St. Luke's on the Hill is a community of faithful Christian worshipers in the Anglican tradition, with the goal of keeping time-honored values and practices; we acknowledge the impact society can have on our spiritual lives and rely on God's word, the Bible, for guidance.
We are a parish that proclaims Christ's redeeming love for humanity through our worship, prayer, and outreach. We strive to follow the teachings of Christ and recognize at all times that our words and actions can have a powerful impact on others. Our love of God manifests itself within our parish community, our neighborhoods, our cities, state and country, and our world missions.
We welcome ALL to our parish on the hill, encouraging individuals and families to join us for worship, fellowship and spiritual support.
Father Dave has a heart for people! This is demonstrated in his ability to interact with people from every walk of life; young, older or in-between, he is able to connect and give encouragement in life.
An insightful teacher of God's Word and minister of the sacraments, our congregation considers him to be a wonderful gift to us! (Eph. 4:12-12).
Walking with God can be difficult and the journey constantly changing, and Fr. Dave can relate. As a former business owner and recovered alcoholic, he has a huge heart for those seeking or in recovery.
Deacon Lynne has a missionary heart and commitment to comforting and serving those who are at home and abroad. This is illustrated in in making pastoral calls to those who are home bound, in the hospital or nursing home, as well as facilitating grief support groups. She has been on missions to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
Lynne has served as a deacon in the diocese for over 25 years. She had also served as the Social Work Supervisor at Hospice of Saratoga for nearly 20 years.
George loves God's Word and continues our mission to bring the Word of God to those who find it difficult to get to church on Sundays. He has been a part of the St. Luke’s on the Hill worship outreach program at the Mid-Rise Apartments since in 2009 on a weekly basis with the help of his wife, Barb, and Ada Rivenburgh. George and Barb have been a part our church in many aspects and we are blessed to have them here. They have been instrumental in the physical move and subsequent changes brought to our church through the years.
The Vestry is a committee of elected individuals who meet monthly to discuss the administration of the parish in conjunction with the clergy. As parish leaders they work to engage and energize the parish and provide a vision for the future. They also are managers, assisting in the planning, organizing, staffing and monitoring of parish resources. A Senior Warden and Junior Warden are elected to serve as officers of the church organization. The Vestry meets the 4th Tuesday of the month.
Sr. Warden: Joe Morelli, Jr. Warden: Fred Schram
Rich Marion, Pat Greenhall, Pat Connelly, Chip Gifford, Stacey Murray, Sharon Phelps and Dave Papura.
Nancy Demary is our Parish Administrator.
Barb Owad serves as our Treasurer and
Rich Marion as Assistant Treasurer.
Tara Morelli is Director of Children's Ministries.
We are currently seeking a Youth Director.
Liz Day serves our organist and choir director. Pat Greenhall also serves as organist.
We have various women leaders serving in the various Outreach ministries of the church.
Please go to our MINISTRIES tab for details.
Our men have a variety of gatherings each month that provide for good fellowship through Bible Study and work crews, led by Fr. Dave.
Father David Haig began serving as Rector of St. Luke’s on the Hill during Epiphany in 2014. As a trained actor and director, a professional singer, a business owner, a licensed builder, a husband, father, a man in long term recovery, and more importantly, a priest. He married his childhood sweetheart, Cathy, and they have three grown children: Ryan, married with children, Jesse, married and works as a builder, and Shelly who is graduating from Liberty University this year.
Having had the privilege in founding a number of theater companies over the years he has acted and produced modern material to classical theater, Shakespeare to Tom Stoppard, from Sophocles to Neil Simons. With theater as a strong artistic aesthetic in his life, the divine theater of the Eucharist became a central part of his theology. In 2000, he answered a call to begin the ordination process. Having been received into the process by the Bishop of Albany, he attended Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge Massachusetts.
Upon graduation he was ordained to the diaconate and ordination to the priesthood December 17, 2006. He then served at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, Massachusetts for 7 years and then at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Albany as a Curate 2013-2014.
Fr. Dave knows that God is among us and prays for the continuous work of the Holy Spirit within this worshiping community.
