St. John's
Lutheran Church

380 Keny Blvd., London, OH 43140

Buff Block Building

1875 - It all started here, in one of the upper rooms of the “Buff Block” (SW corner of Main & High).  Preaching and Bible Study services were conducted by Capital University theological students.

1878 - January 20, the Congregation formally organized as “St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church,” with Rev. Hiram Peters as the first pastor.  A Hall was rented on the second floor of the Byers Building (Buckley’s) 22 South Main St.  However, a catastrophic event challenged the resolve of this fledgling congregation of Lutherans.  In the winter of 1880-81 a fire destroyed the Byers building and all church records and possessions were lost.  The congregation moved across the street, 23 South Main, and rented the upper hall of that building.

1881 - July 14, the Church Council took up the challenge and resolved to build a “church of brick….28’x45’x18’ high….”  The corner stone was laid in August 7, 1881 and the church was dedicated on June 11, 1882. 

1882-83 - The first year things went well, the church was carpeted, organ and communion service were purchased, gas lighting fixtures installed, and membership of Sunday school class was 60!  From 1884-89 things stalled with money problems and the membership was immovable at 25 active members.

1896 - A bright spot in St. John’s history-female members gained the right to vote, way before the nation caught on to such a notion.

1910-33 - THE DARK PERIOD - During this period of time there was no resident pastor and membership declined to 5 families who tried to keep the doors of St. John’s open.  The Lutheran Board of Missions withdrew support of the congregation in 1926 and the Synod threatened to close St. John’s for good.

Andrew Schilling london oh lutheran church pastor1938-67NEW LIFE AND FIRST EXPANSION - In 1938 a young student pastor, Andrew Schilling, was assigned to St. John’s and it was God’s plan that St. John’s resume its’ mission.  The congregation was rejuvenated and stimulated into action.  Membership increased, and in 1941-42, a new Chancel, pastor’s study (now the Sacristy), Fellowship Hall, were constructed, and Art Glass Windows were installed.

Pastor Schilling was called to another church and was replaced by Pastor Rugh (1949-57) during which time enrollment reached a peak of 110 in Sunday school and 175 communing members.  In 1957 a second worship service was added to accommodate the increasing membership.  1959-67, Rev. Gulbis was pastor and as growth of membership continued he encouraged the expansion or relocation of St. John’s.  A building expansion committee was formed, building sites surveyed, but Church Council said, “…that at the present time, it is too much to ask the Congregation to launch into an extensive building program.”  Pastor Gulbis resigned.

1967-76 - SECOND EXPANSION - Pastor Schilling was called to St. John’s for a second time as pastor in 1967 and for the next few years, an ambitious building program in our history to date took place.  1969-1970, the construction of the Andrew Schilling Christian Educational Center took place.

pastor steve st johns lutheran church 2004-2012 - St. John’s has had 25 pastors from 1878 to 2012, with Pastor Steve Smithberger, number 25, being installed on Feb. 25, 2004. Pastor Steve brought our church to our beautiful new building on Keny Blvd, in London Ohio. He made sure that we brought the stain glass from the previous church along with a few of the original pews so that the new building retained the history that made it is what the church is today.

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