St. Luke’s marks 150 years

John Christensen Chronicle-Express
A special prayer service and dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 8 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Branchport. Another special service will be held June 11.

St. Luke’s Episcopal, the simple but beautiful stone church on West Lake Road in Branchport, will celebrate its sesquicentennial this week. It was on Sunday, June 11 in 1867 when the little church on the West Branch of Keuka Lake was consecrated by Bishop Cleveland Coxe of what was then the Diocese of Western New York.

To celebrate, the congregation will hold a special prayer service and dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8 with Bishop Prince Singh of the Diocese of Rochester. Father Doug Carroll, formerly of St. Luke’s, and former next door neighbor, the Rev. Russell Scheel, will also attend as special guests of the congregation along with many others. A special service will also be held on the anniversary day itself, Sunday, June 11, with Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Johnny Ross.

It is also hoped the occasion of this historic milestone help raise the $12,000 in funds still needed to complete the masonry repointing of St. Luke’s stonework. In some places, the mortar has eroded 18 inches into the stone walls, says Lou Gridley, head of buildings & grounds.

The $35,000 project was recently interrupted when the mason, Joe Cacciola, suffered a stroke while working on the church. Due to the quick response of neighbors of St. Luke’s, who happen to be members of the Branchport Fire Dept., and other emergency responders, his life was saved. With care at The Stroke Center in Syracuse, Joe is now well on the mend and will return to work soon, helping his son, Aran, who has continued the project.

Built with native stone on land purchased by the Rose Family of the nearby Esperanza Mansion, St. Luke’s has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1994, but has been an essential part of the fabric of the Branchport community since it was founded. While never large enough to support a full time Rector, Father Phil says, “St. Luke’s is a small but strong little flock. People here are used to caring for each other, and for their church.” 

For more about St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, visit, email, or phone 315-595-6162