About UsOUR STORY / OUR VALUES / OUR PASTOR / OUR STAFF
St Luke’s was birthed as a local community of faith in North Bellevue in 1957. We continue to grow, change, and adapt as our members, our local context, and our world continue evolving. We are excited to discern together what the Spirit of God might invite of us as individuals and as a collective in our quest to live faithfully present in the way of Jesus Christ.
Listening & Presencing Desire
Our quest is to actively listen to God, our neighbors, creation, & ourselves.
St Luke’s desires to be a community of people who are faithfully present to the many relational connections contributing to our shared life. This quest for relational presence invites deep and ongoing listening to others, being moved by what we hear, and faithfully acting to make more visible the kind of love and justice seen in Jesus the Christ.
While many organizations have a vision and/or mission statements… we have moved away from defining our community by what we do, and seek to set our imagination on who we desire to become. We are also growing in awareness of the ways such vision and mission statements become unintended tools of colonization. We seek to actively listen.
We receive all people as loved, image bearers of God.
We seek to follow in the Way of Jesus Christ, who taught and embodied the love of God and love of neighbor as oneself. We sense that life is better when we live it together; so, we gather regularly. We tell stories to enlarge our imagination for justice and compassion. We engage in practices to foster welcome, inclusion, and intergenerational competence. All the while nurturing hearts of gratitude, generosity, equity, and kindness.
We receive all people as loved, image bearers of God. We’re prayerfully moving toward racial and class equity and joyfully welcome all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions; simply seeking to journey with others in their spiritual quests. We have a passion to see all people in safe affordable housing. We believe that God loves and welcomes all into God’s family in Jesus Christ. We desire our gatherings to be a place of healing, grace, prophetic witness & belonging.
There are many ways anyone or any group can tell their story. In fact how we tell our “St Luke’s Story” continues to morph and change. There was a time when we would have placed emphasis on the community’s cultural Lutheran heritage. We might have told our story through the ongoing evolution of our church campus, the pastors we have welcomed over all these years, or our ongoing quest to help those experiencing housing insecurity.
But no matter how you tell the story, we are always a group of individuals seeking to follow the way of Jesus Christ. We are a community of faith, and we seek to discover and participate in God’s dream of Shalom for all and everything. We don’t claim to have a corner truth but together we are following the Holy Spirit into this moment, our moment.
Below is a short timeline of our history as told by Roberta Johnson, a charter member and author of the book: The First Fifty Years. To read more, please inquire with our front office to request a copy of the book.
The Beginning: 1956 - 1962
n 1956 permission for the development of a new National Lutheran Church in Bellevue was granted. Army Chaplain John O. Larsgaard accepted a call to create the new church. A parsonage was purchased and ready for his arrival on September 1.
Organization of the church began with a Sunday School which included adult instruction class, Confirmation classes that met with the pastor at the parsonage, and a 15 member choir.
In 1957 the church was organized under the name St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Bellevue, Washington with a membership of 103. Construction of the church building began on September 15. By no means complete, the first service was held on Christmas Eve. Only one of the 154 members slipped off the entry planks into the mud.
Not everyone loved the church building when it was finished in 1958. Its modern design of pink, cream and later blue stripes looked more like a dentist’s office. However, everyone loved their charismatic Pastor. They were sad to see him answer the call to become Campus Pastor at Pacific Lutheran University.
Pastor Paul B. Pierson became St. Luke’s second Pastor in 1959 arriving in a bright red three-wheeled car. Confirmation students had a great time picking it up and moving it from place to place.
This was an era where women were formally addressed by their married names, they wore dresses to church with hats and gloves for special events while men wore suits. Church officers except the secretary were all men. Ushers and acolytes were boys.
The church building on top with its pink stripes.
Pastor Larsgaard, Herm Johnson and Pete Hansen with the first church sign.
Strong, Healthy and Growing: 1963 - 1971
The church was growing led by the adult Golden Band’s fellowship events. More room was needed. The Perkins property which included a home just north of the church was purchased. It provided expansion for the Sunday School’s 206 students and room for more parking.
By 1966 plans were activated to build a new parsonage with volunteer labor and to build a new Administration complex with temporary Sunday School facilities. All members were requested to give 8 hours of volunteer labor to the building each month. After 9 years of members cleaning the church themselves, the first part-time janitor was hired.
Refurbishing programs included another parking lot, modernizing the kitchen and fellowship hall, the first carpeting in the sanctuary and best of all, pews with cushions replaced folding chairs used during the first 10 years of worship services. New carpeting for the parish hall proved to be controversial. It’s gold, orange, red and black splashes reminded people of a theatre lobby. All agreed it did hide coffee stains.
1963 Church Service
A Time To Celebrate: 1972 - 1977
St. Luke’s was the first church on The Eastside to use a Lay Administrator to handle the details inherent to the administration of an organization with as many interests as a church with a budget of nearly $50,000.
The 1972 Congregational Report included the first mention of quilts being made by ladies of the ALCW, the beginning of a 45-year tradition.
In 1974 Home Bible Study groups of about a dozen people informally discussed the Bible. A new organ was purchased for the Sanctuary. Groups and families were invited to adopt parts of the grounds for upkeep.
The Communicator, a monthly newsletter mailed to the homes of members and friends made its debut in 1976. The Good Samaritan fund was established in order to provide financial assistance for people in need.
