St. Luke's Episcopal


Dixon, Lee County IL





Although the Episcopal church was organized in Dixon in 1838, some 18 years were to pass before members of St. Luke's parish erected and dedicated their first house of worship in the summer of 1856 - four years after the consecration of St. Peter's church in Grand Detour, which today is a chapel of St. Luke's parish.

St. Luke's church was a triumph for its members, whose ranks had been thinned by the departure from Dixon of many members after the church was organized. Ever facing onward andupward, members look to the installation this spring of three of four manual console pipe organs to take the place of the Hook and Hastings organ installed in 1885, and an architect is completing plans for a restoration of the church tower, destroyed by fire after being struck by lightning in 1907.

The pipe organs are being built by Hubert A. Howell as a memorial to his parents and he will utilize the same pipes, using additions. The great, swell and choir organs will be installed in the present chamber and the solo over the Sacristy. The echo will be installed in the tower later.

Contributions to the organs are in the form of a memorial to departed members, with the two largest donations thus far by the Howell family and Mrs. Eustace Shaw. When completed, it will be the largest organ in this part of Illinois.

Memorial funds will go to restore the church tower and $1,000 has been contributed by Misses Gratia and Laura Rogers.

The 1907 fire was not the first disaster which visited St. Luke's church. A fire on Oct. 25, 1935, gutted the interior and the congregation was without a building for almost a year. At a cost of about $30,000, a new altar and reredos of carved wood was installed, the organ rebuilt and new pews installed. The entire interior and exterior was redecorated in 1947 and the ancient Gothic style copied for the interior.

The parish was organized in 1838 under the Rev. James DePuy, "Missionary at Large," who built a rectory on land donated by John Dixon. First Episcopalian services in Dixon had been held in 1837 by the Rev. Philander Chase, Bishop of Illinois.

The building erected in 186, still standing and being used today as a residence after remodeling, served the congregation until the construction in 1871 and conscration on St. Luke's Day, Oct. 18, 1872 of the present building.

Services setting the cornerstone in place had been conducted Sept. 7, 1871, by the Rev. John Wilkinson in the absence of Bishop Whitehouse.

Articles placed in the stone included: A Bible, a prayer book, Journal of the Diocesan Convention of 1870, American Churchman, The Churchman, The Gospel Messenger, The Spirit of Missions, The Children's Guest, The Sunday School Scholar, History of Dixon and Lee County, Dixon Telegraph and Herald, Lee County Democrat, Rock River Farmer, a list of St. Luke's clergy from 1836 to 1871, names of the wardens and vestry for 1871, names of the building committee and names of the architect and contrctor.

First services were held Sept. 15, 1872. The building cost a total of $16,800. The present rectory was built with stone left over from the construction of the public library.

The Woman's Guild, later St. Ann's Guild, was organized in 1875 and was discontinued Nov. 6, 1946. St. Agnes' Guild came into being in 1878. The "Fortnighters" now the Couples Club, began after WW I with about 100 members.

At the formation of the Boys Choir and later the Girls Choir, the Choir Mothers guild was organized Mach 14, 1948. On the Feast of St. Luke, Oct. 18, 1950 the Guild of St. Vincent, a fraternity of altar servers and a national guild in the church, was organized.

The Girls' Friendly guild for young girls of the parish was organized in December 1950 and the Guild of St. Luke, a semi-professional women's group called the Evening Guild was started about eight years ago. The Altar guild dates from the organization of the parish in 1838.

The church's outstanding anniversary celebration was on the 60th anniversary of the new church,which lasted from Oct. 16-23, 1932, during the rectorship of the Rev. J. Norman Burke. Principal dignitaries present included Bishop George Craig Stewart, bishop of Chicago and the Very Rev. E.J.M. Nutter, dean of Nashotah Theological seminary.

Present rector of St. Lukes is the Rev. Vernon L. Shattuck Jones, while the congregation numbers 223 adult communicants and 38 youth communicants. St. Luke's church provides and the rector spnsors the Youth Center for all teen-agers in Dixon, irrespective of church affiliation. A high school survey in May 1950 indicated 500 students use the center, and a great number of eighth grade students and high school graduates, especially on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. St. Peters Grand Detour is a chapel of St. Lukes parish.

Prsent groups in the church and their memberships are: St. Luke's Altar Guild, 14; St. Lukes Evening guild, 35; St. Agnes Guild, 45; St. Vincents Guild, 12; Couples Club, 100; Vestry and Council, 19; Boys Choir, 22; Girls choir, 18 and adult choir, 15.

From the May 1, 1951 anniversary edition of The Dixon Telegraph

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