Our History

First 125 Years

The history of St. John's Lutheran Church dates back to the middle of November, 1861, when ten men met in the parsonage of Pastor J. G. Hempler.  These ten founding fathers were Casper Teckenbrock, Cord H. Verbarg, H. H. Bremer, Stephen H. Bremer, Frederick H. Meyer, Heinrich Wilhelm Hagenberg, Wilhelm Gieseke, John Haverkamp, and Frederick Teckenbrock.

After the opening of the meeting with prayer and after the pastor had given the purpose of this meeting, the assembly resolved to found their own congregation and to build their own church.  Cord H. Verbarg was willing to donate ten acres if they would use this to build the church on.  Also, Casper Teckenbrock was willing to give them, without charge, land for the building of a church.  Frederick Meyer also offered part of his forty acres which he owned in this neighborhood.  A committee of three was appointed to investigate the various parcels of land and to report back.  They were also to investigate the purchase of boards.  It was further resolved to build a log church for the present.  The dimensions were to be fifty-eight feet long and twenty-eight feet wide.  The parsonage was to be attached to the rear of the church with one large room and kitchen.  It was resolved to split logs as soon as possible so that we might preach in our own church by New Year's of 1862.

Because the members still had their corn in the fields and still had to harvest it, the assembly considered it wise to wait this week and next the next week with the building of the church, however, the work was to begin on Monday of the third week.  The committee to look after the grounds and boards consisted of Frederick Teckenbrock, Casper Teckenbrock, and John Haverkamp.  The pastor emphasized at this meeting again very specially that only those who had time, pleasure, and love for the Word of God should work on this church.  He also pointed out the fact that the building of this church would reveal those who really loved the Lord Jesus.  Everything should be done voluntarily and out of love to the Lord Jesus.  "At this meeting we were all of one mind and of one soul, and everyone went on his way home rejoicing."

On Monday morning of the third week, the church was begun, on Casper Teckenbrock's land.  This is where the present church is now located.  Five or six men gathered to begin work in the name of God, the following were present:  Pastor J. G. Hempler, Frederick Teckenbrock, Casper Teckenbrock, Cord H. Verbarg, also a few more names were not recorded.  Frederick Teckenbrock kindled a fire, where at this time the parsonage garden is located, and they gathered around the fire and waited a while to see whether more men would show up for work.  When the waiting time had past, the pastor and the members kneeled and the pastor prayed earnestly for himself, the congregation, and the work which they were to begin, and for the blessing of the Lord.

Having pronounced the blessing, the pastor took the ax and drove the ax in the nearest tree with the verse Psalm 84:3, "Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God."  Then sprang everyone to the nearest appropriate tree to fall it, and the work to build a church had begun.  He who had time to spare came to work and he who had not stayed at home.  It was really heartwarming to see the work progress.  None of the members lagged behind or taught he was doing too much compared with others who did not work as much.  Each member considered this matter as his own and worked with joy and love for the church had to be finished by New Year's 1862.  Frederick Teckenbrock was the carpenter, and he made the benches for the church and the interior furnishings.  He worked more than all other workers, yes he worked seventy-one days for the church.  Many a time when all other workers slumbered and slept, he was busy building the benches in his barn, for the church should and must be ready.  In fourteen days, all logs were cut and ready so that we could have erected the church the third week, but we waited another week.  In the fourth week, the church was erected,and we labored till everything was finished. When New Year's 1862 arrived, we moved exultantly into our new church.  Everybody was happy!  Now we had our own home in which we could preach and worship our loving God.  To be sure the building of the church brought much prevision - civil war - and the members were poor and had to fight for their own existence, nevertheless there was joy and love among the members and none considered it a burden.  "It was the most blessed time of my life; for all were literally one heart and soul."  "Hitherto had the Lord helped; the Lord be praised and all thanks and glory to Him."

The church was dedicated on the 10th Sunday after Trinity.  Pastor Johannes Heckel of Jonesboro, Union County, Illinois, assisted the Pastor J. G. Hempler in the dedication service.  The congregation was small and poor and the salary meager, however, the pastor preached every fourteen days and every four weeks in Golconda and Paducah so that he could exist.  By and by, more people joined the church because they had gained confidence in the work and saw that the small group was sincere and could maintain itself.

