St. Luke’s Church To Host Dedication Ceremony Oct. 22

When the Rev. Luke Fodor first came to Jamestown in the summer of 2014 to begin his position as Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown he was excited at the opportunity to serve not only his church but also his new community. At that time, he saw the city of Jamestown with fresh, newcomer’s eyes. He envisioned St. Luke’s as a hub for community activity, with its grand exterior, central location, and friendly and welcoming parishioners.

There was one thing about his new church that he did not find welcoming, however, and that was the church’s meeting space. As he observed his surroundings in the dated undercroft, with it’s dark and dreary paneling, low ceilings, and small classrooms, he vowed to himself that he would find a way to change things.

During the fall of his first year at St. Luke’s, Fodor presided over the re-dedication of the Church’s 120-year-old bell tower, which had been recently repaired and restored as a result extensive damage caused by an electrical storm in 2013. As a celebration of the restoration of the music of the beloved tower bells to the city after a 12-month silence, the church hosted a gala reception in the outdoor courtyard for over two hundred friends and neighbors from the community.

This event also served as Fodor’s official welcome to Jamestown, a city that he would quickly grow to love. After the successful completion of the tower restoration, which was funded mostly through insurance coverage, Fodor was compelled to lead his parish and local community to begin an ambitious campaign to raise over 1 million dollars to refurbish, preserve and protect the rest of 1892 historic structure and surrounding property.

“Everyone said that it couldn’t be done, but they didn’t see what I saw.” Fodor said. “The enthusiasm and love for this historic building and the memories and experiences that many of those people who attended the Bell Tower Dedication shared with me gave me the hope and inspiration that was needed to get this campaign started and the vision to help see it through.”

In celebration of the completion of the first two phases of the project, St. Luke’s will host a community-wide dedication service on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. The event will begin with a festive evensong and special blessing of the newly refurbished fellowship space. A celebratory reception and ribbon-cutting will follow the service, featuring refreshments by Planet Earth Catering and an exclusive chance to sample the offerings of Jamestown Brewing Company, which will open its own new space in the city sometime next year.

The work that has been completed so far includes the installation of a more accessible parking area, handicapped accessible bathrooms on both floors, repair and realignment of exterior walls and windows and the complete renovation of the basement into a bright and open space intended to host both church and community events – the realization of Fodor’s original dream.

“This reception is a small way for us to offer thanks to all of the many people and organizations who have supported our efforts.” said the Rev. Fodor. “We are very excited to invite everyone to come and see what we have done with the place! St. Luke’s location in the center of the city makes it the perfect venue for people to gather together. Our intention was to create a space in the downtown area that was beautiful, modern, and welcoming, and we feel that we have done just that. This church has a long history of civic involvement, and now we have an incredible new space to share with folks who are looking for a venue for meetings and events.”

St. Luke’s has been working with an Historic Preservation Architect to complete the third and final phase of the project, which will include the restoration of the church’s stonework and repair of the aging bell tower timbers. The church has been awarded a $45,000 matching funds grant by the New York State Landmark Conservancy Sacred Sites Program to assist with the funding of this portion of the work.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is located at 410 North Main Street, Jamestown. The Festive Evensong and reception are free and open to the public. RSVP’s are requested so that organizers can determine how many people to expect. For more information about St. Luke’s Capital Campaign or the church’s many programs and services, please visit their website at or contact the church office at 483-6405.