St. Luke’s Church was built in 1961 to serve Moulsham Lodge and Tile Kiln in the south of Chelmsford.
The first residents of the new Moulsham Lodge estate started to move into their houses in 1957 and onto Tile Kiln estate in the late 1960s. St. Luke’s Church was created as a daughter church to St. John’s, Moulsham Street, with communion services being held in homes before the building was completed. The new church was designed by the husband of a member of St. John’s congregation and, like many churches built at this time, was dual-purpose (for both worship and community use); however, unusually the ‘church’ area was much larger than the ‘hall’. Some 10 years later, the ‘large hall’ was added to the building to create additional space for both the congregation and the community to use.
The church was dedicated by the Bishop of Chelmsford on 2 June 1962 and, in his address, the Bishop commented on the church’s clear glass windows which he said would be ‘a constant reminder to those inside that their mission was to bring the Gospel to those outside’.
In 1964, the Bishop decided that St. Luke’s should be made an independent ‘conventional district’ with its own Priest-in-Charge.
In 1978, St. Luke’s became a fully-fledged parish, with a Vicar instead of a Priest-in-Charge.
This means that we have lots of anniversaries – and opportunities for cake!
Since 2009, St. Luke’s has been working closely with St. John’s, Moulsham, St. Michael’s, Galleywood, St. Mary’s, Widford and the Church of the Holy Spirit, Widford. In response to the strategic vision of Chelmsford Diocese, known as ‘Transforming Presence’, our five churches and four parishes were formally recognised as South West Chelmsford Churches Mission and Ministry Unit (MMU) in 2017.
In 2013, following the incumbent of St. John’s leaving the diocese, it was decided that the Vicar of St. Luke’s would become the incumbent of both St. Luke’s and St John’s. Legally, the Vicar of St. Luke’s became the Priest-in-Charge at St. John’s.
In August 2017, St. Luke’s and St. John’s Churches appointed their first joint Priest-in-Charge, Revd Gemma Fraser.
Over the years, St. Luke’s has always had an open approach to worship and a keenness to try new things to encourage growth, examples include:
The Vicar ‘pointed St. Luke’s towards accepting a greater variety of forms of worship’. Revised services began to appear and modern hymn tunes were introduced.
The timing and nature of services changed; the organisation of the work with children and young people improved; preparation for baptism and confirmation was introduced; and a central place was given to prayer. Furthermore, following a special commitment on the 60th anniversary of the diocese ‘to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit wherever this may be’, there was an expansion of house-group meetings for prayer, study and fellowship, and participation of lay people in public worship.
The Alternative Service Book (ASB) service was introduced and the Vicar brought greater consistency to worship as it was thought that the enthusiasm to experiment had led to too much variety!
The Sanctuary was reordered to bring a small altar closer to the congregation. This altar is used for all services to this day. Group studies were also introduced to take pace in church as part of the Sunday services instead of home groups. This was the first experience that many had of learning through discussion with other church members.
Introduction of a new hymn book which included modern and well-established hymns and tunes; creation of a music group to play at non-communion services to supplement the use of the organ.
Reduction of Sunday communion services to twice a month and introduction of lay led services. Formation of the Evangelism Enabling Team, who organise regular ‘drop-in’ events for all families and individuals who have previously attended St. Luke’s such as for baptism. Introduction of outreach opportunities, including All Hallows’ Eve giving out hot chocolate and ‘bags of hope’ filled with sweets.