Pastor J. G. Hempler was forced to resign due to ill health in September 1864.  The congregation called Pastor Berthold Reinsch.  He arrived here in October 1864.  At this time, the congregation grew due to an influx of people from Indiana.  One of the first was Carl Hunerkoch with his large family.  His son-in-law, Ernest Koch, followed him, also Deidrich Ellerbusch and many others.  All of them joined the congregation.  All who joined the congregation at this time found joy and gladness in serving the Lord.  Pastor Berthold Reinsch remained here until spring of 1866. He then followed a call to the rural German congregation in Paducah, KY.

A short time later, the congregation called Pastor Fikensher to be their pastor, and he began to serve the church in May 1866.  More people from Indiana

moved into this territory.  Then, the grown children of the congregation began to establish their own families.  Now and then, some would also transfer from the old congregation.  In short, the congregation began to grow, to flourish, and to blossom, so that the church became too small.  Therefore, the congregation resolved to extend the rear of the church.  The addition was fifteen feet long.  Under the able leadership of Pastor Finkensher, the congregation flourished, grew outwardly, and rooted more deeply in the Eternal Truths.  However, Pastor Finkensher was not privileged to serve this congregation very long actively.  He became ill.  He could not preach for some time, could not teach school, nor prepare the children for confirmation.  He demitted the ministry in 1871.

The congregation called their former Pastor J. G. Hempler, from Davis County, Illinois.  He accepted the call.  He was informed by letter if he did not accept the call, the congregation would go to pieces.  Some members had already left the congregation.  The former pastor arrived here in May 1871 with his family and began his work under God.  Those members who had left returned, and the old harmony and love returned among the members.  The congregation no longer grew from people moving into this territory, but now began to grow more and more from within the membership itself.  Their own grown children established their own homes and became members.  For several years, the church building had been too small.  In the summer of 1886, the pastor admonished the congregation of their duty to provide sufficient space for the members so that all could hear the Word of God.  This admonishment fell on fertile soil.  It was resolved that instead of adding to the old church, a new structure of brick would be built.  The building was to be thirty-two feet wide and fifty-four feet long with a tower twenty-five feet high.  The cornerstone was to be laid on the 17th Sunday after Trinity, October 17, 1886.  The service for the cornerstone laying was conducted by Pastor J. G. Hempler and assisted by Pastor J. Mall of Barns (where St. Stephen's Lutheran Church is located).

The Preceding was taken from the cornerstone of the brick church, which was built in 1886.  It is believed that the cost of the building at that time was about $3,000.  The bricks were made in Metropolis, Illinois, and hauled with wagons to the building site.  The clay for the bricks may have come from the northeastern section of Massac County.  The bell was cast in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Henry Korte, one of the original members, gave the bell to the church.  He went to Cincinnati and brought the bell back.  It was brought to Massac County by railroad and then to St. John's by wagon.  It is believed that the cost of the bell was $200.  The same bell was placed in the tower of the new church which was built in 1960 and is still there today used to signal time for Sunday School and worship service.  The red brick church was of 19th Century European architecture.

Pastor George Hempler continued to serve St John until the year 1890 in addition to serving other churches in this area.  Pastor Hempler is said to have established not only our church but the Kornthal Lutheran Church just south of Jonesboro, Illinois.  In 1960, the state of Illinois had plans to take over the church in Jonesboro and adjoining parsonage as a historical shrine.

Pastor Hempler, who worked so diligently for the Lord and for St. John's, was a minister in Altenburg, Missouri at the time of his death.  He was buried in Altenburg in September of 1895.

The year 1890 brought Pastor J. Bucha as our pastor.  In this same year, the first church parsonage was built with two more rooms added later.  The picture below depicts the two added rooms.  The original parsonage was made of logs.  The parsonage has since been remodeled numerous times with the three original rooms present.  Pastor Bucha remained until late 1893.

The church was without a regular pastor until some time in 1894 when Pastor F. Mensing answered a call from the congregation, and he pastored the church until September of 1901.  It is believed Pastor Mansing came from Nebraska.  When he left, he put his horses and furniture in a railroad car at Metropolis and went to Ellis, Kansas.  Pastor Mensing was our pastor in 1895 when the log church, having outlived its usefulness, was torn down.

In late 1895 or early 1896, the Sunday School building (pictured below) was built.  It was added onto and stood until 2014 when it was torn down due to structural issues.  

It housed the Sunday School Classes and Confirmation classes until the new church was built.  Over the years, it has been used as a youth center, temporary home for a Vietnamese family in 1975, a country store for the Alter Guild at the annual Ice Cream social started in the 1930s, and was used during Bible School.