In 1977, St. Luke’s twentieth year, women were welcomed as Liturgists and Communion Assistants. Families took over the role of ushers. Two hundred people attended the celebration of all that had been accomplished in the church’s first 20 years.
Twenty-five Years and Counting: 1978 – 1982
Ever the social church, the adults planned one of their best fellowship events yet during the winter of 1978 – a Cruise Party. People pretended the sun was shining, put on their best cabana wear and showed up for a cruise buffet. When the sun was shining in the spring, mothers and daughters gathered for a luncheon where the men of the church served them.
A few changes in worship included replacement of the familiar red Service Book and Hymnal with the new green Lutheran Book of Worship and the addition of a new Christmas Banner to enhance holiday services.
In February of 1979, the ladies hosted the first Shrove Thursday Pancake Supper, a family event celebrating the last day to enjoy rich food before Lent.
By 1980, St. Luke’s was becoming known as “the friendly church by the side of the road” with an Evangelism Committee changing its name to the Friendship Committee. The Sunday School welcomed all to the first Advent Craft Fair on the first Sunday of Advent with a potluck luncheon and crafts for all ages to create and enjoy. The Sunday School Attendance Pin reward program was also started.
The mortgage on the parsonage was paid off in 1981. The exterior of the church and interior halls were painted by volunteers. The junior and senior high school students prepared and presented the Easter Sunrise Service followed by a breakfast – the precursor of many Easter brunches to come.
With the church building and finances in order, 1982 was time to celebrate St. Luke’s 25th year. All charter members were invited to join the congregation for a special anniversary service and reception. They enthusiastically welcomed guest speaker Pastor Larsgaard, the church’s first pastor. He was just as fun as ever and reminisced about the early days of the church. All enjoyed the celebration of 25 years of building God’s church and bringing the Good News to all who entered.
As the congregation looked forward to the next 25 years, Pastor Pierson issued a challenge. If each committee had the enthusiasm shown by the Quilters, what a blessed congregation we would be. The challenge was taken up throughout the congregation. New bells were purchased and a Bell Choir was formed with music planned for the next 25 years!
25th Anniversary Committee
Expansion: 1983 – 1990
In 1983 St. Luke’s planned to expand the building so a building committee was created and a stewardship drive began.
While the Building Committee hired an architect to draw up plans for expansion, other areas of the church were expanding their programs. The SEARCH Program began in 1984, a 6-year study of the entire Bible with 50 people committed to the program. Since Sunday School classes did not meet in the summer, the first children’s sermons during summer worship were started with juice served to children during the coffee hour.
By 1985 attendance was down. Members were lost to death and to families moving out of the area. As a result, Sunday worship went back to a single service. These single well attended services resulted in the growth that had been missing.
Sunday School attendance remained high. The high school group collected for UNICEF on Halloween and adopted a South American boy to help support. God’s Groovy Group (4th and 5th graders) adopted a local needy family and supplied them with both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and Christmas gifts with the help of the entire congregation. The kids created a life-size nativity scene to display along Bellevue Way during the Christmas season. In the spring they hosted an Easter continental breakfast and chose a special part of the church grounds to clean during a Garden of Eden day.
An advancing illness in 1986 led to Pastor Pierson’s retirement in 1987 after 27 years of service to St. Luke’s. Reverend Armin Reitz was called to serve as interim pastor. Church activities continued with the first of many Christmas bazaars. Area artists and craft people were invited to display and sell their creations. Proceeds were disbursed to local service organizations during the holidays. In addition the church began participating in the multi-congregation feeding program for the needy the third Monday of each month.
1987 saw the burning of the church’s mortgage and the arrival of Pastor Thomas L. Kidd. Pastor Kidd brought a new and invigorating preaching style. He sang the liturgy. He sang in the choir. He enjoyed being called Pastor Tom. Sunday worship resumed two services. The altar and chancel area were remodeled so Pastor Kidd could officiate all parts of the service facing the congregation. New carpeting was installed in the Sanctuary as part of that project. A new roof on the fellowship hall and Sunday School wing was needed. New lighting was installed in the Sanctuary.
Since Pastor Tom already had a home in the area, the parsonage was sold with the balance from the sale going to St. Luke’s Building Fund.
The American Lutheran Church or ALC became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the ELCA in 1988. “You are now entering the mission field” was inserted at the bottom of all worship service bulletins. Small potted plants were delivered to homes surrounding the church just before Easter along with a new brochure entitled Hi Neighbrst-We’re St. Luke’s” Primroses were planted in pots to beautify the church entrance at Easter with geraniums following for the summer months. Bible story videos were shown to younger children during the sermon portion of summer worship. Two adult programs were offered on Sunday evenings. One about Depression drew 73 participants. The Adult Forum presented three Sundays devoted to information on AIDS and the role of the church in dealing with the disease.
Fellowship activities were so numerous they brought back memories of the early church that was so social. They included three Gracious Dining gatherings, a Family Fiesta, Pancake Breakfast, a Reformation dinner of German Goulash Stew and a Christmas Desert Table.
Possibly as a result of all these fellowship opportunities, twelve new families were welcomed into the congregation in1990. Their photos were put on bulletin boards around the church making it easy for everyone to welcome them. All the more people to take part in the groundbreaking of the building expansion.
Pastor Tom leading worship in the remodeled Sanctuary.
Ready to break ground for the building expansion.
