DARIEN — Nearly 30 years ago, David Anderson joined St. Luke’s Parish, and in a few weeks he will prepare for his next step in life.

“Looking back, I think I always had a calling to serve God and the church,” he said.

Anderson, a Darien resident, will spend his final Sunday with the church on Dec. 2 before taking on a new role as chaplain of Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia. Over his years with St. Luke’s, Anderson said the community taught him many things.

“It (St. Luke’s Parish) knows how to teach young clergy how to be a pastor and how to be a leader,” Anderson said. “That’s what they did for me.”

Growing up in South Dakota, he originally attended a Baptist church, but found his way to an Episcopal church as he got older.

“I found a church that was much more open and affiriming,” he said.

In 1989, Anderson joined St. Luke’s right out of seminary as an associate rector. In 1992, he left to lead a church in Philadelphia for 11 years. Despite leaving, he said he maintained connections and returned as rector in 2003.

“When I first came back, it was almost like a time-lapse photograph,” he said. “It was the same community and the same church, just 11 years later.”

One thing that remained was the passion for the community in the church, Anderson said. The church’s patience helped him grow into a rector and learn how to do ministry.

“They’re not really wagging a finger at you,” he said of the St. Luke’s community. “It’s the way a good mentor walks beside you to help you get better.”

Anderson said the church’s vision is not only to build their own congregation, but to help the community.

“A good, strong church I think is always serving people who aren’t within its walls,” he said. “I think St. Luke’s does that as well as any church can do.”

Anderson originally made his connection to the church after attending Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.

“The dean there knew the rector at St. Luke’s in Darien,” he said. “When I graduated, he made the introduction. ... The door opened and I eagerly walked in.”

Anderson said his time at St. Luke’s was invaluable because of the people he learned from.

“You don’t really realize it until you leave and then you realize how much these people gave you,” he said.

Anderson said the community-focused vision of St. Luke’s has prepared him for his new role in Pennsylvania.

“That’s always been what I loved about St. Luke,” Anderson said. “Even though its a church in an affluent suburb, it has a real heart for people who are in need.”

In Philadelphia, he plans to work with the Diocese of Pennsylvania to address the causes of poverty and work with those trying to escape poverty.

“I think in a way that’s been the ethos, or underlying mission of St. Luke’s,” Anderson said. “ ... I feel what I’m doing in Philadelphia next is a natural outgrowth of that and taking it to a much deeper level.”

As the final Sunday with the church approaches, Anderson said he will remember St. Luke’s fondly.

“It’s been wonderful for my family, for me,” Anderson said. “It’s been amazingly supportive through great years and tough years. That, to me, is what makes the community really special.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact

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