The creation of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church began when Rev. Heinrich Kopmann conducted the first services in the fall of 1851 at the log house of Gerd Ojemann’s parents, Rolf and Elizabeth Ojemann. Their farm was located approximately one mile north of our church’s present location on the south side of Middle Road and had only one room that served as quarters for a family of ten.
Rev. Kopmann conducted services regularly for about two years and for a time taught parochial school four days a week. In 1853, our congregation was organized by the adoption of the constitution submitted by Rev. Kopmann. The minutes of the meeting held on June 20, 1855, were signed by the following members: Bruno H. Bruninga, Johannes A. Oltmanns, Ulrich Schuster, Gerd Ojemann, Lammert G. Bruninga, Evert T. Look, Reent Gerdes, Lammert Look, Behrend Gerdes, Conrad Hermann, Christoph Soltau, Frerich Campen, Behrend XXXXX, Hinks Willms, and Heinrich W. Ahton. The church council was Rev. Kopmann, Johannes A. Oltmanns, Dirk Pauels, and Lammert G. Bruninga.
In the fall of 1855 the first primitive church building was erected. The church was 16 ft. by 16ft. and was built of rough boards donated by members of the congregation. The women of the church collected the money for seats, which were made of the same material as the church. The building and furniture cost fifty dollars.
In 1855, the small struggling congregation called its own resident pastor, Rev. J. T. Warnke, a former school teacher who first had been licensed to preach and later was ordained by the Illinois Synod. After Rev. Warnke had been there for a year, the congregation decided to build a better church. The second church, which was built by Fredrich Lindeburg, Joachim Kriegsmann, and Frerich Campen, measured 18 ft. by 36 ft. and 9 ft. high. Sharing a common wall with the church to save cost, the parsonage consisted of a 12 ft. by 18 ft. room. The construction cost of the church and parsonage together was $1000.00. The dedication of this church was set for May 1, 1856, which was also Ascension Day. Evidently, only a small piece of ground had been secured for the church, so Councilmen Bruninga and Pauels were in charge of purchasing more land. This increased the cost to an extra ten to fifteen dollars. This church was used until 1876.
The first wedding ceremony to take place at St. John was for Evert Look and Sophie Janssen in January 1856.
On June 18, 1856, a new constitution was adopted. In those early days, every pastor seemed to consider his duty to adopt a new constitution of his own.
The cemetery was incorporated on February 4, 1857, due to the death of Gretje Schmidt. She was born December 31, 1856, and died on February 2, 1857. Family burial lots were laid out after this burial and solemnly dedicated for that purpose.
Pastor Warnke left in August 1858, having accepted a call from a congregation at Panther Creek. His successor, Pastor Helyoor Quehl, served the congregation until 1860.
During Pastor Quehl’s term, the first constitution for a parochial school was adopted. The fathers of our congregation were concerned about the religious instruction of their children. An ordinance was passed that all children from 8 to 14 years had to attend parochial school in summer and winter, and children from 6 to 8 years should remain at least during the summer. Each Sunday afternoon a catechism class was held in the church for the young people.
In 1858, the congregation had 23 members. Our congregation at this time experienced great financial problems. During the council meetings, the question was discussed as to what to do regarding members that could not or would not pay their dues. Poor members were repeatedly released of their indebtedness. Eventually, these members would be removed from the congregation if they did not pay. Members were even threatened with a lawsuit in court of 15% interest on delinquent dues.
The pastor’s salary in 1858 was $200.00. Members paid $142.00 towards his salary and non-members $36.00, so an additional $1.00 was levied on the 23 members totaling $199.00. The 23 members, who lived in great poverty, paid almost $10.00 per year.
In 1859, Wednesday evening services were introduced plus a resolution was enacted that if the Pastor could not attend the Sunday service, one of the elders should read the sermon. Confessional services preparatory to the Lord’s Supper were conducted on Thursday afternoon. Members who did not go to this Holy Sacrament were requested to appear before the church council and state their reasons why they did not participate. As the church had no altar, Mr. Frerich Campen constructed the first one in 1859. (This original altar is now located in the Heritage Room).
Pastor J.J. Kern served the congregation from 1860 to 1861. During his term, the first reed organ was purchased for $150.00. Each Thursday evening, the organist practiced. The choir was organized in 1863 with Gerd Ojemann and Lammert Look leading in the singing.
On September 23, 1861, Pastor J.M. Neumann was called to serve the congregation. His starting salary was $230.00 and he served until January 1864. After he left, a resolution was adopted to fix the salary at $300.00 per year.
For most of 1864, the congregation did not have a pastor. On September 19, 1864, Pastor H. Klockemeier was called to serve the congregation. His salary was raised to $350.00 per year. In 1865 an addition was built on the parsonage. Mr. Hilbert Rosenbohm completed the work in September 1865. In July 1866, Pastor Klockemeier left the Northern Illinois Synod and tendered his resignation.
Pastor F.W Eggerking was called to serve in February 1867. During his term, the congregation voted to have four elders: two to be elected each year and to serve for two years. The elders elected at that time were: G. Cornelius, Frerich Campen, August Obermeier, and Reent Janssen.
In 1868, the congregation purchased two and a half acres of land south of Smithville Road from Mr. Hopkins for $50.00 an acre. This land is where our present building is located. Pastor Eggerking left during the summer of 1873. Our congregation did not receive another pastor until 1874. In May 1874, Pastor E. Bangerter accepted the call. It was during his term that the congregation first experience a quiet and peaceful period of development.
Soon after his installation, Pastor Bangerter stressed the importance of constructing a larger building. He offered three reasons for building: The old church was too small, the new church would be a thank offering to God for blessings received in the past, and it would be a testimony to the unbelievers in the surrounding area that Christianity had not died. Because the congregation had not been advised of this movement beforehand, a special meeting was held to discuss the building problem. This meeting took place on May 17, 1875, and the resolution was passed unanimously to build a new church in 1876. The dimensions of the new construction were finally completed on January 31, 1876, and would be 30 ft. by 50 ft. and 18 ft. high on the sides. The elders, Hilbert Rosenbohm, Frerich Campen, Gerd P. Gerdes, and Ahte W. Ahten together with Gerd Ojemann and Schweer Heuermann were the building committee. This committee was authorized to decide the question concerning the material to be used for the foundation: brick or limestone. Because limestone was more plentiful and cheaper, the foundation was made of limestone. (This would be changed in 1923.) They also discussed questions concerning the pews, altar, and the pulpit.
These resolutions were signed by Pastor Bangerter, Frerich Campen, Heye B. Bruninga, H. E. Lottman, Conrad Hermann, Schweer Heuermann, Bruno R. Bruninga, Hinrich Grafelmann, Johann C. Penske, Henrick Janssen, George Look, Ahte W. Ahten, August Obermeier, Richard Bruninga, Gerd Ojemann, Hilbert Rosenbohm, and Gerd P. Gerdes.
During this same time it was resolved to purchase one acre of land on the east side of the new church. The new church, which was constructed by Mr. Simmering and his crew, cost $4000.00 including the bell. The gothic style exterior was composed of clapboard siding. The dedication of the church was in September 1876. The total debt of the new church was paid in full by 1879.
Our Sunday School started in the late spring of 1878. At first, it was only conducted during the summer months. In 1919, the Sunday School started being held year around.
In September 1880, the resolution was passed to buy two more acres of land east of the church. The purpose for this transaction was so that the east border of the property would be in line with the east side of the land south of the road. The land was purchased by Mr. Lammert Look for the church for $75.00 an acre.
The congregation celebrated twenty-five years in 1880. Members of the church council were: Ahte W. Ahten, Johann Peters, Frerich Campen, and Hilbert Rosenbohm.
In May 1885, the parochial school had its first festival. The proceeds from this festival purchased an organ for the church. The following year, the proceeds went to purchase a new picket fence around the cemetery.
Pastor E. Bangerter, who served the congregation for fifteen years, left in 1888. In November 1888, St. John joined the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Iowa. It was during this time that the congregation was served by Pastor Frederick B. Bess, an interim pastor. He remained until Palm Sunday 1889.
On Easter Sunday 1889, Pastor H. Schneider of Charlotte, Illinois, was chosen to serve the congregation of 38 members. His starting salary was $500.00. A quote, which was taken from the Peoria Star, stated that “Pastor Schneider was a talented speaker.” During the winter of 1889, H. D. Martens, who had just come from Germany, repainted the entire interior of the church. His fine artistic work consisted of hand painted gothic stenciling around the entire sanctuary.
The congregation for years had recognized the necessity of a new parsonage. In a meeting held on August 19, 1889, it was reported that the amount necessary to build the parsonage was $1500.00. The resolution was also passed to begin construction that fall. Hilbert Rosenbohm, Schweer Heuermann, and G. Cornelius served on the building committee. The members of the congregation willingly did the hauling of the building material, so the cost of the building was reduced. The parsonage was at that time one of finest and largest in the Southern District of our synod. Planting of shade and fruit trees by the council members enhanced the property.
