Friday, June 24, 2016

Women's Ministry Conference

The Women's Ministry Conference is being held July 21st-July 23rd, in Mequon WI, at
the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. If you are interested in attending please call the
church office. There is room in the car heading to the conference to car pool and also
in the hotel room that is reserved.  For full details and to register for the conference you can go to


Sunday, June 19, 2016

A history of worship accompaniment at St. John

The instruments that have supported worship over the years began with a melodeon, which was used until 1883 when the first organ replaced it. An addition was necessary to the first facility (at 8th & Locust, near Heppner's on E. 7th today) to accommodate this organ. The organ transferred to the second facility (on the site of today's third facility) just 8 years later. The debt on the second facility proved long in retirement, and fundraising fatigue had set in. The church council decided in 1914 to authorize an organ committee to search for a new organ that matched the size of the new church and to raise money for purchase and installation. The committee selected a Wirsching Organ of 37 ranks – one of the largest constructed by that company. The first organ was then donated to Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, a college St. John Lutheran had helped establish. That first organ served the college until 1983 when it was dismantled for parts. Today’s Martin Luther College has one of the largest and most prominent collections of organs in the world.

St. John Lutheran dedicated the present organ on November 21, 1915. The church council recorded in its minutes that the organ project, while partly to relieve fundraising stress to retire the building debt on the second facility, was also done to prepare to mark the 400th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 1917. 

Philipp Wirsching (1858-1926) was a native of Hesse, Germany, and an apprentice of August Laukhuff whose company is still a supplier to the organ industry. Wirsching immigrated to America in 1886 and formed his own organ company in Salem, Ohio. From 1894-1905, Wirsching suspended his company due to the economy. In October 1914 his company went into receivership under the presidency of his son, and during this time built the organ at St. John Lutheran. Philipp Wirsching himself scaled and voiced the pipes of this organ. The various iterations of the Wirsching organ company are known to have built 37 instruments both for residences and churches. There are 3 known to have been installed in Minnesota, with the one at St. John Lutheran likely being the last extant. Significant for this instrument, its console was electric from the start, rather than pneumatic. The console was replaced in kind in 1959 when the original failed.

On February 25, 1964, the City of St. Paul engineer found some cracking in one of the walls of the second facility and ordered it closed. The church council immediately began plans for a third facility, which was dedicated four years to the day later. The 1915 Wirsching Organ had been disassembled and stored by Howard Nolte under the supervision of acclaimed organ maintenance expert Arthur J. Fellows. While unclear from church council minutes as to the intent for the organ during the transition to the third facility, long time members of the congregation are under the impression that the 1915 Wirsching was meant to be sold for its parts. Indeed, correspondence from Howard Nolte proposing to purchase certain parts is consistent with that memory.

Raising funds to pay for the third facility also proved challenging and resulted in a delay in reinstalling the organ. Arthur Fellows began installation in January 1969 and finished in May of the same year. Fellows continued to clean and tune the instrument until 1979 when he was replaced by Murray Burfeind. During Burfeind’s era of care the organ was altered to be “baroque” in character, which was a trend in expectations in the 1980s. The instrument suffered greatly as a result. Burfeind was succeeded as the organ technician of record in 2003 when Allen Moe of Wadena was hired.

In 2003, respected organ consultant Prof. Edward Meyer, recently retired from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, wrote a report that has guided the restoration of the organ since. The organ is in significant need of repair to restore the original sound and look of the 1915 Wirsching organ. 

The organ remains one of the most significant artifacts documenting St. John Lutheran Church along with being a highly significant artifact of organ history in Minnesota. It is estimated that 83 percent of the current organ pipes are original with a substantial portion of non-original materials simply being added to the instrument. One consultant speculated that the leather on the windchests appeared to be the original, and that typically leather lasts no longer than about 80 years. The congregation has consistently taken care of this organ. The congregation has already invested approximately $50,000 into the restoration since 2003, plus another $100,000 into upgrading the climate control in order to reduce environmental impacts upon the instrument. 

Our many and very talented organists have covered for the numerous dead notes and tonal dissonance that would otherwise disrupt worship. The time is approaching when we will need to bring this impressive instrument back to its full function. Can we do so before the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in October 2017?

A few minutes to learn about our organ

On June 26 following worship, the congregation is asked to remain for a few minutes to hear about the true state of St. John Lutheran's 101-year-old Wirsching Organ.

The organ was installed for the first time by November 21, 1915. This organ is one of the largest ever made by this company, and may be the last one remaining in the state. It was acquired in part to mark the 400th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in October 1917.

When the present facility was constructed, the congregation retained this organ, reinstalling it in the spring of 1969. Over the years the congregation has invested in the care and maintenance of the organ, including significant upgrades to protect the organ.

The 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation will be October 31, 2017, approximately 16 months from now. And, our congregation will mark 150 years on May 24, 2021. While no resolution from the congregation will be expected at the June 26 voters' meeting, the church council and organists do encourage you to prayerfully consider what the congregation would like to do with regard to the organ. As a matter of Christian Stewardship, we naturally want to take care of the things God has provided to us - that means both the congregation's finances and its property, including the organ.

