St. John's Lutheran Church
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Serving God By Serving People
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St. John's History

 
The Founding - 1914
April 13th, 1914 St. John's was founded by Pastor A.H. Falkenberg as the first German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waller along with sixteen charter members.  The first confirmation class was confirmed June 11, 1914 in the English Methodist Church of Waller since the Lutheran church had no building of it's own.  The mode of transportation then was by horse and buggy and the roads were not too desirable, especially when it rained alot. 
 
Building a House to Worship - 1915
In July of 1915 the congregation members voted to build a house of worship for their own.  The size to be 30 x 56 feet.  On August 5, 1915 the cornerstone was laid.  The church was nearing completion when the 1915 Galveston Hurricane came, so in order to try and finish it and save it from being damaged, the farmers stopped their own work and gathered at the church to put the roof on.  The church however fell victim to the storm and had to rebuilt.  This building was started in October 1915 and lost 10 feet in each direction to try and use the materials from the first damaged building.  The new church was dedicated on December 15, 1915, Rev. H.F. Ander of Houston preached the morning service in English and Pastor John Harder of Round Top preached the evening service in German.  This house of worship served the congregation until May 1958 when it was sold to another church organization in Waller.
 
Financial Stewardship
In 1929 it was voted on to pay Rev. Luther M. Schliesser $15 a trip whenever he came to preach from Houston.  In 1931 the congregation voted on having a weekly offering.  All agreed and Rev. A.H. Ihrig was to buy a "collection plate".  In 1932 the pastors salary was set at $250 per year.  In 1934 $600 was requested from the Mission Board and a piano was bought.  In June 1937 the congregation decided to install electric lights at the church but services were reduced to only twice a month to save on pastor's expenses due to lagging financial support. 
 
Dark Days
In 1941 Rev Hartmann showed the congregation the church roles were 73 baptized and 58 confirmed members, but only 21 contributed financially.  In 1942 the congregation voted to have the lights disconnected as they were only down to one service.
 
On the Rise
In 1944 the church seemed to be back on the rise and a decision was made to redecorate the church with $322 in the building fund.  In 1954 it was voted to have night services since Pastor was having a confirmation class and couldn't have it in the morning.  Screens were added to church windows in 1955 and by 1957 Pastor R.J. Weber had convinced the congregation to take on an intern and Student Walter Thormeyer started in 1957 and served for 10 months.
 
New Buildings
On May 27, 1958 the ground breaking was held for a new building with the dedication held on August 31, 1958.  The total cost of building and furnishings was $21,000.  The church had 200 seats with the educational unit separated by a folding curtain and could be used for overflow crowds.
 
Resident Pastor and New Buildings
In 1959 the congregation called Pastor Walter Thormeyer as it's resident pastor.  Pastor Thormeyer increased confirmed members from 80 to 142 before his untimely death in a car accident.  A sad experience in the life of the congregation.  In 1962 Pastor Virgil Pecht was called and plans continued for a new Education building and plans were added for a parsonage due to Pastor Pecht being married.  Ground was broken in February 1963, The Rev. Walter T. Thormeyer Memorial Building" consisted of 13 class rooms and is still in use today for education.  The parsonage also is still in use today and both buildings were dedicated on July 28, 1963.  In January of 1964 a public address system was added and the St. Johns celebrated it's 50th anniversary in  on October 4th, 1964.  In September of 1965, the congregation celebrated the burning of the church mortgage.
 
Bell Tower and continued renovations
On December 16th, 1965 the bell tower was dedicated along with the solid brass bell that had been purchased from a church in Botkins, Ohio for $100 and hauled to Waller by Pastor Pecht in the trunk of his car.  The Sunday School rooms of the Thormeyer building were air conditioned in 1968 along with purchases of a mimeograph machine and new piano.  In March of 1971 a rededication of the newly remodeled sanctuary was held.
 
On to the Future
St. John's continued expanding including the purchase of adjacent property to include the entire city block in 1977.  The church constitution was revised and adopted in January 1985.  The first pictorial directory was created in 1983 and 1987 marked the first retreat at LutherHill.  In 1988 St. John's was merged in with the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA).  In September 1992 a second service was added and on May 18th, 1994 membership rolls showed 497 baptized members and 360 confirmed members.  Other accomplishments of the congregation included:
1991 - Part time secretary added
1991 - Addtional land purchased for parking
1993 - Parking lot and sidewalks paved
1993 - Purchase of the entire city block west of the education building
 
 Current Church Building
In 1997 the current church building was built and the old church was converted to a Fellowship Hall along with other renovations.   
 
 Pastors who served St. John's
1914                       A.  H. Falkenberg
1914-1915           August Beteit
1915-1916           A. H. Falkenberg
1917-1928          H. F. Ander
1920                      J. J. Weiss
1929-1930          Luther M. Schliesser
1931-1933          A. H. Ihrig
1934-1941          Kurt Hartman
1941                      A. T. Kluge
1942-1946          W. C. Poehlmann
1947-1948          A. R. Wolber
1948-1952          A. M. Fiedler
1953-1956          A. R. Wolber
1956                      R. J. Weber
1957-1958          Student Walter Thormeyer
1958-1959          Supply Pastors
1959-1962          Walter Thormeyer
1962                      R. J. Weber and H. A. Heineke
1962-1971          Virgil Pecht
1971-1972          Don Little & William Norman
1972-1980          Marc Otterstad
1980                      Phil Peterson
1980-1985          Doug Hester
1986-1989          Nolan Sagebiel 
1990-2005          Jeffrey D. Marsh
2006-2007         Cynthia Forde
2007-2016          Edd Wunderlich
2016-Current     Interim Karen Nelson