History of the Church

Early church records were meticulously recorded in German, and still reside in our church library. Founded in 1892, the history of St. John falls into three distinct eras: earliest years as a member of the Iowa Synod (1892-1912); middle period as a Mission Church of the Missouri Synod (1913-1953); the present time as a self-supporting congregation (1954-present). German Lutherans came primarily from Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia, and in 1890, Pastor Pfister resigned his charge at Germanville, Iowa to do mission work in Oskaloosa at his own expense. Two years later, he gave up this attempt to organize a congregation but in December of 1892, about twenty-five people met in the Mahaska County Courthouse to organize a congregation under the direction of Rev. William Knappe of Hedrick. The formal organization took place on December 18, 1892, and a dual parish was formed of Hedrick and Oskaloosa. It was part of the Iowa Synod and other states, and took the name of St. John Lutheran. From 1892 to 1896, they met in the Mahaska County Courthouse, but they chose a site at 812 Fifth Avenue East and erected a small church which was dedicated on December 6, 1896. This was the church home for the next fifty years. The pastor came from Hedrick for services, with five pastors serving from 1892 to 1912. Pastor F.W. Landdeck informed the congregation he could no longer serve twice a month, so they appealed to Iowa Synod headquarters. No help seemed available for services even once a month, so some of the members met and decided to leave the Iowa Synod and request membership in the Missouri Synod. They included John Loos, Fred Loos, John Kramer, Fred Haber, and William Strauss. A dual parish was proposed by the President of the Missouri Synod, President Wolfram of Waterloo, Iowa.

It would include Oskaloosa and Four Corners in Lockridge. Services were in German every two weeks. Rev. Duerr served the parish from 1913-1915 and in July 1915 he began serving only in Oskaloosa, continuing until December 1919. From 1920-1924, the transition was made from German to English services, with English at 10:00 a.m. and German at 11:00 a.m. Then, during the pastorate of Rev. F.J. Oetjen from 1925-1941, the German service was entirely replaced by English. There was a growing concern for a larger church building, and during the pastorate of Rev. Theodore Gutknecht, this was accomplished at North A Street and B Avenue. In 1913, the St. John congregation began receiving financial assistance from Iowa District East of Missouri Lutheran Church, up to $100 per month. In July 1953, the Church District of Missouri Synod made an agreement with the St. John congregation that if the members would hold a special financial drive to retire their debt with the District, the debt would be canceled, and St. John would become self-supporting. Since then, St. John has been self-supporting. In 1960, land on Glendale Road (Merino Avenue) was acquired from Adolph Scheuermann, and the congregation built a new church home, which was completed. In 1985, the mortgage was burned. In 1987, the congregation chose to build a parsonage on land adjoining the church, and a ranch-style brick home was completed.

Waiting for bible study to start after a Sunday Service, all together as a family in Christ! Fall 2022