A Timeline History of St. John's Lutheran Church

Town of Oakwood

Town of Oakwood

1836

Immigrants from various parts of Germany begin to arrive around the area of Kilbourne Road (now 27th Street), near what would become known as the Oakwood community.

1840

Pr. Friedrich Schmidt

Pr. Friedrich Schmidt

The first worship services begin taking place. Pastor Friedrich Schmidt arrives from Michigan as a circuit riding preacher, conducting services in the Goelzer log cabin, as well as teaching and confirming the first children in Oakwood.

1843

St. John's Lutheran Church is formally organized by 24 voting members and their families on October 2.

1844

Pastor Schmidt returns to Michigan.

1847

Pastor Johannes Weinmann arrives in Oakwood to minister to some 300 members, living in the Goelzer cabin. An energetic missionary, he helps establish other Lutheran churches in Greenfield, New Berlin, Caledonia, and Racine. He would later perish in a ship fire on a return trip from Germany in 1859.

Pr. Rausch

Pr. Rausch

1849

Pastor Carl Gustav Rausch is called to serve St. John's after Weinmann leaves to minister to another church in Racine.

1850

Pastor Weinmann collaborates with Pastors Johann Muehlhauser and Wilhelm Wrede to found what would eventually be called the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

1851

A split on doctrinal matters ensues with regard to Rausch's rationalistic leanings. About half of the congregation leaves St. John's and follows Rausch to found "The First Christian Free Church of the Towns of Franklin and Oak Creek," which still stands today as the Painesville Memorial Chapel near the corner of 27th Street and Ryan Road. 

1852

Pastor Conrad Koester accepts the call to serve St. John's, now consisting of only 16 members and their families. But with an influx of immigrants from various areas in Germany wanting to settle in the region, the congregation begins to flourish again. Like Weinmann, Koester works tirelessly as a missionary to multiple congregations in the area, including Caledonia (now Trinity), Tess Corners (now St. Paul's, Muskego), and Root Creek (now St. John's on Forest Home Avenue). He is also remembered for introducing the use of Martin Luther's Small Catechism in his confirmation instruction. He serves St. John's until his death in 1864.

Pr. Brenner

Pr. Brenner

1864

Pastor Phillip Brenner of Kenosha is installed at St. John's. Within two years, membership swells to 170, and 80 children enroll in a newly established Christian day school.  In 1870, Brenner accepts a call to Oshkosh.

1870

Gustav F. Denninger is installed as pastor, occasionally taking up school instruction in addition to pastoral duties. He accepts a call to Neenah in 1880.

1880

Pastor Carl Gausewitz is installed. The school, previously understaffed due to illness, flourishes. The congregation also purchases its first organ because he has no singing voice. He accepts a call to Woodbury, Minnesota in 1893.

1896 School.png
Pr. Denninger

Pr. Denninger

Pr. Gausewitz

Pr. Gausewitz

Pr. Bernthal

Pr. Bernthal

1893

Pastor Herman H. Ebert, from St. Paul's Lutheran on Smith Road, serves as vacancy pastor, conducting services every two weeks. With no full time pastor, St. John's declines to observe its 50th anniversary.

Pr. Plass

Pr. Plass

1894

John Balthasar (J.B.) Bernthal accepts the call to St. John's after recovering from illness. He not only oversees the construction of a new church, school building, and parsonage, but serves an additional congregation in Raymond. During this time, St. John's celebrates its 55th anniversary in lieu of its 50th. Bernthal accepts a call to Ixonia, Wisconsin in 1911.

1911

Pastor Martin F. Plass of Mauston, Wisconsin is installed.

1915

Services are conducted in English for the first time, on a monthly basis.

Ladies Aid Society

Ladies Aid Society

1917

A Ladies Aid group is organized. It oversees the construction of a buggy shed, which protects horses and buggies on Sundays, but the building is also used to host a bazaar, annual picnics, and the fall Mission Festival, which attracts visitors from around the Milwaukee area, who purchase handmade goods and a meal (for just 25¢). 

1918

St. John's commemorates is 75th anniversary.

1919

The Christian day school is re-organized under the direction of the first School Board Members: Jacob Schattner, Otto Paap, and Gustav Meissner. 

1931-1932

Highway 41 (27th Street) expands, and the church is moved to its present site, remodeled and dedicated. A choir is organized.

St. John’s Church Building, 1930

St. John’s Church Building, 1930

St. John’s Church Building, 1931

St. John’s Church Building, 1931

Pr. Molkentin

Pr. Molkentin

1943

St. John's celebrates its 100th anniversary. With World War II in progress, the congregation helps several destitute families in war-torn Germany by sending clothes and care packages each month. 

1955

Pastor Plass retires, having served 44 years as pastor at St. John's, and 56 years in the ministry overall. Pastor Karl Molkentin accepts the call to serve as pastor and is installed.

1956

For the first time in its history, St. John's discontinues services in German.

Church Building, 1960

Church Building, 1960

1957

St. John's purchases 6 1/2 acres of land to its south.

1960

A new entrance is built onto the front of the church, which includes a larger narthex, an additional room in the basement for the growing Sunday school and a study for the pastor.

1963

The Christian Day School is re-established through a cooperative arrangement with Trinity Lutheran Church in Caledonia. Its first teacher is Mrs. Karl Molkentin.

1964

Roger Hinz accepts the call to be church organist and principal of the school.

1966

The Ladies Aid Society revises its constitution and renames itself The Mary and Martha Society.

1967

The Mary and Martha Society observes its 50th anniversary. A new parsonage is built as a memorial to the 125th anniversary of St. John's. Additionally, St. John's purchases the three-room Lafayette Public School on County Line Road for its Christian Day School. Roger Hinz accepts a call to LaCrosse, and Arthur Hackbarth becomes the principal.

1972

Robert Snell accepts the call to be principal of the school.

1974 

Pastor Molkentin accepts a call to Tampa Bay, Florida, after serving St. John's for 19 years.

1975

Pastor Gerald Meyer is installed as pastor at St. John's. 

1976

Robert Weigmann accepts the call to be principal. 

1977

St. John's joins the Shoreland High School Federation. With continued growth, it becomes necessary to incorporate two worship services on Sundays.

1985

A new building for the Christian day school is completed and opens its doors.

School Building, 1985

School Building, 1985

1985

A new building for the Christian day school is completed and opens its doors.

1986

James Hahn is installed as Principal of the school. St. John's celebrates its 150th anniversary.

1999

Pastor Meyer accepts a call to St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Muskego after serving St. John's for twenty years.

2000

Pastor Dale Reckzin is installed. Regular Thursday night services are initiated. 

Pr. Reckzin

Pr. Reckzin

2001

Holy Communion is offered in every regular worship service.

2002

Multiple repairs and improvements are made to the church building and grounds, including a basement remodel, installation of air-conditioning, a new storage garage, and a larger asphalt parking lot.

2007

The Mary and Martha Society restructures itself and changes its name to Ladies Serving Together.

2007

Due to financial constraints, the Christian day school is closed.

2008

Seeking to stress evangelism and outreach, St. John's calls Kendall Cortright to serve as Deacon. He initiates numerous programs and fellowship events, including Oktoberfest, Christmas for Kids, and Easter for Kids.

2015

Deacon Cortright leaves St. John's to accept a position in St. Louis. 

2018

St. John's celebrates its 175th anniversary with a special service that features Synod President Mark Schroeder as guest preacher. A banquet is held afterward, during which the total amount of a special offering is announced and building plans for a new fellowship hall are unveiled.