St. John’s Lutheran Church was founded in 1903, with the first building completed in 1906 at the corner of Prairie and Linden. St. John’s continued at this location until 1923, when a new church building was dedicated at the corner of Park and Wilmette Avenue, where the congregation worships to this day.
For many years, services were conducted in both English and German. This continued until the 1940s when turnover in the local population led to dwindling attendance at the German service. After World War II, membership at the church expanded along with educational and social activities. In 1951, a new parish house was constructed that included a lower level filled with classrooms and meeting rooms and an upper-level gymnasium. The current tower was also completed.
In 1976, St. John’s voted to leave the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and join the newly formed Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC). In 1987, the AELC merged with two other Lutheran denominations to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). As a member of the ELCA, St. John’s continues to share in the work of the larger denomination to support local, national, and global ministries, including Lutheran Disaster Response, the ELCA Malaria Campaign, and ELCA World Hunger.
In the 1980s, community and global outreach grew substantially at St. John’s. New ministries included the sewing of quilts for Lutheran World Relief, the CROP walk, Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry (supporting The Night Ministry of Chicago), Family Promise, Habitat for Humanity, Holy Family Ministries, and many others. In 1990, the beautiful Bradford Organ was dedicated, and in 2000, a handicap-accessible entryway was constructed to make the building fully accessible. In 2017, a major renovation transformed the old gymnasium into a beautiful new Fellowship Hall and created new meeting spaces for our numerous ministry partners.
St. John's is proud to continue our long history of mission and ministry in Wilmette by continuing to serve those who are hungry in body and spirit and by welcoming all people to community in Christ.