In December 1890, it was resolved to hire a parochial school teacher. Mr. J. F. Renken, a graduate of the Teachers Seminary in Waverly, Iowa, was chosen and served for six years. During this time, Pastor Schneider requested the teacher’s annual salary be $400.00 and the organist salary to be $50.00. The school flourished with an enrollment of 60 children. Mr. Renken resigned on March 1, 1897, and accepted a call to Flatville, Illinois. Pastor Schneider taught school until he left during the summer of 1897. Again, Pastor F. B. Bess served the congregation until Pastor Gottfried Oepke accepted the call on November 1, 1897.
Up until this time, individual members had furnished coal. Since fuel was relatively cheap, it was decided that the congregation would begin furnishing the coal. Mr. Ludwig Hartseil furnished 400 bushels of coal at six cents a bushel.
Miss Emma Molchin and Miss Trintje Janssen were engaged as organists starting in 1897 at the compensation of twenty dollars a year. Rolf Ojemann and John C. Heuermann, Jr. served as organists starting in 1899 at the compensation of thirty dollars a year.
St. John’s Ladies Aid Society was founded in June 1898. The mission of the Ladies Aid, according to its constitution is:
1. To increase the interest and the work for the church among its members.
2. To strengthen the social bonds among its members.
3. To help the church and especially our congregation to the best of its ability.
The charter members were: Mrs. Jacob Heuermann, Mrs. B. R. Bruninga, Mrs. John Molchin, Mrs. Schweer Heuermann, Mrs. John Cornelius, Mrs. John Heuermann, Mrs. Heinrich Heuermann, Mrs. G. Opeke, Mrs. John Gronewald, Mrs. Rolf Ojemann, Mrs. Janna S. Janssen, Mrs. L. Hartseil, Mrs. Evert Look, Mrs. B. T. Bruninga, Mrs. Gerd Ojemann, Mrs. G. Menninga, Mrs. R. Gerdes, Mrs. Meent Heuermann, Mrs. Peter Grafelmann, Mrs. Hilbert Rosenbohm. Total receipts for the first year were $14.55 and expenditures were $10.20. Their balance at the close of 1898 was $4.35.
In 1900 a new schoolhouse was erected on the west side of the church at the cost of $800.00 and was forty feet long, twenty-two feet wide and twelve feet high. Not only did this schoolhouse contain a schoolroom, but also a society room for Ladies Aid and the Young People’s Society.
In 1901, a new pipe organ was purchased for $500.00 from the Hinners Organ Company in Pekin, Illinois. Mr. Rolf Ojemann, who was treasurer of the organ committee, used the balance of the money collected for the new organ to repaint the balcony of the church. The old reed organ was placed in the schoolhouse.
In 1909, cement walks were laid from the church to the parsonage. Sidewalks were also laid along the east side of the church. It was also during this time that Rev. Gottfried Oepke raised the necessary funds to replace the windows with stained glass. The design decided upon was typical of the times: Gothic with a trace of a floral design. Each window was designed the same with using the following color scheme: burgundy, emerald green, sky blue, ivory, and yellow-green.
St. John was sadden by the sudden death of Pastor Oepke on September 5, 1913. He served the congregation for 16 years. Pastor F. W. Knappe accepted the call in the fall of 1913. During his short term English evening services were first held once a month. Pastor F. W. Knappe accepted another call late in the summer of 1914.
In April of 1915, Pastor August Rettberg accepted the call. In his first council meeting he was given permission to instruct and confirm children in English if they did not know German. He was also instructed to use instruction textbooks that he considered the best.
Up to this time, the cemetery was mowed about twice a summer. In 1915, Mr. Charles Rettberg, father of the pastor, was voted to be the first sexton. He was paid $40.00 for cutting the grass with a lawnmower.
After four years of service, Pastor Rettberg accepted another call. Pastor Herman H. Kuhlmann was elected to serve the congregation on August 3, 1919. Under his faithful leadership, great improvements were made on the church property. At the annual meeting in December 1919, a resolution was passed that all young men of our congregation who were confirmed should, upon their twenty-first birthday, subscribe to the constitution and become full members with all rights and duties.
During the summer of 1920 the parsonage underwent extensive changes due to the fact that it had no basement. Because the foundation walls had begun to crumble, the parsonage was raised considerably and a
basement was constructed under the whole house. A hot air furnace, bathroom, and a new kitchen were added on the north side of the home. The home was also wired for electricity. Ubbo Frerichs, John Mueller, and B. T. Bruninga were the building committee. Because the cost of material and labor was much higher than anticipated, members of the church had to perform a great deal of the labor. Total cost of the improvements were $2,466.61.
The year 1923 saw another great and much needed improvement. The church was standing much too close to the road. The church also did not have a basement, no alter niche, no sacristy for the pastor, no special room for the storing of Sunday School supplies, and the pulpit was on top of the altar. This last arrangement was entirely against proper church architecture. Therefore, the church was raised several feet and moved approximately twenty-five feet from the original location. An eight-foot basement was built under the entire church and a hot air furnace replaced the obsolete stoves for heating. A ten-foot addition was built on the north side of the church for the altar niche, a sacristy on the east side, and a Sunday School room was built on the west side. The confirmation class donated a beautiful altar made of oak and a Thorwaldsen statue of Christ. This statue is presently placed on the church altar. The Ladies Aid assisted with one thousand dollars and covered the altar niche, the space in front of the altar niche, and three aisles with beautiful carpet. Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Look donated a fine marble baptismal font. Amelia Heuermann paid to have a lid made by Rothan Milling when our present church was built. Members of the building committee were: Claus Lauterbach, Rolf Heuermann, and John C. Heuermann. The improvements on the church were $4,500.00.
Since the congregation no longer had any parochial school, Sunday School and confirmation began to be instructed in English. In 1925, English morning services were introduced on the first Sunday of the month and English evening services on the third Sunday.
The congregation had never been incorporated and consequently had no standing in law; to remedy this, incorporation papers were taken out in 1926, and the first trustees were elected that year.
In the spring of 1927, Pastor Herman H. Kuhlmann accepted a call to Sumner, Iowa. On April 10, 1927, Pastor Henry Bergstaedt accepted the call and was installed on May 26, 1927, which was also Ascension Day. In 1928 the Young People’s Society introduced the “Envelope System” and raised $336.00 the first year.
During the summer of 1928 the parsonage and the schoolhouse received two coats of paint. Other improvements to the church included: the ceiling in the basement of the church was finished, a door and service window were broken through a wall which helped greatly in the serving of meals, and a concrete coal bin on the west side of the church was built by the Ladies Aid Society at the cost of $400.00.
In 1929, a fund was started with the sale of lots in our old cemetery. The interest from this money would be applied to help the expense of perpetual care. For the new cemetery, the following basic regulations were adopted:
1. Perpetual care is given.
2. The affairs of the cemetery are on a self-supporting basis so it will not become a burden for the congregation.
3. Accounts of the cemetery are kept separate.
4. The cemetery is conducted under the charter of the congregation.
5. The road in the cemetery is to be left in its present location.
In 1930, in preparation for the Diamond Jubilee, the following improvements were made: The church received a new asphalt shingle roof and the outside was painted twice at the cost of $500.00. A new ornamental wire fence was erected on the south side of our old cemetery and ornamental gateposts were installed at the driveway. The Ladies Aid Society had the interior of the church decorated and all the woodwork varnished. The floor was painted and waxed at the cost of $550.00. H. D. Martens who had also painted the entire interior of the church in 1889, did the interior painting. His fine artistic stenciling was completely painted free-hand around the entire sanctuary.
The Congregation’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated on August 30, 1930 with services in which former pastors Kuhlman and Rettberg and local Pastor M. Bischoff spoke. The following statistics from 1855 - 1930 were reported at the Diamond Jubilee ceremony:
1. 1,213 children had been baptized
2. 275 marriages had been performed (2 ended in divorce)
3. 650 young people and adults had been confirmed
Pastor Bergstaedt passed away on November 10, 1934. He was the first person to be buried in the newly purchased cemetery ground.
Pastor Orville K. Bosse of Chesterton, Indiana was installed February 10, 1935, by the Rev. Paul H. Bredow, pastor of First English Lutheran Church in Peoria. During his term of ministry, German services were discontinued with the adoption of the English constitution. English Bibles, hymnals and a bulletin board were purchased. The first church bulletin was printed starting February 16, 1936. The bulletins at that time even included advertisements to help support the cost of the printing. The card file system of membership records was also established. The Brotherhood Society was organized in 1936 starting with sixteen members, and the Missionary Society was organized in 1937. The first Vacation Bible School was held in the summer of 1940. In 1940, the following organizations were active at St. John:
1. Brotherhood Society – 25 members
2. Sunday School – 81 members
3. Ladies Aid – 55 members
4. Women’s Missionary Society – 14 members
5. Luther League(originally called Wartburg League) – 35 members
Rev. Bosse was called to active duty service with the U.S. Army as Chaplain in 1942. He resigned in August 1942. Dr. S. F. Salzmann of Wartburg Seminary served as interim pastor.
