The history of the St. John Evangelical Lutheran Congregation cannot be written without first writing a short history of the area surrounding the church.
Before the Civil War, comparatively few people lived in this community and this region was sparsely settled mostly by people with English and Scottish roots. The reason for this was that much of the land was swampland and far from any navigable streams where most of the earlier settlements were.
Soon after the end of the Civil War in 1865, the first German Lutheran settlers came to Ash Grove Township. Those who settled in this part of the township were mostly from the German province of Ostfriesland. The early German settlers here were accustomed to the marsh-like soil of this area and with that knowledge and with strong hands they dug the drainage ditches and laid the drain tiles and provided for themselves the fertile farms we now have.
Prior to 1870, there was scarcely a German family in Ash Grove Township, but ten years later it may be safely said that the people of the German nationality were in the majority. After the arrival of a few of the first of these families, there was always a feeling of closeness to their creator and the desire to build a place to worship together. In the beginning they worshipped in their homes much as the early Christians. Their first ministers were traveling ministers or from other churches, but when no minister was here, the heads of households had their own books of worship and would conduct their own services. Since the Germans in this area are mostly from a Lutheran background, a Lutheran Church was started and built about three miles west of our present location.
About 1870 William and Mina Tucker purchased the 320 acre farm where he and his family moved to from Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1871, Mr. and Mrs. Tucker seeing the need for a school in this area, sold the very southwest two acre corner of this 320 acre farm to the School Trustees of District No. Eleven of Ash Grove Township.
Meanwhile, about three miles to the west in July 1872, St. Paul’s Congregation was organized and a church was built there in 1873.
In February of 1875, on a bitter cold snowy day, as the story goes, the settlers from the area around this school on the William Tucker ground had traveled over frozen roads by horse and wagon in a 5 mile funeral procession to St. Paul Church to attend the funeral of Mrs. Peterke Lucht. On their return home the group stopped to warm themselves in the English School. While resting and warming themselves, these individuals decided it was time to organize a church and cemetery closer to their homes. Thus the first seeds for the foundation of St. John’s Lutheran Congregation were born.
Perhaps another factor in their decision to start a church in their own community was that their background was mostly from the province of Ostfriesland, whereas the settlement to the west was mainly from Westphalen and Hesse. Even their emigration pattern was different in that the Ostfriesians came basically through New Orleans, and some were from earlier settlements in Adams, Peoria, Woodford, and Livingston Counties. The Woodworth group had many of its members coming from the Crete and Eagle Lake areas, and even their first minister came down from Crete to preach about once a month. Even though their written High German Language was the same, many of their words in the spoken Low German were different.
The first handwritten Constitution was dated 28 November 1875 and was signed in this schoolhouse. The first worship services were held in the English District Schoolhouse which served as the temporary church for the new congregation. The first Pastor who was called to serve this church was Pastor Albert E. Janssen who remained until 1876. During Rev. Janssen’s period of service, Mr. Tucker, seeing a need for the congregation to have their own church property on which to build a church, then donated another 6 acres for the sum of $1.00 on the southwest corner of his farm in the corner next to the school to the Trustees of the St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church of Queen City. The conditions and considerations of this deed were “that the four Trustees of this church or their successors erect or cause to be erected a decent church edifice upon said premises within five years from date of deed (7 Feb 1876) otherwise this conveyance to be void.” Notice he called this place “Queen City” in this deed. He was formally from Cincinnati, Ohio, which had the nickname of the “Queen City” and he wished to use this name for the new settlement.
On the west side of the road from the school and Mr. Tucker’s property, August Schwer won the bidding on the 40 acres in November 1876. In January 1877, August Schwer sold the very southeast corner two acres of this 40 acres as well as eight acres on the west of this property to Frederich Kruger and the balance of this 40 acres (30 acres) to his son John Schwer.
Frederich Krueger set up a blacksmith shop on this two acres in the corner and John Schwer opened a general store on his part north of the Krueger lot. Fred Krueger was the first blacksmith in the St. Paul Congregation. He sold his business there in late 1875 and in 1877 started his blacksmith shop in Queen City.
