GREENVILLE — St. John Lutheran Church, 7418 St. Rt. 121 N. Greenville, celebrated its 170th Anniversary on Sept. 11. The anniversary celebration for this historic milestone was planned by the Anniversary Committee which included Pastor Alliyah Greaver, Barbara Anthony, Carol Hoop, Donna Howdieshell, Birdie Kitchen, Louise Lucas, Lori Trittschuh, Ann Starks, and Bruce Strobel.
The event started with a worship service that included historical elements such as a prayer of thanksgiving from their 125th Anniversary, a prayer of confession from their 1976 Dedication Service, and a blessing that had been used over a 100 years ago in 1902. The service began with a processional featuring the congregation’s 1936 pulpit Bible. Pastor Don Bachman, who currently resides in Maryland and served St. John and the Greenville community from 1981-1994, was invited to serve Holy Communion along with Pastor Greaver, the congregation’s current pastor. The sermon was based off John 1 and focused on the theme of the strong foundation of God’s Word present since the founding of St. John and the church’s continued mission as the Body of Christ. An offering was collected to support St. Peter’s Church of Versailles and Lutheran Seminarians. The service was well attended with 135 members and guests joining in worship.
After the service a meal was served followed by an informative history presentation. In the first half of the presentation members Donna Schultz, LuAnn Boyer, and Jim Sander dressed up as historical St. John members and in character told the story of the church’s founding and the congregation’s earliest years. Then a presentation outlining St. John’s last major renovation in 1996 was given by Gene Hoellrich, who had been very involved with that construction effort. St. John’s sanctuary is a testament to their efforts to preserve their rich history with special attention given to restoring and incorporating old lumber, bricks, and historical stained-glass windows into the current building’s design. The presentation closed with Donovan and Linda Brown sharing aspects of St. John’s more recent mission and ministries. Bruce Strobel served as the emcee of the history presentation.
St. John has preserved many documents and artifacts of historical interest that were put on display for guests to browse through. These artifacts included the ministry albums of Pastor R. Wayne Willmann who served the church in the 1930s, filled with photos, bulletins, and historical records. Along with the albums there were photos going back to the late 1800s, with photo-albums of confirmation classes from 1895 to present day. Historic German Bibles, hymnbooks, a church dress from the 1800s, groundbreaking shovels, and an engraved St. John silverware set were also on display. A 32-page history booklet covering the church’s history from 1852-2022 was also printed and remains available for purchase.
The church received recognition from their denomination’s leadership – Bishop Dan Selbo, of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), who sent a letter of greetings and congratulations. The Anniversary Committee reflected that the celebration allowed members to have a greater sense of the rich history of the congregation, God’s faithfulness in every generation, and the future mission of the church.