On January 29, 1905, St. Lucas Evangelical Lutheran Church, located in South St. Louis, was founded. The first members were 36 Slovak immigrant men and their families. The congregation now numbers approximately 400 communicant members.
The New World promised a new start in freedom and opportunity. Not knowing the language of their adopted land, they sought out settlements of fellow Slovaks, and took the most menial laboring jobs. Most of the immigrants intended to return to their homeland, but many remained in the United States.
As religion was a strong component of their life back “home,” they sought out fellow believers. The Slovak Lutherans in the St. Louis area turned to “Old Trinity” Lutheran Church in the Soulard area. Its spiritual needs were served every other week by Slovak students from Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Illinois. Its first regular pastor, L.A. Jarosi, arrived June 1, 1906 and stayed until October 15, 1907.
In 1908, under Pastor Theodore A. Balent, the congregation purchased a three-story building on South Ninth Street. In 1914, they purchased the church, parish hall, and parsonage at 13th and Allen.
Under the leadership of Pastor George Majoros, the church had planned to establish a parochial school already in 1918, but for lack of teachers, it did not open until 1928. However, a Sunday School was begun in 1921. English services were held once a month beginning in 1930. To help with the needs of a growing, bi-lingual parish, Pastor Daniel M. Estok became the assistant in 1947. Pastor Majoros was called to his eternal rest in 1949, and Pastor Estok continued his pastorate until 1955. In August of that year, Pastor John Kovac was called to serve St. Lucas. Pastor Gerald Kovac succeeded his father in 1975. Pastor Kovac served as Pastor for 30 years, until September, 2005. Rev. Paul R. Biber was called to St. Lucas in 2006 and served through May, 2016. The congregation is currently in the process of calling its next pastor.
Membership had dwindled during the war years, as many members left the downtown area for outlying regions and suburbs. The day school had to close in 1947. In 1953, a Site Committee was selected. The present property at Morganford and Blow of 2.37 acres was purchased, and a Building Program was begun on the 50th anniversary of the congregation in 1955. The present church and educational wing was dedicated on July 27, 1958, at a cost of $300,000.
Known for years as the “Slovak” church, only a portion of the present congregation traces its roots to founding members. Regular Slovak services ended in 1985, but the heritage of the founders continue to bless both their ethnic descendants as well as the many new members who have become part of its worshipping community. As the community changes, so does the spiritual service adapt to its new and future family representing a diversity of backgrounds, yet one Body in Christ, the Savior and Lord of all nations.
St. Lucas’ pastors and members have always been education- minded, either maintaining their own Christian Day School or sending students to other Lutheran church schools in the area, and sending its day school graduates to Lutheran High Central (while it existed) and Lutheran High South. St. Lucas has sent a large number of students into the pastoral and teaching ministry, and has supported local and foreign mission enterprises and Lutheran social services.