History of St. John's

1872—The Swedish Evangelical Church was founded by Dr. T. N. Hasselquist, a professor at Augustana College, at the request of immigrants from Sweden who came to Bloomington to work in the coal mines. The charter members were 36 adults and 10 children. During the early years worship, conducted in Swedish, was led by a combination of laymen and faculty from Augustana College.

1874—Women’s Sewing Circle was organized.

1878—The first church was built at Olive and Allin in Bloomington and served as the worship space for the next 50 years. Sunday School was organized. 

1882—The first choir was formed with 14 members.

1887—Young People’s Society was organized.

1897—On the 25th anniversary of the church membership was 300 adults and children.

1911—Young people petition the congregation for English services one Sunday a month.

1923—English became the official language and the name was changed to First English Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

1929—A new church and parish hall were built on the same corner, with approximately 143 members.  It served the congregation for 31 years.

1936—First Daily Vacation Bible School held.

1941—Three-manual Barton pipe organ purchased from Majestic Theater.

1950—The church celebrated its 75th anniversary with 451 members. The name of the church was changed to St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

1952The Eagle publication began on the 80th anniversary of the congregation.

1955—The congregation voted to move to Bloomington’s “east side” at the corner of Emerson and Towanda. The new church, what was now the Fellowship Hall, was dedicated on November 1, 1959 with 369 people in attendance.  

1960—Last worship in old church on April 24, 1960.

1964—The first Associate Pastor was called to serve among the congregation.

1965—The current Sanctuary and a building addition that included offices, Sunday School rooms, and patio area were completed. 

1970—First two women elected to Church Council.

1972—The 100th anniversary was celebrated by the congregation of 1,576 members. 

1975—Statue of Jesus, “Come Unto Me,” was dedicated.

1982—St. John’s becomes a collection center for churches in the Synod for the annual Lutheran World Relief. The Handbell Choir was organized. 

1988—The Saturday Evening Service was initiated, meeting in the Fellowship Hall. Noah’s Ark Preschool was instituted. 

1990—The Community of Joy worship service was initiated, meeting in the Fellowship Hall. 

1992—Kaffehuset was formed.  

1994—The new Parish Life Center (PLC) was dedicated. 

1995—St. John’s Columbarium was dedicated.  

1999—The “Thrive” program was created as a total reformation of our Wednesday night confirmation ministry for 6-8th graders.

2000—Faith Shares started to be shared by students after their 8th grade year.

2001—The first Group Work Camp (mission trip) traveled to serve in Winchester, Kentucky. A website was developed.

2004—The “Genesis” program started on Sunday mornings for junior high youth (6-8th grade).

2005—A new Berghaus organ with 2,598 pipes was installed in the Sanctuary.

2006—CHAOS (Claiming Him As Our Savior) senior high weekly ministry was begun.

2010—Completion of the new addition to the building for ministry and education. 

2013—New statements created for vision, mission, and core values. The Council created a long range facility planning process.  

2014—BeFriender Ministry launched. BeFrienders serve as companions for those going through difficult or transitional situations in their lives by providing a compassionate, listening presence.

2015—New strategic priorities were developed to support our mission and vision with a focus on “unity” within our congregation while serving our “community” with greater impact.

2016—Hosted the first Work Camp in Bloomington/Normal.