We, the baptized members of St. John's Lutheran Church, unite as a community of faith to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through an active ministry of outreach to our members, the Kutztown area, and the world.
The office is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm Monday through Thursday, and 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Friday
The Congregation Council leads the congregation in developing and evaluating mission, goals, and long-range planning, including the vision and the direction of our church. Council monitors the day to day workings of the church through communication with staff and committees, monitors the financial health of the congregation, and approves the annual budget.
Kim Warshel, President
Dean Haas, Vice President
Barbara Smith, Secretary
Susan Friend, Secretary
Jan Sobotka, Secretary
Rev. MaryAnn Hamm
I am a graduate of Moravian Theological Seminary and The Lutheran Seminary of Philadelphia. Prior to the call to ministry, I taught elementary and special education at Northwestern Lehigh School District. In addition to pastoral ministry, I have served as a hospice chaplain and I am a trained Spiritual Director. I enjoy companioning folks who yearn to go deeper in their spiritual journey. I am married to Al and we have two grown sons and a granddaughter. My husband and I enjoy spending time with family and traveling.
What I love most about my job at St. John's is the wonderful people here. I also love the creative aspect of producing bulletins and newsletters, along with the more traditional tasks done by an Office Administrator. It is more like family to me than a job and I look forward to every day because it is always different.
I was born and raised in California, and have lived in several other states, both west coast and east. I drove across country to Pennsylvania thirty years ago to visit my sister, and I've lived here ever since. I do miss being closer to the beach, but Berks County feels like home to me now.
In my spare time I enjoy doing artsy things, including drawing, painting and jewelry making. I also have a green thumb and love to garden on my deck in the warm weather. I dream of getting a pet dog to take road trips with, and someday writing the Great American Novel about our adventures.
BELL CHOIR DIRECTOR
My name is Diane Spohn and I am the bell choir director at St. John's. The church has a 3-octave set of bells and handchimes that were donated many years ago but the current bell choir, The Joyful Ringers, was only organized in 2014. In addition to this, I also work for Diakon Adoption & Foster Care on the campus of The Lutheran Home at Topton as an administrative assistant and am an occasional substitute church organist. A lifelong member of St. John's, I am married to Stuart and we have three grown children.
DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
Mark Reppert studied piano and organ in private instruction. He began as substitute and assistant organist at the age of 16. In 1979 he began his first weekly church position as Organist and Choir Director. Since 1979 he has served churches in both Berks and Lehigh Counties as Organist and Choir Director, Organist/Music Director and Minister of Music. Mark began at St. Johns Lutheran Church Ash Wednesday 2016 as Organist/Music Director. Mark also works for "Wishes" an event and party planning division of Boscov's Department Stores. In his spare time Mark likes to work at restoring his Historic home in the Centre Park Historic District in Reading. Gardening and watching old movies and TV shows.
St. Johns is located at 201 E. Main St. in Kutztown, PA. We worship at 9:30am on Sundays, with education for all ages at 8:30 during the school year. We'd love to see you!
Although the exact date the church was organized isn't known, 1752 has been accepted as the date, but it may have been as early as 1744. Services were originally held in a barn a half mile east of Kutztown., but the first meeting house was erected in 1755 on the west bank of the Saucony. In 1789 the congregation decided to erect a new union church (with the Reformed church) in Kutztown, at the cost of $3,307.33. In 1876 the cornerstone for a new, bigger union church was laid, at the corner of Whiteoak and Walnut streets, and the dedication was held on Oct, 28, 1877.
In 1896 the two congregations (Lutheran & Reformed) separated, although both continued to utilize the 1877 church structure. Each church had it's own finances, but shared the maintenance costs of the building and grounds. As early as 1925, St. John's Lutheran had ambitions to build it's own church, and in 1939 purchased a house and large lot known as the Benjamin Kramlich mansion, on the northeast corner of East Main and Maple streets, for $7,450. A recreation building was built on the site soon after, but fundraising for a new, separate church structure languished due to the depression and World War II.
In 1952 it was finally decided to build a separate St. John's Lutheran church, and the celebration of St. John's 200th anniversary that same year was a good platform to build the excitement. In 1953 a new building campaign was begun to raise $160,000 to build at the corner of Main and Maple streets. The total estimate for the new church was $225,000 but there was already $40,000 in hand (the final cost was closer to $300,000). Floor plans, which included seating for 590, facilities for a Ladies' aid room, Bible class room, Sunday school rooms, a stage, a scout room and a men's game room, were approved by Council and presented to the congregation. "The plans included everything needed for the modern, far reaching, seven-day-a-week program so effectively administered by the Christ-centered church of today." The pastor at the time was Pastor Bittner and he remarked "The day is nearly at hand when our dreams will be fulfilled and we shall rise up and build to the honor and glory of God." "There remains one giant to be felled before we can proceed, and that is to raise funds to pay for our new church. We plan to raise $160,000 before Easter in gifts and subscriptions. This is a high goal for a congregation the size or ours, but we know our people will give sacrificially and enable us to win the victory." The campaign was to be accomplished by a great corps of volunteers who would do the job of solicitation. The general campaign chairman was Harold Baldwin, and there were six vice-chairmen - John Dreibelbis, Paul Rohrbach, Lloyd Berger, Paul Fritz, Randolph Leibensperger and Harvey Merkel. Each vice-chair had 5 team captains, and each captain had 5 team workers. The total team equaled 187 volunteers to make contact with the congregation. Pastor Bittner remarked, "This is the greatest endeavor we have undertaken in our 200 years; we must not, we dare not, we will not fail."
More than $160,000 was raised and the groundbreaking took place on Easter day, 1953. The cornerstone was laid in August of 1953. The guest speaker for the day was Pastor L. Fetter who remarked, "Some of us are face stones, others back up those face stones; some are in the foundation; others in the belfry. Let each of us be the best stone possible." The cornerstone contained 17 articles, including a bible, hymnal, a Lutheran catechism and other historical records.
The new church was completed, and dedicated on Palm Sunday in 1957. The service was attended by many local dignitaries, as well as various Pastors from Berks County and Philadelphia. Twenty five students were confirmed and the choir, directed by Kathryn Druckenmiller, sang. A concert to dedicate the new organ was presented by Maestro Giuseppe Moschetti, music director at St. John's Lutheran Allentown, the following week. The new church was the culmination of countless hours by construction crews, as well as dedicated church member volunteers.
Since that exciting time, St. John's has continued to grow and minister to the Kutztown community and the world. The church opened a pre-school in 1965 and a day-care center in 1988, which still provides excellent daycare and latch key programs for local children today. St. John's has also sponsored a Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop for more than 60 years. And, our facility is used by many local organizations as well as those from Kutztown University.
St. John's has had many pastors over the years who have lead the congregation forward to grow and serve the community - from Rev. Knoske, Rev. Cressman, Rev. Bittner, Rev. Deisinger, Rev. Ritter, Rev. Wenzel, and now to our new minister, Rev. MaryAnn Hamm who joined us in October 2014. It is with excitement we look to the future and what this next generation will accomplish.
As in the past, so now in the present, St. John's is a forward-looking and forward-thinking congregation. God holds the future, and us, in his hands. What he will make of us is still to be determined, but our history teaches us this much, "God works for good with those who love him" (Romans 8:28).