Written by Rachel Shapiro Friday, 12 March 2010 00:00
German immigrants founded St. Luke’s Church in Farmingdale 100 years ago and although the face of its membership has changed, its mission and purpose have not.
Senior Pastor Rev. Rodney Eberhardt has been with the church for 12 years and says that the church has stayed true to its roots.
“We are a conservative, Lutheran community that preserves the Lutheran traditions,” he said. “St. Luke’s as a congregation has had strong pastoral leadership that’s always been mission and program oriented.”
They are passionate about the church’s role in the community, being involved with groups like Farmingdale Adult Day Care.
“We have a lot of activity here all the time,” Eberhardt told the Farmingdale Observer. Among its many popular groups, the church has a sports program that is an inter-Lutheran, intramural basketball league where about 150 kids play October through March.
In celebration of its very large birthday, the church is holding many events throughout the year, including a “Night at the Races” on March 13, a family concert night with “Strawberry Fields,” a Beatles tribute band on April 24, a tea party on May 8 and many more activities.
One of the larger events planned is a sightseeing trip to Germany in September where church members will be in for a once-a-decade treat.
Since the congregation was founded by German immigrants and is a German, Lutheran community “I thought a trip to Germany would be good,” Eberhardt said.
Those going on the trip will be visiting a town in Bavaria where residents perform the same play every 10 years. The production is called the “Passion Play” about the crucifixion of Jesus. Eberhardt explained that during the 1400s, when the Black Plague was sweeping through Europe, the people of the Bavarian city promised God that if he allowed them to survive, they would produce this play every 10 years and they’ve been doing so since.
Although the founders were German, today the church’s membership “crosses all ethnic, socio-economic bounds and is fairly reflective of the Farmingdale community,” Eberhardt said.
The church has 2,200 baptized members, with three Sunday services, one senior pastor and one assistant pastor, Rev. Francis Bonadonna.
The St. Luke’s Early Childhood Education Center is a large part of the church’s presence in the community as children ages 2 to 4 are cared for at the center, which has been in operation since 1987. The center is located right next to the church on Prospect Street and with a staff of 28 full and part-time teachers and assistant teachers, the center is a fully functioning pre-school.
“We’ve played a significant role in the Farmingdale community,” Eberhardt said. With a mix of educational, recreational and religious programs, the school’s students come from both inside and outside the church membership. About 50 percent of the children’s families attend the church, Eberhardt said.
“We feel extremely blessed by God to be a part of the Farmingdale community,” Eberhardt said. “We’ve been given by God the strength and vitality to serve 100 years and we hope to serve 100 more.”
For more information about the church and its offerings, visit http://www. stlukesfarmingdale.org/