It was just a small rubble stone church in the middle of open land and corn fields, and the congregation was so small that within four years, the parish was dissolved and the building repossessed. That description applies to Trinity Church, Brooklyn, which was the first Episcopal Church built in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Neighborhood of Brooklyn. In December, 1841, a new corporation of forward thinking Episcopalians took over that small house of worship and it became St. Luke’s Protestant Episcopal Church, eventually growing to be the largest Episcopal Church building in the entire Diocese of Long Island. Over the last 165 years, rows of corn have become rows of brownstones, apartment buildings have replaced many of the mansions of Clinton Hill, immigrants have come to the neighborhood from every nation, wars have been fought, Brooklyn has become a borough of The City of New York, structures of New York society have changed, and the quiet suburban atmosphere of Clinton Hill/Fort Greene has evaporated into the hustle and bustle of a vibrant and diverse community.
Throughout all these changes, the people of this parish have endeavored to be faithful to Jesus’s commandment to love one another and to minister to the world in his name. Educating the young in the Good News of Christ, establishing other churches (St. Bartholomew’s, Pacific Street in 1886) to serve other neighborhoods, giving vocational training to women, serving the elderly at one of the early locations of St. John’s Home for the Aged, welcoming those from other congregations when their churches were closed (St. Matthew’s Church in 1943 and The Church of St. Michael and St. Mark in 1993), providing shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry, meeting places for those intent on putting their lives back together after personal and emotional problems. Opportunities to connect body, mind and spirit through the arts. The list goes on and on. It is these acts of ministry and evangelism which bring us together to share the Gospel message of God’s love for all creation and follow Christ’s commandment that we love one another.