Our Story

St. Luke's has been located in the heart of the historic Fondren neighborhood in Jackson for over 100 years. We are a growing community of faith with members from all over the greater metro Jackson area. The church is surrounded by great restaurants, vintage clothing stores, art galleries, and coffee shops. We strive to offer the best of both worlds: the love and fellowship of a neighborhood church in the heart of a thriving city center. Read below to learn about our story in this place.

Our Beginnings

In 1909, the members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, South who had moved to the outskirts of Jackson organized a new church and soon after built a small, white, wood-framed building. The church grew modestly in its first several decades. In 1929, that original church building caught fire during a worship service and burned to the ground. The membership, numbering around 100, decided to build a larger, brick, neo-gothic sanctuary that would seat triple the number of the original building. They also moved to a lot directly across from the new elementary school for the neighborhood. This all took place during the first year of the Great Depression and the new sanctuary was dedicated one day short of the one-year anniversary of the fire.

Our Early Growth

In the immediate years following, the church experienced a period of rapid expansion. Growing from a relatively small congregation that lost nearly everything the church owned, to a large neighborhood parish in just one decade is a powerful symbol of resurrection. One of the stained glass windows the congregation selected for the new sanctuary was the ancient symbol of a phoenix rising from the ashes. Sanctuary windows were added throughout the next two decades, with a final central window installed over the altar in 1949. The selected image was that of the risen Christ.

Our Struggles

In 1964, St. Luke’s was, like many churches in Jackson, mired in the struggle for civil rights. As a Methodist Church, St. Luke’s was aligned with a denomination that officially supported equal rights for African Americans, including an end to segregation and granting of full access to the voting polls. As the events of Freedom Summer in 1964 reached a fever pitch in Jackson many activists attempted to integrate the worship services of the city’s churches. St. Luke’s was divided over whether or not to allow its worship services to be open to everyone regardless of race. After a contentious struggle for leadership, a new church council chair was elected who favored an open policy. Over 200 active members left St. Luke’s and formed a separate congregation which was officially against integration of churches. The loss of so many members in such a contentious manner was a significant threat to the health of the congregation.

Our Recommitment

In 1965, in the aftermath of the church split, the newly elected church council chair, a local businessman, and another church member who was a physician created the idea to build a physical rehabilitation hospital. These two men believed the city and the state needed a place where people with traumatic injuries could recover and lead fulfilling lives. With the business acumen of the church council chair, the medical expertise of the physician, and the financial backing of St. Luke’s and other churches, the Methodist Rehabilitation Center was formed. Today, it is a 200-bed facility treating patients recovering from strokes, traumatic injuries, and other neurological diseases. The establishment of the Methodist Rehabilitation Center embodied the belief at St. Luke’s that Christians should be involved in the healing of bodies.

Our Present

In the 1990s, a group of business owners and residents, along with members of St. Luke’s, joined together to form a neighborhood renewal organization committed to revitalizing the community. Through their efforts of marketing, recruitment of new businesses and partnership with the local medical community the resulting renaissance has been miraculous. The resurgent health of the community has re-energized the church, which is now growing again for the first time in over a decade. During the past seven years, the church has once again been a place where the connection of vocation and faith found expression as a church member who teaches Spanish at one of the local high schools launched an ongoing mission partnership with The United Methodist Church of Honduras. While the neighborhood school is still closed, St. Luke’s itself now provides a full preschool for ages 8 months to 4 years. In 2012, the church launched its first ever capital campaign to renovate its church facility. The renovation of the building, one of the first brick structures built in the neighborhood, has become a symbol of the renaissance itself.

Our Future

For those who have just arrived to St. Luke’s, or the neighborhood, it could be easy to think the events of the last several years are unique or a surprising anomaly; however, for those with ears to hear the story that the people of St. Luke’s have lived it is no surprise. It is instead the living embodiment of the story of a people who believe in the power of resurrection, the power of God that can bring life from death. It is the story of those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, and who live out that faith through good works of compassion, justice, and mercy; thereby embodying resurrection.