On October 11, 1942, Rev. Albert Heidmann was installed. During his ministry, serious thought and planning was given regarding the construction of a new church. At the annual meeting in 1943, the congregation established a committee of Pete Behm, Henry Behrends, George Bruninga, and Herman Baumann to “make plans for soliciting War Bonds and Stamp contributions.” The motto for the campaign was “War Bonds and Stamps for Church and Country”. In an article in the Peoria Star dated March 1, 1943, Pete Behm is quoted saying, “We can’t build a church until after the war is won… and we won’t be able to build one even then unless we win the battle against inflation.” In 1944, a thank offering goal of $25,000 for the Building Fund was approved. As more consideration was put into the plans for rebuilding, it became clear that this amount would not be enough for the project. The new goal was set for $75,000. Thought was given to the future building needs of the congregation; new churches were visited.
In January 1946, the Vestry was given full authority to plan a definite building program and to consult architects. In 1946, the original Building Committee was formed. The committee was Rev. Albert Heidmann, John Tietjen, Sr., and Harry Rickena. After consideration of various architects, the committee authorized architect Mr. Theo Steinmeyer from St. Louis, Missouri, in March 1946 to create the plans for our current church. In February 1948, Mr. Steinmeyer completed the blue prints for the church and the parish hall. In January 1949, the Building and Finance Committees were instructed to make final preparations for building in that year. However, this did not happen due to conflicts between parishioners. In May 1949, a decision was passed to invest the Building Funds in more profitable investments and securities. Soon after this decision, Pastor Heidmann accepted a call to Mendota, Illinois. Mr. Theo Steinmeyer also stated that he would not be able to continue to be the congregation’s architect.
Rev. Waldemar E. Bartell accepted the call and was installed on February 19, 1950. In February 23, 1950, a special meeting was called to reopen the idea of building. The original plan was again approved and a decision was reached only to build the church unit at the present time and to add a full basement. Mr. Theo Steinmeyer was also asked to continue his work. The new Building Committee consisted of Harry Rickena, chairman, Albert Rosenbohm, Rev. Waldemar Bartell, Fred Schick, and Eugene Finley. The problem of contracting was discussed and Mr. Alfred R. Lang was asked to assume the responsibility for erecting the new church.
Groundbreaking services were held at the site after the 8:00 a.m. services on Sunday, May 7th. Actual work of excavating began at the end of the month. The cornerstone was laid in at an impressive service at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 2, 1951. The Peoria Star reported, “Twenty-one members of the choir and 14 persons of the church council and building committee marched two abreast from the 80 year old church across the road to the site of the new building to participate in the services. In front of the partially completed structure, participants and congregation sang together… “The Churches One Foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord.” The Rev. August Engelbrecht, D. D., President of the Illinois District of the American Lutheran Church, was the guest speaker and Rev. Waldemar E. Bartell conducted the stone-laying ceremony. During the ceremony, a copper box was placed behind the cornerstone containing a scroll and documents regarding the church history as well as the membership roll of 1951.
The Church Design
The style of our church is traditional Gothic, marked by long, flowing arches reaching heavenward. The church proper also forms a great cross of which the chancel and nave comprise the stem of the cross.
The chancel, with its towering altar in the very center, tends to lift the spirit heavenward in devotion and is crowned with the beautiful and symbolic Communion window (a.k.a. Rose window). The nave, long and slender, has the seating capacity for 350 worshippers. The north transept was designed to house the choir. The south transept provides room for the baptismal font. Grillwork was to be added to the back of the south transept to hide the organ chamber, however the organ was placed in the balcony instead.
The narthex provides ample space for the movement of worshippers. Off the narthex are two vestryrooms, one for the electronic controls and the other for a child’s cry room. The balcony was constructed originally to accommodate large crowds. (It now is used for the choir).
Art Glass Windows
In cooperation with Mr. Theo Steinmeyer and the Building Committee, the artists at the Jacoby Art Glass Company in St. Louis, Missouri, designed the windows.
The Chancel window is also called the Communion window. Harry and Anna Rickena donated the window in memory of Harold Evert Rickena. Its cobalt blue fringes surround a great Greek cross at whose center is the Chalice and whose arms contain sprays of golden wheat. In each corner, where the cross arms meet, is a bunch of grapes. The cross, chalice, grapes, and wheat are to remind us of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ who gives us his body and his blood in the Holy Sacrament.
The Choir transept window, donated by Alfred and Marie Lang, features a life size figure of Jesus Christ, portraying Him as He once stood in Galilee and Judea, and still stands before the world inviting burdened, sorrowing, and comfortless multitudes to “Come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
The Nave windows on the north side contain beautifully done medallions portraying the Ministry of Jesus Christ. The first, nearest the chancel, was donated by Mr. John Look and portrays the Sermon on the Mount. The second window, donated by Harry and Anna Rickena, portrays His Healing Ministry when he restored a man’s health at the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. The third window portrays His Consoling Ministry when He brought comfort to His disciples in the Institution of the Lord’s Supper. The last window portrays His Intercessory Ministry depicting Jesus Christ engaged in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene.
The Nave windows on the south side also contain beautifully done medallions portraying the Ministry of Jesus Christ. The first nearest the narthex and donated in memory of Lammert Look by his brother John Look, portrays the simple fashion of Christ’s birth. The second window, donated by Harry and Anna Rickena, portrays Christ bearing the cross on the way to Calvary. The third window portrays and proclaims the Easter message and shows Christ at the open sepulchre comforting the grief stricken Mary. In order, these windows are the Nativity, Passion, and Resurrection.
Other windows that were donated are as follows:
1. The Tower Room windows were donated by the Mission Society.
2. The Sunday School donated chapel windows (a.k.a. Fellowship Room).
The Pulpit: The Wilton Funeral Home
The Lectern: Mr. & Mrs. Enno Harken
Mr. & Mrs. John Schuster
Missal Stand: Endsley Funeral Home
Floor Candelabra: Mr. & Mrs. Claus Heuermann
Hymn Books: Mr. Edwin Heuermann
Miss Izella Dohm
Wayne Stone Mortuary
Lamps for Pulpit, Organ, &
Lectern: Mr. & Mrs. Henry Hartseil
Red Altar Antependia,
Bookmarks & Stole: Ladies Aid
Brass Offering Plates: “Friends”
Chancel Carpeting: Ladies Aid
Baldwin Organ & Mass
Chimes: The Brotherhood
Sacristy Furnishings: Mr. H. E. Lauterbach
Nave, Chancel, Transept,
Chapel, Vestibule, & Balcony
Lanterns: Ladies Aid
Mother’s Room Furnishings: Mission Society
Series of Seven Sollman
Pictures of Christ: Luther League
Folding Chairs & drapes
For the Society Room: Luther League
Assembly Room Stage: Luther League
Monroe Tables: Ladies Aid
100 Steel Chairs: Ladies Aid
Hot Water Heater: Mr. & Mrs. Edward Heuermann
Kitchen Cabinets &
Furnishings: Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Heuermann
Souvenir Greeting Cards
& Dedication Invitations: Mr. & Mrs. Spencer
100 A.L.C. Hymnals: Claus Lauterbach Lumber Co,
Dedication Booklets: Claus Lauterbach Lumber Co.
Cash Gifts: Mr. John Freimuth, Sr.
Mr. & Mrs. W. W. Barton
Mr. J. R. Lambie
S & S Builders Supply Hardware Co.
Crucifix: In Memory of Mrs. Trientje Heuermann
By her family
Altar Vases In Memory of Norman Heurmann
By the Claus Heuermann family
Office Lights In Memory of Ralph Kirkham
By Mrs. Julia Kirkham & Dorothy
Communion Rail &
Single Chancel & Nave
Windows: In Memory of Bruno & Jane Bruninga
By Elizabeth Bruninga Ekena
Hanna Bruninga Rosenbohm
Grace Bruninga Drake
Lord’s Supper Picture: In Memory of Norman Heuermann
By his parents
Donations to Church & Choir Pews
Robert D. Wetterauer Louis Dohm
Eugene Finley George & Tracy Cramer
John H. Bruninga Kord Wohlers
Henry Stuaan Maggie Grafelman
Gerhardt Heuermann Evert T. Look
Claus Bruninga Folena Johnson
Harry & Anne Rickena Fred & Ida Allgaier
Vaugh & Ida Speck Ludwig & Mathilda Wetterauer
Kenneth & Catherine Uphoff Lammert G. Bruninga
Evert J. Look Peter Johnson
Fritz Schultz Frederick & Grace Garrelts
Peter Grafelmann Herman & Freida Henrichs
John P. Johnson, Sr. Henry & Tena Grafelmann
Norman Parr Ivan Johnson
Lammert E. Bruninga John H. Willms
George Tincher John E. Heuerman
Claus Smith Herman Campen
Henry & Frank Smith Franz & Ada Frerichs
John G. Look Peter Frerichs
Clara Horn Andres Johnson
John & Mabel Schmidt Claus & Amelia Heuermann
Alfred & Marie Lang August Meyer
Lena Bruninga Harold & Fran Taylor
John Stickling Herman & Grace Johnson
Walter Bruninga Elmer & John S. Grafelmann
John Tietjen, Jr. Harold & Peggy Johnson
Herman Baumann George Miller
Glen & Mildred Baumann Harvey & Edith Lauterbach
Henry & George Bruninga Klaus Peters
Fred & Helena Campen
The congregation faced the fact, from the beginning of its plans to build, that it would be impossible to furnish the new church with a new pipe organ. An instrument, even at that time, would have amounted to a great cost. After much discussion with many organ builders and agents, the committee decided to purchase an electronic organ.