Reorganizing and Vision: 1991 – 1996
In 1991 the church continued to grow even as expansion work was completed. Dedication for the “new” St. Luke’s was on October 27. The fellowship hall was dedicated to Pastor Pierson and his wife LaVonne. It would be called Pierson Hall.
St. Luke’s was now a medium size church that needed more staff. The office secretary’s position was reorganized to Office Manager with increased hours. The choir director’s job description was expanded to Worship and Music Director also with increased hours.
There were two new publications, a pictorial directory for the growing membership and WELCA’s St. Luke’s Cookbook. Proceeds went to the new kitchen fund. Sixty books were added to the library as a result of the first Book Fair held in the spring.
Events for the large and vigorous Youth group included a retreat to Holden Village on Lake Chelan and the third trip in three years to Wilderness Ranch in Alberta, Canada with Cowboy Pastor Tom.
The staff continued to increase with the hiring of Assistant Pastor Julie Josund in 1992. on an interim basis to help Pastor Tom by preaching once a month. Increased ministries’ included Housing for the Homeless, a new project introduced by Pastor Tom to the Eastside Interfaith Council and Catholic Community Services. This program would provide nighttime shelter and breakfast for 30 homeless men 365 days a year. St. Luke’s committed to provide housing in February each year which continues to the present. Also introduced by golfer Pastor Tom was the first Golf Tournament.
By 1993 it was time to hire a full time Associate Pastor. Pastor Scott Kramer and his wife Minjing were welcomed at his ordination on October 31. Pastor Scott was known to be great with kids so assumed primary responsibility for the Youth Program.
In order to showcase all the different ministries available to members, a Program Fair was held in Pierson Hall complete with a catalog of 21 different opportunities. Since the remodel, there was more room for activities. Pierson Hall could host 230 people instead of its former 100. The kitchen was five times the original size. An industrial dishwasher enabled quick washing and sterilization of large amounts of dishes. There were twice as many restrooms, a nursery with separate accommodations for infants, a bride’s room and a library with conference space.
Looking to the future, St. Luke’s Endowment Fund was established.
A new vision statement was created in 1994 reflecting the church’s strong community identity.
“St. Luke’s Lutheran Church shall, in the name of Jesus Christ, be a place of light in a world made dark by its separation from God. As people of God who have been redeemed and empowered, we receive the light of God’s love and reflect it into our community through active worship, fellowship, education, lay training and service, that people in darkness may be drawn to the light and find St. Luke’s a place of refuge, renewal and sanctuary.”
Pastor Scott continued to make member visits and to support small group development. Small potluck dinners gave birth to several groups including Bible Study, the Golfers which held two tournaments and the Volleyball program which grew to three teams. The Cradle Roll provided nurturing for all the families of children baptized in the church which included home visits. The Youth served meals to the year’s newly named Congregations for the Homeless men, helped with the Kid’s Holiday Store and hosted an Ice Cream Social at the Old-Fashioned Church Picnic held in June. Church brunches continued throughout the summer. The Grounds Committee built a large storage shed and installed more lighting in the north parking lot.
Pastor Tom took his first three-month paid sabbatical in 1995. Pastor Scott took over his duties while he was absent. Sunday worship went from two to three services at 8:00, 9:20 and 10:45 in order to create more space in church and to allow parents to worship while their children were in Sunday School. Most people liked the choice of three services but overall worship attendance was down.
In its ongoing mission of serving all ages, the congregation approved St. Luke’s Christian Preschool for three and four-year-olds in 1996. Sunday School was growing and looking for more classrooms. The Youth enjoyed Christian Killer Football. Twenty-five of them along with a few adults enjoyed another adventure with Cowboy Pastor Tom at Wilderness Ranch. Two classes, one for parents with infants to four-year-olds, the other for parents of teenagers were popular. Wednesday Night Summer Services were well received by 40 people who enjoyed a monthly barbecue as well.
Expansion almost completed
Pastor Scott Kramer and Minjing
Anniversaries, a Parable and a Dunk Tank: 1997 – 2002
In St. Luke’s 40th year, the building committee commissioned architect drawings for a new sanctuary. The Be Strong And Courageous campaign was designed to acquire funds for the first phase of construction.
In the middle of all this planning, the congregation took time to celebrate Pastor Tom’s 10 years of ministry. Pastor Scott resigned his call to help his wife pursue her medical training in North Dakota. Without his work with the Youth, a new full-time youth director was hired.
All five of the church pastors and many charter members were honored at a 40 year anniversary celebration. A Confirmation reunion was held and a wall was dedicated to display all Confirmation photos.
The Kid’s Holiday Store was featured on NBC Nightly News, hosted by Brian Williams.
In 1998 St. Luke’s Youth calling themselves SLY, headed for Chicago. They had planned and presented the summer Vacation Bible School for their own church. Part of this mission trip was to present it in Chicago. They also helped serve 500 homeless men and women, painted in the Cabrini Green Projects, helped at a homeless café, and worshiped at a jammin’ church reaching out to gang members. All of this while continuing to support a Madagascar missionary.
Bring a Friend Sunday brought 20 visitors. New Member Sunday welcomed over 30 new members.
After a men’s fishing trip, several of them helped with the new construction in 1999 which included exterior and interior layout, parking, water retention pond and basic landscaping. Two huge banquets held in hotel convention rooms netted pledges of $1,048,601 with $32,254 additional funds collected at the second dinner and auction for Sanctuary furnishings.