Deacon Lynne Curtis has served as a deacon in the diocese for over 25 years. Before she retired, she served as the Hospice of Saratoga’s Social Work Supervisor for nearly 20 years. Deacon Lynne’s commitment to comforting and serving those in need is illustrated in her ministry in making pastoral calls to those home bound, in the hospital and nursing homes as well as facilitating grief support groups and serving on the Diocesan Healing Team at our Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich NY.
She serves on both our St Luke’s on the Hill Recovery Resource Center Board as well as on our Diocesan Recovery Board. Additionally, she serves on our Diocesan Commission for Ministry and Deacons' Council and leads retreats. Deacon Lynne has a missionary heart and has been on missions to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Madagascar and currently serves on an international board supporting missionary efforts in Madagascar.
40 McBride Road, Mechanicville
Our new building under construction
Building the old "Stone" Church
Years of growth and decline
A period of growth
The "Wooden" Church
1827-1835 - The Wooden Church
In the early 1800’s, the Town of Halfmoon extended from the Hudson at Crescent north to Mechanicville, a small huddle of houses within the town, known chiefly as a tavern stop on the King’s Highway.
The first recorded services of St. Luke’s Church were conducted on August 5,1827 by a missionary of the Episcopal Church, “in a convenient room occupied as an office by a gentleman who, though not Episcopalian has, with liberality creditable to him, allowed us the use of it.”. Our earliest records indicate these were the first religious services held in this community. The missionary reported "I have continued to officiate at the following places alternately: One Sunday at Mechanicville, One Sunday at Stillwater, One Sunday at Schaghticoke." (Rev. Nathanial F. Bruce 1827-1829)
In December 1829 a subscription was circulated to erect a house of worship to be consecrated a Protestant Episcopal Church but to be free for all sects and denominations of Christians except when occupied by an Episcopal clergyman.
The necessary money was raised and by August 1830 a church, 40 x 32 feet with 22-feet sidewalls was completed at a cost of $1,200. The same month Articles of Incorporation for "St. Luke’s Church in Halfmoon" were duly executed and Bishop John Henry Hobart consecrated the building on August 24, 1830. It was a beloved structure, this first wood church, erected on the same site as the previously used stone church in Mechanicville.
However, all was not well in this tiny hamlet in Halfmoon. The spirit of brotherly love and Christian unity had worn thin and was strained. In less than a year several complaints were heard, such as, the "Methodist were too noisy", the "Universalists had not contributed their fair share". There were some personal encounters and confrontations resulting in the church doors being locked and bolted. Not to be deterred, someone wrenched off the fastenings with an iron bar.
Finally the church vestry decided to obtained the release from all other denominations holding an interest in the house of worship. From 1833 to 1835, through “quit claim” deed agreements they returned the money previously collected by subscription to each individual requesting a refund, and thereafter, the property remained under the sole ownership of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Missionaries: Rev. Nathanial F. Bruce (1827-1829), Rev. Orange Clark (1830-1832), Rev. Cyrus Stebbins (1832-1836).
1835 to 1897 - A Period of Growth
The period in the history of the parish from the time it became an independent entity until the construction of the Stone Church in 1897 was one of growth, resulting in all probability from an increase in the population of the community. Sixteen missionaries under the control of the Board of Missionaries of the Diocese of Albany served the parish during this period, one serving for nine years (1871-1880) which up to that date was the longest tenure. For some unrecorded reason, from December 1882 to May 1885, except for occasional services, the Church was closed.
The Church reopened and from 1885 to 1895 the church was served by “Missionaries in Charge”; however, in November of 1895, the Reverend Benjamin Hall was elected as “Rector” and from that time until 1995, St. Luke’s had been served by duly elected Rectors.
In 1855 a rectory costing about $1,700 was built. This building was situated on the southwest corner of the Church lot where the Stone Church tower still stands. The building was removed when the stone church was built.
It was evident that the grounds around the church were used as a cemetery although there is no record of the sale of burial plots or who was interred there. However, a resolution enacted in 1855 ordered the disinterment of the dead laid to rest on church grounds and the remains moved to River View Cemetery. “In 1888 extensive renovations were undertaken to the first church including the construction of a recessed chancel, which was planned to be part of an entirely new church to be built at a later date. It is reported that during the excavation, workmen unearthed a quantity of human bones.”