The Brotherhood of the congregation appointed an organ committee to see and hear various instruments. After much viewing, hearing, and discussion, the Baldwin #5 Electronic organ was chosen to fit the needs of the congregation. This organ was purchased for the price of $16,000.00. Not only did the Brotherhood interest itself in this matter but also went about securing funds for the purchase. By the time the organ was installed, the total amount was paid for.
The following people gave special gifts for the Organ and Chime Fund:
Harvey & Edith Lauterbach Alfred & Marie Lang
Albert Redenius John Schultz
John & Mabel Schmidt George & Tracy Cramer
Fred & Pauline Traub, Sr. Jacob McElfresh
August Meyer Rudolph Schultz
Henry Bruninga Fred & Ida Allgaier
George & Tina Baumann John Behrends
Frank Bruninga Claus & Amelia Heuermann
Architect: Mr. Theo Steinmeyer
Contractor: Mr. Alfred R. Lang
Electrical Work: Mr. Bruce Jerome
Steel: A. Lucas & Son
Margino Steel Company
Steel Erection: G. & J. Erection Company
Cement Work: S. A. Tyler
Cement: Peoria Builder’s Supply
Roofing: Kreiling Roofing Compny
Heating & Plumbing: McConnell Heating & Plumbing
Mr. Robert Prichard
Mr. Eugene Finley
Millwork: Mr. Fred Schick
Rothan Millwork Company
Excavation: Powley Company
Painting: Mr. Wm. Dempster
Paints: Reid Paint Company
Lighting Fixtures: Princeton Manufacturing Company
Furniture: Feuerborn Manufacturing Company
Baldwin #5 Organ: Byerley Music Company
Art Glass Windows: Jacoby Art Glass Company
Veneer Stone: Enterprise Stone Company
Trim Stone: Ingalls Stone Company
Haydite Block: Michigan Stone Company
Grading: Caterpillar Tractor Company
Hardware: S & S Builder’s Hardware Company
Fire door & Ventilators: George Schneider
Lightning Rods: King Lightning Protection Company
Brick: Peoria Brick & Tile Company
Glass: Pittsburg Plate Glass Company
Carpeting: Van De Veer’s Floor Covering
Trusses: Timber Structures, Inc.
Windows: Hope Window Company
With all the glory involved in building the church, there were obstacles as well. In October 1950, the airport also had plans for expansion and requested that the building operations cease. However, God had different plans because the airport changed the decision. There was also a four-month delay because of the cold and blustery winter. The stone for the church was also very slow in arriving, forcing Contractor Alfred Lang to maintain a skeleton crew. The congregation also faced financial problems due to the increasing cost of construction, making it necessary for the congregation to incur debt so the work could continue to be accomplished.
These trying operations were over-balanced however by the sound and efficient planning of Architect Steinmeyer, the patience, resourcefulness, and unending zeal of Contractor Alfred Lang, and the many hours of hard work contributed from the men and women of the congregation. Most importantly, though, without the guidance and love from God, this major accomplishment would never have happened.
The Dedication service was held October 26, 1952. On that morning, the congregation heard a farewell sermon in the old church building and then went across the street to hear another sermon in the new church. Three former Pastors: Heidmann, Bosse, and Rettburg shared in the glory and happiness of the day. Over 1,600 people attended the three services.
Bids for the demolition of the old church were to be handed over to the church council by February 1, 1953. The church council accepted Arthur Johnson’s bid of $810.00. He was given approximately 60 days to have the structure removed.
Women were finally given the right to vote in membership meetings starting on January 16, 1955. The Centennial Anniversary of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church was held on the Sundays of September 18th and 25th 1955 and Wednesday September 21st. The celebration service was planned as stated below:
September 18, 1955 Jubilee Service 10:30 a.m.
Guest Speaker: Rev. Orville Bosse
September 18, 1955 Jubilee Service 2:30 p.m.
Guest Speaker: Rev. Albert Heidmann
September 21, 1955 Organization Service 8:00 p.m.
Guest Speaker: Rev. Harold Knappe
September 25, 1955 Reconstruction Service 10:30 a.m.
Speaker: Rev. Waldemar E. Bartell
September 25, 1955 Confirmation Reunion 2:30 p.m.
Guest Speaker: Rev. Clarence Bruninga
Statistics tallied for the Centennial Celebration include the following:
During the Centennial Celebration the congregation had the honor of having its first “son of the congregation.” Clarence Bruninga, who graduated from Wartburg Seminary in June 1955, was ordained June 19, 1955, by Rev. Waldemar Bartell. Dr. S. F. Salzmann preached at the ceremony.
Because the parsonage was in need of a lot of repairs and remodeling, the congregation decided to build a new parsonage. The bid was awarded to Glen Hagan at the cost of $60,000.00. The brick, four bedroom ranch parsonage was started in the fall of 1959 and dedicated October 26, 1960. Landscaping for the parsonage was done by Hoerr Landscaping Service at the cost of $1030.00. The bid to remove the old parsonage was given to Glen Miller at the cost of $166.00.
In November 1963, when Rev. Waldemar E. Bartell accepted the call to begin his ministry at Mt. Prospect, Illinois, the enrollment in Sunday School was 439. This total had doubled from the 197 children and adults that were enrolled in 1952. Rev. Waldemar E. Bartell realized that because the airport was growing very rapidly, more homes were ultimately going to be built. He saw this a prime opportunity to evangelize.
The installation for Rev. William Wittig took place on Sunday, December 8, 1963, at the 10:30 service. Prior to Rev. Wittig’s arrival, the congregation had begun to discuss the matter of a Parish Educational Building. Even though the original plans for the church called for a Parish Educational Wing, the congregation could not afford to build that additional structure in 1951. In November 1963, a fund drive committee to secure funds for the Parish Educational addition was organized. The committee was Merle Clemens, James Bartell, Carl Hartseil, Billy Lamb, and Walter Bruninga.
In the fall of 1964, a building plan designed by Phillips & Associates of Canton, Illinois, was submitted. The building committee (Harvey Lauterbach, Robert Wetterauer, Eugene Finley, Merle Clemens, Harry Campen, and Morris Sundberg) approved the plans and opened bids for construction on March 16, 1965.
Contracts for the complete building without furnishings, landscaping, outside walks, and the parking lots were set at $213,132.00. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on a snowy Sunday in March 28, 1965. Ministers from Peoria area churches attended as well as many congregation members. George Ojemann, Sunday School Superintendent, also made a brief speech.
The Parish Educational Wing has 32 classrooms, a large all-purpose room with adjoining kitchen, a Sunday School office, storage areas, rest rooms, and janitor’s facilities. The members of the congregation put in the downspout drains and storm drains, poured and finished concrete walks, and graded and seeded the lawns by donating many hours of hard work.
The Parish Educational Wing was dedicated at a special service on January 15, 1967, at 3:00 p.m. Rev. Eimo Hinrichs, Rev. Herman Lehman, Rev. F. M. Bunge, and Rev. Norman Langholz helped Rev. William Wittig conduct the dedication service. An Open House and Tea followed the special service at 4:15 p.m. On January 22, 1967, Rev. Waldemar Bartell, from Mt. Prospect, Illinois, spoke for the Community Recognition Service that was held at 3:00 p.m.
Architect: Phillips & Associates
General Contractor: Russell A. Manning & Co.
Electrical Contractor: Shelton & Sons
Heating Contractor: Peoria Industrial Piping Co.
Plumbing Contractor: Robert Lawless Plumbing & Heating Co.
The Tower Carillon Bells were dedicated at the special service held on May 15, 1966, at 3:00 p.m. James Bartell, Helen Frerichs, and Evelyn McElfresh sang the special music for the dedication service. Dr. Alvin Franz Brightbill, the director of the Bethany Biblical Seminary in Oak Brook, Illinois, was the guest carilloneur.
The Carillon Bells are on automatic operation in which the “Auto-Bell” Roll Player is controlled by a calendared clock which can be set to play the carillon at any time of day. Currently, the bells are played each day at noon and 6:00 p.m. On Sunday, they play before and after each service. On Memorial Day, they play every hour on the hour.
Rev. Wittig left in 1973 after accepting a call to the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Rockford, Illinois. His farewell sermon was given to the congregation on Sunday, July 1, 1973, at the 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services. Rev. Donald Weber was installed as our pastor on August 5, 1973. Bishop Elmer A. Nelson led the congregation in installing Rev. Weber on that warm and humid Sunday.
Rev. Weber introduced the first children’s sermon on February 14, 1976. These sermons, which were 5-7 minutes in length, were originally designed for youth around the ages of 8-10 years of age.
On July 5, 1976, Luther League constructed a float for the Bicentennial parade in Bartonville. Following the parade, a multi-denominational service was held at Keystone Park. Mary Bergman served as the representative from St. John. The float, which contained the statement “One Nation Under God” was constructed to look like the old church. It was also placed the following Sunday in the cemetery where the old church was located.