As of December 1901, Pastor P. J. Lamburtus was called to be the church's seventh pastor, and he remained until October of 1902.  Sometime during Pastor Lamburtus' ministry, a Hinner's pipe organ was purchased to help enhance the church services.  It was the duty of one of the church deacons to sit in back of the organ and "pump" while it was being played.  In 1945, an electric motor was installed for this purpose.  The pipe organ remained in the church for 51 years, and in 1952 was replaced by a modern Baldwin organ.  This organ found a home in the choir loft of the current church.

In December of 1902, Pastor H. Klemm came to fill the vacancy

left by Lamburtus.  Pastor Klemm purchased, during his stay, the 19 acres which is located west of the original church's property.  He purchased the property from John Lange.  When Pastor Klemm left St. John's, he sold the 19 acres to the church's congregation.  The purchase price is unknown.  

October 1904, once again,  found St. John's without a pastor.  Two months later, in December 1904, came the ninth pastor.  Pastor Jacob Burkhart came to serve the congregation and remained until September of 1906.

From November 1906 to April 1908, F. Geiring served as pastor of St. John Lutheran.

The congregation had been without a pastor for about six months when Herman Wittke was called in September of 1908.  Pastor Herman Wittke was called from Chamston, Nebraska.  Pastor Wittke served St. John's congregation for twenty years.

Many deceased members as Pastor Wittke's son, Martin Wittke and daughter, Lena Reineking, remained in the area.  Another son, Gustav Wittke, went into the ministry, and another son, Oscar Wittke lived in Missouri.  Pastor Wittke passed away in July of 1959 at Herron, Michigan.

The ground for the cemetery, just south of the church, was donated by Mr. W. C. Teckenbrock sometime while Pastor Wittke was with the church.  This ground is where the new cemetery is now located.  The sidewalk from the church to the parsonage and Sunday School building was built in 1920 by the Luther League.  Pastor Wittke remained until September of 1928.  This was surpassed only by the founding Pastor Hempler who served a 3 year period, and then came back later to serve another 19 years.

In September, 1928, Pastor Ed Sorgenfrei answered a call to St. John's from Toledo, Ohio.  This was the beginning of a new era for the congregation.  Until this time, it had been completely a German church.  The community surrounding the church had been, up to then, a predominantly German speaking settlement.  All services, including Sunday School and Confirmation School had been in the German language.  At this time, the need was growing for a change to the English language for the sake of the children.  The congregation began using the old blue hymnal authorized by the United Lutheran Church in America.  Under Pastor Sorgenfrei, the Sunday School service was changed to the English language and one half of the sermons were also in English.  Later, every other Sunday worship service was conducted in English and finally all except one Sunday each month was in English.  Eventually, all services were in English.  For several years to come, many of the older members could neither speak nor understand completely, the English Language.

Other improvements made to the church were the decoration of the church by Christensen in 1929.  The painting of Christ the Good Shepherd (pictured to the right from the back of the new church and above in the picture of the front of the sanctuary of the old church) remained until the interior of the church was repainted in the early 1950's.  This picture was the only Christensen piece saved when the brick church was torn down.

During the second year, 1929, under Pastor Sorgenfrei, a basement was built under the brick church, and a new furnace was installed.  Pastor Sorgenfrei remained with the church until November of September of 1930.

Between November 1930 and July 1931, St. John's was without a pastor.  This time H. Kovar was called and remained until September of 1933.

In September of 1934, Pastor Henry Rolloff (pictured below) came to serve. Pastor Rolloff changed the worship services entirely to English during his pastorate.

The 1937 flood's roaring waters covered some of the members' homes causing losses that only God could minister to.

In 1940, electricity was brought to the rural community with the church and parsonage being wired for electricity while Pastor Rolloff was serving, and the school house was remodeled.

Pastor Rolloff and his family served St. John's for ten years.  In April of 1944, he and his family went to Navoo, Illinois.

In May of 1944, Pastor F. A. Wittig (pictured below) and his family moved from Carthage, Illinois to St. John's.

One of Pastor and Mrs. Wittig's sons, William WIttig, followed his father into ministry pastoring a church in Rantoul, Illinois, and his grandchildren still attend St. John's today.

In 1948, a new furnace was installed in the church.  The parsonage was remodeled, and the basement was dug in 1949.  In 1950, running water was installed.

While Pastor Wittig was here, he helped form two organizations, namely the Brotherhood and the Women of the Church.

The envelope system was started in 1952, and St. John's Journal was published for the first time during his pastorate.

Mrs. Emma Wittig passed away  in August of 1948 and is buried in the church's cemetery as well as Pastor F. A. Wittig.

