CLERGY TENURE, FROM 1870 TO PRESENT Dr. J. Harvey Littrell, in his history of St. Luke’s “GREAT HEARTS, TRUE FAITH, AND READY HANDS, A History of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church,” begins his history of St. Luke’s with the difficult times of 1860 when a few Wamego families met and without a rector held Sunday School in homes and school houses. “In spite of these difficulties, by 1868 the Episcopalians were holding service in Wamego. The Reverend James H. Lee had come to Kansas as a Missionary and had taken a position at Kansas State College as a professor of Greek and Latin. Although he lived in Manhattan, he traveled to Wamego to care for the few Episcopalian families. It was possible for him to do so because the railroad was in operation by then. The Kansas Pacific had reached Wamego by 1866. That year there were ten to fifteen houses in the town. However, great hopes were envisioned for the village. These hopes seemingly were coming true, for a year later there were about thirty houses in the village.” “The same May 1870 issue of the paper, (The Kansas Valley), reported that the Episcopal services would be held the second and third Sunday in each month at eleven a.m. The Rev. J. H. Lee was listed as Pastor [sic]. Other churches in town that year were the Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist Episcopal, and the United Brethren.”
Those that followed Reverend Lee are: The Reverend Pendleton Brooke: 1890-1893 Reverend Brooke, Manhattan, was appointed by Bishop Thomas to be in charge of the mission in Wamego. He visited Wamego every two weeks. Some services were held in the “Lutheran” church, then in J. C. Rogers’ stone building on Lincoln Avenue, then the Pythian Hall.
Arch Deacon Cyrus Townsend Brady: 1893-1898 Arch Deacon Brady was stationed at Manhattan and became the rector in charge of the mission at Wamego. During this time the growth of the Guild was steady and rapid. Arch Deacon Brady was experienced in starting and building many missions in western Kansas and he used his talents as architect and designer to plan St. Luke’s as it stands today. Under his leadership the building of the church was begun and carried almost to completion.
Canon Guy William Miner: 1898- 1898 Rev. Miner, Canon of Grace Cathedral, was appointed in charge of the mission at Wamego. Many of the stained glass windows were placed during his tenure.
The Reverend Wilbur Scranton Leete: 1898-January 1903 In October 1897, Rev. Leete was called to be the curate of Grace Cathedral and thus St. Luke’s came under his charge. In June of the following year, 1898, the thriving mission organized itself into a Parish and asked the Bishop to send them Mr. Leete. The Bishop granted the request and on July 1, 1899, Rev. Leete became the first resident minister of the new Parish. The Vestry minutes of June 12, 1899 reads, “A communication containing the Bishop approval for St. Luke Mission to become a Parish was read, the committee on solicitation Mr. H. Johnson, Mr. A. Carl, E. Lewis reported an amount raised of $300 on subscription toward the support of a Rector for the ensuring year. Motion prevailed, that $300, furnished room, and extra $50 at close of year, be pledged for Rectors salary expenses for the ensuring year. By a unanimous vote of all present a call was extended to Rev. Mr. Leete ...”
The Reverend George F. Weida, Ph.d: March 1903- August 1903 The Vestry met February 1, 1903, two weeks after Rev. Leete resigned, to called Dr. Weida as rector of St. Luke’s. He was to hold service on alternate sundays and to receive $10 per Sunday. The last service Rev. Weida performed was August 20, 1903.
The Reverend James H. Lee: February 1903 Since Dr. Weida could only hold services on alternate sundays, the vestry retained Rev. Lee to assist. He was to receive $5 per service. Dr. Littrell’s history of St. Luke’s states that Rev. Lee provided services for 30 years.
The Reverend Ernest Rudd Allman: September 1903- 1907 The Vestry minutes of August 30, 1903 reads, “...This being Dr. Weida last services, he then recommended Rev. E. Rudd Allman to the Vestry. Mr. Allman assisted Dr. Weida in the morning service. The Vestry decided to give Mr. Allman a call, at a salary of $35.00, thirty-five dollars per month. And allowing him one Sunday evening each month for the mission at St. George. Mr. E. Rudd Allman accepting the Vestry’s offer. ....” Rev. Allman provided services at the mission at St. George and by 1905 was also preaching at St. Paul’s Manhattan. When Rev. Allman could not be at St. Luke’s, Rev. Lee substituted. In August 1905, the Vestry voted to build a brick sidewalk south of the church and secured a Mr. Chadwick to do the work.