John Schwer was born in Will County, Illinois near Crete in 1853. He left home at 14 years old and worked in a number of general stores, grocery stores and dry good stores in the Chicago area until he moved to Queen City to open his own store. In 1886 John Schwer moved to Wisconsin and his brother Louis took over the operation of the store. In May of 1887 a post office was established in Queen City and the village was renamed Schwer in honor of Louis Schwer, the new postmaster. The post office was located in the front of the Schwer Store. Since there were no rural mail routes at this time, it was necessary for the people here to go to Woodland or Milford post offices to get their mail.
Late in 1887, Louis Schwer moved to Crescent City and opened a China and Hardware store there. Sometime in the mid 1890’s Heinrich Schroeder purchased the store plus the 30 acres and operated the store and post office until about 1902 when he moved the store and post office to his farm about ½ mile west and used it as a garage for many years. The Post Offices of these small villages were disbanded about the 1901-1905 era including Woodworth and Glenwood (Pitch In) in 1901, Schwer in 1902 and Bryce in 1905 when the Rural Free Delivery came about and the people didn’t have to go to the post office to get their mail anymore.
Theodore Schuen came to Queen City about 1877 and opened a business where he made and repaired wagons and carriages for many years and purchased a 1 ½ acre lot directly north of the school property. He came to the United States from Germany about 1864 and was a wagon maker in the Chicago area for about 13 years before coming here. There was also supposed to be a grocery store and a shoe shop in the village and a second blacksmith, James Waters, was listed on the 1880 census but not much is known of these. Also after the parochial teacher left St. John in 1899, the teacherage was empty and was rented to a widow, Maria Nordhausen and her daughter Anna who were the village dressmakers and seamstresses. Reverend Janssen was succeeded by Pastor John Vollmeyer in 1876. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Vollmeyer that the congregation applied to the Iowa Synod for pastoral service. The first pastor called from this Synod was Rev. Johannes List, who served here from late summer of 1877 to the spring of 1879.
In March of 1879, Pastor Conrad Mutschmann of Dixon, Illinois was called. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Mutschmann that the first church was built. Rather than forfeit the six acres donated to them, the frugal members built a simple structure 26 feet by 40 feet and 16 feet high to the eaves, including a small belfry. It should be noted here that we should never forget the support in this undertaking from other brothers of the faith including individuals and “Mother Church” congregations of our members formerly from the Illinois communities of Benson; Washington; Nebraska Township, Woodford County; Keokuk Junction, Adams County, and others who contributed almost half of the cost of this new structure. When this first church construction was finished, it was fully paid off. A new organ was purchased for the church in January 1883. The bell was added in the fall of 1883, in the honor of the 400th Anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther who was born on 10 November 1483. In Thanksgiving to God, they had the inscription “Glory to God alone in the highest” inscribed on the bell along with a two day Thanksgiving celebration on 10 and 11 November 1883.
In November of 1881, Pastor Conrad Mutschmann accepted a call to Taos, Missouri, and Pastor Philipp Ackermann from Toledo, Ohio was called to be our Pastor. He remained here as pastor of the congregation until the fall of 1893.
During this time in the early congregation several teachers were called for our parochial school. In March 1881, Moritz Ave Lallemand from Champaign, Illinois was called to be our first teacher and a school constitution was drawn up by the Pastor and Teacher. In 1882, there was a proposal to buy a nearby house to be used as a schoolhouse but it was decided that this house was not well adapted to be a school house. In a Special Meeting in February 1885, the congregation decided that a schoolhouse be built 18 feet by 26 feet and 16 feet high with room for a teacher to dwell on the top floor. On April 26, 1885, Teacher Carl Hoppenworth from Tipoli, Iowa was called and a revised School Constitution was accepted. In March of 1887, Teacher Fritz Heinlen from Chicago was called to be teacher of the German School. In the fall of 1889 the State of Illinois brought out some new regulations about the teaching in English language in school so it was decided to make an effort to teach some of the subjects in English. In January of 1890, Teacher Heinlen left Schwer to go to Minnesota. On January 27, 1890, Teacher Heinrich Baehr was called to teach in the English language as well as the German language. He served here until March 1899, and was then called to Hanover, Nebraska. After Teacher Bahr left, the pastor taught the German church school during the summer months and confirmation instruction was given during the winter months.
