From decline to health through mission


St. Luke’s, Wenatchee, WA (population 30,000), like so many churches, had seen better Sundays of 300 worshipers and a bulging church school. Today, while Sundays are small, the average age is 60, and although there are no children, they are healthy and vibrant. They got that way by rethinking what their mission was. Four questions were discussed in separate group meetings: What are we doing? Why are we doing these things? What do we want to do now? and What will move us forward? They knew they would never be like they were in the 1950s.

Here are three ways they found to move forward:


St. Luke’s

The first, Life Pax are quart size bags with a meal that can be eaten cold. Members have at least two in their cars at all times. When they pass a panhandler asking for help, they give out a Life Pax that has a towelette, a can of ravioli, crackers, juice, and a note reading something like “Members of St. Luke’s love you and bless you.” To date, they have given out 150 Life Pax and they are “going like hot cakes.”

Second, as for the children, rural Wenatchee has about a thousand to fifteen‐hundred youth who live under bridges or in cars in the middle of winter. They have been kicked out of their homes because of some kind of dysfunction. St. Luke’s teamed with other churches to redo a building as a shelter. What started as a place for kids to just hang out and have a meal, now offers help, support, and dorm rooms. St. Luke’s was able to contribute two dorm rooms and an office area.

The third is another project centered on a traveling artist exhibit with the theme of “Seeing God’s Presence in Nature.” The art was hung in the sanctuary. The public was invited to come in to see it. In time, their own members hung their own art as well. Visitors loved the art and liked to see the art in the building itself – worship‐inducing architecture, furniture, and stained‐glass windows which were unique to Episcopal St. Luke’s. All – visitors and members alike – enjoyed the experience.

A member comments: “Where we were a year ago was with sadness and looking backwards. Now we are looking outwards beyond the doors of the church and doing mission. It is getting people to volunteer and buy into it. If you saw thirty hungry faces staring at you and you knew this was the only hot meal they would get, you’d feel the Spirit to help arise in you. In actual faces, we are seeing Jesus Christ in the midst of those around us who may or may not have a relationship with God. We can’t just be standing on the mountain and preaching; there’s got to be action. We have to get outside the church doors and ‘sit down in the street’ so to speak.”