St. Luke AME Church is not just a church. For the town of Lawrence and the East Ninth Street neighborhood, it is a pillar of community resilience and enduring relationships. St. Luke is a critical reminder of the historic struggle for the African-American community in our Midwestern oasis as well as a torchbearer of intersectional community progress.
Originally started by a community of fellow worshipers in 1862, the congregation met in a blacksmith shop on Massachusetts St. At the time of Quantrill's Raid, on August 21, 1863, St. Luke begun to dig the foundation for a church at the corner of New Hampshire and Warren (Ninth) Street. A company of twenty-five recruits were encamped on the construction site, and Quantrill and his men killed twenty of the recruits and threw their bodies in the trenches. The site was thereafter abandoned and the property was sold. Ninth and New York became the only physical location of St Luke in 1910 and continues to be a vital part of East Lawrence.
The St. Luke AME Church was home to luminaries such as Langston Hughes, who lived in Lawrence with his maternal grandmother as a youth. Hughes reflected on his time growing up in an abolitionist Midwestern town during segregation in his autobiographical novel “The Big Sea.” Hughes’ reverence for the people his Lawrence community, for the small beauties of daily life and the struggles of the journey is evident in his most famous works. St. Luke AME Church is an important part of Hughes’ story in Lawrence as a place for his family to gather safely, reflect on identity and challenge oppression.
We have established this fundraising page to help pay for much needed restoration to this iconic Lawrence institution. The stained-glass windows at St. Luke AME Church were originally built and installed in 1910 and with your help they will be restored to their original majesty. Your generous funding will help revive and preserve this magical space.