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Florida was admitted to the Union in 1845.
In 1867, the population of the entire state was approximately
150,000; that of Orange County, 1,500, concentrated mainly in
two villages, Mellonville (now Sanford) and Orlando (formerly
called Jernigan until 1857). Most of the homes and stores in
Orlando were located between Lake Eola and Lake Lucerne.
Francis Eppes, grandson of Thomas Jefferson (3rd President
of the United States), moved his family to Orlando from
Tallahassee, building a log cabin in the sparsely settled area.
A Lay Reader, he conducted the first Episcopal services in
Orlando for his neighbors.
The stained glass window at the
south stairs in the narthex of the Cathedral honors the memory
of Francis Eppes and his contribution to the establishment of
the Episcopal Church in Orlando. The window is pictured above.
In October 1892, General Convention set apart the Missionary
Jurisdiction of South Florida, and William Crane Gray was elected
and consecrated first bishop. Bishop Gray made Orlando his home.
Under his guidance, St. Luke's was designated as The Cathedral
Church for South Florida on March 31,1902.
The Rev. Lucien A. Spencer was appointed the first Dean
of the Cathedral.
Bishop Gray retired in 1910. On Ascension Day in that year,
he presented to the Cathedral as a thank offering a processional
cross which is still in use. The carved oak pulpit in the Cathedral
is a memorial to Bishop Gray.
The Rt. Rev. Cameron Mann, Bishop of North Dakota, succeeded
Bishop Gray. A series of Deans offered leadership that steadily
advanced the growth of the parish and its spiritual influence
throughout the period of World War I and the 1920's. At the General
Convention of 1922, The Missionary Jurisdiction of South Florida
was admitted as a Diocese and the first Diocesan Convention
was held in the Cathedral in January 1923.
In October, 1922, the old Cathedral building was moved to the south
side of the tract of land to make room for a glorious new Cathedral.
It was designed by the famous architects of the Washington Cathedral,
the firm of Frohman, Robb, and Little of Boston. The cornerstone was
laid by Bishop Mann on April 13,1925. Because of the depression,
which came to Florida in 1926, the building was only partially constructed.
A "temporary" wall sealed the altar end. The first services were
conducted in the new Cathedral on Easter Even, April 3,1926, by
Bishop Mann, when a large confirmation class was presented to him.
Carved Oak Pulpit
The ensuing period presented severe economic hardships.
Members of the Cathedral parish made significant sacrifices to
keep and maintain the properties they had worked so hard to obtain.
The Rev. John Durham Wing was elected and consecrated as
Bishop Coadjutor on September 25,1925. He succeeded Bishop Mann
in 1932, and his installation service was held in the Cathedral on
May 12. The Rev. Melville F. Johnson, student pastor at the
University of Florida, became the sixth Dean on January 1, 1931
and served for twenty-two years. He led the construction of the
L-shaped educational unit, which stands behind the present
Chapter House. It is a memorial to members of the Cathedral
who died in World War II.
The Rev. Osborne R. Littleford became the Cathedral's seventh
Dean in 1952. Under his leadership, the present Chapter House
was erected and the Cathedral parish grew steadily. At this time
several of the suburban churches were established, and many
of the Cathedral families transferred to them to help form a
foundation for their growth.
In 1959, the Rev. Francis Campbell Gray became the eighth Dean
and guided the destiny of the Cathedral family for twelve years.
During his tenure, communicant strength reached a new high.
The Rt. Rev. Henry Irving Louttit, who had served as Suffragan
from 1945 to 1948 and as Coadjutor from 1948 to 1950, directed
the Diocese of South Florida during its greatest period of growth
and expansion. New parishes proliferated. Diocesan communicant
strength tripled. As he approached retirement, machinery was set
up through Convention to study the possibility of dividing the
Diocese of South Florida. This was accomplished in 1970 when
the old Diocese of South Florida was divided into three dioceses.
St. Luke's continued as the Cathedral Church for the Diocese
of Central Florida. Bishop Louttit served very briefly as its first
Bishop, succeeded by The Rt. Rev. William H. Folwell who retired
in 1990. The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe followed Bishop Folwell and
was the 3rd Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida.
The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer was consecrated the
4th Bishop of Central Florida after Bishop Howe retired 2012.
In January, 1971, The Rev. Charles T. Gaskell became the
ninth Dean of the Cathedral, serving until his consecration in June,
1973, as Bishop Coadjutor of Milwaukee. Under Dean Gaskell's
leadership, the renovation of the Cathedral nave with the erection
of the choir gallery over the narthex and installation of the
88-rank pipe organ was achieved.
88-rank pipe organ
In September, 1973, The Rev. O'Kelley Whitaker, Rector
of Emmanuel Church, Orlando, became the tenth Dean. With
Bishop Folwell's encouragement and under Dean Whitaker's
leadership, the Cathedral grew as a strong downtown parish,
becoming a center for Diocesan functions and an example
of excellence in worship, liturgical arts and music.
Dean Whitaker resigned after his election as Bishop Coadjutor
of the Diocese of Central New York in November, 1980.
The Rev. George H. Back (current Dean of the Cathedral in
Oklahoma City) served as Interim Dean for one year.
The Rev. Harry B. Sherman, rector of St. Paul's Church,
Patchogue, Long Island, and Dean of Suffolk County in the
Diocese of Long Island, accepted the call to become the eleventh
Dean of the Cathedral, beginning his ministry at the Cathedral
on September 1, 1981.
Through 1986 and 1987, the temporary wall which was constructed
in 1926, was removed and the Cathedral building was finally
completed much as it had been originally planned, The completed
Cathedral includes an apse, ambulatory, priests and working
sacristies, a bell tower and the St. Mary Chapel.
Under the leadership
of The Very Rev. Dr. G. Richard Lobs III, the twelfth dean, from
1993 to 2006, the Cathedral experienced substantial spiritual and
The growth and vitality continue with the
Cathedral's thirteenth dean, The Very Rev. Anthony P. Clark, who
was installed in December 2006. The congregation looks forward
to continuing excellence in worship and growth in the knowledge
and love of Jesus Christ under Dean Clark's leadership.
St. Mary Chapel
and bell tower
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