St. Luke's stands as an excellent example of a rural mid-1800’s, Classical-style church; few such churches are preserved and fewer still have survived in such an outstanding state of preservation. Alteration has been minimal, and has been in keeping with the original style. Built without outside assistance by a member of the congregation, many descendants of original families remain active in parish affairs.
Although the construction of St. Luke’s occurred sometime between July 1843 and December 1844, the congregation was in existence as early as March 1842. The construction of the building was a labor of love on the part of William Henry Harrison, an immigrant from England, and of his wife Debora Harrison. Harrison served in the British army at the Battle of Waterloo, and left England in the 1820s. In 1827, he purchased part of the Middlesex Tract from J.P.B. Harris of “Millwood”. In July 1843, Harrison and his wife deeded 1.5 acres of land for the site of a new church. Harrison took the leading role in all phases of the operation: supervising the making of the bricks from clay, which was dug and baked on the site. Harrison also directed all of the actual labor. The church was finished and dedicated in 1844. The Right Reverend John Johns, Assistant Bishop, consecrated St. Luke’s on April 10, 1845.
In 1848, the silver communion service still used by the congregation today was presented by the Millwood Sewing Circle, which became the Women of the Church (ECW). In May 1853, the church was placed within Powhatan Parish. Its first rector, Dr. Andrew Fisher (1842-58) was assigned responsibility for St. James’ and Southam Parishes as well.
The second rector was Dr. Lewis Walke (1858-86). During this time, members of the church were involved in the War between the States. Among those who worshipped at St. Luke’s during this time frame were members of the Michaux, Heth, Sublett, Harrison, Selden, Kennon, Hobson, and Finney families.
In 1874 Rev. David Barr became the third rector. His wife taught at the neighborhood school across the road from the old Rectory. Many of the families of St. Luke's school-aged children attended this school.
In 1882 Rev. Buckner M. Randolph became rector. He and his large family were a great addition to the Parish, socially as well as spiritually.
Dr. Martin Johnson (1886-1915) was the fifth rector. During his tenure, the parish was reconstituted into the Diocese of Southern Virginia (1892). The building was enlarged to its present form through the addition of a recessed chancel in 1890 and choir and vestry rooms in 1915.
Rev. Mr. Shea, who had worked in the Missionary field of Northern Alaska was called and served a short while.
Rev. John G. Scott was rector through the stirring days of World War I, and held charge until 1923. While rector he made many large gifts to the church, including two acres of land that was added to the original 1.5 acre tract to protect the church from encroachment of any kind (we now have 5.5 acres).
Rev. Wallace Ribble was temporary minister for a year, and Rev. Beverly D. Tucker took charge in 1926. Rev. S. S. Spathey and Rev. William H. Laird assisted him in ministering to the Parish until 1930.
Rev. C. P. Shelton accepted the call and was rector until 1933, when he was followed by Rev. E. A. deBordenave, who was followed in turn by Rev. B. B. Comer Lile.
Rev. Edward B. Harris was rector for a year. Rev. James Sutherland-Watt became rector in 1938. He was from Aberdeen, Scotland and a veteran of World War I. He escaped death when his entire company of two hundred men was wiped out in a savage engagement. Mr. Watt recovered from terrible wounds there, only to meet death on a quiet Virginia road in an automobile accident in 1941.
Rev. Janney Hutton was rector until 1943 when Rev. Morton Townsend accepted the pastorate.
At various times, students have filled the pulpit and acted as lay readers. Mr. Ribble, Mr. Sapp, Dr. Tucker, Mr. Spathey, Mr. Laird, Mr. Lile, Mr. de Bordenave, Mr. de Wolfe Perry, and Mr. Hutton have all done this. Many of these lived in Richmond where they had regular charges and simply helped out while the Bishop endeavored to locate a minister who liked rural work.
Rev. Lawrence Mason served as rector of the St. Luke's-Manakin Church Cure for 30 years until his retirement in 1998.
Revs. Ruth and Bob Partlow were called to serve St. Luke's in 1999 and were followed by Rev. Larry Crowell from 2009 to 2011.
Rev. Dr. Sandi Kerner served as rector of St. Luke's parish from 2011 to 2019. We are currently searching for a new rector.
Our 1844 Church building is characterized as having "...symmetry and harmony, but, above all, simplicity." On October 15, 1989, St. Luke's was designated as a historic landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. A bronze plaque situated on the front of the Church commemorates the event.
One of the striking features of the beautifully simple sanctuary is the stained glass. A large rose window over the chancel is on a distinctive triple-pane construction, which diffuses light at different times of the day, giving it an ever-changing pattern and depth. Long rectangular stained glass windows are located on both sides of the Church also.
The Church Cemetery has graves dating back to 1846. Many veterans are buried in the oldest part of the cemetery.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church 2245 Huguenot Trail Powhatan, VA 23139 (804) 794-6953
St. Luke's Episcopal Church 2245 Huguenot Trail Powhatan VA 23139 (804)794-6953