About Us

  • Current St. John's on Highland Ave.Current St. John's on Highland Ave.
  • St. John's on Dewey St.St. John's on Dewey St.

Our History

St. John’s Lutheran Church was formally organized and adopted the recommended constitution of the Iowa Synod in August of 1874. The first pastor to serve the new congregation was Rev. C.J. Mehrtens who was born in Hannover, Germany, and ordained by the Iowa Synod in 1874. Pastor Mehrtens served St. John’s for only one year during which a small house of worship on Galloway Street was completed.

This small congregation of German Lutherans built a church on Dewey Street, completed in 1884. This building continued to serve an ever-growing congregation for 71 years, 43 of those years under the leadership of another German immigrant, Rev. A. F. Augustine. In 1933, the congregation completed its transition from a German-speaking to an English-speaking congregation.

The remarkable growth of the congregation continued under another long-term pastor, Rev. Roy Schmeichel, and led to the decision to relocate the congregation to a new site at its present location, 1804 Highland Avenue. Construction began in 1954 and was completed in May of 1955.

St. John’s ministry spread from the building into the community and into the world. In 1978, the St. John’s Apartment project was dedicated and became a venture in providing good, affordable housing to the elderly. In the early 2000s, the congregation undertook the Imani School Project, which helped establish a school in Kaisho, Tanzania, a relationship that continues to this day.

It is to those who are not mentioned by name that we, the current members of this congregation, owe our greatest thanks. It has been their faithful, every day, ordinary witness as followers of Jesus Christ and their commitment to the proclamation of Christ’s word that has truly animated the life and ministry of this congregation.

Those not mentioned by name are the ones who have given us our heritage and, for the most part, it will be those who are not mentioned by name that will carry us faithfully into the joyful work of discipleship as we join in bringing the love of Christ into the world.

As we celebrate God’s faithfulness to us over the past years we say, “Thanks be to God” for all the Saints who inspire us in our service to the ministry to the Gospel.