St. Luke's in the 1933 Earthquake at 7th and Atlantic
St. Luke’s church was launched in 1897, just after the City of Long Beach was incorporated for a population of around 2,000 people. The original church on 5th Street and Locust Ave was replaced by the present one in 1917, and the damage done by the earthquake of 1933 brought partial rebuilding of the structure. Parishioners originated in the East or the Middle West — some think mostly from Iowa — and tended to be white and well-off. Indeed, the city actually hired a company that followed the racist policy of recruiting white people as workers for new businesses.
Combating racism has emerged historically as a major goal for St. Luke’s Church. By the early 1930's parishioners increasingly came from wider social origins, and in the 1960's the church’s leadership worked for the opening up of housing to Blacks and Asians. In 1964 the Reverend Benson Belliss declared that “the Church is a part of a world in revolution,” calling on Episcopalians to support the State’s Rumford Fair Housing Act against social discrimination. New social programs evolved at the turn of the 21st century, bringing the church socially into the center of the downtown, mingling people from the city’s gay and straight communities. The music program has evolved around the church’s impressive pipe organ, combining contemporary and classical hymns and organ pieces. The Sunday School has met in the building put up in 1962, offering a day care center for the general public.
For a more detailed history of St. Luke’s CLICK HERE.