St John's History
The Original Sanctuary (now the chapel) as Built in 1962
St. John's organized as a mission by the United Lutheran Church in America (UCLA).
Pastor Harry Baertschi was the Mission developer. He served from 1956 to 1958. His call was to knock on doors and organize St. John's and then move on to develop another congregation.
The organizational meeting was held on October 28, 1956 at the Glendale Women's Club on Glenn Dr., a few blocks from the current location. The first worship service was November 4, 1956 with 49 people in attendance. Every Sunday, worshipers had to set up chairs, the altar and piano and then put everything away after the services. The Sunday School was held under a the big tree in the side yard of the women's club. The Charter for membership was opened December 30, 1956
The site at 51st Ave and Myrtle was purchased for $21,000.
March 2, 1958: St John’s was officially organized as a congregation with 61 adults and 113 children. The charter was closed on April 6 with 68 adult members.Pastor Frank Starkey called Nov 22, 1958 and presided at his first service on January 11, 1959. He remembers teaching the Bethel Bible Series and the impact it had on people’s faith. He served until 1964.
First church building (now the chapel) and north wing dedicated. Ed Clark was one of those with a shovel at the groundbreaking. The first church office was in what is now room 3
Pastor Paul Halvorson (served 1964-1973) called. St. John’s helped to found the Glendale Family Development Center (59th Ave & Northern) that was dedicated to helping families break the cycles of illiteracy, poverty and abuse.
The Chancel 1982 - 2004
The multipurpose building was dedicated Aug 29, 1982 and was immediately used as the sanctuary. The chancel was at the south end of the building and all the chancel furniture was movable in order to use the space for many purposes. It was divided into two parts so it could be used for dramas and children’s programs. The former sanctuary was remodeled into the current offices and chapel.
The multipurpose building/sanctuary was remodeled, enclosing the patio into a narthex and moving the chancel to the east wall.
Pastor Bae, in Korea at the time, received a vision in 2002 of moving to Arizona to start a Korean Christian Church. San Sung (Korean for "Mighty Fortress") Church began meeting at St. John's in 2005. St. John's and San Sung had our first annual joint worship in Sept. 2010. In August 2014, Pr. Bae felt San Sung was called to move to north Phoenix and left St. John's after 9 years.
A Columbarium was built on the south side of the new sanctuary as a place for cremains and memorials to loved ones who have died and been raised in Christ. The West side Lutheran Food Pantry moved from Advent Lutheran Church (now Amazing Grace) to St. John’s, using the north building.
St. John’s celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special worship service and a dinner on March 2. Former pastor Frank Starkey preached and other former pastors and leaders shared their memories and vision for St. John’s.
Pastor Peter Perry called. “St. John’s Lutheran church celebrates God’s love, proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ and serves our neighbors.”
Emmanuel Sudanese Church begins worship services in St. John's sanctuary on Sunday afternoons. St. John's relationship with the Emmanuel Sudanese Church began on August 4 with a joint worship service.
Phoenix Oromo Christian Church begins worship services in St. John's chapel on Sunday afternoons. The Oromo are people from Ethiopia who came to the Phoenix area in the 1990’s and have been in partnership with Lutheran Christians. In September 2017, Oromo Evangelical Fellowship (new name) moved to Christ Church Lutheran on 40th St & Indian School as a part of a broader realignment of Oromo Churches with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
St. John’s helps lead the West-side Lutheran Food Pantry to a more empowering and relationship building ministry with Financial Literacy classes and the development of a Food Network to bring people together to work for a sustainable supply of food for their families.