While the grounds were being prepared for new construction, the Catechumenate was started to help adults wanting to learn more about their faith and the church. The first annual family camping trip was held at Daroga State Park on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. The Youth helped host 300 teens joining them at the Western States Youth Gathering of over 5,000 Lutheran teens. The yearly WELCA Advent Dinner included St. Luke’s first Lucia Fest.
Pastor Deanna Wildermuth joined St. Luke’s staff in 2000 bringing experience with Christian Education and Family Ministry. The Care Team Ministry included 10 women and men that visited anyone in need of help and support. Senior Lunch Gatherings were begun to help seniors keep in touch. The Greeter Gazette featured activities at St. Luke’s designed to extend a welcome to all. Over 70 people signed up to participate in over 140 ministry opportunities during a Living Your Faith Fair.
The Youth built the first home in Ensenada Mexico for a family needing shelter. It turned out that the Sunday School needed shelter as well due to an infestation of carpenter ants and a leaky roof. It was cancelled for the year.
It turned out the pledged funds were not enough for the new building. High costs for infrastructure had used up most of it. Only $15,000 was left. The Church Council decided to “empty the bank”. Everyone attending a church service around the Parable of the Talents received cash of $20 to $150. All were asked to create funds from that seed money to be returned to the building fund. With fun projects like a Beer and Bratwurst Party, a raffled quilt and aluminum can collecting by some of the children, $42,763 was returned.
By 2002 the church learned they could not afford the current building design. A more affordable design was chosen along with a new campaign to pay for it called Share the Light, Live the Vision which raised $1.1Million dollars. A good chunk of that came for what people paid to dunk Pastor Tom in a dunk tank.
The church sent Pastor Tom to Rome for his second three-month sabbatical during which he wrote a Lenten Devotional for the church. Sunday worship times were changed to 8:30 and 11:00 with a full hour of education for all ages beginning at 9:45. A Saturday evening Taize worship service introduced a more contemporary sound. Sunday School started again under the name Faith Trek. They made candles that were presented to visitors as part of the new Welcome Program.
St. Luke’s official website was designed and launched (www.slukes.org).
Ensenada Home Building Team
Kids at Daroga Camping Trip
Pastor Tom ready to be dunked over and over and over …
A New Sanctury: 2003 – 2006
Pastor Deanna accepted a call to Grand Forks, North Dakota in 2003. Roselyn Olson accepted a call as Associate in Ministry at St. Luke’s.
When the trusses were delivered for the new Sanctuary, church members signed them with their names and messages from their hearts.
A highlight of the year for the ladies was the WELCA Spring Luncheon where a fashion show featured male models, including Pastor Tom.
The new Sanctuary was completed within budget and on schedule in 2004. June 26 was dedication Sunday. Members and friends gathered outside forming an aisle leading from the old building to the new. Representative members of the congregation carried the altar furnishings from the original Sanctuary through the crowd into the new Sanctuary and placed them on the new altar. The new larger space allowed for one dedication service and single services during the summer.
The Interiors Committee had selected all the furnishings for the new Sanctuary including pews, chairs, chancel furnishings, baptismal font, carpet, paint and stain colors, hardware, light fixtures, altar rail, rose and witness windows and the new symbol found on the processional cross, the altar, the pulpit, two torches next to the altar and the credence table where bread and wine for Holy Communion is placed.
A new Rodgers Trillium 957 organ was purchased and the Bell Choir received a gift of a fourth octave of bells. An AV booth controlled the sound and video systems added to the Sanctuary.
In 2005 more additions were added to the church. Confirmation classes became part of Sunday morning classes. The first Blessing of the Pets service was a huge success. A Wiggle Room was created for children three to six during sermon time. The Prayer Shawl Ministry begun in 2004, continued to knit shawls as a reminder of God’s love for people needing comfort.
2006 was the year St. Luke’s hosted Tent City IV for the first time. Thanks to community invitations to participate, neighbor support was strong. By providing refuge for up to 68 people, the church got to practice its mission statement.
The fiscal year was adjusted to coincide with the program year – July through June to better meet planning and budget needs.
The Taize services were expanded to develop a blended service for the single summer worship services. They continued for the second and fourth 11:00 services in the fall. The first and third services along with the 8:30 service continued with traditional worship. Eventually the Taize services were cancelled and the 11:00 services continued as fully informal services.
In June, the new Columbarium and Memorial Garden were dedicated, St. Luke’s version of a country church with its own cemetery.
In the spring, an Ensenada mission group bult their 17th home there. Other members joined a sister church in Russia, Saint Peter and Saint Paul on their 30th anniversary. St. Luke’s was ministering to an increasingly accessible world.
Completed new Sanctuary and entrance
First children’s sermon in new Sanctuary
First blessing of the pets
Jubilee Year (50th anniversary): 2007
St. Luke’s celebrated their 50th anniversary for 14 months. Each Sunday a “Jubilee Moment” highlighted a year in the church’s history. It was read along with projected photos with a framed version of it added to a Jubilee Wall that eventually contained all 57 Jubilee Moments.
What else was done to celebrate? First a Big Band Dance in the Sanctuary turned into a candlelit cabaret. After that David Harsh performed for the church and community. Next came a bowling tournament with prizes for the winners. A Carnival Night complete with midway games and face painting was next with a Sock Hop and Limbo contest in Memorial Hall – the new name given to the original Sanctuary.
