GREENVILLE —St. John Lutheran Church at 7418 N. State Route 121, Greenville, Ohio, will celebrate its 165th Anniversary, September 3 at its morning worship.
The church’s origins began with the settling of German Lutherans into Darke County. The church was founded September 1, 1852, when the following people met to officially start the worshipping community: Johann Gottlob Deubner, Frederick Meier, August Feltmann, Karl C. Kruckeberg; Frederick Dohme, Charles Meier, Charles Kruckeberg, Wilhem Hiddeson, Ludwig Fauth, John Paulus, Christian Kruckeberg, Heinrich Kruckeberg, Ferdinand Prasuhn, Louis Prasuhn, Louise Fauth, Wilhelmina Duebner, Charlotte Koester and Karolina Kruckeberg. Other charter members who joined after this September 1 meeting were: Louis Kruckeberg, August Beisner, William Grote, Ferdinand Koester, Heinrich Koester Sr., Henry Koester Jr., Carl Hiddeson and William Stock. Gottlob Deubner and Frederick Meier were elected as the first trustees and Karl C. Kruckeberg was elected as the first deacon. St. John was known in its early days as Woodlands Church and was referred to as the “bush” church. The “town” church was St. Paul’s Lutheran in the City of Greenville and it had been founded in 1850. St. John and St. Paul’s shared a pastor until 1869.
The new congregation of St. John’s held worship services in the various homes of congregational members until a church could be built. The first church, a log structure, was built in 1854 and stood across the road from the present building. The log church had dimensions of 35 by 60 feet. Years later, the logs were weather-boarded and sealed. In 1876, the first brick church (the bell tower remains as part of the present building) was erected. In 1899, a one-room brick schoolhouse was built for the education of the congregation’s children. This schoolhouse was used through 1935, when an addition to the church building, an auditorium and classrooms were added and finished in 1936. In 1969, the new education building was added to the church, with the entry facing west instead of the highway for safety factors. In 1990,St. John purchased @ 31 acres of land north of the original church and cemetery. April 3, 1997, the present church building, which includes a newer worship center, gathering area and offices was dedicated.
In every one of the building projects at St. John, members of the congregation contributed their talents, used their skills and gave many long hours to help construct the needed space for their worshipping community. In 1854, congregation members Fred Entdorf and Frederick Meier provided their master carpentry skills for building the altar and pulpit. Simlarly, in 1996, under the leadership of Pastors Ed Battiste and Charles Boomhower, member Gene Hoellrich hand-crafted the altar rail and Battiste constructed the altar and pulpit from lumber taken from the 1876 building. Incorporated into the present worship center are the stained glass windows from the second building, along with the preservation of the 120-feet-high steeple and belltower. Many of the bricks and lumber taken from the one-room church schoolhouse were used in the construction of the 1935 parish hall.
Through the years, St. John has been served by 27 pastors: Paul Heid, 1852-54; Gotthilf Reichard, 1854-56; Joseph Lehner, 1858-59; John Lautenschlager, 1858-69; C.H. Althoff, 1869-80; Carl Mayer, 1880-1904; William Benzin, 1904-1911; August Zell, 1911-1920; Otto Heinzelman, 1921-22; J.C. Weigard, 1923-26; R.G. Otto, 1926-28; George Schuster, 1928-30; R. Wayne Willman, 1930-37; E.J. Katterhenrich, 1937-43; E. Harold Kettner, 1944-1950; Dr. E.P. Ebert (interm) 1950-51; John Auer, 1951-54; Bernard E. Heuer, 1954-59; George Wright, 1959-1973; Marvin Ritterling, 1973-81; Don R. Bachman Jr. 1981-1994; Ed Battiste, 1986-2006; Charles Boomhower, 1995-2006; Hal Robarge (interim) 2006-07; Alan Knoke, 2007-2013; Patricia Morlock (intern) 2013-2016 and Pastor Brian McGee answered his call to serve in 2016, and continues as pastor.
Despite its long-standing heritage, St. John continues to evolve and understands its call to serve Jesus Christ by its outreach to the community, and seeks to bring the message of Christ’s salvation to all. Church services are Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. and Sunday School its regular schedule on September 10. St. John wishes to extend a warm welcome to all visitors and to anyone seeking a church home.