The Organ Committee decided to purchase the Allen #603-3 Digital Computer Organ for $34,000.00 from Dick Benson’s Music in Bloomington, Illinois, after a 75 yes and 1 no vote, which was held on November 28, 1976. It was decided on January 18, 1977, to place the new organ in the balcony. Major renovations were made to the balcony before the organ was placed. John Schmidt, Harvey Lauterbach, and Eugene Finley made these renovations. The organ was dedicated on October 30, 1977, at 3:00 p.m. David Maxwell, from Danville, Illinois, was the guest artist. The ladies from the Mary Martha Circle served refreshments after the concert.
St. John’s Leisure Group started in 1977 with about twenty members. This social group was formed to give the “mature” members of our congregation an opportunity to get together. Two members are appointed each month to take charge of the drinks and get the tables ready.
Mr. and Mrs. Fritz Stuaan donated the Eternal Light, which hangs on the left side of the altar. It was installed in September 1978.
The congregation purchased Wm. Krause’s home on August 25, 1978, for the cost of $58,000. The two bedroom brick, which was built in 1942, was purchased to house a future Associate Pastor.
In preparing for the 125th Celebration, the congregation painted the entire sanctuary starting on Saturday, August 19th at 8:30 a.m. This job took about one and a half months to complete.
The name and title of the congregation was officially recorded with the Peoria County Recorder’s Office on January 28, 1979 as St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church of Limestone Township, Peoria County, Peoria, Illinois.
The resolution passed on January 28, 1979, to allow families as a unit for the first time to go to the communion rail. This permitted younger children to receive a blessing as the communing members of the family receive the Sacrament.
The Balcony Refurbishing resolution was passed on January 27, 1980, to revamp the balcony by making it a choir loft. American Seating designed the layout to consist of a complete new floor plan. This would allow for 54 seats to be placed in the balcony. The amount of $10,000 was allowed for this project.
Our congregation celebrated the 125th anniversary with the January 27th “Kick off” Sunday. Events during the year included:
April 20, 1980 125th Anniversary Service 10:30 a.m.
Rev. Clarence Bruninga, speaker
May 18, 1980 125th Anniversary Service 10:30 a.m.
Rev. Albert Heidmann, speaker
June 29, 1980 125th Anniversary Service 10:30 a.m.
Rev. Waldemar Bartell, speaker
July 6, 1980 125th Anniversary Service 10:30 a.m.
Rev. William Wittig, speaker
August 3, 1980 Sunday School Teacher’s Recognition Service
October 12, 1980 125th Anniversary Service 10:30 a.m.
Rev. Richard Bartell, speaker
Confirmation reunions were scheduled also for the months of May, June, and September. On October 26, 1980, the congregation celebrated the burning of the mortgage. The theme of the service was “Reformation and On Going Mission.” Dinner was served from noon – 2:00 p.m and a special service at 2:30 p.m. was held for the mortgage burning ceremony. Glenn Reader furnished the music. Mr. and Mrs. Fredrick Rosenbohm and Mr. and Mrs. Herman Bergman furnished beef and pork. Robert and Carroll Wetterauer provided and cooked for the barbecue function. ALCW provided the beverages and bread.
As a gift to the church in honor of the 125th Anniversary, Carol Torset and Debby Landwehr designed and assembled a quilt that contains Biblical messages, historical data and the church organizations. Quilt blocks were made by members of Altar Guild, Mission Circle, Mary-Martha Circle, ALCU, Welcome Circle, Library, V.B.S., Sunday School, Choir and Luther League. This quilt currently hangs in the church hallway.
Another gift to the church in honor of the 125th Anniversary was a cross designed by Wendy Johnson, daughter of Arthur and Veda Johnson. Incorporated into this cross were pieces of stained glass from the 1876 church windows.
On September 8, 1980, David Weishaar of Texas served as St. John’s first intern. He served the congregation until August 16, 1981. An outdoor potluck picnic was held in his honor.
Our Food Pantry, directed by Pepper Bauer, was established for the benefit of the needy within the area on September 13, 1982.
Rev. Weber announced his formal resignation and his acceptance of the second call to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Merrillville, Indiana at the council meeting on August 30, 1982. A large majority of the congregation felt very saddened by the departure of Rev. Weber and his family. Rev. Weber’s last service was held on September 26, 1982. Many within the congregation will remember the dignity that Rev. Weber possessed at the close of the service as he stood with the congregation and sang the “Lord’s Prayer” while facing the altar.
At this same time, the congregation was faced with a very difficult soul searching decision that would ultimately be one of the darkest periods of St. John’s history. This decision was whether or not to remain an American Lutheran Congregation. A “Resolution” against the American Lutheran Church, an alphabetic list of the petitioners, and a letter of response to the charges in the “Resolution” by Dr. Roger Field was mailed to everyone in the congregation. October 8th and 9th were set aside to debate the issue. On Sunday, October 10, 1982, the congregation voted 260 to 96 to remain in the American Lutheran Church. Rev. C. Amelung started on October 1, 1982 as our Interim pastor. He served the congregation until November 21, 1982. Rev. E. Buhs served as Interim minister until Rev. Tolo’s installation.
On January 13, 1983, Rev. Paul Tolo from Woodstock, Illinois, accepted the call. Rev. Joseph Hulterstrom installed Rev. Tolo on February 27, 1983. A family potluck in the basement followed the installation.
On Sunday, July 17, 1983, the “sharing of peace” was established in our service. This was to take place before the closing announcements.
Bishop Ehme Osterbur installed Rev. Steven Clingman of Austin, Minnesota, as our first Assistant Minister on August 26, 1984. He was a graduate of the Luther-Northwestern Theological Seminary. A congregational picnic followed the installation service.
The handicap ramp leading to the front entrance of the church was completed in time for Handicapped Sunday, which was September 30, 1984.
On April 20, 1986, the congregation held a special meeting to discuss whether or not we as a congregation should begin a Child Care Center. The committee introduced at that time was: Gary Schuster, Susan Clingman, Beth Negley, Diana Reinboldt, and Jane Rosenbohm. Fifty-six voting members of the congregation attended the meeting and voted 49:7 in favor of pursuing such an endeavor. Marilyn Kuntz was hired in June 1986 as the first director.
On May 7, 1989, Don Bauer and the entire choir presented the musical “The Feast” to the congregation. This musical was based on the Sacrament of Communion.
Rev. Steven Clingman resigned as Associate Pastor on July 31, 1989, to assume a position at Nativity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rev. Daniel Stalker, who was minister at Trinity Lutheran church in Litchfield, Illinois, accepted the call as Associate Pastor in October 1989. He was installed on December 3, 1989.
The installation of the new church sign was approved on September 26, 1989, at the cost of $6000.00. The sign, which was made by Hardin Sign Company and paid for from the Airport Authority was to be located along the new entrance of Smithville Road. Landscaping was completed in July 1994 by Greenview Nursery at the cost of $5000.00.
In May of 1990, a committee was selected to begin the refurbishing of the sanctuary. This committee was in charge of selecting the new carpet and the hiring the contractors to paint and clean the stone. The painting and stone cleaning was completed in September 1990 at the cost of $2,580.00. The carpet installation was completed in October 1990 at the cost of $9,234.00. This cost was much higher than anticipated because the entire sanctuary was carpeted, instead of just the aisles.
In September 1990, St. John started to offer Holy Communion twice a month on the first and third Sundays. On April 7, 1991, St. John’s began holding a Contemporary Worship Service at 9:30 a.m. The service, which is called “Word and Worship,” was designed to meet the needs of many people who do not feel comfortable in a traditional church service.
On May 26, 1992, Rev. Paul Tolo read his letter of retirement as Senior Pastor effective on August 2, 1992. On June 14, 1992, the congregation held a dinner for Rev. Tolo and Lillian in honor of Rev. Tolo’s 40th Anniversary of being ordained as a minister. Rev. Daniel Stalker accepted the position as Senior Pastor after the congregation voted unanimously on Sunday, July 26, 1992.
The congregation had the honor and glory of ordaining another one of their “sons of the congregation.” Jay Johnson was ordained as a minister during a special 10:45 a.m. Ordination Service on Sunday, November 1, 1992. His parents, Albert and Viola Johnson provided the ham and chicken for the dinner that was held afterwards. Rev. Mark Boorsma accepted the call as Associate Pastor and was installed on July 25, 1993.
For many years, the congregation had discussed the possibility of an elevator. On April 6, 1995, the Elevator Resource Committee was established. This committee provided leadership and the major funding for the project. Members of the Elevator Resource Committee were:
Jim and Nadine Bartell, Don and Pepper Bauer, Joe and Janice Baumgardner, Jerry and Mickey Behrends, Frank and Dorothy Bethel, Dave and Jody Bontz, Randy and Jayne Bressner, Ken and Sheryl Bruninga, Mildred Carlson, John and Danette Grafelman, Bob and Elizabeth Guppy, Keith and Joy Haun, Ron and Betty Hodges, Dan and Shirley Kilpatrick, Kent and Ginger Negley, Don and Anna Lee Rosenbohm Pille, Jim and Kathy Rindfleisch, Dan and Debbie Sammis, Dave and Rose Scherer, Rev. Paul and Lillian Tolo, Harold and Juanita Vires, and Robert and Eleanor Wetterauer.
