Local church celebrates 125 years - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Local church celebrates 125 years

An early church scene (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church) An early church scene (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church)
Pastor Theodore Wegener (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church) Pastor Theodore Wegener (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church)
The original church bell now on the current church. (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church) The original church bell now on the current church. (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church)
An early photo of the church's school. (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church) An early photo of the church's school. (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church)
A World War II era scene at the church. (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church) A World War II era scene at the church. (Source: St. John's Lutheran Church)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A local church celebrated its 125th anniversary this past weekend.

St. John's Lutheran Church is one of the oldest churches in the area. On Sunday, the church celebrated its history with a reunion service.

The church's history dates back before there was even a church. Early German settlers would hold Lutheran services in a lodge hall until they moved to the original location on Ford Street in 1888.

Years passed and the congregation grew with the help of Pastor Theodore Wegener whose 46-year tenure began in 1914.

"And the congregation has grown as the town of Lake Charles has grown and as I said, God has been good to us in so many ways and we're looking forward to many, many, many more years of God's blessing and God's grace for us," said the Rev. Charles Miller.

You can find more historic photos HERE.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

The following is a news release from the church:

Despite its contemporary appearance and south Lake Charles address, St. John Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod holds the distinction of being one of the oldest churches in southwest Louisiana.

This weekend the congregation celebrates 125 years of service to the community.

"Our members are proud of the fact that St. John's storied history parallels that of Lake Charles," said the Rev. Charles Miller, pastor since 1997.

Among the city's earliest settlers were schooner captains and crewmen of German descent. Lutheran by faith, they attended a nondenominational church—or no church at all—until the arrival of the Rev. Samuel Hoernicke, a young, newly ordained missionary in 1887.

Rev. Hoernicke met with his flock and arranged to hold services in a lodge hall until a modest church, which still stands at 517 Ford Street, could be constructed. The first worship service was held in 1988.

As the congregation waxed and the years waned, a larger church was built at the corner of 5th Street and Enterprise Boulevard. Under the spiritual guidance of the Rev. T. H. Wegener, whose 46 year tenure began in 1914, the new St. John Lutheran Church was dedicated in 1955.

The need for yet a larger sanctuary was almost immediate, but the church was landlocked by surrounding neighborhoods. An extensive survey of the city and surrounding areas led to the 1963 purchase of its present location, 5 ½ acres at the corner of University Drive and Jefferson Street. Construction was not immediate, but new worship and educational facilities were dedicated in 1970.

With room to grow, additional educational facilities were added and the fellowship hall was built – and then doubled. Little Lambs Preschool and Daycare opened in April 1981, and the Braille Center, which has since dispersed, began in 1985. Little Lambs' current facility was opened in December 1997, shortly after the installation of Rev. Miller that June.

"Our mission is to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our church, our community and the world," said Rev. Miller.

"As a result of a dedication to the Lutheran mission, our members have sown the seeds for sister congregations throughout the region, including Trinity Lutheran Church (Sulphur) in 1949; St. Matthew Lutheran Church (north Lake Charles) in 1964; and Our Savior Lutheran Church (Moss Bluff) in 1961."

For more information, call 337.478.5666, or visit SaintJohnLutheranChurch.com.

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