Meanwhile volunteer teams constructed panels for the Witness Window in the Sanctuary under the guidance of artist-in-residence, Joe Hester. The church celebrated Pastor Tom’s 20th year of ministry by presenting him with a stole of the same design as the window. A newly acquired musician with amazing keyboarding skills, Cheri Starchman, began to rock the Sanctuary on Sunday mornings.
As the Jubilee celebration continued, Easter Sunday found many of the ladies wearing hats and gloves while many of the men wore their suits and ties. The Quilters enjoyed a record-breaking year with 103 quilts being shipped to areas of need across the world. Anne Lamott spoke to the congregation about her writings of loss, written with compassion and honesty, before an author’s reception and book signing.
A church group enjoyed a cruise to Alaska. A Founders’ Day catered lunch featured a half hour movie featuring 50 years of photographs. The choirs and Worship Team performed a program of Broadway musicals from different decades. A Back in the Black auction was held that raised over $23,000 that went directly to budget relief.
During the All Saints Service, Pastor Tom rang a deep bell as he paused at every row to hear the names of departed saints called out. A new photo directory called Then and Now included present members, some with much earlier photos.
On December 16, the last Jubilee Moment was read. All 57 readings were made available in the book, St. Luke’s, The First Fifty Years. Since the first service at St. Luke’s was on Christmas Eve, 1957, this final tribute to the early church was shared at each service:
“St. Luke’s first service in its own Sanctuary was on Christmas Eve 50 years ago tonight. We worship in a beautiful new Sanctuary amidst stained glass windows, rich artwork and cutting-edge technology. Beautifully landscaped grounds, our Columbarium and generous well-lit parking space surround us. Fifty years ago, worshipers trudged through the dark, balancing on wooden planks to keep from slipping in mud to enter an unheated building with windows consisting of plastic sheeting to worship by candlelight. Yet there was joy in their hearts, for that humble beginning was the start of their own new church – a house of God…
Fifty years ago, Jesus was the greatest gift of all, but a new church was a close second. Tonight we too are grateful for Jesus, the greatest gift any of us will ever receive. But the combined gifts of all the members and friends of St. Luke’s who have preceded us, and those who are still here, have to be our close second. May we be blessed to continue God’s work at S. Luke’s for at least another 50 years.”
Jubilee Moment Wall with creator Jodi Daub
Placing glass panels made by church members into the Witness Window
Record number of quilts made by the quilting team
Hosting, Serving and an Abrahamic Conversation: 2008 – 2010
In 2008, many longstanding ministries remained in place. Thirty-three children attended Vacation Bible School; 15 youth helped build the 19th home to date in Ensenada, Mexico; the Quilters completed 100 quilts. Yet new events were happening too.
In January the staff moved into relocated and remodeled offices at the south end of the building. The students and faculty of Eastside Academy made St. Luke’s their home for the next year and a half until their new school was ready on the campus of Bellevue First Presbyterian.
Pastor Tom Kidd took his third sabbatical at the Chautauqua Institute in New York. In her 15th year with St. Luke’s, Melinda Steen signed on as the new Director of Family Ministry. The new Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnals were dedicated. Twenty-eight members journeyed to Israel with Pastor Tom.
In 2009 the trip to Ensenada to build homes was cancelled due to the Swine Flu. Other activities remained in place:
In January an Abrahamic Conversation with a Muslim Imam, a Jewish Rabbi and St. Luke’s own Christian Bishop gathered for “Under the Tent of Abraham” – What do we hold together in common was the question. Over 300 people from all three faiths and the community attended.
On June 21st we began the summer worship schedule with the traditional service at 9:00 am. The new “Jazz” worship began at 11:00. The first Wine and Jazz on the Patio – with lots of dancing – highlighted the summer.
A Neighborhood Yard Sale to serve the community was held in September. The newly formed Salvage Squad went through four containers in the lower parking lot that were full by the time the sale date arrived! With the participation of Whole Foods, lunch was served to all the volunteers and a bake sale from their bakery increased earnings. The Bellevue Reporter covered the story, it was in Outreach magazine and St. Luke’s won the Bellevue Community Neighbor Award.
Other events happening included an All-Church Campout at Daroga State Park; the Youth enjoying a Corn Maze; the annual Thanksgiving Dinner and decorating for Kid’s Holiday Store.
2010 was a time of Outreach. St. Luke’s hosted The Sophia Way Women’s Overnight Drop-in Shelter and Congregations For the Homeless (CFH). They prepared meals for Tent City IV and the Crossroads Feeding Program.
An Ecumenical Improvisation and Potluck featured potluck fare from the United Methodist, Southern Baptist, Catholic and Lutheran denominations with an Episcopal wine and cheese offering. After the potluck the second Annual Non-Auction Auction was held. Two of the highest bids were for reserved parking spaces in the parking lot. The proceeds went to the Back In The Black Fund and the Visiting Theologians Fund. This fund helped bring The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, to St. Luke’s. He preached in the morning and at a community worship service in the evening.
Summer activities included Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Craft Camp, Summer brunches and Jubilee Service Day.
In November the Witness Choir performed at Mission Health Care. They had been performing at other facilities throughout the year and ending each session with a popular sing-a-long for the residents.
