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In Goodspeed's History of Phelps County (1889, p.39) it is noted that the St. James (German) church was organized in 1880 by the Rev. Forrester. Rev. R. Garhart subsequently succeeded him. The congregation consisted of forty members. Among the first members were: A. Mueller, L. Schneider, F. Luan, H. Roster, H. Goff, C. Bremer, and F.C. Puschman. This organization was apparently short-lived, for the last available minutes were dated April 22, 1889.
The beginning work by representatives of the Missouri Synod goes back to the year 1888, when Pastor J.L. Gehrmann of Babtown commenced serving the spiritual needs of German Lutherans in St. James and the surrounding area. George A. Mueller served the area during his senior year at the seminary in St. Louis, and in 1899 organized congregations in the area. The minutes of St. John as of April 22, 1899 read as follows: "On this day the German Evangelical Lutherans organized a congregation. The same was entered under the name of Evangelical Lutheran (St.) John's congregation of which the following were elected as board of elders: Adolph Mueller, V.W. Reitz, Henry F. Wolters."
In May of 1889, Candidate Mueller received the call which he himself had filed on behalf of the congregation. He was ordained and installed as the first resident pastor of St. John on Sunday, September 15, 1889. He served as pastor until the spring of 1894. The last recorded minutes of this organization were recorded December 20, 1891.
The next minutes (February 10, 1902) record another organization under Pastor Edward Lehmann, who prepared and presented the constitution which was unanimously adopted. Services were held at various locations in St. James through 1903. In 1904 construction of a church building was begun. It was dedicated on January 15, 1905.
The final reorganization of the congregation took place on January 1, 1906. At that time a new constitution was developed and adopted. St. John became a member of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in 1925. The original constitution of 1906 was revised in 1947 and translated into the English language.
On September 27, 1959 ground was broken for a new church building. Dedication services for the new building were conducted on Sunday, September 4, 1960 by Rev. Martin H. Rohlfing, pastor of the congregation. The decommissioning of the old church was also accomplished on this day.
In 1965 the congregation initiated plans to convert the old church into a parsonage. Mr. Carl Hertfelder assumed the responsibility for drawing up plans for the necessary changes. The first occupants of the new residence were Pastor Robert Heil and family. The dwelling is still in use today as the parsonage, and stands directly east of the church building. A very satisfying occasion was celebrated on November 21, 1976 with the burning of the mortgage. All the property relating to St. John Lutheran Church is now free and clear of indebtedness.
On February 9, 2003, after nearly 17 years of ministry, Pastor Paul Goddard went on disability and officially retired on June 1, 2003. The congregation is being served by Pastor Richard Anderegg until a new pastor can be called.
Rev. George Adolph Mueller - 1889 to 1894
Rev. John H. Ruff - 1894 to 1898
Rev. Theodore Siek - 1899 to 1900
Rev. Edward Lehmann - 1900 to 1902
Rev. William Maschoff (vacancy pastor) 1902 to 1903, 1909 to 1911
Rev. August C. Barz - 1903 to 1909
Rev. Carl F. Holler - 1911 to 1914
Rev. Henry H. Frohn - 1915 to 1921
Rev. Daniel Oberdieck - 1921 to 1934
Rev. Andrew Szegedin - 1934 to 1946
Rev. Louis C. Castens - 1946 to 1949
Rev. Channing E. Miller - 1949 to 1951
Rev. Gilbert B. Seager - 1952 to 1953
Rev. Albert H. Ziegler - 1954 to 1956
Rev. Louis Castens (vacancy pastor) - Spring 1957
Larry Rohifing (student) - Summer 1957
Rev. Martin Rohlfing - 1957 to 1962
Rev. Robert Preus (vacancy pastor) - 1962 to 1963
Rev. Robert Heil - 1963 to 1966
Rev. William Utteck - 1967 to 1969
Rev. Hilseback (vacancy pastor) - Summer 1969
Rev. Rober Schoolcraft - 1969 to 1974
Rev. Frederick Kuegele - 1974 to 1977
Rev. Garth Baker (vacancy pastor) - 1977 to 1979
Rev. Douglas V. Morton - 1979 to 1985
Rev. Norman Heironimus (vacancy pastor) - 1985 to 1986
Rev. Paul E. Goddard - 1986 to 2003
Rev. Richard Anderegg (vacancy pastor) - current
We thank God for His blessings during the long history and faithful ministry of the pastors and members of St. John. May our gracious Lord continue to grant us a rich measure of His Holy Spirit as we seek to forge ahead in the awesome and joyful task of making disciples.
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