St. John’s Lutheran marking 175 years

Some members of St. John’s Lutheran Church at White Creek called its 2003 $1.6 million expansion project, which included the church school, the biggest challenge they had ever tackled.

But they have faced plenty of other challenges through the congregation’s and school’s 175-year history.

Sunday will be a grand time of reminiscing when St. John members mark their double anniversary with a service of thanksgiving and praise — and the Seymour Men’s Chorus — at 10:15 a.m. at the church, 16270 S. County Road 300W.

Guest Pastor Loren Boettcher, who led the congregation from 1968 to 1976, will lead the proceedings.

Attendees will sing hymns taken from celebrations of the 90th, 100th, 125th, 150th and the 165th anniversaries, according to organizers. One focus will include the current anniversary theme from Psalm 89:1: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.”

After the service, the congregation will launch 175 balloons. A meal and a video from the 150th anniversary, “Travels, Troubles and Triumphs,” will be shown.

Since April, members have been marking various elements of the church and school history with monthly, themed services, such as Mission Festival Sunday on July 26. St. John’s has a long history of hosting Mission Festivals, and members wanted to recreate the old-time events. In part, the gathering featured 25-cent cookies, pie ice cream cones, soda, Cracker Jacks and an assortment of “penny candy.” The event also included a cake walk, carnival games, pony rides and carriage rides — all for a quarter each.

Janeen Blomenberg, assistant coordinator of the anniversary celebration, mentioned that people openly welcomed such nostalgia.

“Older members of the congregation remember Mission Festivals as the rare opportunity for special treats like soda pop and Cracker Jacks,” Blomenberg said.

A commemorative T-shirt, plate and Christmas ornament are being sold. Calendars highlighting the church and school history have been distributed. So, after backspacing through the past, what’s next?

Looking to the future, Pastor Joshua Cook, who will depart soon for a new post at a Michigan church, said he believes St. John’s opportunity to reach south central Indiana with God’s love remains a strong one. He said so in a open letter to his flock.

“I am convinced that you will stand strong in the power of his might,” he wrote.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.