St. Luke Parish was founded on January 12, 1991. On that day, His Grace, Bishop ANTOUN visited for the first time to ordain Fr. David Mustian in the Orthodox Church, and chrismate the initial 17 families. Prior to this, Fr. David and these founding members had a pastoral relationship that dates back to 1983, when Fr. David came to Boulder, CO to be the priest at an Episcopal Church.
During the time between 1983 and 1991, there was a steady challenge to traditional Christian faith in the Episcopal Church. A solution was needed, and it was wonderfully provided in the Orthodox Church.
The passage into Holy Orthodoxy was facilitated by a number of key factors and persons. Fr. David had been well educated as a seminarian at Yale Divinity School, where he developed an appreciation for the early Church Fathers, forms of Orthodox worship, and iconography. As an Episcopal priest he learned of the former Campus Crusade people who became Orthodox. He made contact with Fr. Peter Gillquist, and from this relationship the bridge to the Antiochian Archdiocese was established. After a period of "getting to know" each other, Fr. Peter presented the situation of Fr. David and the founders of St. Luke Parish to His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP. Thanks be to God, they were accepted. The new Orthodox Mission began.
The early years of St. Luke Parish, 1991 to 1995, were not easy. They met in a rental space at the old Lafayette, Colorado, city hall annex. Lafayette is a suburb of Boulder, approximately 30 miles northwest of Denver. They chose to be Eastern Rite. Fr. David and the people had much to learn about Orthodoxy, especially its liturgical practices and music. There has always been a value placed on appropriate congregational participation and singing at St. Luke's.
St. Luke Parish was small in size but filled with some very committed, talented, and faithful people from the beginning to the present. They always had a Sunday School, various Christian Education classes, ministry teams, and fellowship groups. The parish even had its own artist who became the iconographer for St. Luke's. St. Luke's also reached out to help start or support the founding of two missions during its early years: St. James Church in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and Holy Resurrection Church in Gillette, Wyoming. Also, Fr. Mark Haas was originally a subdeacon at St. Luke's. He was ordained a priest, and sent out to serve in the Archdiocese. He is now pastor of St. James Church, Ft. Collins.
Numeric growth was slow, but steady from 1991 to 1995. They reached the point where they had to move, having outgrown their rental space. They found 4 acres of land near the old location, purchased it, and began the process of building the first phase of their temple and parish hall. There were many hurdles in all of this, but they maintained unity in the midst of the building project.
On October 20, 1996, His Grace, Bishop BASIL, came to consecrate the new altar of St. Luke Parish. This was a joyous occasion of great thanksgiving. Fr. David and the people, however, soon realized they would have to proceed with Phase 2 of the building project earlier than expected. In 1998, construction began to double the size of the temple and parish hall, along with the addition of Sunday School rooms. They had been told that a church building would facilitate growth. This proved true, as the average Sunday attendance increased from 85 in 1996 to 116 in 2000.
In February 2001, His Grace Bishop Basil came to visit our parish during our tenth anniversary as an Orthodox Church. This was followed by Fr. David being elevated to the honor of Archpriest in 2002. In 2003 the Parish focused on hosting the Parish Life Conference for the entire Southwest Region (which later became the Diocese of Wichita and Mid America). The conference, held at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt Hotel, was a big challenge to mobilize all the volunteers in the small parish. It proved to be a successful event.
In 2004, analysis of slow but steady growth forced a difficult strategic decision regarding three options: 1) try to expand again in the current location, 2) try to reduce the attendance by starting a new mission with some members joining it, 3) look for a larger parcel of land in a new location that could provide for long term growth, but would mean moving locations. All the options were seriously considered, and by the majority of parish members, parish council, and blessing of Bishop BASIL the third option was chosen.
