A Brief History of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church

 

Our church began in 1916, when Pastor John N.C. Mohrmann, a new seminary graduate, was sent to start a Lutheran Church in this area.Bound Brook proved to be a central location and first services were held in a hall located in the Ivy Hook & Ladder Building, corner of Hamilton and East 2nd Streets.

 

There Pastor Mohrmann was installed on September 24, 1916 as Pastor of the Bound Brook Lutheran Mission, as our congregation was then called. He preached his first sermon on October 1, 1916 to a gathering of fifteen people.

 

The congregation was organized in the fall of 1916 and incorporated in 1917 as Saint John Evangelical Lutheran Church. The members soon decided to purchase lots on which to erect a church and parsonage.The present site proved to be ideal and the lots were purchased for $1,650.00. Considering that World War I was not yet over, construction of the church and parsonage progressed rapidly.On March 3, 1918, the church was dedicated.The congregation then numbered 60 communicant members.In 1922 the congregation voted to join the Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other states (now known as the Lutheran Church Ė Missouri Synod).With the begin≠ning of 1923, St. John's had become self-supporting which was quite an accomplishment.

 

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St. John Lutheran Churchca. 1950

 

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In 1924 a building housing two bowling alleys was built on the site where Baer Hall now stands.The alleys provided years of entertainment to the congregation and the community. In 1950, a second floor with two rooms was added to provide space for an expanding Sunday School.

 

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St. John Congregation in 1946

 

Pastor Mohrmann accepted a call to Connecticut in March, 1928.He was succeeded by Pastor J. George Bornmann who was installed July 29, 1928.

 

During the early years, St. John's was a bi-lingual church.Services were held in German in the morning and English in the evening, or vice versa. Evening services were discontinued in 1930 and both English and German services were held in the morning.Services in German were dis≠continued in 1940.

 

Upon his physician's advice, Pastor Bornmann retired January 1, 1942. He died a year later. The Reverend Eugene E. Kuechle was installed as our third pastor on the 22nd of March, 1942.

 

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St. John Renovation 1953

 

A major renovation project costing $55,000 was begun in May, 1952.It consisted of enlarging and refurbishing the church edifice including a completely rebuilt tower, light stucco exterior to replace the wood shingles and a balcony adding 75 seats.The stained glass windows were also installed at that time.Interior changes were new pews, new carpeting and kitchen changes. A rededication service was held February 8, 1953.

 

Pastor Kuechle left in January, 1957 to accept another call.Pastor Arthur L. Kreyling served the congregation during a 10 month vacancy until Pastor Theodore A. Fischer was called from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsyl≠vania. He was installed October 20, 1957.

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Parish House ca 1958

 

In 1958, the eight room house next to the church on Union Avenue was acquired for educational purposes.It was remodeled by the men of the congregation and named the Henry L. Baer Memorial Hall. Mr, Baer had served as Sunday School Superintendent for 25 years, and the educational unit was named in his honor and to his memory.The building is now simply referred to as the "Church House" since the completion of our present Baer Hall.

 

A Venture of Faith drive was started in October, 1962 to erect the new educational unit and fellowship hall. The old parish house (bowling alley) was demol≠ished and work began on the new construction in the Fall of 1963.

 

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Construction of Baer Hall 1963

 

The new building was built with two auditoriums, eight classrooms, a library and a kitchen. It was dedicated June 28, 1964 and called Baer Hall. The Pastor's study and church office is presently located in this building.

 

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Completed Baer Hall in 1964

 

A Christian Day School was started in September, 1965 with teacher Thomas Roemke serving as Principal.It had classes for grades 1 to 3, but was discontinued in June 1967. The first floor of the building is presently utilized by the Wee People Preschool and Daycare Center.

 

Pastor Theodore Fischer retired on December 31, 1972, after 15 years of service. He continued to serve the Church as a vacancy pastor in Union City and as an assistant in Queen's Village, N.Y. until his sudden death on March 28, 1977.

 

Saint John's was served by vacancy pastors until Candidate David Fischer, a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, IL was given the Call to St. John's by the Synodical Board of Assignments.He was ordained June 16, 1974, in his home congregation in Rochelle, IL and was installed here on July 14.

 

Pastor David Fischer accepted a Call to Salt Lake City, Utah, and left on August 1, 1977. The Reverend W. Ralph Heller, Jr. was extended the Call to St. John's from his work with American Leprosy Missions. He accepted and was in≠stalled as the sixth Pastor on January 22, 1978.Pastor Heller resigned his call on September 30, 1985.

 

The call process began in 1986 and resulted in extending a call to Rev. David B. Hill who was serving a dual parish in Aransas Pass and Refugi, TX. Pastor Hill accepted the call and was installed on March 15, 1987. He served until late 1989 when he received and accepted a call to St. John Lutheran Church in Bloomfield, NJ.

 

The process of calling a pastor began once again, and in January 1991, Rev. Anthony J. Douches was installed as the 8th pastor of St. Johnís. He served until 1993 when he resigned his call due to health concerns.

 

On November 5, 1995, the Rev. David E. Grell was installed as the 9th pastor of St. Johnís, serving until November, 1999.

 

In September of 2001, Deacon Dennis Rockett, a student of the DELTO program through Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO began serving St. John.He received the title of Vicar in September of 2003.He served St. John through word and sacrament ministry under the direction of the Rev. Paul Sparling, Em. until early 2006 when he was placed at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Mahwah, NJ.

 

During the two year vacancy that followed, St. Johnís was served by the Rev. Paul Voitko, Em., the Rev. Robert E. Wiltenberg, Em., and the faithful people of St. Johnís.In June of 2008 a call was issued to Rev. Joseph Weatherell from St. Johnís Lutheran Church in Hazleton, PA.He took office in August, but was formally installed on October 5, 2008 and currently serves as St. Johnís shepherd.

 

At Voter's Assembly meeting in June of 2014, the congregation voted to change its district affiliation from the New Jersey District of the LCMS to the SELC District of the LCMS. This change in affiliation will open the doors to new and exciting ministry and outreach opportunities for the members of St. John's and the community-at-large.

 

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St. Paul Lutheran Church, Raritan, NJ

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St. John Lutheran Church, Bound Brook, NJ

 

On October 1st, 2016, St. John officially entered into a dual parish agreement with St. Paul Lutheran Church in Raritan, NJ. The two congregations cooperate in the outreach and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the two communities, and the two churches share a pastor. Pastor Weatherell was installed as the permanent pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, while also serving as the permanent pastor of St. John Lutheran Church.

 

The future of St. John's is known only to God, but we move forward in the great venture of faith to which the Lord of the Church continually calls us.Our mission is to bring the Gospel message and the love of Christ to those who so desperately need to hear that Good News.

 

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