On August 23, 1994, Jim Bartell introduced Ed Lehmann, the architect, to discuss with the council three options followed with general acceptance of a final plan. The final plan included placing the 6’ X 8’ elevator in an additional extension to the church construction primarily of glass, brick, and stone and would include the elevator, a meeting room and an area for coats. Total cost was approximately $151,000.00. This plan would include some modification to the extension of the teen room addition. Another $6,500.00 would be needed for handicapped parking, sidewalks, landscaping, etc. In October of 1994, another 200 square feet was added to the original plans. The reported estimated cost was then set at $180,000.00.
On January 23, 1996, Jim Bartell presented the contract to the church council from Schielein Construction Company. The Building Committee recommended the contract with the following alternates:
1. $486.00 addition for storage unit.
2. $280.00 addition for central elevator on-off switch.
3. $3,700.00 addition to increase the addition by two feet, with door inset.
4. $3,000.00 reduction for brick to match building instead of stone.
5. $5,450.00 reduction for a standard roof tile instead of custom tile.
The total building contract cost was set at $188,193.00. The council accepted the contract with a 15-3 vote. Groundbreaking began in April 1996. Official dedication was on December 8, 1996. Lillian Tolo was the official ribbon cutter for the dedication. The first members of the congregation to officially use the elevator were Lillian Tolo, Doatie Campen, and Rev. Waldemar Bartell. Total expenditures for the elevator and room addition were $218,000.00. The final payment of $9,233.08 to Schielein Construction was made on January 28, 1997. The furnishings for the entire new meeting room were given in memory of Russell Sammis, by his wife, Ruby Sammis.
1. The table, chairs, and love seats were designed and constructed by Jumer’s under the direction of Larry Hoskins.
2. The painting of “Noah’s Ark” was designed and completed by Fern Zahner.
3. The coffee table was purchased from Norwalk Inc. in Peoria.
4. The carving of Christ was carved in Quincy, Illinois.
5. The plaque, which was designed by Joan’s Trophy Shop in Peoria, depicts the different stages in life of Christ.
On January 23, 1996, the council voted to offer Holy Communion every Sunday. To accomplish this, communion would be offered at the 8:00 a.m. and the 10:45 a.m. services on the first and third Sunday of the month. Communion would be offered at the 9:30 service on the second and fourth Sunday of the month.
Rev. Mark Boorsma announced that he accepted the call to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Cleveland, Minnesota. Rev. Boorsma’s last day of service was February 16, 1997. A potluck was held in honor of Rev. Boorsma and his wife Mary after the last service.
The St. John Choir performed “Agape” on September 28, 1997, at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Sayner, Wisconsin. With the exception of a few, the entire choir traveled the “Northwoods” to perform. Rev. Boorsma and his wife Mary also traveled from Minnesota to be a part of the performance.
On April 19, 1998, St. John’s portrayed Leonardo DaVinci’s “Last Supper” during the Maundy Thursday Service. Each disciple was portrayed and described individually by a narrator. Currently, this has become a Maundy Thursday tradition.
Don Bauer and the St. John Choir performed the first “Polka Mass” at all three services on September 20, 1998. Following the services, the congregation gathered for bratwurst, potluck dinner, and fine polka music from the Ratskeller Brummers. Currently, this has also become a yearly tradition.
On March 18, 1999, Deloris Harken Graber celebrated forty years as the organist at St. John. A special recognition was held in her honor on April 18, 1999 at the 10:45 service. Following the service, the congregation held a potluck in her honor.
On November 1, 1999, Rev. Stalker resigned as
Senior Pastor. Following the 10:45 service on October 31, 1999, the
congregation held a potluck in honor of Rev. Stalker and his wife Beth. Rev.
Stalker accepted a call to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Streator, Illinois. Rev.
Eimo Hinrichs served as our
interim pastor until Rev. Darby Lawrence was installed. Rev. Lawrence, who was
the minister at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Emden, Illinois, was installed
by Bishop Freiheit on December 17, 2000 at 1:30 p.m.
In preparation for the 150th anniversary, the church recieved a much needed facelift. The exterior
and interior of the church and parsonage were painted. In addition, new carpeting and electrical were
installed in the sanctuary.
The 150th committee unveiled the opening of the Heritage Room at the
October 8, 2000 Oktoberfest. The Heritage Room is located next to the Sunday School Office in the
\parish Education Wing.
Rev. Lawrence accepted the call to St. Olaf East
& West Lutheran Church located in Bryon & Hayfield,
Minnesota. His last service was in November 2008. Rev. Barbara Ziah was appointed by Bishop Frieheit
as our Interim Pastor until the congregation placed a call. In addition to being the first female minister
at St. John, Rev. Ziah did a remarkable job of “transitioning” and “healing” the congregation until Rev.
Jones accepted the call. While Rev. Ziah served our congregation, we were faced with the decision to
remain in the ELCA. The majority of the congregation voted in favor of remaining in the ELCA in the fall
0f 2009, resulting in many members leaving.
Rev. Michael Jones accepted the call and was
installed on Sunday, March 20, 2011. His former
congregation was St. John Lutheran in Toluca, Illinois.
Our current membership is 577 at St. John Lutheran
and as we move forward we as a congregation
continue to ask the God for His guidance through the years and pray that He will continue to bless us as
Herman T. Martens
Mr. Martens was born on April 1, 1863, at Westerholt, Wardenburg Township, Oldenburg County, in the Dukedom of Oldenburg. He grew up there and later learned the painting trade. After finishing a four-year study, he went to the Painters and Draftmens School in the city of Oldenburg. For twelve years, he worked uninterrupted for the same master painter. In 1885, he came to America. In July 1885, he arrived in Peoria, Illinois. Two years after his arrival to Peoria, he established himself as a painter and decorator. His first fresco work, which he undertook independently, was the inside of Evangelical Lutheran St. Johannus Church in Limestone Township. After this project, Mr. Martens embellished a great number of other area churches as well as many homes. Mr. Martens belonged undoubtedly among the best decoration painters in Peoria, Illinois. He married Helene Rosenbohm of Limestone Township in 1887. They had six children.
(Courtesy of Albert and Eleanor Kroepel Rosenbohm)
(Courtesy of Edith Rosenbohm Lauterbach)
I remember going to confirmation class from my home, which was at the corner of Plank Rd. and Maxwell Rd. I usually took a horse and buggy to class. Since the confirmation class was most of the day, I would stable the horse in a barn that located close to the church. On occasion when the roads were muddy or covered with snow, I would just ride the horse. One time, when the road was muddy, the horse and myself fell in the mud on the way to confirmation class. However, I got up, wiped off the horse, and continued to class. When I arrived at church, I sat next to the pot-bellied stove so I could dry off before returning home. I was confirmed in 1922.
John E. Heuermann, oldest living member of the congregation
I fondly remember the schoolhouse that set next to the old church and Brotz Lane that was directly east of the schoolhouse. I remember when Claus Bruninga would have to pump the organ in the old church to a certain height on the gauge, which in turn would give the music. However, my fondest memory was the chicken suppers. Members of Ladies Aid would peel potatoes, clean and prepare the chickens, prepare the best pies, and set up tables. There was also a large tent set up to cover the bandstand. One year, Farmer Bill, the W.M.B.D. weather forecaster, was the afternoon speaker. There would also be games to play during the afternoon. One particular game was dummy baby stand. (It actually had another name!) The object to the game was to hit the baby with a ball. If you were successful, you won a prize. I was also on the building committee when the new church was built. That was definitely an exciting time for the congregation.
In my early years at St. John, I never felt quite at home. I believe some of these feelings were because I was raised and confirmed at St. Peter’s in Glasford. After I became a member at St. John’s, I found out that my great great grandfather was part of the founding fathers in the 1850’s. I guess I was following my roots as well as chasing St. John’s pretty young girls. Seriously, the best thing that ever happened to me was being asked to teach Sunday School. It was at that time that I began reading and studying the Bible, which has been a blessing of great value and has strengthened my faith. Thank you St. John’s for the opportunity and to God for his many blessings in my life.
I have a lot of good memories of growing up at St. John Lutheran Church, however the best were when Sunday School was held in the basement of our current church. All the classes were held in the same room, but after the opening was finished that my father, Fred Schick lead, the teachers pulled the curtains so that there would be individual classes. This was done until the new Sunday School wing was completed.
I also remember Mr. George Ojemann being the Sunday School Superintendent. He always did the attendance. We had these cream-colored attendance cards and every Sunday the teachers would put your card in the present side of the attendance envelope or the absent side if you were not there. Mr. Ojemann would pick all the cards up and go into his office, which is now the food pantry. From there, he would punch holes in your card if you were present. He would always have a lot of little punch pieces all over the floor. He always knew everyone’s attendance. If you had a whole year of perfect attendance, you got a perfect attendance pin. After this, for every thirteen weeks of perfect attendance you would have, you would get a little number to slide into your pin. This would state how many times would receive perfect attendance. Mr. Ojemann was always right! No one receive a pin or number unless he said so. No arguments and no excuses!
I also remember the Christmas program being a highlight of the year. I always got a pretty new dress to say my Christmas piece in. This only happened because I worked for weeks at home and church memorizing my piece. After the program, everyone got a paper sack with fruit and nuts.