In the fall of 1893, Rev. Johann M. Bucka was called to be our next pastor, and he served until the fall of 1898. In 1894, a new Constitution was drawn up and approved. This is the year we started having five Councilmen instead of four as formerly. It was also decided to enlarge the parsonage at this time. Also in this year two new big Church Books were introduced in which to record baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths, etc. Prior to having these books, we basically have no information regarding the above.
In October of 1898, Rev. George Langkammerer was called from Ottumwa, Iowa. In the summer of 1900, it was decided to purchase a new pipe organ and to have a 25th year Church Jubilee Celebration when the new pipe organ is dedicated. The young men of the Congregation offered to pump the organ during the services. Pastor Langkammerer served as Pastor here until he received a call from Finchford and Siefkas, Iowa in the summer of 1905. After Pastor Langkammerer left, another Pastor had a “Guest Pastor Sermon” but the Congregation decided against him because he could not play the organ or sing.
In September of 1905, Pastor August C. Krebs from Shumway, Illinois was called to be the Pastor of our church. In the early years of Rev. Krebs’ pastorate, the school attendance and church attendance were growing to the point that the congregation needed more room for their growing numbers. For this reason the church felt it their duty to enlarge the school and/or the church or build a new one. In special voters’ meetings in February and March of 1907, the congregation decided to build a new church 34 feet wide and 50 feet long and to use the old church for a schoolhouse. The Building Committee for the new church was the Pastor and Church Council. After the amount decided upon had been pledged, the plans were drawn up and bids were taken. Before construction on the new church began, the old church built in 1880 was moved to the east side of the church property, where it was used as a school house and parish hall for many years. After the old church was moved, construction began in the spring with the cornerstone laying ceremony on June 16, 1907. During construction, the old parochial school/teacherage and summer kitchen were sold at a public auction, purchased by Wirtje Schaumburg, and moved to his farm about two miles west of Milford where the school house is still being used as a residence today. The money from the sale of the old school was put toward the new church building. The bell of the old church was hung in the new church and the organ from the first church was put in the new church. The youths in the Congregation took it upon themselves to buy the Altar and the Chandeliers. By the time of the dedication on November 17, 1907, the church was completely debt free. The sister congregations of Crescent City and Ash Grove were invited to the dedication. There were between six and seven hundred people present throughout the day. Following the afternoon services, William Janssen and Teda Lucht, members of the church, were married at a 3 p.m. service. This records the first marriage in the new building, the same day as the dedication.
The Congregation decided to have a 35 year Congregation Jubilee Celebration on November 6, 1910. In September of 1912, the congregation voted to add a colored stained glass window for the Altar niche. In October of 1921, Pastor Krebs was given a unanimous peaceful dismissal after being Pastor here for 16 years as he accepted a call to Knowles, Wisconsin. In November of 1921, the voters extended a call to Rev. Otto Troge from Saginaw, Michigan, which he accepted. In July of 1922, it was decided to enlarge the cemetery to go three lots wider on the north side.
Sometime in late September 1922, a number of ladies met at the parsonage of Rev. Troge to make plans for forming a Ladies’ Aid Society of St. John Congregation. After having their tea, they decided to ask the opinion of other ladies not present. The decision was favorably received and they had the first organizational meeting on the first Wednesday in November. The first officers were: Mrs. Anton Sobkoviak, president; Mrs. Carson Duis, treasurer; Mrs. Otto Troge, secretary. The Ladies Aid supplied many of the smaller necessities and needed improvements to the congregation over the years. Their main source of income was sewing quilts at a cost of a penny a yard of thread used.
