St. Luke’s has a history and a legend. The legend is more interesting than the history and may be nearly as accurate. The legend has St. Luke’s built on land donated by the railroad (true) and with funds won at a poker game hosted by Lottie Deno, a famous early personality of some reputation, not entirely wholesome (likely at least partially true). Doc Holliday was reputedly one of the poker players (unverifiable). Lottie Deno also reputedly made or donated an altar covering which 21st Century efforts to identify and locate have proven futile. The plans for the original sanctuary were those of a train depot (most likely true). The basic structure is very similar to but smaller than that of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Silver City, about an hour northwest of Deming. The end result was the dark wood interior that in the unbiased opinion of the current vicar is one of the most beautiful in the nation, though more than matched by the beauty of its people.
St. Luke’s began as a mission in 1884 when Reverend Watt, nephew of Bishop Dunlop, held regular services from then until January 1886. Then followed a period of irregular services in Deming and Silver City. Bishop Kendrick reorganized the mission and called it a church, appointing an executive committee of Judge Warren Bristol, who was the warden and members Washington, Shepard, Marshall and McKeyes. In May 1889, Reverend Edward Cross was appointed to minister in Deming and Silver City and maintained homes each village.
Under Reverend Cross, preparations were made for building Deming's first Episcopal Church and the original building remains Deming’s oldest church building. The structure was completed in the summer of 1890 and consecrated by Bishop Kendrick on December 20, 1891. The church celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in December of 1991. The consecration sermon was given by Rev Cross, followed by Andrew Dunham, a lay candidate for holy Orders, who was later appointed by the bishop to take charge of the mission.
The mission was without a pastor in 1892 and a new mission committee was appointed headed by the bishop. Intermittent services were held until W. K. Lloyd, a former missionary in the Diocese of Algoma, Canada, was appointed by the bishop. He held his first service on October 23, 1892. During Rev Lloyd’s tenure, the congregation purchased a bell weighing 375 pounds. This required a bell tower to be built in the front of the church to support it. The bell was first rung on Christmas Day in 1892, believed to be the first church bell in New Mexico.
_The tribulations of the early country ministry were documented in old parish registers. Rev Lloyd who also ministered to Hillsboro, endured stagecoach journeys there accompanied by crates of live hens, feed bags, and other merchandise along with the passengers. In May 1893 he lured a “Boy’s Brigade” into Sunday School classes, postponing an onset of juvenile delinquency. And starting in July 1893 the church closed for services because of excessive heat of 110 degree temperatures. During the six week closure, Rev Lloyd received $50 compensation in lieu of his normal salary.
In December of 1894, the ladies of St. Luke’s sponsored a concert at the Opera House to pay for the bell tower. At that time, Ethelbert Andres, a candidate for Holy Orders was appointed the new minister. At the time of World War I, the congregation was greatly expanded by soldiers from Camp Cody, and the church building was lengthened to double its capacity.
The first couple married in the church were Miss Fannie Ross and Mr George Miles on June 12, 1893. The first baptisms and confirmations were held in February 1890. Among those confirmed were the mother of Judge A. W. Marshall, Mrs Alice Smith for whom Smith School was named, and Mrs. George Shepard who managed the local Harvey House for many years. The first Sunday school was organized very early in the church’s history.
The parish hall attached to the church was built in 1956, under the leadership of the Women’s Auxiliary, choir, youth group, and the church school. Included were Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Marshall, Mr. and Mrs. John Hough, Mrs. James P. Byrne, Mrs. Karl Tillman, Misses Olive Whitehill and Marian Argall, Messrs Glenn Moses, Tom Oshel, Gene Todd, R. D. Wasdin, Jack Wells, and Ray Wilder.
For 60 years in the earlier history of the church there was no resident clergy and services were conducted by lay readers and visiting preachers. In the more recent history of the church, from October of 1999, when the Vicar, Rev Tommy Means, left until September of 2009, when Don Heacox became Deacon Pastor upon his ordination, the church relied on supply priests and lay leaders, including Don Heacox, who served as Lay Vicar from the beginning of 2004. Don Heacox became vicar upon his ordination to the priesthood in St. Luke’s on March 30, 2010.
Sunday - Communion
Wednesday - Morning Prayer