Juanita Schick Vires
Rev. O.K. Bosse confirmed me on Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 1938. Our confirmation class consisted of eight girls and eleven boys. Wilma Bruninga Jarrett was my partner marching in. On the Sunday night before confirmation we had “question night” in front of the congregation.
We had to attend class all day Saturday in the old school house. We took our lunch and had to take turns sweeping the school house floor. I remember one time when Mildred Bruninga Busker and I had to sweep the floor. I also remember one Saturday when my cousin, Helen Cramer Frerichs and I had to sweep, however we got caught by Rev. Bosse sweeping the dirt under the platform that the old pot bellied stove sat on. Helen and I got a ride in the mornings to class, but most of the time we had to walk from the top of Laramie St. hill to our homes in the South Side.
We always had a good time during our confirmation class days. After being confirmed, I joined Luther League, which was my main source of a social life. Luther League gave plays in the schoolhouse for the public and always served refreshments after the play in the church basement. The admission for adults was twenty-five cents and ten cents for children. Sometimes we went to others members’ homes for a picnic or a hayride. Those were the “good old days!”
Mildred Baumann Carlson
The History of Ladies Aid
By Helen Cramer Frerichs
The first minutes of St. John’s Ladies Aid Society were dated April 11, 1915. Most of all the ladies in the congregation belonged to this organization.
The minutes from April 11, 1915 through July 6, 1933 were written in German. The constitution of the organization was translated into English and adopted on February 1, 1934.
This organization was a very busy one. We always were working on things for the church and the parsonage. Ladies Aid met twice a month and always all day. The first Thursday was devotion, business meeting, a potluck dinner, and then quilting and sewing in the afternoon. The third Thursday was all day quilting and sewing. We made quilts and also quilted for others. We also made towels, aprons, and embroidered items for our Fancy Stand. These items were then sold at our bazaar, which included a chilli and oyster supper.
Another project was the Muscatine Home in Muscatine, Iowa. Ella Ojemann Osten, a member of St. John’s, was a teacher there. We would make quilts, donate canned goods (which were canned by members), and donate cash gifts at Christmas time.
We made money doing many things. We would serve various banquets for groups, serve at farm sales, and conduct bake sales for local department stores. However, St. John’s became famous for the annual chicken supper. It became so well known that we had to ask other organizations within the church for help. This chicken supper became such a large event that it finally had to be discontinued in 1960.
Our Ladies Aid was called on for financial help from the church and provided many things for the church for many years. When the church become one belonging to The American Lutheran Church, the name of the organization was changed to the Mary-Martha Circle on March 2, 1961. The moneymaking projects were not encouraged and free will offerings were emphasized. However, some of the projects were continued, but not as many.
The following is a poem that was written in the early 1900’s. It was read in 1923 for the Silver Anniversary of Ladies Aid.
The old church bell had long been cracked,
Its call was but a groan;
It seemed to sound a funeral knell
With every broken tone.
“We need a bell,” the brethren said,
“But taxes must be paid;
We have no money we can spare…
Just ask the Ladies Aid.
The shingles on the roof are old,
The rain came down in rills;
The brethren slowly shook their heads
And spoke of monthly bills.
The Chairman of the Board arose
And said, “I am afraid
That we shall have to lay the case
Before the Ladies Aid.
The carpet had been patched and patched
Till quite beyond repair,
And through the aisles and on the steps
The boards showed hard and bare.
“It is too bad,” the brethren said
“An effort must be made
To raise an interest on the part
Of members of the Aid.”
The preacher’s salary was behind;
The poor man blushed to meet
The grocer and the butcher as
They passed him on the street,
But nobly spoke the brethren then;
“Pastor, you shall be paid;
We’ll call upon the treasurer
Of our good Ladies Aid.”
The members of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church are called to worship at the beginning of each service by the ringing of the bell in the church tower. This melodious ring echoes throughout the community every Sunday reminding everyone that an hour with Jesus Christ has begun.
When the fourth church was constructed in 1876, Patrick Ward, Sr. came forward and offered to purchase a bell for the young congregation if they would hang one in the steeple and ring it at the beginning of the services. Since he was originally from Peoria and was of the Catholic faith, he missed hearing church bells calling people to worship services. He resided with his family on a farm about three miles from St. John’s on what is presently known as Rickena Road.
The “Bell Story” was told to John Willms by Henry Pat Ward. John Willms’ daughter, Louisa Willms Weller, who is my mother, was with her father when the story was told.
As a young girl, I remember participating in the Sunday School Service on Christmas Eve. There was something special about coming from the basement in the “old church” where we had gathered with our respective classes and waited for the service to begin.
To me, it was a special moment when we entered the dimly lit sanctuary with the lighted Christmas tree that seemed to almost touch the ceiling. Every pew was filled with worshipers as we anxiously awaited our turn to do our part in telling the story of Christ’s birth. When the organ began to softly play “Away In The Manger,” all the younger children in an orderly manner would walk to the altar to assemble to sing this beloved hymn.
Ardeanne Weller Ekena
Reflecting back on some of the activities at St. John’s, the Chicken Dinners were always very popular. This was a big event that was held in August. First, the members solicited for food items to be donated. Then two or three days before the event, the Ladies Aid Society would gather at the church to prepare for it. There were chickens to be plucked and cleaned, potatoes to prepare, cabbage to shred for slaw, and cucumber and green beans to prepare.
Preparation away from the kitchen included grooming the grounds, erecting a tent for the “goodies” that could be purchased. This usually consisted of soda pop, candy, ice cream bars, and cigars. A piece of pie was included in the meal. These pies which were prepared at home by members of Ladies Aid, were brought in the day the meal was to be served.
When the “Chicken Supper Day” arrived, the people came to eat at the designated time on their ticket. Along with all the food, there was a bazaar table with fancy needlework and other handmade items that could be purchased. There were also races and games for the children to participate in as well as “good old fashion” visiting with fellow members of the congregation and community.
After the platters of chicken, the heaping bowls of potatoes, gravy, cabbage slaw, cucumbers and green beans were devoured; it was time to clean up. This took another two or three days to accomplish.
I also remember decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve day. We would walk to church, decorate the tree, and then return home to get ready for the evening service. The church was always packed! Today it is hard to believe that my father, myself, and another family living near us would walk to church every Sunday morning. I enjoyed it very much and I rarely missed a Sunday.
Louisa Willms Weller
I remember in 1949 when I was in charge of getting the chickens ready for the “Annual Chicken Dinner”. As always, we had so many people attend the function, however, that year it seemed like even more. About half way through the dinner, I remember that I began to panic that there would not be enough chicken to serve. Fortunately, I raised chickens on our farm, so I drove home, pulled chickens that I had already cleaned from my freezer and cooked them in the pressure cooker so they would thaw. When the dinner was over, there was very little chicken left.
I also remember all the happy years that Lucille Watkins and later, Shirley Harken Robinson and I taught the pre-school Sunday School class. I started teaching in the old school house, then the basement of the current church, and finally in the new Parish Education wing. What wonderful memories!
Mathilda Duhs Wetterauer
In honor of the 150th Anniversary of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, the following speakers have been asked to share in our glory.
October 8, 2000 Oktoberfest - Start of Anniversary Year
December 10, 2000 Rev. Waldemar Bartell and Rev. Richard Bartell
150th Anniversary speakers 10:45 a.m.
January 28, 2001 Rev. Jay Johnson, son of the congregation
Hanna City, Illinois
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
February 25, 2001 Heritage Sunday – Old Fashion Sunday dress up day
March 11, 2001 90th Anniversary Celebration Film 9:30 a.m.
March 25, 2001 Construction of Church Film 9:30 a.m.
April 22, 2001 Recognition of Past and Present Sunday School Teachers
May 6, 2001 Rev. Paul Tolo
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
May 27, 2001 Rev. Mark Boorsma, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
July 8, 2001 Rev. Daniel Stalker, St. Paul Lutheran Church
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
June 10, 2001 Rev. Donald Weber
Crown Point, Indiana
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
June 10, 2001 Gospel Choir Reunion
August 5, 2001 Rev. Steven Clingman, Christ the King Lutheran Church
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
August 12, 2001 Previous Pastors’ Children & Grandchildren
Rev. G. Oepke 1897-1913
Rev. H. Bergstaedt 1927-1934
Rev. O. Bosse 1935-1942
Rev. A. Heidmann 1942-1949
August 19, 2001 Rev. William Wittig
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
September 23, 2001 Bishop Warren Freiheit
150th Anniversary speaker 10:45 a.m.
October 7, 2001 Oktoberfest – End of Anniversary Year
The 150th committee would like to thank the following people for help making this history book:
Eleanor Kroepel Rosenbohm
Edith Rosenbohm Lauterbach
John E. Heuermann
Phyllis Heuermann Carr
Juanita Schick Vires
Helen Cramer Frerichs
Ardeanne Weller Ekena
Louisa Willms Weller
Mathilda Duhs Wetterauer
Nannete Landwehr Bontz
Emma Hartseil Pritchard
To Mildred Baumann Carlson for saving and sharing all her historical documents. You have been a Godsend!
To Jane Fleming Rosenbohm for proof reading and correcting all grammar errors.
To Louise Traub Steininger for translating the German records into English.