In a special voters meeting in the summer of 1923, it was decided to replace the regular windows with stained glass art windows, each one being a memorial donation by individual members or families. After a demonstration from two different places, it was decided to get them from William Reiman from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Also it was decided that every big window should come with two ventilators.
In honor of the Golden Anniversary, the congregation decided to paint the interior of the church and to paint the altar and pulpit white trimmed in gold. At the same time the decorative tin was put over the old plaster on the interior walls and ceiling. In addition to this, the parsonage was extensively enlarged. The Golden Jubilee was celebrated by our congregation on Mission Festival Sunday in 1925. On Sunday, August 16, former pastor, Rev. A.C. Krebs, of Knowles, Wisconsin spoke at the 10 a.m. service, followed by a basket dinner. Another former pastor, Rev. Langkammerer from Welcome, Minnesota spoke at the 2:30 p.m. service and Rev. Robert Ackermann of St. Paul, Minnesota, son of Rev Phil Ackermann, who had served the Schwer congregation from 1881 to 1893, spoke at the 7 p.m. evening service.
There was also a second day of celebration the following day which was attended by several well-known people. Among these were a congressman, a state senator, a state representative, attorneys, bankers, postmasters, and prominent businessmen, several of whom recalled their experiences during the time they had lived in Schwer. The Milford Band presented the opening event. Heavy rains delayed the outdoor program for a time, but the Golden Jubilee Celebration was a fitting climax to the first fifty years growth of the St. John Congregation.
In October of 1928, the voters decided to have Pastor preach English Sermons on the last Sundays of the month. Under the pastorate of Rev. Troge, the Sunday School was started in 1930 and a Sunday School register was put up in church. The Sunday School is divided into several classes according to the year in school, and the classes range in age from three years old to adult. There was also mention of Sunday School in the early church records before 1880, but not much is known of this.
The Luther League was also organized in 1930. When the Luther League was formed it met with a very popular response and over 50 young people joined at the first two meetings. The Luther League is still an active organization today under the new name of Free Lutheran Youth (FLY).
In August of 1930, the Iowa Synod (1854-1930) merged with the Buffalo Synod (1845-1930) and the Ohio Synod (1818-1930) to form the American Lutheran Church (1930-1960). Since we were members of the Iowa Synod, we then became members of the American Lutheran Church.
After Rev. Troge resigned in the fall of 1930, we sent a call in November to Rev. Rudolph Reichen from Elizabeth, Illinois and on December 21, 1930, he began his duties here as pastor. The years of 1932 and 1933 were hard Great Depression Years and Pastor Reichen said he would give up 10 % of his salary for those two years. In 1935 it was decided to have English services twice per month, namely the first and third Sundays. In 1937 it was decided to have the Secretary Minutes of the voters meetings in both English and German and in 1939 to drop the German minutes altogether and have only English. Also in 1938 it was decided to drop the use of the German Language in Sunday School. It was in 1938 that the church, parsonage, and school got electricity.
In the Fall of 1939, the center partition dividing the east and west side pews was removed in the church. Before this time the men and boys sat on one side and the women and girls on the other side.
An electric blower was purchased for the church organ in 1940 so the organ hand pumpers were no longer needed.
In January 1941, the method of electing the five Councilmen was changed to a two year term with two being elected in odd years and three in the even years. Prior to this time the five men with the highest number of votes were elected and many served for several consecutive years, some with 14 years in a row!
On May 13, 1941 our Pastor Rudolph Reichen died and in July of that year Pastor Herman Koester was called and installed as our Pastor.
In the spring of 1942, a United States flag and a Christian flag were purchased and placed on either side of the altar.
During the summer of 1944 a church basement was built under the church and the Ladies Aid was granted permission to use the northwest room in the basement as a kitchen and also use the basement for business meetings, socials, lunches, etc. The Luther League was also allowed use of the basement for their meetings. Sunday School classes were also held in the basement for the younger children.
