After more than 30 years of steady growth, St. Luke Church in Smyrna is ready to expand.
The parish has launched a capital campaign to raise money for the construction of a new church.
“St. Luke needs a church,” Hale Meacham Jr., a member of the parish finance committee, said in a video about the capital campaign that’s available on the parish’s website. “It’s not just that we want it. We’ve got to have one in order to grow the kingdom of God.”
In 1982, the new parish began meeting in a horse barn. About 10 years later, the barn was renovated and a new wing that included a narthex, social hall and classrooms, was built. The parish has been using that church ever since.
“We’ve just outgrown that,” said Joanne Speer, a founding member of the parish and one of the co-chairs of the capital campaign with her husband Frank. “So now it’s time to build a church, a proper sanctuary where everybody can hear the Mass.”
The current church seats about 250 people. For its four weekend Masses – three in English and one in Spanish – people spill out of the sanctuary and into the narthex and adjacent social hall where folding chairs are set up, Speer said.
The new church will seat 600 and will be built with the possibility of future expansions to increase its capacity to 800 and eventually 1,000, St. Luke Pastor Father Jacob Dio, M.S.F.S., said in the video for the campaign, which is called “Building for God’s Honor and Glory.”
The new church will have a 10,000 square feet in the sanctuary and another 3,000 square feet of space for the welcome entrance, cry room, restrooms and storage.
The project will cost an estimated $3.2 million. The parish had more than $600,000 on hand and hopes to raise $2 million with the capital campaign. The rest would be covered by a loan.
The parish already has $800,000 in pledges and the campaign will continue through June 5, said Andy Gaertner, the former stewardship director for the Diocese of Nashville who now works for the Steier Group and is helping St. Luke conduct the capital campaign.
About 30 volunteers from the parish are busy visiting parishioners to ask them to make a pledge toward the project, Speer said.
“It’s been phenomenal the response we’ve had,” she said. “ It’s been amazing how this has all come together. People are so willing to work together to build the church.”
Enthusiasm for the project has been strong, said Gaertner, an associate vice president for the Steier Group.
“This is something the parish has wanted for a long time,” Gaertner said. “People are excited. … They are so positive, so energetic and so enthusiastic about the possibility of a new church. … It’s not easy in this day and age to go out ask people for money. That really has not been a problem here.”
Besides talking to people in the parish about donating toward the project, Gaertner said, parishioners will be talking to people outside the parish, including family and friends. “We’ll be sending out a fair number of grant requests,” he added.
St. Luke has grown with the rest of Rutherford County, which is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. An expanded church will help the diocese serve the needs of the growing Catholic population in Rutherford County, Bishop David Choby said on the video.
“What we’re building now is not only for me, for you, for the present generation,” Father Dio said on the video. “It’s going to last for years. Many generations will come to this new church to be healed, to receive the sacraments. … What we do now is not only for ourselves. It’s for future generations.”
The parish hopes to break ground on the new church in September or October, Speer said. The new church has been designed by Centric Architecture of Nashville, the firm which also designed the renovation and expansion of the motherhouse for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and St. Henry Church.
The new church will also enhance the experience of the liturgy, Father Dio said in the video. “To have a proper place to worship is very important,” he said. “The Mass is the center of our Catholic faith. When we’re not able to participate properly in the Mass, we lose something of our faith.”
To view the video or see more information about the capital campaign visit the parish website at
. People can also donate online by visiting the website.
People can also get more information by calling the church office at (615) 459-9672 or by mailing St. Luke Church, 10682 Old Nashville Highway, Smyrna, TN 37167.