St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Celebrates 125 Years
For 125 years St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church has been a strong presence in the New Britain community. In 1892 St. John’s was founded by German immigrants who came here to take advantage of the many opportunities that were available in the “Hardware City.” They initially met and conducted services at the YMCA until their newly constructed church was completed on Arch Street in 1897.
The congregation not only found a place in which to worship but also a place in which to live out their faith in serving others; a place of fellowship, healing and hope. By the end of 1892, the congregation had grown to 50 members and in the following year the Frauen Verein (Ladies Aid Society) that provided aid to widows and children was formed. In the following years, both a youth group and men’s service group were formed and the church sponsored both Boy and Girl Scout troops. St. John’s tradition of service to the community was firmly established.
That tradition of service continues today. Twice a year St. John’s Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America sponsor projects that have recently benefited local organizations such as Prudence Crandall, Veterans Inc., and the Friendship Service Center as well as supporting global initiatives, such as providing school fees and uniforms for girls in third world countries. In the past 25 years a quilting group, completed 1,900 quilts providing comfort to children in crisis or need. When a need was discovered in New Britain for school uniforms for elementary school children, the New Beginnings program was started. To date over 163 uniforms have been donated along with nine hundred dollars in gift certificates for footwear.
St. John’s continues to strive to understand the surrounding community by actively taking part in it. The congregation has opened its doors to several organizations for their meetings, including Narcotics and Overeaters Anonymous groups, Champion Youth programs and Blueberry Sky, a children’s enrichment program. Meeting in the Fellowship Hall is a Latino congregation, La Primera Iglesia de Dios. St. John’s is also fighting hunger locally through monthly non-perishable food donations to the food pantry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and monetary donations to several community food pantries as well as global hunger relief programs.
As the community has changed, St. John’s also has to evolve. To that end Pastor Rod Rinell is involved with the New Britain Latino Coalition that meets monthly. Also, St. John’s has hosted Free Laundry events at the Laundromat on South Main Street to get to know our neighbors better while providing a little relief in their pocketbooks. A new program, the Busy Bees of New Britain, for children (up to age 10) will start in October and will be held on the first and third Saturdays of each month. It’s free and open to all children with a parent or guardian in attendance. There will be story-telling, crafts and play time along with light refreshments. At the same time it’ll offer the adults accompanying the children a chance to gather, to share concerns, ideas or to just chat.
St. John’s celebrates its German heritage and as a church established by immigrants understands and welcomes immigrants of all nationalities and all who are seeking a home, a place of fellowship, healing and hope. All are welcome.