In 1946 the church purchased a new organ from the Wicks Organ Company of Highland, Illinois and the old organ was traded in on the new one. Chimes were purchased for it a year later.
In 1948, the church interior was redecorated by Henry Sobkoviak including the altar, pulpit, statue and pews. Also about this time the pulpit was lowered 12 inches and the rear of the balcony floor was built up in the proportion to the lowering of the pulpit.
Our Diamond Jubilee (75 years) was celebrated in 1950 with a couple of special services including a 75th Anniversary Confirmation Sunday in June. A special Diamond Jubilee booklet was printed for this anniversary. Also a gift of chimes and an amplification system was accepted as a memorial of Thomas Van Hoveln, a youth from our congregation who was killed in a truck accident in 1949.
Since the congregation felt the need to take care of an increasing attendance in church and Sunday School and the crowded conditions of the Sunday School (I remember having a class in the furnace room), a committee was established to study this problem. Special meetings were held regarding the enlargement and lengthening or the building of a whole new church. The voters decided to enlarge the church to the east. This annex had a main floor and 2nd floor for Sunday School rooms. Also included was a basement with spaces left for rest rooms. The rest rooms were installed much later in 1957 and the outside toilets were removed in 1967.
It was pointed out that the new members in 1952 still had to sign our official German Constitution printed in 1894 even though some could not read the German Language. Therefore a corrected and revised English Constitution was adopted and the new Constitution and cemetery regulations were printed in one booklet. Also in July 1952 the widows and spinsters could become voting members.
In January 1954 the Congregation voted to still have German services on the fifth Sundays of the month and on second holidays. This was continued until Pastor Koester retired a few years later.
In the spring of 1955 the Schwer School grounds and buildings came up for sale and we purchased them. (This is the school house that served as our first church).
In 1957 Pastor Koester wanted to retire from active ministry and was granted a release. He agreed to serve as our supply Pastor until we could get a new one. Several Pastors were considered, called and declined. In July 1958, Rev. Fred Zangmeister was installed as our Pastor.
In 1960 folding doors were installed in the basement for individual Sunday School rooms.
In 1960 the American Lutheran Church (German background) merged with the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Norwegian background) and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (Danish background) to form the new American Lutheran Church (ALC) to which our congregation became a member. This merger became effective January 1, 1961. This was the first Lutheran Church formed in the 20th century that cut across ethnic lines.
In the fall of 1961 Pastor Zangmeister accepted a call to Delphos, Ohio and we called Pastor Willis Yarian who accepted the call.
In July 1962 a safe was purchased for the keeping of church records, books, etc.
The year of 1962 is when Schwer had the largest membership of its history. There were 488 baptized members and 331 confirmed members.
In August 1964 we voted to buy the Clarence Ronna 1 ½ acres adjoining the church property on the north side.
In January of 1966 Pastor Yarian was released to accept a call from Golden, Illinois and Pastor Koester again agreed to serve as our supply pastor until the next pastor comes. On August 27, 1967, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Pastor Koester’s ordination and also honored Mrs. Koester for her 25 years as organist here.
Pastor Wilbur McCasky was called in the fall of 1966 and was installed as our Pastor on November 27, 1966.
In the spring of 1967 the old schoolhouse (original 1880 church) was torn down and lumber sold on auction. In the spring and summer of 1967 the new parsonage was built east of the old parsonage and was dedicated on July 9, 1967. In February 1968 the old parsonage was sold to John Post for $1.00 and it was moved southwest of Crescent City. In March, sand was hauled in to fill the hole from the old parsonage basement.
Because of the approaching retirement of Rev. Henry F. Meyer of Immanuel Lutheran Church at Idaville, in March of 1968, we voted to have a Schwer/Immanuel pastoral sharing arrangement allowing Pastor McCasky to have pastorate of both churches.
In 1969, indoor-outdoor carpet was put in the basement. We also accepted the gift of an outdoor bulletin board from John Schaumburg in memory of his parents.
In 1971 we voted to participate in the Corporation of Lutheran Home for the Aged in Danforth and selected Alfred Leitz and Roland Meyer to serve as delegates to it.
