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History

(To learn more about the Tiffany stained glass windows of St. Luke's, please download a pdf of our book, "The Windows of St. Luke's", here.)

In 1871, Yolo County had only recently resolved the problems originating in the Spanish and Mexican land grants. Woodland, the county seat, was home to merchants, farmers and ranchers, many of whom had been a part of the Gold Rush, but had found it more profitable to sell necessities to the miners. The ‘wheat boom’ (1872-1889) established Woodland as a center of agricultural wealth.  Such was the environment in which the first Episcopal service in Woodland took place.  Mrs. Craft invited an old friend, the Rev. Mr. Hill from Grace Church in Sacramento, to hold services at the Methodist Church, then located on the southeast corner of Main and Elm Streets. St. Luke’s Church was instituted as a mission in October of 1872.  For the next 15 years services were held once or twice a month at the Methodist Episcopal Church, or the Good Templar’s or I.O.O.F. halls. By 1886, through the efforts of the Mite Society, the Building Association, the Ladies Guild, and the congregation, enough money had been raised to build a wooden church costing $3,000. The cornerstone was laid on September 15, 1887 and the first services in the new building were held December 31, 1887, with the Rev. Coffee Montgomery Hoge (1887-1893) serving as the first rector. 

Under the strong leadership of the Rev. David E. Holt (1901-1910), prominent local banker Clarence W. Bush, and the Ladies’ Guild, the congregation purchased three lots on the southeast corner of Second Street and Lincoln Avenue, the present church site.  In 1911 the Vestry commissioned Professor William C. Hayes of San Francisco, a lecturer in architecture at the University of California, to design the Norman-style brick church in which we worship today. Construction by P.N. Schmidt Co. cost $12,000, with an additional sum of $3,000 for the imported English oak pews.  The original St. Luke’s church and property was sold to the Second Baptist Church. The new church was dedicated September 29, 1912 by Bishop William. H. Moreland.

The Rev. David E. Holt, a Confederate veteran, was a prominent peacemaker at a time when local feelings were still strong regarding the Civil War.  He was beloved at St Luke’s and left in 1910 to be become the Archdeacon of the Diocese of Northern California.

However the rector at the time the building was built, The Rev. Edward Baird (1911-1914), was not popular.  He wanted to introduce “modern accounting procedures” which precipitated a serious conflict with Clarence W. Bush, President of the Bank of Yolo, and many vestrymen.  The ensuing 3 year conflict was covered extensively in the local press, resulted in lawsuits on both sides and ended in Baird’s resignation in 1914. 

The next twenty years were years of progress, growth and change. The Rev. Philip G. Snow (1914-1918) came to St. Luke’s from Auburn and established the first Boy Scout Troop in Woodland. He and his wife were active in building a dynamic children’s program.  During Fr. T.T. Denhardt’s tenure (1919-1925), “the Trinity of beautiful windows of jeweled Tiffany glass was installed over the hand carved Oak Altar in loving memory of a long time generous benefactor of the church, Mr. Charles Nelson.” The generosity of the vestry and laity enabled the Austin Pipe Organ to be installed during this same time.

Under the Rev. Mortimer Chester (1926-1936) the rapidly growing Sunday school was finding itself without classroom and play facilities and the growth of the church as a whole required facilities for social gatherings and assemblies. Funds were raised in the amount of $6300, and the Guild Hall was completed in 1928. The exterior was in the Tudor or Old English style. The interior was capped by a high vaulted ceiling and massive trusses. A new house costing $7000 was built on the property which served as the rectory until the mid-1960.

St. Luke’s Church suffered and survived the same struggles during the Great Depression as did Woodland. However, a horse show in 1934, sponsored by the Ladies’ Guild, raised $500, a remarkable sum for the times. Fr. Herndon Carroll-Ray (1939-1942), who studied for the priesthood under Fr. Chester, had been a teacher at the Woodland High School prior to becoming rector of St. Luke’s. He was very popular with the local teenagers, and predictably the youth program was quite large and very dynamic. Fr. Charles Leachman (1945-1952) brought to St. Luke’s not only that twinkle in the eye and ready humor characteristic of the Irish, but also a special calling to assist those in distress. In September of 1956 Fr. Charles Williams (1952-1959) requested permission from Bishop Porter to build the Great Hall and Educational Complex.  These were completed October 31, 1957, at a cost of just under $112,000.

In 1965 the Parish established St. Luke’s Nursery School as a community outreach.  It has continued to serve both the parish and community to the present.  During this time Fr. Gary Wallace (1965-1973) returned to Woodland on disability to serve as assistant priest, and together with Fr. Alan Chalfant (1964-1974) the parish hosted a Head Start program and an evening teen drop-in center.

The Reverends Williams, Warren and Chalfant played significant roles in completing the stained glass windows. The last of these was dedicated in September 1974, thus finishing a project begun 52 years previously.

During Fr. James Brice Clark’s long, stable tenure as Rector (1975-1988) the parish acquired the church bell, dedicated on Easter, 1979.  The parish endowment fund was created, the organ renovated and enlarged, and there was emphasis on traditional liturgy and music.

Fr. Stephen Beal (1989-1994) began a children’s time during the Sunday family service.  He also began an extensive program to upgrade the facilities, including replacement of the original knob and tube electrical system and repair of extensive termite damage.  Fr. Beal initiated a shift towards Rite II liturgy and continued the emphasis on music.  Fr. Beal was instrumental in adding St. Luke’s to the register of historical landmarks by the Yolo County Historical Preservation Society.

Fr. David Affleck (1999-2005) brought his special gift for teaching both children and adults. Under his guidance the parish began Alpha, Disciples, and Education for Ministry programs, held several adult forums and Bible study programs, and established a Stephen Ministries program.  During this time a parishioner Frank Chacon was ordained a deacon in 2004 and another parishioner Anne McKeever was sponsored by the parish and ordained a priest in 2009. 

The Rev. Wendy Watson (2007-2015), came as priest-in-charge in 2007 and was installed as 20th rector on December 3, 2008.  Under the leadership of the Vestry and a new Director, Melanie Huitt, St Luke’s Preschool has been revived and tied more closely to the mission of the church through the introduction of classes in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.