Since 1834, The Parish Church of St. Luke has been a place of worship for Anglicans in Halton County. Chief Joseph Brant gave the land for church use and his daughter, Elizabeth Kerr, supported the founding of St. Luke's. The parish has continued this legacy of tradition while meeting the needs of the contemporary world.
At the turn of the 19th century there were no Anglican churches in Halton County, the nearest being Ancaster. The Diocese, of which it was part, stretched from Quebec to the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Erie in the west. It was under the jurisdiction of the first Anglican Bishop of Quebec, The Right Reverend Jacob Mountain.
About this time, a steady influx of immigrants from the United Kingdom began to settle in isolated communities. Their only contact with any form of organized religion was with Methodist preachers who used the stump of a tree for a pulpit, and a clearing for their church. Bishop Mountain called them "The saddlebag brigade of itinerant preachers. . . a set of ignorant enthusiasts who do nothing but perplex people's understanding and corrupt minds of those around them".
Baptists and other sects were also round and about, and those back woodsmen liked to hear a "Hell Fire" preacher. There were few Anglican clergymen, and their old style system of Anglicanism was not too well accepted in the new world. What clergymen there were, came mostly from England. A great debt is owed Trinity College, Dublin, for many of its graduates served Upper Canada. They were considered the best, because of their willingness to remain at their posts amidst the most primitive conditions.
It was not until the 1830's that the Church of England became in any way extensive in Halton County when they began in earnest to wage their contest for souls. The Diocese, then under Bishop Charles J. Stewart, was assisted in its missionary endeavours by the Stewart missions, which was organized by his nephew. They provided funds for travelling missionaries and made possible the work of such men as Adam Elliot, William McMurray, Thomas Greene, and many others. The record of achievements is a magnificent one, for these men were just as indefatigable as any Methodist itinerant.
The ultimate result was the birth of the first Anglican Church in Halton County.
St. Luke's is the oldest church in Burlington. The land which St. Luke's is built on was given to Joseph Brant, the famous Native leader, for his services to British-Canadian forces during the American Revolution. Brant, who had been an Anglican since the age of twenty, gave the land to his daughter, Elizabeth. She, in turn, donated the land for the construction of a church, the first of its kind in the area.
The original church building was completed in the Fall of 1834, and was consecrated (dedicated) in 1838. The first Rector was the Reverend Doctor Thomas Greene, who remained at St. Luke's for forty years. Doctor Greene, and several other Rectors of St. Luke's are buried in the cemetery. In over 165 years, St. Luke's has only had ten Rectors, several of whom have gone on to become Bishops.
St. Luke's has many stained glass windows, showing scenes from the Bible and many Saints, including St. Luke, of course. The Arms of The Parish Church of St. Luke, includes the "winged ox" representing St. Luke, waves, which symbolized the waters of Baptism, and a St. George Cross, which represents the first Christian.
Established with a strong missionary spirit, St. Luke's never lost its birthright. The inspiring leadership, and the stewardship of the people who set its course of action from one generation to another was progressive. St. Luke's has always been a power house of activity, and enshrined within its framework and surrounding property, are echoes of bygone days.
St. Luke's has a tradition of welcoming people from many different places, and many different faiths. It is a parish which celebrates its history, and looks towards the future. Newcomers are welcome, both to visit, and to join our parish community!
**A Self-Guided Walking Tour Handout is available in our Parish Hall for a donation.
**A Historical Tour of Burlington handout, through Heritage Burlington may also be picked up in our Parish Hall, Tourism Burlington or Burlington City Hall.