The Reverend Paul Boynton James: December 1907- December 1909 The Vestry minutes of December 16, 1907 reads, “...It was voted to extend the call to Mr. Paul James for the coming year at a salary of $30.00 per month....” The Vestry minutes of November 23, 1909 accepts the resignation of Rev. James, to take effect January 1, 1910. Rev. James’s letter of resignation, dated November 20, 1909, can be found in the church records.
The Reverend R. C. Talbot: 1910-1910 Rev. Talbot was Priest-in-charge for only a short time. Little is written about him.
The Reverend Fred C. Ruffle: December 1910-May 1014 Mr. Fred C. Ruffle came to St. Luke’s as “Deacon-in-charge” and was later ordained into the priesthood, but not at St. Luke’s. He accepted a call to St. Matthew, Newton, Kansas and resigned effective June 1, 1914. His letter of resignation can be found in the church records.
Canon George. M. Geisel: July 1917-1918 From Dr. Littrell’s history, “From 1915 to 1918 George Muller Geisel was the Priest-in-charge, serving St. Luke’s while he was associated with the Cathedral. He was an author with a sense of humor it seems, for he wrote under the pseudonym, “Egroeg Rellum Lesieg,” which was his name spelled backwards. He wrote a book, Ideals, and also many verses which appeared on Christmas cards each year.”
The Reverend George R. Hyatt: 1918-1921
The Reverend Herbert Hawkins: 1918-1921
Arch Deacon Leonidas W. Smith: 1918-1921 The three priests listed above served St. Luke’s from 1918 to 1921 under the guidance of the Diocese.
The Reverend John Erwin Brodhead: November 1921-December 1932 Rev. Brodhead served St. Luke’s for eleven years. During that time, the land and materials for the Guild Hall were secured. The Guild Hall was completed in 1925. Rev. Brodhead made many warm friends in Wamego outside of his own parishioners and enjoyed the respect and esteem of all. His last service at St. Luke’s was December 25 after which he retired to Topeka.
The Reverend James C. Boyce: April 1932-1936 Mr. Boyce came to Wamego from Pennsylvania. In his family were two sons, James and Philip. James married Virginia Prunty and she serves St. Luke’s church for thirty years as organist. Many still remember Virginia Boyce playing on Sunday mornings. The Rev. Mr. Boyce left St. Luke’s in August 1936 for a vacation and a months leave of absence. He resigned to go back to Pennsylvania. Rev. Boyce’s resignation again left St. Luke’s without a priest.
The Reverend Virgil E. Ward: 1938-1945 Rev. Ward came to St. Luke’s from the Diocese of Minnesota. Rev. Ward had served in World War I, and was very active in the American Legion. Howard Johnstone said that Ward was a nervous, fidgety man who repeated frequently in his sermons. A favorite phrase was, “In this nation of ours...”. One Sunday a parishioner counted the number of times that phrase was repeated- the count was nineteen. Rev. Ward stayed at St. Luke’s for seven years and left in 1945 to go to the Missionary District of Idaho.
The Reverend Charles R. Davies: 1945-1951 The Rev. Davies was the resident rector of St. Paul’s Manhattan and was assigned to St. Luke’s by the Bishop. The 75th anniversary of the Organization of St. Luke’s was held May 20, 1945
The Reverend Samuel R. Boman: 1951-1953 Rev. Boman was in charge of college works at Kansas State and assisted at St. Paul’s Manhattan prior to being called to St. Luke’s by Senior Warden Richard Pugh. Rev. Boman was the first priest to be ordained into the priesthood at St. Luke’s. Servers at the ordination were John and George Burgess and John and James Mertz. On November 10, 1952, the church purchased lot 634 of the original town site of Wamego, 700 Ash Street, as a rectory.
Thirty-one years after Mr. Johnstone had the bell tower built as a memorial to his wife and daughter (January 1952), a bell for the tower was donated by the city. The bell had previously been the city fire alarm, circa 1900.
The Reverend Charles J. Wood: May 1954-June 1956 Rev. Wood was the second priest ordained to the priesthood at St. Luke’s. Rev. Wood’s ordination was held at St. Luke’s October 28, 1954. He is remembered particularly for his beautiful singing voice. Virginia Boyce, organist, remembers Father Wood for being very strict about the service. “...everything had to go just right.” Once she started to play a part of the service which was not appropriate for the season and “He sure gave me a dressing down.” He left St. Luke’s to go to Liberal, Kansas.
