What Does Saint Luke’s Church Mean to Me?

Jean Tessier

Prior to that summer, I was in what I would call a spiritual desert.  Raised (but not confirmed) Catholic, I had a strong pull towards the catholic mass but a deep distrust of organized religion in general.  I had lived in a variety of neighborhoods and tried a variety of churches.  But when I settled into this area of Queens, I found myself at St. Luke’s, and I found a home.

It wasn’t just the pull of the service, which was familiar and comforting, or the music, which was and continues to be a huge blessing in my spiritual life.  It was the people of St Luke’s, and the feeling that God was moving between us and within us, that we were putting the words of Jesus into practice, in large ways, such as our involvement with the Queens Community House, or in small ways, such as the simple gestures of friendship and comfort offered from one parishioner to another.  It was also the involvement of children and adults who come to us via our other ministries-Gingerbread, Rummage, our outside partners…who go on to become members of our extended St. Luke’s family. 

Last March, our friend and frequent Gingerbread Player Stan Vogel lost his mother.  Stan called me that night and the conversation ran along these lines: “You know, I’m Jewish…so was my mother.  But when thinking about having a prayer lead at the memorial, I realized that St. Luke’s is the one religious institution where we felt comfortable, and welcome.  Do you think someone from the church could speak?”  Now, it was Ash Wednesday.  Mother Broderick’s first day with us.  But I reached out to Deacon Joe, and he came…and Mother Broderick came with him.  I keep thinking of that moment…how God had worked through St. Luke’s to touch Stan in a way none of us realized.  And wondering how many “Stans” are out there?

On a personal level, the importance of St. Luke’s to me, spiritually, was never clearer than during the pandemic.  I relied on the contact of zoom for the services, took solace in our shared prayer life even as things were at their craziest.  We all become for each other a touchpoint, a helping hand, a friendly phone call.  For me, just when I was perhaps becoming the most stir crazy in my one-bedroom apartment, I got a random text from Liz Reynolds.  “Hey, we’re ordering in pizza and eating on the porch…do you want to join us?”  It was unbelievably appreciated…but was more than that.  We joined each other for walks in Forest Park and discussed how our lives were going, our challenges, how we were handling the rapidly changing environment we were facing. Liz and her family have now become very dear friends.  The spirit worked between both of us to bring us together when each of us needed a friendly ear.

Today, I remain committed more than ever to seeing St. Luke’s through on its journey into the future.  I will continue to give of my time, my talent, and my treasure, to make sure that for the next person who randomly walks in our doors to see what we are about, that we will be able to share the spirit with them, the way it has been shared with me, and the way I endeavor to share it with others.

Liz Reynolds

There are things about St. Luke’s I have always been thankful for – how pretty the building is, and the beauty of the music.  I have been thankful for the Gingerbread players and having the opportunity to share the stage with my father and my aunt Joan, and again with my own children. 

 A few years ago, my mom was sick, and dying, I was deeply thankful to be upheld by this community where there are still people who have known me since childhood and were my mother’s friends too. That well of strength was boundless and saw me through a very dark time. 

When our children came out as non-binary, Brian and I were frightened for them. We still are, because they will be laughed at or made unwelcome in many places, maybe even threatened or bullied. I am thankful our church is a place where they are welcomed and loved exactly as they are. Not just welcomed, but supported in liturgy, with rites of renaming. They may not come often, but they do come, knowing they are safe here.

Finally, right now, in this season of giving thanks, and giving back, I am thankful that I can give my time, my talents, and my treasure, with a whole heart.  I know that in supporting St. Lukes, its ministries and its missions, I am following the commandment to love my neighbors.  Not just the ones that look like me, or live like me, or love like me, but everyone – the way Christ wants us to.