St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (also known as Leister’s Church)
Source: Church website: http://www.stjohnswestminster.org/
St. John’s congregation was organized by the Reverend J. Philip Willard who served the Westminster Charge 1842-1845. He and other early pastors preached in both German and English. During the revival period of 1843 and 1844, services were conducted by Reverend Willard in Abbott’s School House, a short distance from the present Church on the Westminster-Hampstead Road. The result of these services was the organization of the church, February 11, 1844 with 52 charter members.
The first church was erected on a two-acre plot of ground sold by Daniel Leister and John Reese. Both of these men are buried in the church cemetery behind the church. The original Church was a plain log structure 35X40 feet. St. John’s was a part of the Westminster Charge until 1886 when the Salem Parrish was formed consisting of St. John’s Lutheran Church and St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church. The Reverend J. U. Asper accepted the call and became the first pastor of the newly-constituted Salem Parrish. These two congregations shared the ministry of eleven pastors.
On November 6, 1898, the present building was dedicated. On April 27, 1930, a service of rededication was held following major renovations and remodeling. On March 4, 1951, the present two-story Education Building was dedicated and in 1955, major renovations and remodeling took place in the church Sanctuary and a service of rededication took place.
On April 5, 1970, St. John’s congregation broke ground for the new addition to their Educational Building. On August 9, 1970 was the laying of the cornerstone for the new addition. The cost of the addition to the Education Building was $90,000. This also included repairs and renovations in the rooms of the original Educational Building. The Sunday School auditorium was considerably enlarged by this addition. On March 28, 1971, Passion Sunday, was the service of dedication for the new Christian Education Addition. Special guests for this service was Reverend Paul M. Orso, D.D., President of Evangelical Synod of Maryland and The Reverend Willis R. Brenneman, Pastor Emeritus of Salem Lutheran Parish, Westminster.
In 1982, St. John’s Lutheran Church and St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church members voted to form two separate and independent congregations. On March 8, 1983, Reverend Mark S. Crispell was called to become first pastor of St. John’s since the Salem Parish was disbanded. On February 20, 1994, St. John’s Lutheran Church had a 150th Anniversary Worship Celebration.
On November 8, 1998, St. John’s had a 100th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Sanctuary Worship Service. Reverend John M. Koehnlein presided over the this service. After the service, an anniversary dinner was held at Wilhelm’s Catering on Route 140, Westminster, Maryland. Special guests for the service and dinner were Reverend Dr. George Mocko, Bishop –Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA and Reverend Mark S. Crispell.
Reverend John C. Morrill, II who was installed on October 31, 1999 as St. John’s first co-pastor. He and Reverend Koehnlein were sharing the responsibilities of St. John’s ministry. When Reverend Koehnlein retired on November 1, 1999, Reverend Morrill became 23rd pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church.
Reverend Morrill accepted a call to become the chaplain of Gettysburg Lutheran Home effective January 1, 2006. During the call process, Reverend Eugene Alexander served as interim pastor of St. John’s. On Sunday, December 17, 2006, Reverend Marton J. (Marty) Roberson was installed as 24th pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church. His ministry to St. John’s was brief, due to the fact he suffered from Pancreatic Cancer. Reverend Roberson was called to the church triumphant on December 17, 2008.
During the call process, Reverend Joseph Lettrich and Reverend Kathy Rohrbach agreed
827 Leister's Church Road
Pastor of the Salem Parish and St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
The church has a cemetery which lies behind the church buildings.