On July 4, 1972, the ALCW hosted the first Prayer Breakfast.
In the summer of 1973 a new 25 x 32 metal storage shed was erected.
In anticipation of our 100th Anniversary in 1975, a committee was chosen and they recommended we do the following: 1. Undertake construction of a new front addition on the south end of the church. 2. Apply new siding on church and annex. 3. Install new carpet in church and annex. 4. Install new pews in church and annex. 5. Congregation to appoint a finance committee to solicit funds for projects and that 2/3 of the total cost to be pledged before anything is undertaken. This the Congregation approved. In the summer and fall of 1974 a new south entrance addition was built, aluminum/vinyl siding put on church and new pews and carpet put in church. The theme chosen for the 100th Anniversary was “Jesus Still Lead on”. In 1975, the voters accepted a 3 point gift from the church women. 1. Money to remove wall between the main part and the annex part of the basement and install a curtain. 2. Money to move kitchen to south end of main basement. 3. Paint basement walls. Several services were held at church followed by noon meals and programs in the Bryce Ash Grove School during the anniversary year.
In 1975, Theological Student Aid Fund guidelines were accepted in which the Congregation is to pay the annual tuition at an ALC Seminary from the Student Aid Fund which was already in effect. From this fund we financially supported a son of this Congregation, James Lehmann, as he enrolled at Wartburg Seminary. Pastor Lehmann currently serves Immanuel Lutheran Congregation at Flatville, IL.
On Thursday morning, April 20, 1978, the Bryce Ash Grove School burned and the following Monday the Bryce Ash Grove School students held classes at the church until the end of the school year. In the summer of 1978, we approved the request from Bryce Ash Grove to use the church Sunday School facilities for the next school year until the school is rebuilt.
In 1980, a basement improvement project was approved which included new carpeting, ceiling boards, new wall panels, wiring and lights. The following summer the parsonage basement was remodeled.
In the summer of 1980 we had a six month trial period for a Pastor’s secretary and Diane Van Hoveln was the first secretary.
In the fall of 1981 a windbreak was planted west of the cemetery and also numerous changes were made in the cemetery rules.
In 1982 the wheelchair lift was referred to the church Council for installation. Also that year, we installed two ceiling fans in the main part of the church and in the summer of 1984 accepted a gift of two ceiling fans for the annex.
In 1985 we decided to have a one day celebration to commemorate the 110th anniversary of our church and also had a 25th Ordination Anniversary celebration for Pastor McCasky.
In the summer of 1986 we installed replacement vinyl windows on the north side of the church annex. Also in the late summer of 1986, Pastor McCasky accepted a call to Shumway, Illinois. Rev. Wilber Burmeister was our supply Pastor after Pastor McCasky left. Rev. Jerry Moe and Mrs. Leah Spenn of Faith Lutheran Church in Watseka gave our youth confirmation instruction and Pastor Moe confirmed the class on Palm Sunday.
In January of 1987, the Church Council elected their chairman who was also to serve as the Congregation chairman. Robert Leitz was the first Chairman.
Rev. Paul Zietlow was called to be our next Pastor in March 1987 and a group of men and trucks moved the Zietlows from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Schwer.
In January 1988, the constitutional amendment for women’s voting rights was passed.
In 1987, with the upcoming merger of the ALC (American Lutheran Church), LCA (Lutheran Church in America), and AELC (Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches), into the new ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), we voted to withdraw from the ALC. Later that year a synod study committee was formed. In November 1988, the initial vote was taken and in January 1990, the final vote was passed to join the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Congregations).
In January of 1989 the first Traveling Carpenters Group went to Mexico. This was the beginning of a group of volunteers from our membership to have annual or oftener “carpenter work trips” benefitting many congregations as well as our AFLC. Some of the other places we traveled to were: California, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Wisconsin, AFLC Headquarters, ARC in Wisconsin, and many congregations in Illinois. Many blessings have been returned to us through the fruits of this labor.
