Saint John's UCC Church
Johannisburg IL

62214-1420





Who we are

Saint John's UCC is serving the Johannisburg community and engaging and encouraging others through a life-changing journey in Johannisburg, Illinois.

Our mission is to nurture a diverse and welcoming community, committed to following fearlessly wherever God is leading us and make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of Johannisburg and the world!



Church Address

Saint John's UCC
11360 Main St
Johannisburg, IL 62214-1420
United States
Phone: 618-824-6280
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Church Pastor

Rev. William Groennert
Rev. William Groennert
Pastor
11360 Main St
Johannisburg, IL 62214-1420
United States
Phone: 618-824-6280
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Quote of the Day
Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

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11360 Main St, Johannisburg, IL
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History of Saint John's UCC Church Johannisburg

History of the Church
(As Recorded by Reverend Dr. Theo C. Schieler)

FESTIVAL - BOOKLET
for the ninetieth anniversary of St. Johannes Congregation
at Johannesburg, Illinois.
To write a history of the St. Johannes congregation for the celebration of the ninetieth anniversary of her existence, a history which I intend to be complete, is not an easy task. The oldest parochial register of the congregation does not exist any more; the second one has the following appendages: "List of children born and baptized, as listed in the previous record of the Church" - also a "List of persons deceased as recorded in the previous record" - but beginning with the year 1843 only; also a "list of marriages", also beginning with the year 1843. A record of confirmands begins with the year 1875. This second church register is in an imperfect condition. It seems that the first ministers of the congregation did not consider it worth their trouble to write a chronology of the congregation. The first regular history was written by Rev. Adolf Dietrich beginning in the year 1883. Judging from the first list of children who were baptized, we conclude that the congregation existed in 1837 already. This is written on yellowed paper found loose in the imperfectly kept second register. Thus we surmise that this congregation has surely existed for 90 years; if not a few years more.

90 years! How much mercy, and rich blessings has the Lord in His boundless, merciful love, bestowed on His children through this congregation. For 90 years continuously has the blessed Word of God been proclaimed in church, and school, and house. For 90 years the Holy Sacraments have been given. During 90 years God's praises have been sung in holy hymns, and the prayers of devoted hearts have ascended to the throne of God. And the Lord who chose to establish here a congregation as a part of His Kingdom on earth, has graciously guarded her during variable fate, as the good shepherd who came from heaven to earth, to seek and to save those who were lost. He has here, through the services of this Church, found many a lost sheep and carried it back to the fold with joy.

We, that is, all members of the St. Johannes Church, can truly say with the present Pastor: "Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, all my soul, and forget not all His benefits". - Do not forget, o St. Johannes congregation, what benefits the Lord has bestowed on you, that He established here one of His Churches, and has protected her through all the storms of time; do not forget the many mercies and rich blessings He has given you until now.

The first settlers in this vicinity, which comprises the present Johannesburg, Venedy and Stone Church (Petersburg), were Low-Germans, who came from the Northern parts of Germany, from Hannover and the adjoining parts of Westphalia, who had come to America to make a better living. They had no wealth, since they emigrated to escape poverty. But they brought along a sound German disposition, German industry, and German tenacity, also experience in the art of agriculture, which they had learned and practiced overseas; but best of all, they had a religious mind. In Germany they had received a thorough religious instruction in school, and also several years of confirmation instruction by the Pastor. In their parental homes, they also had inhaled (so to say) the Christian Spirit. Therefore from the start, they had endeavored to secure a Christian church to hold worship services, and to receive the sacraments, and a pastor, and a school. They organized as a free, i.e. independent congregation. Since they had been Lutherans at home, so the confession of this new congregation was that of the Lutheran Church in Germany; and thus is the name up to date the "Independent Evangelical Lutheran St. Johannes Church". They chose the name of St. John "the disciple whom Jesus loved". The community which grew here bye and bye, was called the town of Johannesburg; and the district around it "Township Johannesburg", in Washington County, in the State of Illinois".

The first church was a small primitive log house, and stood at the Northwest corner of the present park. It also served as school house, where the children were taught, by the medium of the German language, the elements of human knowledge, but primarily the Christian religion according to the Lutheran catechism and the Bible. Thus there were no illiterates in the congregation, none who could not read and write. It shows what good sense these pioneers had, that they were concerned about the education of their children, and about the building of a house of God in their midst. During many years, the present "Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Venedy" and the "Independent St. Peters Congregation" of Stone Church, were part of the St. Johannesburg congregation. Thus the Johannes Church is the mother church of these two congregations. In the fall of 1842, the Church in Venedy (which then was called Brockschmid's Hill) separated from the mother church. A quarrel about the hymn books is supposed to have been the reason for this separation. Most probably there were also other reasons. This new congregation joined the Missouri Lutheran Synod, and according to the spirit of this Synod, she has no religious fellowship with the mother church, although some of the ministers who were more tolerant, had, in the spirit of the gospel, friendlier relations with her.

However the social relations of the members of both churches are very good. I just want to mention, that there are 13 evangelical families living at present in Venedy, three of these are not members of the Johannesburg Church.

St. Peters Church separated from the mother church in 1857. Those farmers who lived toward the South, scattered on separate farms, wished to have a church and school closer by, and they were numerous enough to start and support a new church. On September 1, of that year, the new congregation was organized as an independent Church and school. They elected their own consistory members, i.e. Mr. Johann Heinrich Borchelt as president and Friedrich Wilhelm Wolff and Heinrich Schodde as members. They called Rev. Christoph Heinrich Erni of Zurich, Switzerland, who had been serving the whole congregation since August 20, 1856, to be their Pastor and teacher. They saw to it that worship services and school were regularly held beginning September 1, and they decided to build a church of cut stones during the following year. This they did, and on January 2, 1859 this new church was dedicated. The Church has no steeple at that time. That was built in the year 1873-74, at which time the church was renovated. The new church was called St. Peter's Church, and the town was named after it "Petersburg". However, since there was already a larger town in Illinois with that name, the community had to take a different name, and was called "Stone Church".

