St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Columbia, SC, has 137 years of a proud past began in 1871 under a commission established by Bishop William B.W. Howe. Reverend Benjamin B. Babbitt from Andover, Massachusetts a Professor of Philosophy/Physiology at the University of South Carolina organized several groups of African American families; St. Luke’s had twenty families, each group met in private homes.
St. Luke’s formal organization was on August 5, 1873. With the purchase of a lot on the corner of Plain (now Hampton) and Marion Streets. A chapel was erected at this site in 1883. Bishop Howe formally organized St. Luke’s as a mission. Incorporation occurred in 1876 with twenty-three families, the Priest-in-Charge was The Reverend Babbitt with Mr. Thaddeus Salters assisting; he was a candidate for Holy Orders, Mr. Salters ultimately became was the first African American to be an ordained Priest in the diocese of South Carolina.
Under the leadership of Reverend T.B. Clarkson, Sr. St Luke’s became a parish in 1889; by 1891 the parish had a fully vested choir.
By 1911 St. Luke’s took residence in a new chapel at 912 Hampton Street with reverend G.E. Howell priest-in-charge and chapel was consecrated by Bishop W.A. Guerry on September 13, 1913. St Mary’s mission, also established by Reverend Benjamin B. Babbitt, merged with St. Luke’s in 1926, with fifty
communicants. The Vestry purchased land on the corners of Pine and Lady Streets in 1946, the Rectory was built at this time St Luke’s had one hundred fifty (150) communicants. In 1958 Father William F. O’Neal became rector, and he served until 1975. The congregation grew spiritually and physically. A Chapel/Parish Hall was completed in 1958, Church in 1963, and Community Center in 1972. St. Anna’s at McDuffie and Liberty Hill Avenue, Columbia, South Carolina merged in 1959 and St. Anne’s, Cayce, South Carolina (Brookland) merged with St. Luke’s in 1962.
For over four (4) decades St. Luke’s experienced a period of growth and transition under various rectors and priest-in-charge. The Reverend Father Calvin R. Griffin served as rector from September 18, 1994, until his retirement on January 16, 2017. Recently, The Reverend Mother Jill Zook-Jones served as the Interim Rector from 2017 to March 2019.
Sources: A Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina 1820-1957; being a continuation of Daeho’s account, 1670-1820, Albert Sidney Thomas. LLD. c. 1975 The R.L. Bryan Company, Columbia, South Carolina Vestry Minutes 1960, 1963, The Diocese of South Carolina correspondence with St. Luke’s, St. Anna’s and St. Anne’s.