That there are Episcopal churches in West Tennessee owes much to one Mrs. Mary Hayes Willis Gloster, who emigrated to LaGrange, Tennessee from North Carolina. Frustrated at the lack of an Episcopal church anywhere nearby, this widow and grandmother took it upon herself to bring the church to her new home. At 52 years of age in 1832, Mary rode on horseback to Nashville to see Bishop Otey. It is said that she traveled with her infant grandchild in one hand and peach brandy in the other, as a gift for Bishop Otey. The peach brandy was in case Bishop Otey needed some extra convincing. The infant grandchild, she carried because she believed that no bandit would dare attack a woman with an infant.
Later that year five congregations were planted in West Tennessee. The first was Saint Luke’s, on July 23, 1832, followed by Immanuel, LaGrange; Christ Church, Brownsville; Calvary, Memphis and St. Paul’s in Randolph. On July 23, 1832 (a decade after Madison County, Tennessee was organized) a small group of persons “friendly” to the Episcopal faith gathered with The Rev. Thomas Wright at the Masonic Hall to establish Saint Luke’s Parish.
The Rev. John Chilton was our first rector, a charge he shared with the church in Brownsville. Saint Luke’s labored under many difficulties in the early years because of the lack of money and of members. In 1837, there were only six communicants and no rector.
In 1839, the parish was honored with a visit from the Right Rev. James H. Otey, Bishop of Tennessee, who held services in the Madison County Courthouse. The Rev. Thomas West became rector of Saint Luke’s in 1842. The Sunday School was organized in that year.