Dinner and Talent Performances
The History of St. Luke AME Church
The history of St. Luke AME Church is a true example of progress. Since 1916 the poor and distraught have found inspiration and help within St. Luke
fellowship. The church has produced teachers, politicians, scientists, ministers and business leaders. It is fitting that we mark here the movement of this vibrant center of hope after ninety-nine years of fruitful service.
In 1916, the Peterson family, who worshiped together regularly, saw a need for an A.M.E. Church. Brother Walsh Peterson petitioned the Conference for a minister, which led to Rev. W. C. McDonald becoming the first pastor. He gathered a few people together to meet with him on Broome Street where they organized the Exodus AME Church.
Beginning with about twenty members, they preached and prayed and sang until their facilities would no longer hold the crowds. Providentially, a church became available on Baldwin Street. The Exodus congregation moved into this building and changed its name to St. Luke A.M.E. Church.
Around 1920, the Rev. C. E. Plowden was appointed pastor of St. Luke and under his leadership the church continued to prosper. The Rev. H. M. Kemp
succeeded him in 1923 and the upward climb of St. Luke seemed certain.
However, in 1927 Rev. Kemp died. Our national economy was in a downhill turn and it was then that Rev. W. T. McClinton was assigned to succeed Rev. Kemp. During this period the church could not keep its commitments and lost its place of worship. Rev. C. W. Walker was then appointed to St. Luke followed by Rev. T. A. Evans. Although many of the members had left St. Luke, Rev. Evans led St. Luke to purchase a building at 135 Charlton Street.
St. Luke continued to grow under the leadership of Rev. McWade, as well as Rev. M. J. Frazier and Rev. J. D. McDaniel until 1937 when Rev. Elzae Warrick
was appointed to St. Luke and under his leadership the church grew to the extent that the church purchased larger quarters on Prince Street. After twelve years, Rev. Warrick was reassigned and Rev. Jennifer St. Julian Brown became the pastor. Rev. Yancey Sims followed him. In 1955, Rev. Lonnie P. Herring began his tenure as the 13th Pastor and under his leadership St. Luke purchased the church at our present location. Rev. Booker T. Cartwright succeeded him in 1963 as the 14th Pastor. Rev. Albert D. Tyson began his service in 1966 as St. Luke’s 15th Pastor.
In 1972 Rev. John G. Ragin was transferred from Harlem, New York by Bishop John D. Bright to serve as the 16th Pastor of St. Luke in Newark.
It was during the pastorate of Rev. Ragin that St. Luke experienced its peak of growth. The church was destroyed by fire on January 31, 1981. Although that facility was lost as a place of worship, Rev. Ragin and the congregation determined that a new church would be built on the same site. Sonny Oliver’s Garden opened his doors to the congregation for temporary use. For more than two years after that, St. Luke worshiped at the nearby Boys & Girls Club that opened its arms of love to the St. Luke family.
The membership prayed and worked hard until September 24, 1983 when the membership marched into its newly constructed edifice. Other clubs and boards were organized to accommodate the increased membership. They are the South Carolina Club, Queen Esther’s Guild, Nurse’s Unit, Courtesy Club, the Pastor’s Aide Club, Inspirational Choir, Willing Workers, Senior Usher Board #2, Male Chorus, and Stewardess Board #4.
After twenty-nine years as pastor of St. Luke, Rev. Ragin was promoted by Bishop Donald Ming as Presiding Elder of the New Brunswick District, New
Jersey Annual Conference in 2001. Rev. Howard L. Grant became the pastor and worked diligently to improve and beautify the exterior as well as to upgrade the interior. It was under his leadership St. Luke produced its first ever album of St. Luke Choirs. In 2008, Rev. Grant was promoted to Presiding Elder of the Newark District, New Jersey Annual Conference.
On March 9, 2008, Rev. Dr. James E. Deas, Sr., was assigned to St. Luke. Dr. Deas initiated many new auxiliary organizations including the Women’s
Fellowship, the Men’s Fellowship, Flag Ministry, Couples Ministry, and reestablished the WMS Food Pantry.
On June 13, 2015, Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram appointed Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Hooper as the 19th Pastor of St. Luke. Dr. Hooper a prolific preacher is charged with the task of revitalizing St. Luke to the crown jewel that is has been in the greater Newark community. Dr. Hooper comes with a new exciting vision that is equipping St. Luke for 21st century kingdom building.
As our membership continues to thrive, we are excited about the upcoming celebration of our one hundredth anniversary in 2016. What an awesome God we serve. To Him be all honor and praise.