“On Sunday morning, July 19, 1874, during the Declaration of Absolution at Morning Prayer, Dr. William Tibbits, a most devoted layman of the parish who had served faithfully as vestryman and warden during the 44 years that the parish had been organized, passed from this life to the life eternal.” This is worthy of note because the doctor and his descendants represent a family which, in direct line, was connected with St. Luke’s for over 100 years.
In 1895, strong rumors supported by powerful editorials in the local press proposed that the old wood church be removed from its commanding position to make way for a State National Guard Armory. In alarm Mrs. Callamer rushed to Dr. Newton H. Ballou and laid out the situation squarely before him. As a result, in 1895 or thereabouts the parish received a bequest of $40,000 from a former warden, Dr. Newton H. Ballou to build a new church. Provided that it be a stone building with a seating capacity of 600, on the lot belonging to the parish and all debts on the property be paid.
Missionaries: Rev. William Allenson (1836-1838), Rev. William Hubbard (1838-1843), Rev. William A. Curtis (1844-1849), Rev. Robert Fairbairn (1849-1852), Rev. J. A. Downing (1852-1853), Rev William B. Musgrave (1853-1854), Rev. Robert C. Rogers (1855-1855), Rev. M. Widdeman (1855-1866), Rev. Albert Danker Jr. (1866-1868), Rev. William Bogart Walker (1869-1871), Rev. Alfred H. Stubbs (1871-1880), Rev. Wilfred H. Dean (1880-1882), Rev. Richmond Shreve (1885-1888), Rev. W.G.W. Lewis (1888-1891), Rev. E.C. Hoskins (1891-1993), Rev. F.N. Borick (1893-1895); Rectors: Rev. Benjamin T. Hall (1895-1897).
1897 to 1898 - The Stone Church
The population of Mechanicville in 1897 was about 2,000 and the village boundary lines ended at what is now Fourth Avenue on the west. Streets and roads were dirt and Park Avenue was known as “pudding street” because of the mud. A lift bridge carried Park Avenue traffic over the canal which ran through the village where Central Avenue is now. There were no permanent improvements, no street lights, sewers or water supply. Kerosene lamps lighted a few streets and a few had brick sidewalks. The towpath along the canal was a general meeting place for loafers and people with plenty of time on their hands. The business district of town was north of the church site on Main Street. From 1893 to 1895 a horse drawn transportation system operated between Mechanicville and Stillwater. In 1896 a trolley operated between the communities and in 1898 Waterford was included. Into this setting St. Luke’s Stone Church was built.
Dr. Newton Ballou made a detailed bequest donating funding for a new church on July 9, 1895, two months prior to Dr. Bellou's unexpected demise on September 9, 1895. Under the laws of the state, for a legacy of this kind to be valid, it must be made at least two months prior to the donor’s death. The requirement was met and the Stone Church was built. The design of the new stone church was by Mr. Gibson the Architect of All Saints Cathedral in Albany. A Stillwater mason, John Fidler, was engaged as the stonemason and August Waite, master carpenter of Round Lake, was hired as the builder.
In March 1897, trees were cut down in the rear of the old wood church and it was moved back on land leased for this purpose. The record indicates that regular church services continued there until the new stone church was completed. Actual construction started on April 10, 1897 when a steam derrick was installed to lift and place the stonework. In June of that year, the foundation and basement were nearly completed. Schenectady blue stone and brick were used below the water table.
The cornerstone had been laid with impressive but very wet ceremonies on July 6, 1987 during a torrid heat spell and a heavy thunderstorm. Among those attending these reverent rites were Episcopal clergy from Saratoga Springs, Cohoes, Ballston Spa and Lansingburgh. The formal exercises were held in the old church followed by the cornerstone ceremonies. The vested boys’ choir sang and the copper box containing church archives was slid into a pocket, which had been chiseled into the corner stone on the southwest corner of the bell tower.
