St. Luke’s Church on Hilton Head Island will hold “Celebration Sunday” on Nov. 12 to mark the completion of a four-year, $3.3 million capital campaign to expand and renew the campus.
A dedication ceremony will begin at 11:45 a.m., following the Sunday church service and will include tours of the new facilities.
“This has been our vision for more than 15 years, and now we are so thrilled that it has come to fruition,” said the pastor, the Rev. Greg Kronz.
Stumbling blocks along the way have included a recession and a legal challenge over property ownership within the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
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But Kronz said the church decided it could not wait, and the result is sounder footing for the future and a more inviting church in the present.
The most obvious change is the Fellowship Hall, the new name for the former Parish Hall, which was demolished. Banquet capacity has grown from 90 to 250, and its use as an auditorium has gone from 110 to 300.
It has a stage for church performances and lectures, and the church hopes to host Christian events.
The first event in the new Fellowship Hall will be a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ministry of Greg and Meredith Kronz. The gala begins at 5 p.m. Nov. 12. The public is invited. Ticket information is available by calling the church at 843-785-4099 or through stlukeshhi.org.
The capital campaign, called “Preparing for the Next 50” and led by Norm Galloway, is the largest for the church, which was originally dedicated on Christmas Eve 1964 at the corner of Pope Avenue and Cordillo Parkway.
The new Fellowship Hall has drive-up access to its new entry facing Cordillo Parkway.
Other facets of the project include:
▪ A new Ministry & Missions building.
▪ Renovations to the preschool building. It now has its own secure facility and protected toddler playground. This frees up space in the education wing for adult classes.
▪ Interior renovations, including additional and expanded restrooms, and a new enclosed hallway replacing the exterior walkway between the Fellowship Hall and sanctuary. This hallway is known as the “Walk of Light,” designed by Joni Banks of J. Banks Design Group. It has displays honoring St. Luke’s heritage and showcases “The Acolyte,” an original oil painting donated to the church by the late Walter and Margaret Greer. The walkway looks out on the columbarium and provides access to a larger bookstore.
▪ Parking and grounds improvements for easier access, better drainage and improved safety and aesthetics.
▪ A renovated and upgraded kitchen.
▪ Remodeled office building and upgraded technology to connect the campus digitally and provide expanded phone, network and Wi-Fi support.
‘Love my people’
Kronz is the longest-serving rector in the church’s history and is believed to be second in seniority among island pastors to the Rev. Michael Carr at Central Church.
“I didn’t realize at the time how young I was when I arrived,” Kronz said. “They took a risk on a young guy.”
He was 35 when he and Meredith moved to the island. They have raised three children here.
Kronz was recently asked in the Carolina Compass publication where he would like to spend the remaining years of his ministry.
He said he does not want to go anywhere else.
“I love my people and have become such a part of St. Luke’s and of Hilton Head Island. ... It would be difficult to leave.
“I have presided at more than 600 funerals since I have been at St. Luke’s; I have been a part of families’ lives, through ups and downs; I love my people. I would love to stay and, in time, transition into more part-time work. Perhaps, rector emeritus?
“We have built a great physical plant here and expanded the property, so we’re in great condition for the next 20 years. But, in the next five or six years, it may be time for a younger and ‘more visionary’ type of leader.”
Today’s St. Luke’s Church came to life with about 50 members in 1964 on five acres donated by the family of Sea Pines founder Charles E. Fraser.
But the story of St. Luke’s Parish is much longer. It was created by the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly in 1767. A church was built in 1786 on what is today S.C. 170 at Sun City Hilton Head. The Zion Chapel of Ease of the St. Luke’s Parish was built on Hilton Head Island in 1788.
The chapel disbanded with the federal occupation of Hilton Head at the outset of the Civil War in 1861 and never reconvened. But silver communion chalices from that chapel were found in Philadelphia in 1920 and were returned to St. Luke’s Church for its 1964 dedication.
Last month, a ministry of today’s St. Luke’s Church, the Church Mouse thrift shop at 78 Arrow Road, announced a three-year, $135,000 grant toward restoration of the Baynard Mausoleum at the Zion Chapel of Ease cemetery.