Pepper Lambie Bauer
Susan Wetterauer Moore
Bonnie Mueller Phelps
Betty Hanley Smith
150th Anniversary of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church
I would characterize my term of office as Senior Pastor of St. John Congregation as one of “expanding ministry.” It was my privilege to serve God’s people from 1983 to 1992. During that period the new Lutheran Book of Worship was introduced and put into use.
The congregation took a big step of faith in 1984 expanding its ministry further by calling an assistant pastor, the Rev. Steven Clingman. His area of responsibility was youth and education.
In 1986 St. John opened its doors to a full time “Day Care Center” for preschool children with a staff of about 18 people. In February 1989 an “Infant Care” department was added to the Child Care Center.
An annual Council Retreat was always a highlight giving Council members an opportunity to get away for an over-night trip to a camp to brainstorm and share ideas, dreams, and plans for the coming year. The fellowship was great.
Upon the resignation of Pastor Clingman in 1989, the congregation called the Rev. Daniel Stalker as an Associate Pastor with responsibilities in youth and education.
The congregation inaugurated its third worship opportunity in the early 1990’s with a contemporary worship service. Summertime Sunday School/Congregational picnics were also very popular and well attended.
The Council and myself negotiated with the Greater Peoria Airport Authority to resolve the noise pollution problem during worship hours by offering to air condition the church. Approval was also given to the airport to extend the southwest runway near our property for plane take-offs.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching both the Divine Drama and Crossways Bible Classes over a period of several years for two classes.
Sunday morning informal hymn singing following the 8:00 a.m. worship hour was always an inspiration.
Occasionally during the Sunday School hour an Adult Forum was held with various visiting resource people and foreign missionaries taking their turn.
An adult men’s basketball team took part in a round robin tournament with other local church teams.
During my time in the St. John pastorate, I had the thrill of visiting the Holy Land and Egypt. I also led a group from our church to the Holy Land and Egypt, which was such an inspiration.
I had the opportunity of planning a group travel excursion to Europe including an opportunity to see the Passion Play in Germany.
My retirement from St. John after 40 years of active ministry was a highlight on August 2, 1992. St. John ladies served a delicious dinner for the congregation in the honor of Lillian and myself. May God richest blessings continue to serve St. John.
Rev. Paul G. Tolo
Ministers who have served St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Heinrich Kopmann 1851-1855
Rev. J.T. Warnke 1855-1858
Rev. Helyoor Quehl 1858-1860
Rev. J.J. Kern 1860-1861
Rev. C.J.M. Neumann 1861-1863
Rev. H. Klockemeier 1864-1866
Rev. F.W. Eggerking 1867-1873
Rev. E. Bangerter 1874-1888
Rev. Frederick B. Bess (interim)1888-1889
Rev. H. Schneider 1889-1897
Rev. Gottfried Oepke 1897-1913
Rev. F.W. Knappe 1913-1914
Rev. August Rettberg 1915-1919
Rev. Herman Kuhlmann 1919-1927
Rev. Henry Bergstaedt 1927-1934
Rev. Orville K. Bosse 1935-1942
Rev. Albert Heidmann 1942-1949
Rev. Waldemar E. Bartell 1950-1963
Rev. William M. Wittig 1963-1973
Rev. Donald M. Weber 1973-1982
Rev. Carl Amelung (interim) 1982
Rev. Ervin E. Buhs (interim) 1982
Rev. Paul G. Tolo 1983-1992
Rev. Steven D. Clingman 1984-1989
Rev. Daniel L. Stalker 1989-1999
Rev. Mark D. Boorsma 1993-1997
Rev. Eimo Hinrichs (interim) 1999-2000
Rev. Darby Lawrence 2000-2006
Rev Barbara Ziah (Interim) 2006 - 2011
Rev. Michael Jones 2011 - Present
St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church
Memorial Walkway Honor Roll
Robert and Eleanor Reichert Wetterauer
In memory of our parents Ludwig Friedrich Wetterauer
Rosa Traub Reichert
Russell and Jane Christe Look
In memory of our parents Evert Look
Catharine Johnson Look
Bessie Billerbeck Christe
In memory of my wife Lucretia Johnson Browder
David and Rose Stephanoff Scherer
In memory of my mother Edna Olson Scherer
Kenneth and Virginia Ralston Negley
In memory of our parents Maurice Negley
Goldie Jackson Negley
Kenneth and Catherine Johnson Uphoff
In honor of our 50th wedding anniversary
June 10, 2000
Harold and Juanita Schick Vires
In memory of my parents Frederick Schick
Christine Molchin Schick
Audrey Haslam Monroe
Edward and Glenda Hamrick Monroe
Rick and Nancy Richards Monroe
Gary and Margaret Monroe Mefford
Gary and Sally Ragains Monroe
Tony and Patti Monroe Thornton
In memory of husband and father Edward Monroe
Randy and Patti Paterson Riley
In honor of the birth of our children
Stephen Michael Riley July 18, 1989
Aaron Zachary Riley August 10, 1991
In honor of our marriage May 26, 1984
Harvey and Edith Rosenbohm Lauterbach
In memory of our parents John Rosenbohm
Katherine Frerichs Rosenbohm
Margaret Tholen Lauterbach
Ernie and Karen Terrell Williams
In memory of our parents Frank Williams
Bessie Hutton Williams
Kathryn Curtis Terrell
St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church Quilters
Harold and Helen Cramer Frerichs
In memory of our parents Franz Frerichs
Ada Peters Frerichs
Theresa Harren Cramer
Anna Lee Nelson Rosenbohm Pille
In memory of my husband Frederick Rosenbohm
In memory of my wife Irene Lauterbach Hauk
James and Kimberly Dudley Krusemark
In honor of the confirmation of their child
Johnathn Powers June 11, 2000
Betty Grah Jarvis Lyons
Cathy Jarvis Hamm
In memory of my husband and our father Charles Jarvis
Phyllis Heuermann Carr
In memory of my parents John Heuermann
Martha Johnson Heuermann
Henry and Marjorie Marcussen Schuster
In memory of our parents John Schuster
Hannah Peters Schuster
Mary Schneblin Marcussen
Mildred Baumann Carlson
In memory of my husband August Carlson
In memory of my parents Gerhardt Baumann
Christina Heuermann Baumann
In memory of all past and present Sunday School Teachers
James and Nadine Campen Bartell
In memory of our daughter Kristen Bartell Bitner
Jack and Sally Hiltbold
In memory of our parents
Albert and Eleanor Kroepel Rosenbohm
In memory of our parents John Rosenbohm
Katherine Frerichs Rosenbohm
Marie Fischer Kroepel
Mission Society Circle
In memory of all former members
St. John Evangelical Lutheran Gospel Choir
In memory of all former members
In honor of my grandmother Mathilda Duhs Wetterauer’s 90th birthday
July 29, 2001
James and Susan Wetterauer Moore
In honor of our 20th wedding anniversary
October 19, 2000
Henry and Mary Jane Stauthammer Behrends
William and Sandy Zerwekh Behrends
In memory of our parents Edward Behrends
Lydia Sutter Behrends
Margaret Thomas Lugeanbeal
Anna Bleichner Stauthammer
Alex and Brenda LaHood Heuermann
In memory of my father Clarence Heuermann
In memory of my grandparents Claus Heuermann
Amelia Behrends Heuermann
In memory of my uncles Norman Heuermann
Clifford and Renelda Somogyi Owen
In memory of our parents John Owen
Frances Moyer Owen
Laszlo “Jack” Somogyi
Elsie Prill Somogyi
Dennis and Carol Ann Richmond Scherer
In memory of my parents Harvey Richmond
Viola Hartseil Richmond
Verna Miller Schultz
In memory of our parents Harry Miller
Anna Voss Miller
In memory of our sister Viola Miller Johnson
Mike and Suzanne Davenport Tietjen
In memory of my grandparents John Tietjen
Katharina Hinck Tietjen
Mary Jane Irwin Jacobs
In memory of my husband Gerald Jacobs
Mary-Martha Circle (Ladies Aid Society)
In memory of all former members
Frank and Dorothy Reichert Bethel
In memory of my parents Frederick Reichert
Freida Kurrle Reichert
David and Anna Seffer Rogers
In memory of my parents James Seffer Sr.
Ruth Garber Seffer
Johnnie and Janet Short
In memory of loved ones
Emma Hartseil Chaney
In memory of my parents Adolph Hartseil
Anna Janssen Hartseil
In memory of my sisters and brother Ida Hartseil
Mabel Hartseil Schmidt
Viola Hartseil Richmond
Evelyn Hartseil McElfresh
Dan and Debbie Johnston Sammis
In memory of my father Russell Sammis
Maurice and Carol Meinhold Super
In honor of the 150th anniversary celebration
John and Danette Aliano Grafelman
In memory of our fathers Henry Grafleman
In memory of our grandfather Harry Campen
In honor of our grandmother Alberta Grafelman Campen
Bernard and Judy O’Malley Johnson
In memory of faith-filled loved ones
Shirley Cawley Harken
Steven and Sheri Emert Harken
David and Valerie Uphoff Harken
Raymond and Lori Roberts Harken
In memory of my husband and father Warner Harken