Israel travelers celebrating their Baptisms
The Bishop, Rabbi and Imam with Pastor Tom, host for “Under the Tent of Abraham”
Guest speaker The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
Welcome to all and Good-bye Pastor Tom: 2011 – 2015
2011 saw a continuing strong focus on St. Luke’s mission to be a refuge for those in need. The Congregations for the Homeless men were treated to a Southern Pig Roast. In conjunction with Sophia Way, a safe haven program to allow a few potential women clients to sleep in our parking lot overnight in assigned parking spaces was put into place. In 2012, after extensive renovations, Sophia Way moved into their new accommodations beneath the sanctuary amidst the residents of Tent City IV living on the grounds a second time, around the entrance. It was all captured by Channel 13.
Work continued on the financial front. Spaghetti and Bingo nights with the Youth calling the numbers helped as did sales of B2B cards. A Charles Schwab brokerage account was created to accept donations of stock. Facilities scored impressive cost saving measures using personal labor and work connections to clean the retention pond area for $6,000 instead of the estimated cost of up to $30,000. Members painted the education wing of the church with paint and accessories sold at a 40% discount from Sherman Williams. A Silent Campaign successfully paid off the second mortgage. As a result of it all, the church came very close to balancing the budget.
In 2012 St. Luke’s became a “Reconciled in Christ (RIC) church, making it clear that LGBTQIA+ people are welcome in all aspects of church life.
The first Winter Music Gospel Fest was held in March. A specialized collection of music selections were feature by St. Luke’s House Band and Seattle groups including Liberation Ministries’ Choir from the Madrona neighborhood, Spirit of the Sound and a group from St. Therese’ Catholic Church.
The Sunday School Presented “The Ultimate Question” in June. A fun musical about who God says we are. The kids worked hard at singing, memorizing verses and learning their lines. Then the Youth held a Norwegian Potato Lefse Fundraiser to help raise money for Youth activities.
In his 25th year at St. Luke’s, Pastor Tom encouraged the congregation to consider how to do Christian Ministry digitally. He was honored with a 25th Anniversary Dinner and program.
The congregation created the weavings that hang on the Narthex wall. The theme was The Prodigal Son. Many of the materials used came from the original Sanctuary. Over the years, many people would add pieces to the weavings representing themselves.
Bellevue College held their Toddler Classes at St. Luke’s, part of the Parent Education program at the College.
In 2013, author and public theologian, Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, presented an afternoon conversation on the theme of “Church and Culture and Church Culture”, a dinner with St. Luke’s Youth and a worship event. The year also brought the last trip to Wilderness Ranch for the Youth and Pastor Tom. This had been an annual trip for over 20 years.
In 2014 the church celebrated the 10th anniversary of the new Sanctuary and made preparations for the retirement of beloved Pastor Tom Kidd. Many of St. Luke’s members and friends had joined the church because of Pastor Tom.
In February of 2015 all joined in a raucous celebration dinner for Pastor Tom that took every square inch of Pierson Hall. Next came a program in the Sanctuary of loving roasts, parting good wishes and gifts, including the presentation of his very own “Master Pastor” green blazer and a motorized golf cart to go along with it.
St. Luke’s welcomed Interim Reverend Red Burchfield, known as Pastor Red, on March 1st. He was delighted to see that children were being invited to come to the front of the Sanctuary to play rhythm instruments during the closing hymn at the 11:00 Informal Worship Service. A Call Committee began their work of finding a new Pastor.
The “Prayground”, a quiet play area for the youngest children during worship, appeared in the Sanctuary in June.
Wine and jazz on the patio
Neighborhood yard sale held indoors
Welcome Pastor Mark and 30Bellevue Apartments: 2016 - 2018
Pastor Jim Fergin decided it was time to retire and just go fishing! We celebrated his retirement with an afternoon of fun and gave him a stained-glass piece made from the old Sanctuary windows with a fish in it.
February 1st brought good news – the Bellevue City Council unanimously approved the church’s rezone application. 30Bellevue, affordable housing apartments for qualifying Bellevue families, could now become a reality. The sale of the east and north church properties to Imagine Housing allowed the church to pay off its mortgage and reimburse borrowed dedicated funds. On May 18th the mortgage was burned on the patio as part of a potluck dinner and beer celebration.
On February 21st the congregation had the opportunity to meet The Reverend Doctor Mark G. Griffith. On February 28th the congregation voted to forward a letter of call to him. He had 30 days to respond. On March 27th, those in worship were told Pastor Mark had written on Holy Saturday evening that he had accepted the call. He began his ministry on May 15 at the Pentecost service. On May 1st, it was time to say Thank You to Pastor Red for his guidance through the interim period. He received a stained glass cross made of glass from the original Sanctuary.
Pastor Mark used Cottage Meetings – small neighborhood groups in the homes of members around the region – to get to know the congregation. He was formally installed on Sunday, August 21, 2016.
The first big event with Pastor Mark was an evening with Justice Mary Yu who presented a conversation on Juvenile Justice and Raising Children in the Modern Village. She discussed the important role that faith communities can play in the work of justice and raising our children in a rapidly changing world.
With the arrival of Pastor Mark and his beer brewing skills, celebrations like both the 499th and 500th Anniversaries of the Reformation included beer brewed by the pastor and the church’s Brewmasters. Hymns and Hops was one event where beer played a crucial role. The Annual Christmas Carols and Winter Ale event was another.
