Erie County (PA) Genealogy
City of Erie - St John's Lutheran Church History - Chapter 3
Contributed by Bill Klauk
The information below has been scanned and edited from a book titled "...History of... St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church ---at--- Erie, Pa. A.D. 1808 -- A.D. 1908 --- In remembrance of its Centennial August 16--21st, 1908" by the pastor Rev. Gustave A. Benze, A. M.
The scanning, editing, and any digital photography is being done by Bill Klauk; however, Bill Klauk has no association with this church, or with this religion, so he would not be able to answer any questions concerning this work.
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The First Decade of the Second Half Century, A. D. 1859 -- A. D. 1872.
As the kind reader learned from the previous chapters, a large tree had grown from the tiny seed placed in the ground fifty years ago. But if the first beginnings were arduous and the upbuilding of the young congregation was connected with many difficulties, the first decade of the second half century of the congregation's growth was also not to pass by without serious struggles. But the Lord held His protecting hand over His flock and led it safely through all its struggles!
Rev. Jacob Blass, brother of the well-known Blass brothers, who for years were connected with St. John's Church, and whose widow is still living in our midst, succeeded Rev. Brockmann as pastor.
He preached his initial sermon Sept. 4th, 1859. One of the principal events of his pastorate was the separation from the congregation of the Pennsylvania-Germans whose forefathers had been the founders of St. John's, and the subsequent formation of the first English Lutheran Church, now called Luther Memorial Church, August 15th, 1861.
Only a few of the original Pennsylvania-Germans remained with the mother-congregation. The large majority of the congregation from now on consists of European Germans and their descendents.. Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the Pennsylvania-German element the congregation increased in such numbers, that the old frame church became too small. The congregation therefore decided at a meeting held March 15th, 1860, to build a new church. This was to be built of brick, 50 to 80 feet, with a steeple. The following composed the building committee: John Honecker, Friedrich Sichrist, Nicolaus Roth, Gottlob Pflueger, George Decker, and William Mueller. Afterwards Veit Sapper and George Felbinger took the places of F. Sichrist and George Decker, respectively. A new building committee was appointed later and it consisted of John Honecker, F. W. Mueller, Karl Mueller, George Heybeck and Jacob Gutekunst. The carpenter work of the new church was done by Val. Stein, the brick-work by Mich. Depinet, and the masonry by Hartmann and Ott. The building cost about $10,000 and the pipe organ which was installed in the new church about $3,800.00. The corner stone laying took place on Ascension Day, 1861. The pastor, Rev. Jacob Blass was assisted by Rev. Walther, of Pittsburgh, Revs. Semler and Lyons, of Erie. On the 13th Sunday after Trinity (Sept. 14th, A. D. 1862) the new church was solemnly consecrated by the pastor, Rev. Blass, assisted by Rev. Bochert of Eggertsville, N. Y.; Rev. Runck, of Buffalo, and Rev. Stempel, of Cleveland, O.
Outside help was solicited for the erection of this church edifice, and money was collected at Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y.
Rev. John Blass relinquished the work at St. John's, Sept. 8th, I863. Rev. Wilhelm Schaefer became his successor, beginning his pastorate October 11th, 1863, and serving until 1866. He was followed by the Rev. G. Beck, who was removed by death in the year 1866 in the midst of his usefulness. He is buried in Erie Cemetery. Rev. Beck was the first one of the resident pastors in the history of the congregation, who was called away by death while serving it.
Rev. C. F. Boehner, who had served as missionary of the Lake Shore Mission Charge, in Erie Co., a member of the Pittsburgh Synod, assumed charge of St. John's after the death of Rev. Beck. He was installed Sept. 1st, 1867, by the Rev. G. Wenzel. Rev. C. F. Boehner reported 409 communicants to Synod in the year following. He relinquished the congregation in the year 1872. Rev. Boehner is the only living ex-pastor of St. John's, and although of an advanced age, is doing missionary work near Comas, Washington. The present parsonage was built during this pastorate.
If the congregation in the period just covered had to undergo serious struggles (which it is unnecessary to enumerate), suffer many losses, and at last had become rent with dissensions and filled with distrust towards the ministry, a new morn was now to dawn for it and it was to grow into a true Christian congregation under the leadership of faithful shepherds.
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Change History: November 24, 2002. Original page posted, Chapter 3 only,
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