The Reverend Roy Stanford Turner: July 1956- July 1958 Rev. Turner had also served as chaplain at Kansas State prior to coming to St. Luke’s. He was a young man and interested in sports. During his stay, the church basement was converted into Sunday School class rooms by Lee Flenthrope.
The Reverend Lester Wiley: 1959-1961 Rev. Wiley was the chaplain for the students at Kansas State University. Like the three men who preceded him, he served mainly for Sunday Services, and other priestly duties. In 1960, he came only every other Sunday to hold Communion. Morning Prayer, with lay readers in charge, was the service the other Sundays.
The Reverend Earl Minturn: 1959-1959 Fr. Minturn was Rector of St. Paul’s in Manhattan. In addition, he provided weekly services on the Kansas State campus and helps provide part-time services at St. Luke’s.
The Reverend Robert A. Terrill: July 1961-March 1964 Mr. Terrill became vicar at St. Luke’s coming directly from seminary at Seabury-Western on July 1, 1961. On December 21, 1961, he was ordained at St. Luke’s by Bishop Turner. Rev. Terrill was instrumental in starting a youth recreation program for seventh and eight graders. In September 1962 the vestry discussed purchasing a new vicarage. St. Luke’s owned a house on Ash Street and a lot in the Garrison addition. The house and lot were sold and new vicarage was purchased at 1305 W. Tenth St. Rev. Terrill announced his resignation at the February 1964 Vestry meeting. He and his family were moving to Arkansas City. His last service was on Easter Sunday, March 29, 1964.
The Reverend William T. MacMillan: April 1964- August 1964 Rev. MacMillan was the chaplain at Kansas State University. He was appointed by the Bishop to fill in. This would not be his last service to St. Luke’s.
The Reverend Louis Hemmers: September 1964-December 1964 Rev. Hemmers was the priest in charge at Marysville. However, with responsibilities in Marysville, a 7:30 a.m. service was necessary at St. Luke’s. This was not acceptable to St. Luke’s and the Vestry asked Bishop Turner for a full time minister. Bishop Turner responded by sending Rev. William MacMillan again.
The Reverend William T. MacMillan: December 1964-August 1972 This time Rev. MacMillan stayed for eight years. In 1967, the Church Sunday School picnic was held July 23 and in September a folk song mass was celebrated. On Sunday, November 15, 1970, St. Luke’s celebrated its Centennial, its one hundredth year of existence. The Rev. and Mrs. Lester Wiley attend the service. Rev. MacMillan left to serve a parish in Garden City.
The Reverend Elborn E. Mendenhall: September 1972-June 1976 The Bishops’ Committee met with Bishop Turner July 30, 1972 in the church office. The Bishop recommended Rev. Mendenhall, a graduate student at KSU. At the time of the offer, Rev. Mendenhall was also serving the Blue Rapids and Marysville parishes. Arrangements were made for Sunday services for all parishes, with St. Luke’s being at 8:30 a.m. St. Luke’s still was seeking a full time priest and some unrest developed and on June 14, 1976 Fr. Mendenhall submitted his resignation.
The Reverend Harold J. Weaver: September 1976-August 1978 Rev. Weaver had retired from service at Manhattan when he was called to St. Luke’s. Fr. Weaver was opposed to the changes brought about by the new prayer book. He continued using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. He was diagnosed with leukemia and in July 1978 had to retire from an active ministry. Father Weaver died the summer of 1978. He is the only priest to die while serving at St. Luke’s. Funeral services were held at St. Luke’s.
Supply Priests\Morning Prayer: July 1978-January 1979 Conducting services were Dr. Harvey Littrell, Fr. Fly, Fr. McLaughlin and lay readers.
The Reverend David K. Fly: January 1979-June 1980 Father Fly acted as a temporary rector in addition to his chaplaincy at Kansas State University. Fr. Fly credits St. Luke’s with his desire to serve as a full-time parish minister. In his book, “Faces in the Rearview Mirror” he states, “.... I had left parish ministry believing that it no longer served a useful purpose in society, that it was essentially irrelevant to the need of the world. That’s where I was wrong. On the first Sunday at St. Luke’s, I felt as if I were a young boy standing in the sanctuary of St. Stephen’s church in Monett. And standing at the altar was like being at that table in my grandmother’s dining room. I was home. The people of that little congregation taught me that the Church could become an extended family for those who were lost and alienated. It could surround people and hold them up when they needed holding up and could teach them to love when loving was difficult.....” He soon took a parish ministry in Missouri.
