In the four years since Rev. Luke Fodor joined St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown, he has embraced more than just his congregation, reaching out and inspiring change throughout the community.
“Coming to Jamestown and serving a vital, downtown congregation like St. Luke’s – which has a history of forming civic leaders such as Robert H. Jackson and Charles Goodell – opened my eyes to the responsibility that I have to impact the whole community,” Fodor explained.
In addition to the many agencies that St. Luke’s partners with, Fodor currently serves on the Boards of Directors at the Jamestown YMCA, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and Chautauqua Striders. He has also been involved in several civic and municipal commissions including the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, City of Jamestown’s Riverfront Management Commission and City Taskforce for the 2020 Census.
“Too often the work and business of leading a church gets caught up in the production of Sunday services and pastoral care and yet the work of the church is greater than that,” Fodor said. “At St. Luke’s we are interested in serving our neighbors.”
After noticing that the Undercroft, a community and meeting space at St. Luke’s, had not been updated since the 1950s and that the general public did not have the opportunities to witness the absolute beauty of their worship space, Fodor launched a capital campaign to raise one million dollars to rehabilitate the entire building, including renovating the Undercroft.
“I knew we needed to restore our meeting space so we could serve and inspire others who had been hurt, or disillusioned by the church, or who simply didn’t find value in worship services,” Fodor explained.
Since its completion in 2017, Fodor says the community reception and use of the renovated Undercroft has been outstanding. The space has been used for weekly recovery programs such as A Fresh Start and Refuge Recovery, Chautauqua Striders mentoring appointments and dinners, Creche’s annual rummage sale, as well as, the Chautauqua County Humane Society’s low-cost pet clinic.
The Undercroft is also available for private events, such as family parties and wedding receptions, and organizational meetings.
And while Fodor can cross this project off of his To-Do List, he continues to look for opportunities that allow him to motivate others to dream big, even if they are not affiliated with his parish.
“When we are called to service, it is not always possible to draw easy and arbitrary boundaries of who’s in and who’s out,” Fodor said. “I believe that the boundaries of my parish extend beyond Jamestown, Chautauqua (County) and even New York (state). We have to light up the whole world.”
For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.