In January 1990 the final vote to join the AFLC passed by the required two thirds majority. In August 1990 the parsonage air conditioning was approved. Also in this year a dual system of communion cups was adopted, with individual and common cup.
In late summer of 1991, Pastor Zietlow resigned. About a month later a number of volunteers helped load their belongings in vans and the next day helped drive moving vans and cars to their new home in Wisconsin.
Through the fall until December we had various Pastors and lay people as speakers. In November of 1991, Rev. Tom Gilman accepted a call to Schwer to begin after the first of the year. On December 7, 1991 Pastor James Asp moved into the parsonage to serve as our interim pastor. On December 12, 1991, a micro-burst storm hit the Schwer area about 7 p.m. It blew in the southwest stained glass window, ripped off siding and shingles, toppled over numerous tombstones and damaged the parsonage.
On January 1, 1992, a moving crew from Schwer went to Beresford, South Dakota to move Pastor Gilman and his family here. In the spring through the fall of 1992, the congregation members did many repairs on the micro-burst damage: took remaining siding off church, added insulation board, house wrap, new vinyl siding and trim, shingles, gutters, lightening rod system, repaired and painted steeple point, repaired parsonage, replaced some tombstone bases and reset stones, had the stained glass window repaired and redecorated the church interior. We also had the pews repaired and refinished later. A church directory was also published in that year.
In December of 1993 the church office was moved from the parsonage to the northwest corner room of the main basement. The office of the Sunday School Superintendant, a new phone line and more electric outlets were also put into this room.
Pastor Gilman was released in June 1994 to accept a call to South Dakota. Various Pastors and lay persons gave messages on Sunday morning between Pastor Gilman and Pastor Brian Davidson. Also during the spring and summer of 1994 the Shepherding groups started. In late summer of 1994 congregations volunteers redecorated the parsonage and took off and replaced shingles. In 1995, windows and siding were replaced and a deck built on the north side of the parsonage.
Pastor Brian Davidson moved into the parsonage to begin serving as our interim pastor in September 1994. On Pastor Davidson’s first sermon here, we dedicated the new AFLC hymnals of which Pastor Davidson was co-editor. In 1995, we extended a call to Pastor Clyde Grier of Texas and at the end of May one group hauled Pastor Davidson’s belongings to Michigan to his next interim congregation while another group went to Texas to move Pastor Grier and family to Schwer.
In July 1995 the FLY group went to National Convention in Estes Park, Colorado.
During the Advent season of 1995, we started having Wednesday night Advent services.
In July 1996 the church accepted a gift of air conditioning for the church from an anonymous donor. In the summer of 1998 a window air conditioner was installed in the church office.
In December 1996, we displayed our first life size Nativity scene in front of the church.
In the summer of 1997 Audrey Rolf and Peter Haugen from AFLC Bible School were hired as summer youth workers.
In August of 1997, Pastor Grier left Schwer to accept a call from Dickenson, South Dakota and in September Pastor Mel Meyer came to Schwer from Dickenson, South Dakota to be our interim Pastor. In February of 1998 we sent a letter of call to Pastor Meyer and he accepted the call.
In the spring of 1998 we voted to support Chris Van Hoveln to go to Russia with Rev. Don Richman to help with youth and again in 1999 the AAL assisted the congregation in raising funds for sending Chris Van Hoveln to go to Russia in the summer.
In January 1999, the recommendation of the Parish Education Committee to pay the tuition of each confirmed member of the church who chooses to attend the AFLC Bible School was accepted. In September 1999 Carey Buhr became the first member of our Congregation to attend the AFLC Bible School in Minnesota. In later years Jason Anderson also attended this Bible School.
In the spring of 1999 we purchased and installed a personal hearing device system for the church.
