ST. LUKE'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
St. Luke's Episcopal Church, at 600 Morgan Road in Eden, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is known locally as "the Rock Church." The first service in the church was in February of 1926, after about 20 years of heroic ministry by the Rev. William Jones Gordon in a little chapel on Flint Hill. The nearby bridge over the Smith River on Aiken Road was named in his honor.
The Tale of Three Cities notes that the building is "notable for its solid rubble stone construction and close resemblance to a medieval parish church, recalling the Anglican roots of the Episcopal denomination." The architect, J. W. Hopper, was a lover of all things English and was responsible for this design. The members of the congregation gathered the stone in the Axton and Cascade area, and many worked on its construction.
The interior is dominated by the large colorful "Resurrection Window" over the altar, which was donated by Lily Morehead Mebane in memory of her mother. The chancel is lined and furnished with magnificent woodwork , all done by Burl Dickerson, a member and a famous local furniture and cabinetmaker, and the reredos is made of rare American chestnut. One of the windows from the little chapel on Flint Hill is preserved in the side entry.
The small wooden baptismal font came from the chapel on the Hairston Oak Hill Plantation, as did also the bell in the bell tower, which is rung by an English "sally" or fancy bell rope. The original pews came from the same source, but have been replaced by more elegant ones. The big brass offering plate was given by a titled English lady, and the little prayer-desk came by way of the Village Chapel in Pinehurst, NC, from Oberammergau in Germany, carved by one of the Passion Play performers.
According to In the Potter's Hand, by Mrs. Frances Craddock, the beautiful purple and green hangings for several portions of the liturgical church year were made by Christian Chinese women and donated by Laura Clark, Mrs. Gordon's sister, who gave her life as a missionary in China and died in a Japanese prison camp.
The parish house was designed by the late George Hairston, whose family has been associated with St. Luke's from the beginning, and was built under his supervision. Between the church and the spacious parish hall upstairs is the handsome Hairston Lounge, which has many portraits of past rectors and bishops who figured in the more than 100 year life of the congregation. The parish house was "rocked" to match the church in 1996-97 under the leadership of Dennis Alcorn.
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