Church Rummage Sale a Success

Sitting among donated items for the St. Luke’s rummage sale were Anna Judy DeTorre and vicar Guy Leemhuis.
Photo courtesy of Vanessa YNDA


St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church held a very successful rummage sale on Saturday. They thank all those who came out to help and shop – and especially those who donated – in order to make the sale so successful.

There are still a few items left and the congregation is starting to gather more donations for one or two more rummage sales they plan to have during the summer months, said Father Guy Leemhuis, vicar at St. Luke’s of the Mountains.

St. Luke’s is best known in the community as the “stone church.” Located at the corner of Rosemont Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, it has gone through some transitions over its almost 100 years in existence including joining with the Tujunga Church of the Ascension in 2012 to become “one family under one roof.” This is all part of the transitioning world of churches lately, and now the Los Angeles Diocese is contemplating another possible change.

In La Cañada Flintridge, St. George’s Episcopal Church has closed its preschool after more than 50 years of serving the community.

“St. George’s preschool closed due to steadily declining enrollment over the years,” said Leemhuis.

The preschool had less than one-third of its capacity enrolled in this coming year. Although there has been some talk about closing St. George’s Church there has not been an official decision made yet.

“There is no decision to close St. George’s,” Leemhuis said.

In recent weeks the congregations of St. Luke’s and St. George’s have been gathering together for services, either at the churches of St. Luke’s or at St. George’s.

“[St. George’s] congregation leadership is simply exploring the possibility of joining with St. Luke’s,” Leemhuis said. “We are exploring if it makes sense to merge but nothing has been decided at this point and more conversation will happen about this possibility and will involve the [Los Angeles] diocese and our bishop.”

A Gallup poll found in 2020 that 47% of U.S. adults belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. That is down over 20 percentage points from the turn of the century. In 2018 that rate was 50% and in 1999 it was 70%. This is a trend that appears to be a recent occurrence. Gallup began to first measure church membership in 1937 when the percentage of those who belonged to a church was 73%. It remained in the 70% range for the following six decades.

“Decline in church attendance is something that most denominations have experienced. Further, people have cars now and don’t always seek to worship within walking distance from their homes. We have approximately seven churches in a 15-mile radius of each other,” Leemhuis said. “I don’t believe all of our churches are dying. We have vibrant communities of worship doing exciting work all over our six county diocese. Our foothill churches are no different. As in life everything changes. Our future churches will strive to collaborate more and do much more mutual ministry work. Some of our campuses will have opportunities for affordable housing, which is sorely needed in our state and local communities.”

St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church is gearing up for its 100th year celebration. Below is some history of the “stone church:”

On Easter 1924 the cornerstone was laid for the building of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church. Since then the church, located at the northeast corner of Foothill Boulevard and Rosemont Avenue, has been a cornerstone of the valley. During a walk-through of the grounds a few years ago, when the church was only 86 years old, the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley on a Sunday afternoon highlighted that long history of the old French country stone church. The tour was led by churchmember Charly Shelton.

“They say God works in mysterious ways. Well, if artist S. Seymour Thomas had not become ill, needing a place with healthy air, there would probably still be a St. Luke’s Episcopal Church here on the corner but it would have looked much different,” Shelton said.

Seymour Thomas was a well-known artist. His portrait of President Woodrow Wilson is still displayed at the White House. He and his wife were residents of La Crescenta in a home on Rosemont Avenue they called Cuddle Doon.

After an afternoon tea at home, the artist went to the land at the corner of what is now Rosemont and Foothill, which was donated by Madame Louise Janvier, and began to paint. The result was a plan in the form of a painting for a stone church whose architecture was influenced heavily by the artist’s time in France.

That painting still hangs in the vicar’s office.