The board construction fence was quickly plastered with gaudy circus posters which displeased not only the congregation but many others who felt the holy ground was being desecrated. They were quickly removed. Timbers from the recently burned Presbyterian church were used to fuel the hoisting engines. The great 3,000 pound bell, cast in the Menealy foundry, Troy, inscribed “Rev. Benjamin F. Hall D.D.”, was swung into the tower in November, however three days later, after being rung; an accident caused the bell to be sent back for recasting. The pews arrived from Michigan.
The church was indeed an impressive sight on September 18, 1897 when the stonework was completed. On December 4, 1897 regular church services were started in the basement and on March 13, 1898 moved upstairs to the church proper. Bishop William Doane of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany consecrated the beautiful stone church of St. Luke’s on April 23, 1898. This must have been a most impressive ceremony as the organ played and singing was led by a vested boys’ choir of 18 voices under the direction of a choirmaster. The listeners have been said to be entranced as the choir slowly passed down the stairs to the basement and the music died away soft and low in the distance. A plot of land at the rear of the new church was purchased for the new rectory from Miss Ocie Howland, a descendant of John Howland who arrived on the Mayflower.
Rector: Rev. H. H. Johnston (1898-1900)
(Early Years are based on articles in the St. Luke's Newsletter “The Trumpet")
1897 to 1999 - The Years of Growth & Decline
In the years following the consecration of the new church the parishioners saw many changes to their community. The small community, named after the trades-people that inhabited the area, was now a city. In 1920 the population was nearly 10,000; swelled by the largest paper mill in the world (at that time) and a major railroad transfer yard. The once prosperous brick making industry began its decline during the Depression followed in later decades by the paper mill and railroad yards. By the year 2000 the population had dropped to 5,000.
In 1900 St. Luke’s was made a Missionary Center from which the outlying parishes of Stillwater, Schaghticoke and Round Lake were regularly served. In 1921 the Rev. D. C. Huntington was called to the parish. His was the longest tenure in the history of the church having served for a period of 23 years. It was reported that, “the parish has steadily grown in membership and in its influence for good in the community”. Evidence of Rev. Huntington’s concern for the community is illustrated in an incident when, while out walking in near freezing weather, he saw an individual approaching in his shirt sleeves. He removed his coat and wrapped it around the man saying, “Here you need this more than I do.”
In the mid-1930’s a woman of the parish advanced the idea of a boys’ choir patterned after one in England where she lived prior to coming to the States. She also agreed to pay for a director. The choir members were paid fifty cents a month, which attracted many boys who used these funds to assist their families during the depression.
Six stained glass windows, given by Mrs. Herbert O. Bailey, were installed over a period of years from 1936 to 1940 detailing the life of Christ, the seven corporal acts of mercy, the three virtues, the four evangelists and spiritual leaders of the early church.
The Rev. Robert Fields was called in 1953 to be rector. He was active in the fire department, counseled wayward youth and was a promoter of ecumenism before it became popular. Fr. Kaulfuss became rector in 1969. He was active in community organizations including the fire and police departments, Lions Club and was night chaplain at Samaritan Hospital.
During this time the attendance at St. Luke’s peaked and began a slow decline, two neighboring missionary churches closed, Stillwater (1957) and Schaghticoke (1990) and the parishes were merged with St. Luke’s.
Rectors: Rev. Oliver Shaw Neweall (1900-1909), Rev. H.C. Plum (1909-1912), Rev. John Wilkins (1912-1915), Rev. Frank Damrosch Jr. (1915-1918), Rev. J. A. G. Tappe (1918-1920), Rev. David C. Huntington (1921-1944), Rev. Walter Lawrence Fielding Haylor (1944-1947), Rev. Hubert Doody (1947-1950), Rev. Ivan Horton Ball (1950-1953), Rev Robert G. Field (1953-1966), Rev. Curtis S. Denny (1966-1969), Rev. George W. Kaulfuss (1969-1987), Rev. Jonathan MacKenzie (1987-1994), Rev. Mary Margarite Kohn (1996-1999)
2000 to present - St. Luke’s on the Hill
As St. Luke’s entered the first decade of the second millennium, little did the parish know the extent of the changes that would occur. St. Luke’s would continue its decline in attendance until it reached a core of about 15 families.