In the year 2000 we celebrated our 125th Anniversary. We started the year long celebration on December 31, 1999 at 10:30 p.m. with a “New Year’s Eve Watch” service with communion. After the service, we rang and sang in the New Year and the new millennium. Anyone who wanted to, was allowed to ring the church bell, which we rang from ten minutes before midnight until ten minutes after. Refreshments and fellowship followed in the church basement. Some of the projects we did in the Anniversary year were: installed new carpeting in the main level, balcony and stairs of the church, had the church organ refurbished, installed new supplemental electric baseboard heater in west basement and church office, voted to support “Jesus Video Project” up to $1800, installed two portable handrails for altar and sacristy steps, published a church history, Pastor history, Council and ushers history and St. John’s Confirmation register booklet. We had ten special services during the year with some of our former pastors, sons of the congregation pastors, missionaries and AFLC President Bob Lee giving the messages. Also a Vision 2004 committee was started which recommended that St. John’s Congregation support the $5,000,000 AFLC Building Project in Minnesota by pledging $125,000 ($1000 for each year of God’s grace to this congregation.)
In April 2001 we held a benefit for the Koehn Family, after the death of Duane, and then remodeled their house to have two more bedrooms upstairs. Also in April the WMF donated a 31 inch TV and VCR for the church basement.
In October 2002, the Chorus Song Praise Book was put together with about 200 songs and was dedicated on 10 November 2002. It is planned to sing songs from this book about one Sunday per month. In 2004, Ken Lehmann offered to build holders for the new Praise books if congregation would pay for the materials.
In 2002 Pastor Meyer filled in at Faith Lutheran Church in Watseka until they called another pastor after their pastor left, as well as still serving as Pastor here.
In October of 2003 we accepted the gift of a new well in memory of Walter Reiners from the family and the next year, his son Lynn and brother Arnold, who had taken over the well drilling business, drilled a new well with a depth of 105 feet.
In the spring of 2004, the Vision 2004 Project was completed with a total amount of $139,687.24 given to the AFLC Building Project. In the same year we accepted the gift of a 30 inch gold cross for the altar from the Bob Sloan family.
In April 2005 the NCD (Natural Church Development) committee was set up and recommended we adapt the mission statement (to bring people to know, love and follow Jesus so that his Kingdom would be advanced).
In the summer of 2005, Zarate Construction reroofed the church roof. Also accepted this year was the gift of English Language plaques under the stained glass windows to translate the German Language on the windows.
In the fall of 2005 the Worship Planning Committee was organized as an outgrowth of the NCD committee and its responsibilities are to help plan and co-ordinate services.
Pastor Meyer resigned in November 2005 to move nearer to his children.
In January 2006, a group of six members went on a two week trip to Biloxi, Mississippi to help in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area.
In April 2006 Pastor Matt Steendahl, from the state of Washington, was called to be our Pastor.
In October of 2006 the Fellowship/Relationship Committee was started with NCDC as overseer of both this and Worship committees.
It was also decided again that we build a Parish Hall. A Building Committee was appointed and it was decided that 2/3 of the cost to be secured in cash or pledges before we begin building. The proposed floor plan was 48 x 75 feet with a 10 x 24 addition to the Northeast corner of the church annex and would contain steps and a chair lift into the existing church. In March of 2007 the plans were approved with Larry Buswell serving as general foreman. Most of the work of this building project was done by volunteers from the congregation. Also two stained glass windows were moved into the new entrance of the Parish Hall. The one from the east end of the existing annex was moved to the east wall of the new entrance. The one on the south side by the lift was moved from the north wall of the northwest room where the organ pipes are. On Sunday 16 September 2007, we had the ground breaking of the new Parish Hall and in the fall the septic tank and footings were put in. Work continued on the new Parish Hall through the winter and spring and June 1, 2008, the new Parish Hall had its dedication and open house.
In the spring of 2008 we voted to have a church web site on the internet with Pastor taking charge of setting it up.
On a work day in the summer of 2009, a new sidewalk was poured on the east side of the Parish Hall as well as a short sidewalk west of the Parish Hall going out to the cemetery. In addition to this, a border was put around the outside of the Parish on the west and north side and the parking area east of the Parish Hall was rocked.
In the spring of 2010, a new church directory was published.