COEUR d’ALENE — When Debbie Lane began attending St. Luke’s Episcopal Church nearly 30 years ago, she was part of a blended family.
So she wasn’t sure what kind of reception they would get.
Turns out she didn’t need to worry.
The congregation was warm, kind and friendly.
“They just kissed us,” Lane said. “That’s what kept us here.”
And that strengthened his faith.
“I can’t imagine life without the faith behind us and without a church that provides that faith and that love,” she said.
The same goes for Kristin Keyes, who started attending Fifth and Wallace Church in 2015.
“It’s inclusive for the whole community, open and inviting to everyone,” she said. “Come as you are, come as who you are, be who you are, be who you want to be, be who you want to be. Be whatever you want to be with this Christian body that wants to bring the love of Jesus to this community.”
Keyes loves that St. Luke’s, under Reverend David Gortner, invites people to explore their faith.
“There are no right answers. There is no prescribed way of being. We are allowed to explore our faith in any way we need to,” she said.
Some days, Keyes said she had deep questions about what she believed and why. Others, she is “deeply imbued” with God and can feel his love.
“It’s okay to have days off,” she said.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church celebrates 130 years in Coeur d’Alene with a special service at 10 a.m. today.
It will use a worship service from the 1892 Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer, which was published the same year as the first public worship service in the St. Luke Building.
It also celebrates the feast of Saint Luke, the biblical saint after whom the church was named.
Gortner said St. Luke’s Church is rooted in the Christian faith, in scripture, in tradition, which goes back centuries.
He helps the homeless, feeds the hungry and strengthens the weak.
The cross and the flag are displayed in the sanctuary.
“You will feel it in the way we carry on our worship, but also in the way we think, pray and move forward,” he said Friday.
The church, he added, is committed to “sharing and celebrating the overwhelmingly generous and unconditional love of Jesus Christ.”
St. Luke’s is one of the three oldest and most enduring churches in Coeur d’Alene, joined in history with the early Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches of St. Thomas. A community of Episcopalians began in the 1880s through the faithful community and shared leadership of officers stationed at Fort Sherman, who met for prayer in their quarters and at the fort’s chapel – and the border bishop, Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, has been here more than once. in its circuit through Montana, Utah and Idaho.
In 1891 St. Luke’s officially formed as a church and by January 1892 the congregation had completed the exterior of the building (in a smaller form which was later enlarged). In March 1892, the church opened its doors for its first service with its first priest, Herman Page.
“Over the decades, St. Luke’s has been active in faithful weekly worship and Christian education,” a press release read. “Its members have been important contributors to the civic life of the community.”
Members, about 125, come from all over northern Idaho and extend into Washington.
St. Luke’s has a legacy of concern for care and justice in communities, the statement said. For decades the church hosted addiction recovery groups and for more than 10 years housed the offices of Family Promise of North Idaho.
St. Luke’s Mission
Cultivate life-giving relationships in Christ with all, through purposeful discipleship, courageous conversations, purposeful partnerships, and authentic action in northern Idaho.
The Gospel of Saint Luke is where Jesus reaches across social divisions and shows deep concern for those who are considered outsiders.
Church members share
Lisa Nunlist started attending St. Luke’s in 1979.
“We’ve had a loving impact in this community for over 130 years, and I want to continue to do so,” she said. “I want to continue stewardship, respecting the past and our mission in our community. I love it. It’s my family. Yes, even people who have gone before, and people I don’t even know yet, long after I died. They are my family. I have this connection to the past and the future.
Ian Hicks came to church in February 2021, after moving to the Coeur d’Alene area.
“We walked through that door and found we were very, very welcome,” he said.
Hicks was involved in church renovations and upgrades.
“You support your church. That’s what we have. We have a strong team of people who just cooperate.
John and Phyllis Albee met at St. Luke’s in the 1970s and married in 1980.
John Albee likes to have women priests and deacons.
“The church gives you some guidelines, but it’s up to us how we want to interpret them and use them in our lives. That’s important to me,” he said.
Phyllis loves music, sings in the choir and is involved in the Women’s Guild.
The services keep her rooted in her faith.
“It reminds me every Sunday that I’m not always up to it,” she said.
Barbara Webb called St. Luke’s her church for 12 years.
She appreciates his openness.
“You can have a different interpretation of scripture and that’s OK,” she said.
St. Luke’s is filled with people who want to give back to their community and help others, Webb said.
“This church kind of lives that,” she said.
The Reverend David Gortner is entering his fifth year at the helm of St. Luke’s, which he says is “one big tent for all kinds of people”.
St. Luke’s wants people to get involved in the church and connect with each other. They are challenged to come out in faith.
“Where is God calling us now and what are we going to do to follow that call? ” he said.
Gortner said he was heartened by the congregation’s “continuing readiness to pour energy and life into this community of faith, the readiness to grow in faith and in Christ.”
“We want to have a positive impact on the community, which gives life, affirms it and builds it,” he said.