Friday, June 17, 2016

With Gratitude

We know how to party well at St. John Lutheran. The observances of the congregation's 145th birthday and Mrs. Ellen Mueller's 25th anniversary as school secretary were very well attended. Everything was planned carefully and executed precisely on May 22.

Three weeks later the St. John Lutheran community gathered to thank the family of Phil and Hannah Ewerdt for their many contributions over the 8 years that Phil held a call from St. John Lutheran to teach Grades 3-5. Again, the event was thoroughly enjoyed.

These gatherings were successful due to the work of many, and for that we praise God and thank each one humbly for their work. Thank you!

Anticipating Worship (June 19)

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Worship Focus:  Following Christ calls for total commitment.

Scripture Readings:
1 Kings 19:14-21
Psalm 62
Galatians 5:1,13-25
Luke 9:51-62

Sermon Text:  Luke 9:51-62

Journey with Jesus to Jerusalem
1.  It is a walk of determination for the Christ
2.  It is a walk of dedication for the Christian

Prayer of the Day:  O God, you have prepared joys beyond understanding for those who love you.  Pour into our hearts such love for you that, loving you above all things, we may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Happy Pentecost!

From the Ewerdt Family

Dear Members of St. John,
We are so thankful for all the ways that this church really became a church family to us. It i s incredibly hard to pack up our things and say goodbye to all the wonderful people we have come to know and love. We have been immeasurably blessed through our time here, and our children also have benefited greatly from all the people who have reflected God's love to them by their words and actions. Thank you for all that you have done for us, and we feel as Paul said to the Philippians, "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:3-6) We will continue to pray earnestly for your ministry here, and give thanks that God brought our paths together eight years ago when Phil received the call to serve in your midst. We will miss you!
In Christ's Service,
Phil and Hannah and family

Friday, June 10, 2016

Neighborhood Canvassing

The Evangelism committee will be knocking on doors in our neighborhood again this year sharing the Word of our Savior and inviting them to come worship with us.  We ask that you join us in this effort.  We generally we go in pairs, so you can start out by just recording the information they give.  We meet at church at 6:35 PM on Tuesdays.  Contact Tony Wimmer at 612-306-5329 for more information.

Ladies Aid Salad Luncheon

Congregation members are invited to join the Ladies Aid on Wednesday, June 15th, at noon, for their annual Salad Luncheon. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the narthex if you will be attending or you may call the church office.


Ewerdt Reception

We have so much to thank God for in blessing us with the Ewerdts!  You are encouraged to join us this Sunday, June 12th, following our worship service in honor of this family who has done so much for our children and the St. John family.  A basket with be available for your personal thanks, blessings and well wishes to Mr. Ewerdt and his family.

Anticipating Worship (June 12)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Worship Focus:  Our gracious God forgives our sin.

Scripture Readings:
1 Samuel 11:26-12:10,13
Psalm 32
Galatians 2:11-21
Luke 7:36-50

Sermon Text:  1 Samuel 11:26-12:10,13

You Are the One!
1.  Who recognizes sin against God
2.  Who receives forgiveness from God

Prayer of the Day:  O God, protector of all the faithful, you alone make strong; you alone make holy.  Show us your mercy and forgive our sins day by day.  Guide us through our earthly lives that we do not lose the things you have prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Happy Pentecost.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Committee On Education Survey

Shape the future of St. John Lutheran School – Complete the Purpose, Mission, and Values survey.

The St. John Committee on Education is starting a process to redefine our purpose, mission, and core values as a way to shape the future of St. John. The resulting definitions will serve as the basis for everything we do as a school.

While there are many steps to this process, the first step is to hear your input. Please take five minutes to complete this survey and let us know what you think our purpose, mission, and values should be. These results will be a significant input to the process.

I cannot stress enough the importance of your input to this process. Thank you for taking the time to participate in this vital effort.

God bless,
Derek Meyer (Chair, Committee on Education)

Anticipating Worship (June 5)

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Worship Focus:  Our gracious God changes life by giving life.

Scripture Readings:
1 Kings 17:17-24
Psalm 30
Galatians 1:11-24
Luke 7:11-17

Sermon Meditation:  Psalm 50:15

Go to God
1.  In distress
2.  For deliverance
3.  With devotion

Prayer of the Day:  O God, the strength of all who trust in you, mercifully hear our prayers.  Be gracious to us in our weakness and give us strength to keep your commandments in all we say and do; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Happy Pentecost.

Ewerdt's Farewell

Next Sunday, June 12, following worship, we will gather downstairs to acknowledge the Ewerdts years of faithful service to St. John and to wish them God's rich blessings in their next phase of ministry in West Melbourne, Florida. A card basket will be available for your personal thanks, blessings and well wishes.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Closing Chapel Service

Closing Worship Service Tomorrow, June 3, 2016
Tomorrow, at 3:15 p.m., our school will be having a closing worship service to thank our God for another school year now ending.  Pastor Voigt will be preaching.   All parents, grandparents and friends are invited to worship with us in the downstairs chapel area.  Parents who wish to take their children home after the service are welcome to do so.
There will be no regular a.m. chapel service tomorrow.