St Luke’s of the Mountains, Embracing Inclusion
St. Luke’s of the Mountains has been a La Crescenta institution since 1924. It’s iconic stone buildings are a landmark of the area and home to generations of Episcopalian parishioners. However, the story of St. Luke’s is so much more than that, and it’s very much a story of how our community grew and changed to become more inclusive.
The St. Luke’s parish in our community today is intentionally inclusive and welcoming of everyone regardless of race, culture, language, age, or sexual orientation. It’s a huge part of their mission but that wasn’t always the case. In the mid 2000’s the previous congregation took issue with the national Episcopal Church over theological differences including the consecration of a gay bishop. In 2006, they voted overwhelmingly to part ways with the Episcopal Church. However, the real estate involved was quite complicated.
In 2009, the state of California ruled that the beautiful stone buildings that we see every day, didn’t belong to the congregation, they belonged to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. So, in 2010, the old congregation moved out and the Diocese embarked on what they called “a new journey of faith”. Just 10 parishioners attend that first new Sunday service but it has grown from there and continues to reach far and wide into our community, welcoming all.
I sat down with Father Kirby to talk about how St. Luke’s of the Mountains embraces inclusion in every facet of church life.
We are in an interesting position between influential and relatively white La Canada, and Tujunga which is blue-collar and immigrant. We are right in the middle of these two places. In 2012 we merged with a Tujunga church that was primarily Spanish speaking so we now have Spanish Language service at noon.
For quite some time St. Luke’s has had flags of many cultures represented on their front lawn across Foothill Bllvd. However, they have seen repeated vandalism.
Our flags are down right now. We are in the midst of discussing what to do. I think the vandalism/desecration of several of the flags is the work of a small handful of people who are going to do stuff anyway. My larger concern is that we treat all flags with the same respect that we treat the American flag. As a result, they can’t be tattered and improperly lit. Another concern is we have far more countries than we have room for flags.
On their goals for community inclusion:
When rebuilding the congregation we aim to be the “village” church. Our FireHouse is dedicated to community oriented groups ranging from mentally challenged to school groups. We are “being the church” to the people. Take care of them, listen to them but not out to “save their souls”. It’s ok if they have different beliefs from us.
A big thank you to Father Kirby for chatting about St. Luke’s important place within our diverse community.