Pastor Wittig became ill with tuberculosis and entered the Grace Lutheran Sanitarium in San Antonio, Texas in February 1953.  His health forced him to resign from St. John's in the spring of 1953.  He regained his health and was dismissed from the sanitarium in July of 1955.  He then served a congregation in Slayton, Texas.

After Pastor Wittig's resignation, Pastor Marvin Krueger of St. Stephen's Lutheran congregation served St. John's as a supply pastor until February of 1954.

In February of 1954, Pastor Hartwig Harms answered a call to serve St. John's.  Under Pastor Harm's direction, in the spring of 1954, the pine trees were planted east and west of the church; some of which still stand.

Pastor Harms was a small but mighty mighty pastor who organized two church organizations, namely the Junior Mission Band and the One or Two Club.  He also conducted two Christmas Cantatas during his pastorate.  

 

It was the vision of Pastor Harms to help lay the foundation for the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Metropolis, IL.  This home was started by St. John's and St. Stephen's congregations.

In the spring of 1956, the old garage was badly damaged by a windstorm and was replaced with a new modern garage.

 

Pastor Harms served St. John's faithfully until December 31, 1957 when he retired after forty years in the ministry.  He purchased a farm a few miles north of the church where he and his wife Esther lived for a number of years. 

After the prolonged illness, Mrs. Hartwig Harms passed away on September 20, 1960 and after her funeral service was taken to Lynville, Indiana for burial.  Pastor Harms then moved to Indiana where he remarried during his retirement and filled pulpits on a temporary basis. It was during this time that he came back to St. John's, and the congregation came to know and love his second wife, Belva.  The last time they were able to visit was in November, 1983 when he delivered his last sermon to St. John's.  He died Saturday, June 23, 1984 in Evansville, IN.

In the spring of 1958, a water well was drilled on the church property at a depth of 260 feet.

From January 1, 1958 to June of 1958, Pastor George Schleuter of St. Stephen's Lutheran served as St. John's supply pastor.  In June of 1958, Pastor John Paul Dexter (pictured left), his wife Shirley, and family accepted a call to serve St. John's.

Under Pastor Dexter, in May of 1958, new hymnals were purchased to replace the old Common Service Book, and the new hymnals were first used in July of the same year.  After the Dexter family moved to St. John's, they were blessed with the arrival of a new baby son, Joshua.

In the fall of 1958, a preliminary study committee was appointed by the council to study the needs for a new church building program.  On April 26, 1959, it was voted by the congregation to take the necessary preliminary steps toward building a new church building.  The building committee consisted of:  Architect, Tom Graman, Orval Horman, Jesse Quint, Alfred Bremer, Hubert Cate, Curtis Flannery, Harmon Quint,

Lawrence Korte, Bengie Korte, and Charles Barfield Sr. contractor  The

finance committee consisted of Bill Logeman, Donald Rottmann, Fred Foss, Amos Kruger, Dewey Bremer, and Wilson Kruger.

On April 26, 1959, it was voted by the congregation to purchase from Mr. Gilbert Reineking a seven acre parcel of ground for the sum of $700. The track of land is located south-east of the church.

Easter, 1958, St. John's Lutheran and St. Stephen's Lutheran conducted the first Sunrise Service at El Capitan Drive-In Theater in Metropolis, IL.

 

Early in 1959, the Women of the Church joined the Women's Missionary Federation of the American Lutheran Church and the Brotherhood of the American Lutheran Church.  Also, in June, 1959, the Ushers' Club was organized.

On August 16, 1959, Thomas Graman of Metropolis, Illinois was chosen to draw preliminary plans for the new Church.  The congregation voted on October 4, 1959 to build the new church twelve feet south of the brick church.

On July 3, 1960, a ground breaking ceremony was held.

On October 11, 1959, the church adopted a new constitution, and a copy was placed in the cornerstone of the new church.

In January of 1960, it was decided to cut timber on the church property.  On April 26, 1960, it was voted by the congregation to construct a new parking lot directly across from the new church, utilizing the money received from the timber sales.  All labor for the building of the parking lot was donated by the members of the church.  

In April of 1960, St. John's congregation along with the American Lutheran Church merged with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church to form the American Lutheran Church (ALC).

On April 26, 1960, the congregation voted to hire Barfield Construction Company of Metropolis, IL as contractor for the construction of the new church at the cost of approximately $109,815.

On July 3, 1960, ground breaking services were conducted at the building site.  The ground breaking service was held immediately after church with the oldest to youngest members of the congregation participating. 

