St John's History

The first German Lutheran settlers came to Elyria in 1847. At that time, steps were taken by Liverpool Church of Valley City to serve those new settlers in Elyria. Reverand Roebblen and his succesor, Reverand Steinbach, made trips to Elyria homes to conduct services. Pastor Steinbach had several preaching stations besides his regular congregation. One of these were held in a country schoolhouse on South Ridge, about 2 miles west of Elyria.

St John's was established as the first Lutheran church in Elyria, Ohio on October 10th, 1852. Candidate John Strieter, St John's very first called pastor, was ordained by Reverand Schwan on April 6th, 1853. Shortly after, Pastor Strieter got married and moved to Vermillion. Services within Elyria were briefly discontinued as the 2 resident Lutheran families had moved away as well. Eventually the congregation did return and called Pastor Heitmueller as the new minister. They met the Old Court House or at the church on Second and Court Street on a bi-weekly basis.

St John's began construction of its own building until 1867 at the corner of Broad Street and West Avenue. This two-story framed building served as a place of worship, parsonage, and school. This structure was dedicated March 16, 1869. The first school began in the lower level in 1875. In 1883, the adjacent property was purchased, and the house theron became the parsonage.

"Mecklenburgers", newly immigrated East Germans, soon increased the attendance at both the church and school, and by 1888, St John's had neerly 500 communicant members. Because the congregation outgrew the existing building, the church was then moved and dedicated on May 4th, 1890.

St John's first mission festival was celebrated in 1896. At these gatherings, salvation through the death of Chist on the cross was shared. Until 1901, the services were held only in German, but those who preferred an all English service helped establish Grace Lutheran Church in Elyria in 1907 where many did transfer to.

The first church organ, purchased from St Mark's in Clevelad, was dedicated in August 1911. Property on Third Street was purchased and the new scool building was dedicated December 10, 1916.

By 1919, both German and English services were held. When the Elyria City Council passed a law prohibiting the use of the German language during the great World War, all German services were temporarily discontinued.

Sunday school was formally organized September 30, 1921, and the first English confirmation also occured in 1921. Due to the efforts of Pastor Armin Schroeder, "The Visitor" was published. This booklet displayed the activities and reports of the church where much of St John's history has been compiled from.

St John's went through two remodeling phases, one in 1935 and another in 1947. A new church organ was purchased in 1952 in time for the church's 100th anniversary.

Pastor Crook's foresight is largely responsible for the acquisition of property on West River. When Mr. Scheide, a member of the congregation died, he willed $26,000 to the church. This money was used to purchase the land on which the church stands today. The cornerstone was layed October 8, 1967 and was dedicated May 12th, 1968. The first child that was baptised in the 1890 church was present for this ceremony.

Groundbreaking for the new school wing occurred on Palm Sunday in 1973. The school was dedicated on May 12, 1974, but about 15 years later had to close its doors. In August 1990, the preschool opened and to date still teaches 3, 4 and 5 year olds.

In 2012, St John's celebrated its 160th anniversary and is looking forward to its 170th!