History


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St. John’s was originally founded in June of 1936 under the name of “First Lutheran.” Within a year, the tiny congregation, led by Rev. Theodore Heimarck, pooled its resources to purchase the old St. John’s Episcopal Church on First Street (at the site of the current US Post Office). When they moved to the Episcopal church, the stained glass window over the door announced “St. John’s”… so came the name of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

74 members chartered the new church. In just 15 years, membership reached 525 and it became obvious that larger facilities were needed. Construction of a new church started in 1957. The new church was dedicated on September 28, 1958.

In the following nine years the congregation welcomed another 223 members, which spurred the second phase of the building project. The church expanded southward with a fellowship hall, chapel, nursery and office space. In addition, classrooms and storage were built in a new south basement. Members proudly dedicated the addition and the newly erected cross tower in 1970.

Key Dates in our History

1930s

  • 1935 – Rev. Joseph Green, president of the Eastern District of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America, recognizes the need for a church in Evansville.
  • 1936 – Rev. C.A.A. Jensen of the Home Mission Board of the NLCA conducts a survey of Evansville early in the year.
  • 1936 – Funds are secured to help organize work in Evansville. Rev. M.H. Hegge of First Lutheran Church in Stoughton encourages Cooksville Lutheran, also in his parish, to join with Evansville. Rev. N.A. Stubkjaer serves as pastor until a permanent pastor arrives.
  • February 1936 – Executive committee is chosen to establish Evansville church.
  • February 17, 1936 – Organization of Ladies Aid decided and first meeting for organization takes place on March 17, 1936.
  • April 19, 1936 – A letter of call is extended to Rev. Theodore Heimarck. The first Sunday school is organized.
  • May 14, 1936 – The congregation is organized, a church council is elected, and the congregation chooses the name First Lutheran of Evansville. During this time services and organizational meetings are in the Evansville City Hall. A choir has already been organized for these early services. Negotions to rent St. John’s Episcopal Church have been undertaken.
  • June 21, 1936 – Rev. Theodore Heimarck is installed as pastor in the St. John’s Episcopal Church by Rev. Green, assisted by Pastors Hegge and Stubkjaer.
  • July 14, 1936 – The altar guild is organized.
  • Auguest 11, 1936 – A men’s club is organized.
  • September 21, 1936 – The constitution is adopted and a twelve-member council is elected.
  • November 16, 1937 – Legally incorporated under a new name, “St. John’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Wisconsin.”
  • March 1, 1938 – Negotiations completed to buy St. John’s Episcopal Church and rectory. The negotiations began in November 1937.
  • August 23, 1938 – The Luther League decides to meet jointly with Cooksville.

1940s

  • June 18, 1941 – St. John’s celebrates its fifth anniversary. The congregation numbers 286 souls.
  • February 1943 – Rev. Theodore Heimarck resigns as our pastor.
  • April 4, 1943 – St. John’s and Cooksville purchase parsonage on Grove Street.
  • May 1943Rev. Arvid M. Romstad becomes pastor of Cooksville and St. John’s.
  • June 23, 1946 – St. John’s celebrates its tenth anniversary. The congregation numbers 227 souls. Parsonage mortgage burned.

1950s

  • April 1951 – Plans begin for a new building with approval to gather funds, in September a building committee is formed.
  • June 24, 1951 – The congregation celebrates its 15th anniversary and now numbers 525 souls.
  • September 16, 1956 – Discussions on building lead to relocation plans, and the present site on Third Street is purchased.
  • August 11, 1957 – Ground is broken for the new church.
  • June 8, 1958 – Cornerstone is laid at the new church.
  • June 15, 1958 – The first service is held in the new church.
  • September 28, 1958 – The new church is dedicated with Rev. Theodore Heimarck preaching, and District President Rev. Myron Austinson performing the rite of dedication.

1960s

  • June 25-26, 1961 – 25 years are celebrated and the congregation numbers 758 souls.
  • 1964– Pastor Arvid Romstad retires due to ill health.
  • September 13, 1964Rev. Orlo Espeland is installed as pastor.
  • September 7, 1969 – Ground is broken for an educational unit.

1970s

  • May 17, 1970 – The new educational unit is dedicated. The congregation now numbers 950 souls.
  • January 1973 – A new Schantz organ is dedicated.
  • October 21, 1973 – Pastor Orlo Espeland conducts his last service, having accepted a call to Holmen, Wisconsin.
  • July 1, 1974Rev. Robert Garbrecht arrives and is installed as pastor on July 14.
  • June 20, 1976 – 4oth anniversary celebrated with Pastor Theodore Heimarck preaching. A banquet is held at the high school.
  • October 24, 1976 – 40th anniversary celebrated with Pastor Orlo Espeland preaching. Potluck and fellowship held at the church.
  • November 26, 1978 – Stained glass windows are dedicated.

1980s

  • August 1980 – Chancel remodeling completed and on September 28 it is dedicated (22 years after church dedication).
  • June 22, 1986 – St. John’s celebrates its 50th anniversary. Rev. Bishop Peter Rogness of the American Lutheran Church’s Southern Wisconsin District delivers the sermon. Rev. Theodore Heimarck, now retired, speaks at a banquet dinner held at the high school.
  • September 28, 1986 – Pastor Orlo Espeland preaches at festive worship services. Dinner and other fellowship activities complete the 50th anniversary observances. The parish now numbers 1037 baptized and 736 confirmed souls.
  • 1989 – Pastor Garbrecht retires. The congregation honors his service by naming him pastor emeritus of the congregation.
  • 1989Rev. James Hill serves the congregation until 1993.

1990s

  • October 31, 1994Rev. Timothy White and his wife Cindy arrive.
  • 1995 – Praise team is founded, and a contemporary worship service is begun.
  • 1996 – 60th anniversary of St. John’s
  • 1997 – Pastor White returns to his home church.
  • 1998Rev. Paul Forde and his wife Karen are welcomed. Soul Troop becomes a unique youth group at St. John’s.

2000s

  • 2000 – Kids of the Kingdom and Growing Hearts youth groups are born. The Befrienders ministry is established.
  • 2002 – Alpha program is conducted at St. John’s.
  • 2003Rev. Peder Lerseth becomes the first associate pastor in the history of St John’s.
  • 2004 – Pastor Lerseth leaves St. John’s.
  • 2005 – Pastor Forde departs from St. John’s. First Christmas Bazaar held at St. John’s in nearly 30 years.
  • 2005-2006 – St. John’s welcomes interim pastors Ron Mach, Brad Pohlman, Clark Kilgard, and Ronald Weber.
  • 2006 – Last remaining charter member Ellen Patterson is honored at 70th anniversary.
  • December 2006Rev. Robert Schaefer is installed as pastor. The congregation numbers 984 baptized members and 689 confirmed members.
  • September 2009 – Pastor Robert Schaefer’s says good-bye to St. John’s to join his wife in Pennsylvania where she accepted a teaching appointment with the University of Pennsylvania.
  • October 2009 – Rev. Rich Collier joins St. John’s to shepherd the congregation while the Call Committee begins its search for a new pastor.
  • August 2010 – Rev. Matthew Poock is installed as pastor. Pastor Matt brings with him his wife Becca and a growing family.
  • August 2013 – Director of Faith Formation position created to help oversee education and mission for all ages.
  • Right now – St. John’s is growing! We invite you to join us and see why.