In October of 1960, it was voted by the congregation to use the parcel of land directly south of the parking lot for burial purposes.

On October 23, 1960, the congregation met to witness the laying of the cornerstone for the new church.  Important papers were sealed into the cornerstone including a copy of the preceding history of St. John's.  The picture to the left is when the cornerstone was removed from the old brick church.  The papers being removed were the history of the church.

On December 18, 1960, the last Sunday morning worship service was held in the brick church.  Also Communion was held, and many members participated.

On December 24, 1960, the first service was held in the new church.  It was the annual Christmas Eve Program which is put on by the Sunday School classes and still practiced to this day.

The first Sunday morning worship service was held on Christmas day, December 25, 1960 at 10:30 A.M. with Pastor Dexter conducting the service.  It was a joyous day for all members of the church because the light that had been lit in 1861 would now shine shine even brighter in the community for all to come worship and give praise to God.

Each year the church is made ready for Christmas with a tree.  The Christmas tree originates with Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church.

The American Lutheran Church became official in January 1961, and the Women of the Church joined the American Lutheran Church Women's Association.

On April 16, 1961, almost 100 years since the founding of St. John Lutheran, a dedication service was held to dedicate the new church building.  Pictured to the right is the congregation gathered in front of the church before the dedication services.  Morning services were held with Pastor Elmer A. Nelson, D. D., District President giving the sermon assisted by Pastor Dexter, Robert Hanneman, and Pastor Emeritus Harms.  A noon meal was served in the basement for all the guests and friends.  An afternoon message was brought by Pastor George Frederick, Terre Haute, Indiana.  After the afternoon service, a social hour followed in the church basement.  On that dedication day, Pastor Dexter along with five former pastors celebrated the special day with worship, fellowship, and gratitude to our Lord and Savior for the privilege in worshipping in a new church facility.

On November 19, 1961, before the church building was one year old, the congregation reached another milestone when St. John's had its Centennial Celebration.  These special 100th Anniversary services 

were held in the morning and afternoon with Pastor Dexter officiating and former Pastors F. A. Wittig and Hartwig Harms doing the guest preaching.  A 100th Anniversary (pictured below) was prepared for this occasion, and the following history was taken from this booklet.

In December, 1961, Pastor Dexter informed the congregation that he had accepted a call to a church in Milwaukee, WI.  Pastor Dexter preached his farewell sermon on January 28, 1962.  Pastor Dexter eventually moved to serve Trinuty Lutheran Church in Mattoon, IL.

During the vacancy period, Pastor Harms was called to serve the congregation.  In February, 1962, Ronald Kruger accepted a call from St. John's.  He, his wife Pat, and family moved here on March 1, 1962.

Under Pastor Kruger's leadership, a new experience came to many members of St. John's.  The congregation, on December 6 thru 9, 1962, held the first Spiritual Life Mission.  Pastor Russell Mueller of Thomasboro, IL, was the speaker for this service.  Many were convinced that the Lord used these special services to inspire members and guests to a great commitment in the Lord's work.

In 1964, St. John's presented a new type of Christmas program.  During September and October, colored slides were made of the Sunday School children with their appropriate costumes portraying the Christmas story amid live animals and natural surroundings.  The slides were shown at Christmas telling the story of the birth of Jesus.

In 1966, Pastor Kruger received and accepted a call to Toluca, IL.  He and his family moved to his new parish on December 6, 1966.  He eventually moved to serve the parish of St. Petri Lutheran Church in Flanagan, IL.

Pastor Harold Tegtmeier accepted a call and was installed on February 5, 1967.  

 

During 1967, 1968, and 1969, a monthly newsletter was published by the pastor.  Also the tennis court (pictured right) was completed at this time, and the classrooms were supplied with blackboards and cabinets.  Pastor Tegtmeier enjoyed tennis.

In 1969 Pastor Tegtmeier received a call to Olin, IA.  He accepted the call and moved in late June of 1969.  He eventually moved on to serve the First Lutheran Church in Sioux Rapids, IA.

On March 1, 1970, Pastor Ervin D. Hesterberg, his wife Marie, and family accepted

a call from St. John.  He was installed by Elmer Nelson.  In the fall of 1970 the parsonage was remodeled with paneling, carpeting, new gas furnace, and new kitchen cabinets.

Many other progressive steps were taken.  In the spring of 1970, the old Sunday School building was given to the youth to be used as a youth center.  Portions of money raised from the Ice Cream Socials of 1970 and 1971 were used towards the new youth center.