In December 2000 Fr. Roger Bower came to St. Luke’s. The condition of Stone Church structure, declining for many years due to lack of funding, finally reached a critical phase for both the interior and exterior. In 2001 Fr. Bower and the Vestry hired an engineer to assess the stability of the structure. The report outlined a number of major and costly improvements that would have to be made to stabilize the building. In May 2002 the Vestry decided it was necessary to move services from the “unstable” church to another site and initiated discussions on the demolition of the stone church. The parishioners met first at a firehouse, then at the area community center and the rectory and finally at the local Catholic Church until October 2008.
The Vestry voted in August 2001 to initiate a search for land to build a new church based on the need for handicap accessibility, parking, energy efficiency and reduced maintenance. A Futures Committee was formed to search for a site for a new parish home. Fr. Bower left St. Luke’s for a parish in California on February 16, 2003. After Rev. Bower resigned, some in the parish suggested we dissolve the parish and attend other churches in the area. Much to their credit and faith, the Vestry decided that was not an option; they believed God had a purpose for St. Luke’s and we had an obligation to those who had worked so faithfully to keep the parish functioning from 1830 until the present. They believed that through faith and prayer St Luke’s would continue and God would provide a way.
The diocese agreed and Fr. Fredric Leach, a recently retired priest of the diocese, came to the parish in October 2003. After touring the church, Fr. Leach contacted a second engineer who specialized in gothic structures. This engineer also found the church to be in need of repair but said the structure was sound and it did not need to be demolished. The Vestry approved the limited repair of the stone church’s exterior for safety and portions of the roof to prevent further deterioration and began an effort to sell the structure to help fund a new smaller church building. After years of effort to sell the stone church, it was finally sold to the owner of the adjacent former school building and is now being used as an arts center. An agreement was made with the new owner that the reredos (the painting of the Transfiguration surrounded by a wood carving and placed above the altar), the altar stone and the communion rail would be moved to the new church. The Stone Church was deconsecrated and secularized by Bishop William Love with Fr. Leach, the two wardens and a parishioner present on August 7, 2007, in a somber service far different from its consecration over 100 years earlier.
An 8.8-acre parcel was purchased in June 2005 on McBride Road in Halfmoon. A plan was developed that would include a church, a parish hall and a rectory; excavation began in 2006. The design of the parish hall included a large multi-purpose room that would serve as a chapel until the church could be built. The construction of the parish hall began in June 2007 after the sale of the stone church and some property left to St. Luke’s many years ago.
The first service was conducted on July 25, 2008 before the building was complete. Approval was granted by the town for the funeral of Charles D’Avignon, life-long parishioner, treasurer and active member of the vestry. The official opening was on October 19, 2008, celebrating the feast of St. Luke (October 18). Bishop Love consecrated the chapel on November 30, 2008. Fr. John Hopkins was called in December 2009 to assist Fr. Leach and then became Rector upon Fr. Leach’s retirement in September 2011. Fr. Hopkins moved to North Carolina in 2014 and was replaced by Fr. David Haig, first as interim and then selected as rector.
Fr. Haig’s strong interest in the recovery of those suffering from addiction led to the Vestry’s approval of an outreach ministry which became the St. Luke’s Recovery Resource Center. The parish facilities were opened to meetings by various recovery groups and relationships with recovery support networks were established.
A rectory was added to the parish campus in 2016 with space upstairs for meetings. However, it quickly became evident that with the growth of parish membership and the increased use of the facilities that more space was needed. In 2018 construction began on an addition to the parish hall building.
St. Luke’s is growing; under Fr. Haig’s leadership we are encouraged to study the Word of God, to reach out to many in need such as our sister parish in Madagascar, to encourage individuals as they recover from addiction and abuse and to grow in our commitment to Christ. As we look to the future we believe our steadfast faith in God’s providence will result in continued growth so that we will be able to report, as was reported in the 1930’s, that “the parish has steadily grown in membership and in its influence for good in the community”.
Rectors: Rev. William Grey (1999-2000, interim), Rev. Roger Bower (2000-2003), Rev. Fredrick Leach (2003-2011), Rev. John Hopkins (2009-2014), Rev. David W. Haig (2014-present)