The Reverend Peder G. Berdahl: July 1980- July 1983 Father Berdahl’s was appointed Priest-in-charge of the Pottawatomie/Marshall counties’ area Ministry and as Vicar at St. Luke’s church and St. Mark’s Church, Blue Rapids, effective July 1, 1980.
Father Berdahl is the only priest to be married during his tenure at St. Luke’s. On January 28, 1981, he married Betty Burke.
Fr. Berdahl was instrumental in having the stained glass windows repaired and protected, by Hauser Studio of Stained Glass, Winona, Minnesota, in September 1980 for $3,185. The windows are protected with 3/16 inch Matte Lexan. They also repaired the Star of David window in the sacristy.
Father Berdahl oversaw the installation of a new four rank, (335 pipes), pipe organ. The organ was purchased from Reuter Organ of Lawrence for $33,777. Father Berdahl, Dick Winkler and Organ Fund Committee oversaw a successful pledge drive to raise the funds. Many contributed to the financial backing of the purchase. Malcolm Smith donated his time and supplies necessary to remodel the altar area for the instillation. The entire cost was paid for with gifts and pledges. The dedication ceremony was held on Sunday, December 5, 1982 .
The Pottawatomie/Marshall counties’ area Ministry could not resolve issues between the churches and it was dissolved Sunday, April 22, 1983.
Fr. Berdahl honored his pledge to stay at least three years. He left to accepted a position in Illinois.
Supply Priests\Morning Prayer: July 1983-March 1984
The Reverend B. Sheppard Crim: March 1984-May 3, 1987 Rev. Crim was hired as 70% rector at St. Luke’s and 30% Rural Dean of Blue Valley Ministry. Financial support was provided by St. Mark’s, Blue Rapids, the Northwest Convocation and the Diocese of Kansas. The former house at 1305 8th St. owned by St. Luke’s was sold in November 1984.
During this time completion of a major renovation of Guild Hall, kitchen, and church was completed by the Osborne Company at a cost of $72,764. New electrical wiring and fuse boxes were installed, and the ceiling lowered, acoustical panel and air conditioning installed in Guild Hall. The church received new wiring, new paint, and new front doors. The renovation was paid for with a bequest from Lottie Gilmore of her house and furnishings.
The Reverend Jo Ann Wright: July 1, 1987-July 1998 Mother Jo was the first female Episcopal Parish Rector in the Diocese of Kansas. Other women had been ordained but none had served as parish rector. Mother Jo graduated from Church Divinity School of the Pacific at Berkeley, California in May 1987. Bishop Grein was in favor of women in the priesthood and recommended Jo Ann Wright to St. Luke’s. There was some concerns about hiring a female priest among St. Luke’s members but once she arrived she was wholeheartedly accepted and the church grew. She was hired as 50% rector of St. Luke’s and 50% Diocesan Youth Officer in charge of administrating youth programs. She spent many summers at Camp Wood. This arrangement lasted for many years until St. Luke’s was able to provided full financial support. Mother Jo left St. Luke’s to accepted a calling in Oklahoma.
The Reverend Donald Moses: September 1998-March 2001 Rev. Moses was appointed by Bishop Smalley to serve as interim part-time priest until St. Luke’s could review its future prior to calling another priest. Although residing in Topeka, Rev. Moses offered his many talents to St. Luke’s. He provided administrative duties, spiritual guidance and pastoral care. He began a children’s sermon, conducted bible study and provided a stability while the review progressed.
The Reverend Curtis L. Cowell: March 29, 2001-December 2007 Father Cowell was called to St. Luke’s with the blessing of the Bishop. Father Cowell had recently retired from work at the Cathedral in Topeka. The installation of Rev. Cowell as permanent half-time Rector for St. Luke’s was held March 29, 2001. Like Father Moses, Father Cowell continued to live in Topeka and commute to Wamego for two Sunday morning services plus a noon Thursday service, and other special occasions and church needs. Fr. Curtis instituted a “Church Birthday Bank”, in which the members would put coins totaling their age in the bank on their birthday. It has been accepted by the young, old and everyone in between as a special birthday celebration.
Father Cowell retired again in December 2007 after his six years with St. Luke’s.
The Reverend Matthew Mickey Cobb: March 1, 2008-Present Father Cobb was called to St. Luke’s with the blessing of the Bishop and the congregation. He was installed as Rector on Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 7 p.m. in a Celebration of the Ministry of Congregations and Rector presided over by the Right Reverend Dean Elliott Wolfe, Ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.