A three -day Vacation Bible School (VBS) was well received during December. The Sunday School children continued to supply artwork for the cover of the bulletin at different times throughout the year. The annual Advent Fair, Lucia Night and Christmas Party all took place in December.
In 2017 Pastor Mark began a new Adult Forum series on Faith and Science. The Sophia Way Day Center opened on the weekends. The annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner was shared with the men from Congregations for the Homeless. An Ensenada Taco Feed Fundraiser raised funds to finance another home building trip. Soup and Bread dinners during Lent closed with the Holden Evening Prayer.
On the quilting front, 120 quilts were sent to Lutheran World Relief, three to Ensenada, and 3 quilts to graduating seniors. All were made using new adjusting tables purchased to replace the old heavy banquet tables. Three fleece blankets tied during Intergenerational Sunday School were also shipped. In October, St. Luke’s quilters hosted quilters from St. Andrews Lutheran in Bellevue and Shepherd of the Hills in Issaquah for a Quilting Bee. Twenty quilts were tied during a time of exchanging ideas, fellowship and great snacks.
In October two events were held to help celebrate the Reformation. Rick Steves, European travel writer and television personality, showed his documentary, Luther and The Reformation, enjoyed by over 200 people in attendance. On Reformation Sunday, other Lutheran congregations joined St. Luke’s for a German Octoberfest dinner with samplings of 7 home crafted beers followed by a hymn sing. An adult education opportunity based on the two books that Future Directions, St. Luke’s think tank around the future of St. Luke’s, had been reading, The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet and The New Parish by Paulo Sparks, Tim Soerens and Dwight L. Friesen.
Ground breaking for 30Bellevue was held on December 12th in the back parking lot. The conversation that started in 2013 had come to fruition. What a way to end 2017
2018 saw the beginning of construction for 30Bellvue. Each week photographs appeared in the eNews along with descriptions of the work’s progress. In June, St. Luke’s received the Alliance of Eastside Agencies (AEA) Faith Organization Award for “Outstanding Contributions to Human Services in East King County”.
A committee was formed to discern how best to use the rest of the money
from the property sale. It was put into an investment fund with 30% set aside for each of the following: Physical Space of the church, Financial Health, and Community with 10% going to Benevolence. An application form for the groups to use when applying for their “bucket” funds was developed with project approval required by the Board of Trustees.
Fisherman Pastor Jim Fergin
Construction of 30Bellevue apartments
Pastor Mark’s ordination
Pastor Mark as Luther for Reformation celebration
Open, Closed and Zooming: 2019 - 2022
Pastor Mark’s vision of a more open St. Luke’s included connecting Pierson Hall to the Narthex, providing more welcoming access following church services. The renovation was completed in the spring of 2019 with some windows and siding replaced, classrooms remodeled and rooms adjusted to better fit church programming. The original outdoor iron cross from 1957 was moved to the southeast corner of the Columbarium. An appropriate spot since so many early members are interned at its base.
On March 14th, 17 members and friends of St. Luke’s traveled to Ensenada, Mexico to build a home as part of Youth With A Mission. No one realized this would be the last home built by St. Luke’s for some time due to an upcoming pandemic
30Bellevue was also finished in the spring. After an open house for St. Luke’s members and friends on May 5th, residents were welcomed to their new homes with a new quilt curtesy of the quilters and a laundry basket full of basic necessities. In July, an Open House of the church was held for 30 Bellevue. Food trucks, music and fun helped everyone to meet their new neighbors.
By 2020, the arrival of COVID-19, brought some of the biggest changes to how the world operates. All institutions including churches were affected. St. Luke’s could no longer hold in-person worship services amidst fears of infection to those attending. How to figure out worship outside of the church building?
A huge learning curve by Pastor Mark and Heather Griffith brought online Sunday messages by Pastor Mark to the congregation, often from the grounds of their family home along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Eventually worship, still digital on the church’s YouTube channel, was sent out from inside the church sanctuary by a skeleton pastoral crew – all televised by Pastor Mark and edited together by Heather. Pew Buddies became sit-in substitutes for viewers tuning in from home.
Music director Cheri Neill created a virtual choir while she and Tim Naugler recorded beautiful hymns for each Sunday. Pastor Mark offered the placing of ashes on the foreheads of those who drove by on Ash Wednesday. Drive-through Communion elements were available for Easter.
The church still hosted Congregations for the Homeless. With no place to go during the day in a pandemic, they were welcomed 24/7 for the month of February. Their COVID protocols were strict. Food was delivered to the front door with no interaction with the men. When the men were not in residence, the ladies of Sophia’s Place used the new open space to keep their infections to a minimum.
Throughout 2020, all meetings were held through the church’s Zoom channel. It was different but it worked and attendance was high. Once all quilters were vaccinated, willing to have their temperatures taken and wear masks, a dozen women continued their quilting ministry in person for those needing warmth and comfort around the world.
In May 2021 on the day of Pentecost at 10:00 am, the switch was made from online-only to in-person-live-stream worship. The guidance of the Pandemic Protocol Committee assured that in-person worship was as safe as possible. Adult Forum was offered both in-person and live-streamed. Sunday School met in-person and via live-stream for those still remaining at home.
Masks and social distancing were required for all attending. Each individual was logged in to insure that contact tracing would work should anyone realize they were infected. Compostable single-use Communion serving cups were used. Coffee time after church was suspended though occasionally individually wrapped treats made an appearance.