As an interim step in the process, Fr. Mark Haas returned so that two Divine Liturgies could be offered on a Sunday. This provided room for more people than the existing temple could hold in one service. When Fr. Mark was called to St. James Church in Ft. Collins, the felt need for a new location became a pressing focus. The new goal was to find land and build a new temple and hall, planning to double in size, from which point the parish would be strong enough as a base to sponsor new local mission churches, and increase its outreach. Just as the parish had mobilized its volunteers of committed people to accomplish past goals by the grace of God, the parish believed the new goal could be reached. This was a step of faith.
At the visitation of Bishop BASIL in the Fall of 2007, he surprised most of the members and clergy by not only blessing the goal to move, but saying it should begin soon. He said if God blessed it, then it could be done in two years. He further said it would require great sacrifice for two years of focusing giving and efforts toward this.
After much prayer and guidance by the Holy Spirit, the parish completed the purchase of 9 acres of land in Erie, Colorado, a few miles from the present church building, in March 2008. “Little miracles” began to happen after this. Our parish received a totally unsolicited offer from First Christian Church in Boulder, to purchase our current facility in Lafayette. When a deal was reached to sell the Church, we were allowed to stay in the Lafayette location until Nov 1, 2009 during which time the new temple could be built in Erie.
As with any building project, there were many challenges, but the good Lord supplied the sufficient grace to deal with them and move through them. The Church found a skilled and experienced Greek Orthodox architect to design the new temple. The Town of Erie was wonderfully supportive of the building project, something that is not often found today as churches work with civil jurisdictions. Parishioners gave sacrificially, selling stocks and giving out of their savings, in addition to faithful tithing. At critical points, new members came and donations were made. The parish reached a major goal of moving into the newly completed parish hall, set up for worship in Nov. 2009. Then, the beautiful new temple was occupied for the first Divine Liturgy on Pentecost, 2010.
In this process of building a physical temple, God also worked in the hearts of people to build more pure “living temples.” It was an awesome experience, including the struggles and trials. Faith was stretched, and faith grew as we learned the truth of the Scripture: “With God, all things are possible.”
In 2012 the parish had an average attendance over 200. We were exceedingly thankful to God for all that had been accomplished. We believed that it would take a future generation to fully beautify and complete the new temple and expand the support complex. A strong foundation had been laid in the new location. There was room to more than double in size, and expand for a future large parish hall, more class rooms, or other new buildings for ministry.
On Sept. 28, 2013 His Grace Bishop BASIL consecrated our new temple in Erie. A joyous luncheon followed. More than 300 people attended. We waited for this consecration to have our iconostasis installed, along with additional iconography. The Holy Table, we continue to use, was consecrated previously in the Lafayette temple.
St. Luke Church remains a parish of converts from different places, along with a mix of life long Orthodox from various ethnic backgrounds.
In 2014, Fr. Stephan Close came to us as a retired Air Force Chaplain. He has been a great pastoral help to us in moving forward with our mission.
Future plans at St. Luke Parish remain the same in values as they have been for many years: center around growing spiritually, as a people committed to the Orthodox Faith and Worship. There is also a vision for increased outreach. As the new temple is filled, the process of trying to start or support more local Orthodox Churches continues.
In 2019, Fr. Jason Falcone was ordained a priest and attached to our parish. Fr. Jason is a chaplain in the Army, on Reserve Duty, and he has been able to serve with us on many Sundays and teach our Inquirer Class.
In 2020, we began fundraising and planning for an expansion of our hall and classrooms. Average Sunday attendance was 236, with almost 400 members. Then we experience the year of Covid restrictions. We are very thankful that we have been able to reopen fully for worship and activities. We finished our building expansion in December, 2022. With blessings come responsibilities. Truly we have been blessed and we pray that we might be faithful in our response to these many blessings and mercies. "We have learned a lot over the years and all the glory belongs to God," says Fr. David.
St. Luke Parish thanks Almighty God, the Holy Trinity, for all of the blessings they have received, and prays "many years" for the Hierarchs in its God protected Archdiocese. We thank God for all the faithful parishioners who have responded to God's grace and love.