St. John's German Evangelical Lutheran Church
Today: St. John's UCC
On March 9, 1867, a small group of Baltimoreans of German descent started a German Protestant congregation in what is now Southwest Baltimore; then, the area was a county suburb. The original congregation’s name was Die Deutscher Evangelisch Lutherische St. Johannes Gemeinde. The church building was erected the following year at Lombard and Catherine Streets and the congregation remained there, eventually with a complex of three buildings, until the summer of 1960 when they moved to the present location of St. John’s UCC in Catonsville. The members held worship services in the mansion house until the present colonial church complex was dedicated in 1967—the church’s 100th Anniversary.
The early church was also known as ‘The Butcher’s Church’ because many of the members were in the meat industry. The church was also called ‘The Rooster Church’ because a rooster weathervane graced the steeple in both the old and the present church buildings, the rooster being a German custom with biblical significance.
A Sunpaper news article from August 1909 provides a brief overview including the school which was founded in connection with the church, but discontinued as a parochial school in 1890. It was continued as an English-German School, No. 98 under the charge of the Baltimore City School Board. At that time, eight pastors had served the congregation*. Also at that writing 4845 children were baptized, 1678 children were confirmed, 1157 couples were married and 2750 were buried from that church. The trustees at the time were Rev. F. Lehmann, Thomas Leydecker, President; George Henkel, Vice President; Thomas Boeckel, Financial Secretary; Adam Lang, Treasurer; J. Miegel, A. Grebe, F. Plitt, H. Meyer, F.W. Hoffmann, R. Maempel, and F.H. Kraus. (Baltimore Sunpaper, 'What the German Singing Societies are Doing', August 15, 1909, page 21)
In their history, at least up to approximately 20 years ago, there have been 15 pastors and a number of name changes as well as a denomination change. In 1922, they joined with the Evangelical Synod of North American to become ‘Evangelical Lutheran’; then they joined the Reformed Church to become ‘Evangelical and Reformed’ in 1934; and finally, they became part of the United Church of Christ (UCC) through the merger of the E&R Congregational Christian Church in 1957. All of the affiliations were accomplished by a majority vote within the congregation. Congregations in the UCC are affiliated-independent entities which is compatible with their heritage. The present name is St. John’s United Church of Christ, Baltimore County, MD.
There was also a Sunpaper article that announced the 65th Anniversary of the Church. The pastor at the time was F.C. Reggeberg. The article stated that a German service would be held at 9:30 am and an Anniversary service at 10:45. (Baltimore Sunpaper, Church to Celebrate its 65th Anniversary, April 21, 1932, page 3.)
Evangelical, a term appearing in their name and doctrine throughout the years, is implicit in the congregations’ actions in that it means ‘proclaiming the good news of Christ’s love’. St. Johns’ was and continues to be a dynamic congregation with many points of community involvement.
From their website:
We are a congregation of the United Church of Christ, a historic protestant denomination that has its roots in the New England Congregationalism as well as the Reformed traditions of (mainly) German immigrants. It was a group of those German immigrants who began a worshiping community in 1867 that eventually became St. John’s– we have almost reached 150 years of ministry in the Baltimore community!
- Rev. E. Luchkert
- Rev. F. Denner
- Rev. Thomas Heisehmann
- Rev. Dr. J. Pister
- Rev. C. Kirschmann (1877 to 1894-he died in service)
- Rev. C. Fritsch-"Fritsch Resigns"
- Rev. R. Stave to 1903)
- Rev. F. Lehman (1903 to 1911)
- Rev. Ernst G. Kuenzler (1911
- Rev. F. G. Reggeberg (1932
- Rev. Louis F. Suedmeyer (1960
Church location today:
1000 South Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228
Records from the old ‘St. John’s’ are maintained at this location (Pls. Call Ahead)
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