Americans in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and the first for African-Americans in Houston following St. Augustine’s Church, Galveston, Texas (1890) and St. John’s Church, Tyler (1892). Although St. Luke’s is listed as being admitted to mission status in 1923, it was not until early 1927 that the re-charted church began to grow. This was due, in large part, to the arrival of the Carter Wesley, John D. Epps, Dr. G.P.A. Ford, Donald McClean and Mitchell families.
With a grant from The Right Reverend Clinton S. Quinn and with the members of the church raising $1,500, the first permanent building was built in 1931 at the corner of Simmons and Burkett Streets. This facility served the congregation for thirty years.
Businessman Lamar Fleming donated two and a quarter acres of land to the church in 1960 and the current structure was erected. A brief interim, St. Luke’s Church met at the YMCA across the street from the present location, while the new church was under construction.
The present building was occupied on November 3, 1963, and the mortgage was burned on St. Luke’s Day 1979. This facility seats approximately 300 people and has a marble altar standing parallel to a wall of Colorado river-washed stones. The windows are of irregular designed stained glass that allows the sanctuary to be doused with poetic light. Hanging in front of the wall of stone is a gigantic Red wood cross.
The first child to be baptized in the new building was Jewel Doris Cheney on September 27, 1931. The first Confirmation class was presented December 10, 1931. The first marriage ceremony was performed on June 23, 1935. The first burial service was conducted February 24, 1931. Bishop Quinn conducted the first ordination service the spring of 1935 when John D. Epps was ordained to the Deaconate.
St .Luke conforms to the beliefs and values of the Episcopal Church. We are a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States and of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
As part of our outreach, St. Luke is host to the Community Music Center of Houston’s Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra, the Children’s summer String Camp and their summer and winter recitals. Through our Episcopal Church Women (ECW), we provide support to the Manna House Food Pantry. Each year, we hold an annual Wine Festival in our open court yard to raise funds to support our activities.
While our history shows we were established as an African-American congregation, we are an inclusive community seeking to serve all of God’s children. We do this by spreading the word of GOD through JESUS CHRIST, opening the door of fellowship, celebrating CHRIST through worship, education and music and developing ministries to strengthen of parish community in order reach out and minister to students at Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.
Service Times on Sunday
8:00 AM Adult Bible Study based on the Lectionary
9:30 AM Holy Eucharist Service and Sunday School for Children
11:00 AM Adult Christian Formation