With many still not worshipping in person, A Virtual Easter Egg Hunt was a hit with kids. An April Hippity Hop event was held on Zoom. The Easter Bunny brought activity kits that attendees picked up at church with goodies, fun activities, and tickets in Easter Eggs. Winners got to choose gifts for ELCA dispersal.
The annual Advent Fair was an at home event with video crafts using supply bags made available. The Elf Christmas Party was held on Zoom. Thanks to matching funds, $4,200 worth of microloans to women, honeybees, safe water projects, chickens and more were gifted that would make such a difference in so many lives. Rather than in-person gifts, residents of 30 Bellevue were given 138 gift cards to Kroger stores to help meet their holiday needs. Without in-person rehearsals, an Instant Christmas Pageant blessed the Christmas Eve Worship service.
As the year was coming to a close, Pastor Mark asked the congregation if they would be willing to lend him to Holden Village to serve as chaplain for a year and a half. Lending a pastor for a different calling was a completely new concept to consider. The congregation did agree once Pastor Mark introduced a highly esteemed colleague to serve the church in his place until his return to St. Luke’s full time – The Reverend Doctor Dwight J. Friesen. Pastor Mark’s last sermon was on January 23, 2022. Pastor Dwight took over the pulpit the following Sunday.
Pastor Dwight quickly integrated himself into the St. Luke’s community. Pastor Mark kept in contact with the BoT and Pastor Dwight around planning the church year. He sent “weekly” check-ins to the congregation to keep their connection strong. To that end he also preached in person at least once each quarter.
Some members and friends had been quick to return for in-person worship as masks eventually became recommended rather than required. Others need more time to join in-person as cases with COVID variants rise. Live-stream worship services appear to be here to stay. As a result, viewers who have never visited the church in person are enjoying its services. It is important that people feel comfortable about how they take part in worship.
One peek into 2023...It was with plenty of sadness that the church bid Pastor Dwight goodbye on Transition Sunday, September 27. But there was joy at the return of Pastor Mark and the Griffith family.
Completed 30Bellevue affordable apartments
Pastor Mark preaching outside his home by the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.
Quilters working with masks
Pastor Dwight preaching for a live-streamed service
Pastor Dwight and Pastor Mark ready for Transition Sunday
Our Core Values
We believe in refuge, renewal, and reach for all people.
- Community of Belonging
- All People are Welcome
- LGBTQIA+ Affirming
- United Against Racism
- Care & Hospitality
- Culture of Compassion
- Following Christ’s Way
- Discovering Faithful Presence Together
- Wholistic Living
- Word & Sacrament
- Sustainable Spirituality
- Shared Leadership
- Deep Listening
- Lamenting with Those Suffering
- Loving Our Neighbors as we Love Ourselves
- Embodying Grace
- Finding Home Together
We at St Luke’s, acknowledge that we gather on unceded ancestral land of the Coast Salish, who are the first peoples of this bioregion. A people who are still here and continuing to honor this place and bringing light to their ancient heritage.
ELCA and Black Lives Matter Movement
This church supports efforts to confront racism and white supremacy. In 2019, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution condemning white supremacy [CA19.04.18]. ELCA members can join the efforts to end racism by participating in the ELCA Anti-Racism Pledge at elca.org/racialjusticepledge.
Rev. Dr. Mark Griffith
Our Pastor, Mark Griffith
Hello! My name is Mark and it is my great joy to serve as the pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran in Bellevue Washington. Thanks for taking the time to learn a few things about me.
I want to introduce myself in terms of my sense of how I have been called to live and serve in the world. Curiosity is the word that comes to me most clearly. Earlier in my life my curiosity was focused by way of the natural sciences. I studied Physics at Pacific Lutheran University and enjoyed that pursuit. I always thought I’d be a scientist of some sort. Yet, I increasingly felt a sense of wonder about what else is out there. When I graduated from college, I wasn’t sure what would be next for me. I grew up in the church and have always generally participated in the life of a congregation. Some wise people spoke into my life and asked me to consider seminary.
The more I learned the more I felt called to pursue public ministry as a way of life. I attended Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque Iowa to earn my Master of Divinity. Each step of the way felt more and more affirming to my emerging sense of call to ministry. Some people see the move from natural sciences to theology as a big leap. For me the study of the natural world was a conduit of curiosity in the same way the study of theology is another way to be curious.
We ask big questions about humanity, God, and the world around us, all with the orientation of wonder and awe. I had the great joy of being able to study Semiotics and Future Studies at Portland Seminary and in 2016 earned my Doctor of Ministry. I have been fortunate to serve a few amazing congregations along the way. All now leading me to my current role at St. Luke’s. If we haven’t met yet, I encourage you to find me after service or send me a personal note through email.
May God’s grace and peace be with you.
Minister of Music & Arts
Our Care & Prayer Team
Vice Chair Person
Care Team Outreach
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Judy Buckmaster, Pres.
Arlys Kruse, Vice Pres.
Leslie Schofield, Treas.
Cheryl Caron, Secretary
Bob Stanbary – Facilities
Harvey Roberts – Facilities
Leslie Schofield – Membership
Joe Ingram – Outreach
Tom Bailey – Finance
Judy Kiesz – Personnel and Tech
Laurie Stevahn – By-laws/RIC
Liz Callahan – PR/Marketing
Diane Charouhas – Kitchen