These separations weakened the mother-congregation Johannesburg, which however developed so well during the following years that her continuation was not endangered. The number of her members grew slowly but steadily. At that time, even after 1875, the Johannesburg congregation was larger that it is now. There were eleven baptisms in 1859; in 1860 the number was increased to 14, and in 1861 to 18 baptisms; and in 1870 twenty children were baptized. For many years this number of baptisms remained the same. During the above mentioned years, the number of deaths varied between 8 and 10.

Under these conditions, the congregation considered to build a new church. The new building was completed in 1851, and was dedicated on Palm Sunday, April 13, 1851. The bell tower, only a wooden frame in which the bell was hanging, stood next to the church. 30 years later this bell tower became dilapidated, so that the present steeple, with the rooms on both sides of it, in front of the church, was planned and built. This was done in 1883. Thus the length of the church was increased to its present length. In 1891 it was renovated, and the arched windows were inserted. The interior of the church was redecorated in 1925 through the generosity of the Ladies' Aid, who spent their entire fortune to give the interior of the church a worthy appearance. The present lights were also then installed. The congregation had now a worthy house of God, large enough for the services, and suitable to instill the spirit of devotion.

In 1865 it was decided to build a new school house of bricks. The first one was a log house, now too small and dilapidated. In 1878, the park was laid out, and was very useful for the activities of the congregation. The parsonage was a small building with only two rooms. A kitchen and two rooms were added on the East side. The present parsonage was built in 1893, and the cost of it was $1227.80 without counting the work hours the church members contributed. On July 6, 1912, a heavy rain followed by a violent thunderstorm, broke off a branch from a large maple tree standing to the East of the schoolhouse, and destroyed the roof and the North gable of the building. This brick building did not seem safe any more, so it was decided to demolish it completely and build a new one, which cost $480. The foundation of this building, and the steps in front of the entrance were made by a Mr. C. Schoener of Belleville, free of charge. Mr. Hermann Krewinghaus of Venedy did the carpentry work. That is the present roomy, pleasant schoolhouse. It is six foot longer than the old one.

In 1893, new communion ware, and a new carpet around the altar were bought by the ladies of the congregation, for $49.40.

The Ministers of the Congregation.
The first Pastor, who is mentioned in the old Church register was Wilhelm Frank. I found his name written in a corner of the baptismal register. It was he, it seems, who has copied the lists of baptisms and deaths and marriages out of the first church register which does not exist any longer. He probably served here in the years 1846-1848. Now I will try to state the succession of the ministers, according to the incidental remarks they made, and comparing their writing in the register. The so-called "free Pastors" who served till the call of the first synodical Pastor in 1891, have never kept any records (I am sorry to say) and have not even stated the beginning nor the end of their ministry. Following Rev. Frank was Rev. Wilhelm Flickinger 1848 - 1856; Pastor Christoph H. Erni 1856 - 1857, who then went to the new church in Petersburg (Stone Church); R. Knoll 1857 - 1863; Gustav Staiger 1863 - 1864; Gustav Seydel 1866 - 1869; P. Lorentzen 1869 - 1873; Adolf von Mengershausen 1874 - 1880 (he came to the congregation before ordination, as candidate of Theology); Carl Munter 1880, died after a short period of service, and lies buried in the church cemetery; the congregation placed a worthy monument on his grave. On this gravestone are engraved the names of the consistory members of that year. After a short interval followed: P.W. Schaefer, from December 1880 - 1881; Adolf Dietrich 1882 - 1884; Adalbert Hammerschmidt 1884 - 1887; W. Weber 1887 - 1888; A. Hauft 1887 - 1890. After this the first Pastor from the Evangelical Synod was elected, C. J. Knicker 1891 - 1895. The congregation now changed that paragraph of its constitution, according to which the minister should not belong to any Synod, and they determined to elect only pastors who belonged to the German Evangelical Synod of North America. They had had some very bad experiences with the free ministers, although some of them proved to be good faithful ministers. Rev. Knicker, who introduced the evangelical hymn book and the evangelical catechism with the consent of the congregation, was followed by Pastor E. Hugo 1895 - 1900; A. Sefzig 1900 - 1905; Fr. Hempelmann 1906; Chr. Bendigkeit 1907 - 1910; J. Krause 1910 - 1913; Th. Otto Uhdau 1913 - 1922 who started the Ladies' Aid Society; Theophil Wittlinger 1922 - 1923; Fred Bock 1924 - 1925; Dr. Theol. C. Schieler 1925 -

So it is now 36 years that the congregation has been served by synodical pastors. Till now, in spite of repeated urging, she has always refused to join the Synod, but has always gladly and liberally supported her needs. She has become smaller during the last few years, since there have been some changes in the township of Johannisburg, through which the membership has been diminished. But she had the joy of accepting some young men as full members during the last year. And if all young men who have reached the proper age, would join the church as full members, the number would increase considerably. May God grant this, who has watched over the congregation graciously through many sad experiences.

He has created this congregation, has protected her. May He govern her, may His spirit rule all, the pastor and the flock, leading her as the good shepherd.

From: http://genealogytrails.com/ill/washington/church/stjohnsucc175.html   Edit


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The power of Christian prayer "When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't pray, they don't".
William Temple
This page was last updated on the 18th of November, 2020
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