During this time, the congregation had been benevolent in its support of Pastor Sam Loetegeluake, a native from Tanzania, who was working as a seminary professor and itinerant preacher.  Due to severe economic conditions, outside support became necessary for him, and he was our Mission Festival speaker in May, 1970.

On November 14, 1971, St. John's celebrated its 110th anniversary.  It was with overwhelming joy in the congregation's hearts that every living pastor was with them on that special occasion.  These pastors were:  Pastor Fritz. A.

Wittig of Cleburn, TX, Pastor Hartwig A. Harms of Evansville, IN, Pastor Ronald Kruger of Toluca, IL, Pastor John P. Dexter of Elizabeth, IL, and Pastor Harold Tegtmeier of Olin, IA (pictured above).

Pastor Hesterberg preached his farewell sermon on August 27, 1971 and moved on to serve the Nazareth Lutheran Church in Coulter, IA.

Even without a pastor, the congregation continued to minister to the spiritual life, and a Spiritual Life mission was held in November, 1971, with Ronald Zenker from Thomasboro, IL as the guest speaker.

In 1971, Pastor Willis Yarian, his wife Marcella, and family accepted a call from St. John's.  He was installed on December 3, 1971.  They helped the congregation to celebrate not only Christmas that year, but many other important events in the life of the church.

April 28, 1974 was a very special day for St. John's when a "Thank You Lord" service was held, and the last mortgage bonds were burned thus freeing the church of all mortgages.

In 1975, a new family moved from far away.  The Tran family (pictured right) from Vietnam were met at the Paducah, KY airport and welcomed into our community.  From them we were to learn that rice was more important than potatoes.  The youth center was their home for a time.  Later, they left our community and moved to Aurora, IL.

Pastor Yarian Encouraged us to become involved in a long range adult Bible study program called Bethel Series.  Its deep meaning and disciplined approach continues to enrich the people of the congregation today.  Under Pastor Yarian's leadership, the congregation changed to the new Lutheran Book of Worship (green hymnal).  The congregation voted to return to a summer confirmation program with the first class held in 1975.

Pastor Yarian spent his spare time with marigolds and apple trees.  He preached his farewell sermon on Easter Sunday, April, 1979, and retired moving to Celina, OH.

In 1979, Pastor Lew Milejczak, his wife Diane, and family accepted a call from St. John's, and he was installed in June 1979.  The family moved in August 1979 after helping the congregation celebrate the first half of the 125th celebration year.

Under Pastor Lew's leadership, the parsonage was redone on the outside with aluminum siding, and in the church, new carpeting and drapes were installed.  Three wooden murals were placed in the church (can been seen on "Unique Mosaics" page).

Pastor Lew's ministry reached out into the community, and he was involved in working with Cope and Hospice.

On January 19,1986, a special event was held as the congregation lit 125 candles (pictured below) to begin the year of celebration of their 125th Anniversary as St. John's Lutheran Church.  Pastor Milejczak preached the sermon which included the history for the past 125 years.

Each year, the ladies of the church make quilts and kits to send to Lutheran World Relief.  On Palm Sunday 1986, over 100 quilts were sent to show Christian love to others.

On June 22, 1986, Pastor Milejczak announced to the congregation that he had received and accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church in Gillespie, IL. He preached his last sermon on July 13, 1986 at St. John's.

Life at St. John's continued on as it had for the past 125 years, and the annual Ice Cream Social that is held each summer was held on July 24, 1986.  There was entertainment, the delicious food which included:  

hamburgers, porkburgers, chicken salad, pies, cakes, and the favorite; homemade ice cream.

In October, 1986, the congregation extended a call to Pastor Ronald E. Heilener of Stavanger Lutheran Church in Seneca, IL.  He and his wife Janice accepted the call, and he was installed on November 16, 1986 at the morning worship service by Pastor Joe Hulterstrum.

The celebration of the 125th Anniversary was held November 16, 1986.  The choir presented a special cantata to praise the Lord entitled "Alleluia".   The banners (pictured left) are an expression of 125 years of worship.
The celebration of 125 years continued into the afternoon with a special service.  Former pastors were present and participated in the service.  The sermon was delivered by Pastor Glenn Gilbert of Greely, CO.  Pastor Gilbert is the great-grandson of Pastor J. G. Hempler who was instrumental in founding the congregation 125 years ago.  The sacrament was administered by Pastor Heilener who was assisted by former pastors of the congregation.

After the service, an evening meal was served to all guests and members to end the 125th Anniversary celebration.