On August 29, 1955, eight families of the Springfield-Franconia area in Virginia petitioned the Mission Board of the Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to initiate a program to make possible the establishment of a church in the Springfield area. The name "Franconia-Springfield Lutheran Church" was used. The Washington area Lutheran Committee allotted the Franconia area for the group to serve.
Chaplain Ottomar Tietjen, stationed at the Pentagon at the time and living in Springfield, agreed to serve as temporary pastor. The young congregation obtained permission to use the auditorium/cafeteria of the Franconia Elementary School on Franconia Road for service. The first worship service was held on January 15, 1956, with 52 people in attendance. The Sunday School met for the first time the following Sunday, January 22, with 17 children in four classes.
The congregation was officially organized on October 13, 1956. The official name, "St. John's Lutheran Church" was formally adopted along with the congregational constitution.
Dr. Martin E. Marty drew our church sigil in April 1958, taking the theme from John's Gospel, "these things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and believing, you might have life in His name" (John 20:31).
Following Chaplain Tietjen, who served the congregation as temporary pastor until September 1957, was Rev. Paul A. Meyer. He was installed in September 1957 as our first pastor, serving until 1968. Rev. Edward Bobb served as St. John's pastor from 1969-1976. Rev. James Roseman became our pastor in July 1977, serving until he retired in 1995. Rev. John S. Meehan served first as our Associate Pastor from 1988-1995, then was installed as our Senior Pastor in January 1996 and is still serving our congregation. Rev. Bernard F. Nass served the congregation as Associate Pastor for almost ten years prior to his retirement in 2006, and Rev. Braun Campbell then served as our Associate Pastor from 2006-2020.
Our current Fellowship Hall (the first Sanctuary) was built in 1959 and served as our house of worship until our current Sanctuary was built in 1966. As our congregation grew, so did our need for additional facilities. In 1988, the Parish Center was built to provide additional space for our expanding ministries. In the years ahead, we plan to develop our existing campus as we continue to serve as a Lutheran ministry outpost in the Springfield-Franconia area.
Since its beginning, St. John's ministry has included outreach programs to the community and provided for the needs of our congregation as well. We have partnered with some of our sister congregations to reach out in Word and Sacrament ministry to the Spanish-speaking community around us. We have also opened our doors to an Ethiopian Lutheran congregation to provide them a place for worship and Bible study.
We give thanks to God and pray for His continued blessings to the congregation of St. John's Lutheran Church as under God's grace we celebrate the past and prepare for the future!
Brief History of St. John’s Lutheran Church
1955 – Eight families petition Southeastern District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
to establish a congregation in the Springfield, VA area
1956 – First service held in Franconia Elementary School in January, and congregation
officially organized as St. John’s Lutheran Church in October
1957 – Call for Pastor Paul Meyer, and land purchased on Franconia Road
1959 – Congregation moves into first building (now the Fellowship Hall)
1967 – Current Sanctuary dedicated
1968 – Pastor Meyer leaves
1969 – Call for new pastor, Rev. Edward Bobb
1977 – Pastor Bobb resigns and call extended to Rev. James Roseman
1979 - St. John's became the Chartering Organization for Boy Scout (BSA) Troop 1107
1982 – Susan Gobien begins as Director of Music
1983 – St. John's Day Care Center established
1984 – Established second Sunday worship service
1986 – Call for an Associate Pastor issued to Rev. John Meehan
1988 – Installed Rev. John Meehan as Associate Pastor; dedicated new Parish Center
1992 - St. John's became the Chartering Organization for Boy Scout (BSA) Pack 867
1994 – Established contemporary service on Saturday evenings
1995 – Pastor Roseman retires, and Pastor Meehan called as Senior Pastor
1997 – Rev. Bernard (Ben) Nass accepts call and is installed as Associate Pastor
– Burned mortgage for Sanctuary, remodeled/upgraded kitchen, and finished basement of Parish Center to serve as the St. John's Lutheran Early Childhood Education Center (formerly the Day Care Center) and as Sunday School classrooms
– Established English as a Second Language program in partnership with Franconia area churches
– Called DCE Jennifer Hills as Director of Youth & Christian Education
– Pastor Nass retires and becomes Pastor Emeritus
– Called Rev. Braun Campbell as Associate Pastor
– Purchased adjoining "Westside" property for future development
– Rev. Pedro Lopez called to serve as Associate Pastor for Hispanic Mission Developer in covenant partnership with Prince of Peace Lutheran Church-Springfield and Grace Lutheran Church-Woodbridge
– Welcomed Shalom Evangelical Ethiopian Lutheran Mission (SEELM) as a hosted congregation at St. John's
– Celebrated chartering of Iglesia Luterana Nueva Vida mission plant, with Pastor Lopez installed as pastor of the new congregation
– Rev. Mitiku Z. Woldegeberal issued administrative call as Associate Pastor for Ethiopian Ministry to complete his LCMS colloquy process and to encourage SEELM's work in our community
– Shalom Ethiopian Evangelical Lutheran Church chartered as a separate congregation with a call extended to pastor Mitiku
– Suspension of in-person worship in mid-March due to COVID-19 pandemic, and the start of online worship services as well as online Bible classes and meetings
– Pastor Braun Campbell, St. John’s associate pastor, departs in July to accept a call as Senior Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Belvidere, Illinois
– Search process for a new Director of Music begins with Susan Gobien’s announcement of her retirement
– Susan Gobien’ retirement date: April 17