- Our Origins
- When St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized on December 5, 1954, the Lutheran Church had returned to this area to renew a work that had been neglected for almost two hundred years. In 1767, according to “The History of Old Eagle School” by Henry Pleasants. Jacob Sharraden followed the custom prevalent in German Protestant settlements of donating a portion of his property for church and school purposes. In the years that followed, tradition claims, a log church was built, followed in 1788 by the more pretentious stone school building which still stands on Old Eagle School Road.
However, it is believed that before the turn of the century contention arose among. the members of the Lutheran congregation and the more established St. David's Episcopal Church. This difficulty led to the dislocation of the German element of the population from the immediate vicinity. Before the Lutherans left the area, they turned over the property to the county to be administered by a board of trustees.
The recent activity among the Lutherans of the area came about as a result of a survey made by the Board of American Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America in July, 1953. So poor were the results of the survey made in the Strafford area that Board officials decided that there was not a large enough Lutheran constituency to warrant the establishment of a congregation.
When the decision of the Board became known, it was questioned almost immediately by the Rev.Donald G. Doll, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Ardmore. His contention was that the survey did not present an accurate picture of the situation. He was joined in this stand by other Lutheran Clergymen of the lower Main Line region. The Board declared their willingness to reconsider their decision if adequate response could be shown. By January, 1954, resident Lutherans, along with the pastors of other Main Line Lutheran Churches, were meeting with officials of the Mission Board. After these first meetings, activity progressed at an exceptionally rapid pace, and the Board of American Missions approved the field at its May meeting and issued a Call to the Rev. Theodore C. Schlack to take up the duties of mission developer effective September 15, 1954.
Formal organization of the church was finalized during October and November of 1954, concluding with a special organization service on December 5, 1954, followed by official incorporation of the congregation on December 30. On July 13, 1955, settlement was made for a tract of land at the southeast corner of Conestoga and Valley Forge Roads, Devon, for a church site. This purchase reestablished the link with the Lutherans of the past in this area since the site is less than a mile from the Old Eagle School property in Strafford.
Thus, with the organization of the St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church and the purchase of property in Devon less than one mile from the Old Eagle School came the reestablishment of a link with the Lutherans of the past in this area and a continuation of that which had begun much earlier.
From mid 1955, when the congregation was officially received in Ministerium and Pastor Schlack was installed, our church grew rapidly. Enrollment increased from the original charter of 117 to over 600 baptized members in December, 1958. Attendance at worship services soon outgrew the facilities graciously offered by the Devereux School in Devon, and in June of 1955 we moved to .the Berwyn Red Cross Building. One year later, these facilities were supplemented by the use of the Berwyn Fire Hall for our expanding Sunday School Department.
During this four-year period (1955 to 1959) of dynamic growth, plans for a new church building were completed and supported by four successive building fund drives. The new building was dedicated on December 7, 1958.
With the close of 1958, St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Devon completed the chapter of initial organization, growth, and construction of a church building. It is impossible to accord just recognition to all the individuals and organizations that contributed to this wonderful accomplishment. Whether they be members or friends, present or departed, we who presently enjoy the fellowship and responsibility of this church pay them humble homage in the name of God's ministry.
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