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St. John's Lutheran Church

Detroit, Michigan

The first worship service was held in 1913 by Pastor J. Wargelin, who is now president of our Synod. The congregation was organized May 13, 1914, and officially joined the Suomi Synod in 1917. During these early years, our congregation was served by Pastor Lauri R. Ahlman from 1917-1921. The first congregation-owned building came into use in January, 1923, and was situated at Indiandale and Montville Place.

Impetus for building this church was given by the Young People's Society, "Kristillinen nuorisoseura", under the inspired leadership of Pastor Salomon Ilmonen, who served our congregation from 1922-1926. Our Luther League today is a counterpart of this group. Both pastors have since passed to their eternal reward. The succeeding pastor, Emil J. Paananen and his wife are deeply respected for their great work. It was during their lengthy and worthy stay that many of the deep traditions and loyalties of our church was established. During his ministry our present beautiful edifice was erected and ready for use in September, 1929. Festive dedicatory services were held November 24, 1929. For a period of seven years the airwaves were diligently used by our church for the advance of the Word of God. This was a bilingual program directed by Pastor Paananen. The church is situated at the corner of Fourteenth and Buena Vista Avenue, Detroit, and has a nine-room connecting parsonage.

Pastor Paananen was called to another congregation in 1947. He was succeeded by Pastor F. W. Kaskinen, who with his family, served at St. John's from 1947 until the latter part of 1949 when he was called to a parish in Astoria, Oregon. The work of the church continued to progress and special advance in Christian stewardship was noted.

The present Pastor M. K. Sallmen and family came to St. John's from Cleveland in November of 1949. The activities of our church are manifold. Special periods of spiritual emphasis in the form of evangelistic services are fostered. Special speakers have included Pastor E. J. Isaac of Minneapolis. Pastor A. Grimstad of Minnesota and Dean Urho Muroma of the leading Bible Institute of Finland. Among our young men who are preparing for the ministry are Marvin Pekkala, Robert Richardson, Fred Vanhala and Donald Koponen. One of these men plans to enter the Japanese mission field. One of our men has served for at least ten years in Canada, Pastor Alex Koski. During the work our congregation, God has blessed us with real seasons of revival and as in the Apostolic Times - "The Lord added to the church those that were saved." - Acts 2:47.

The church chorus has become well known under the able leadership of Mr. Herbert Stierna, Director of Music. Four concerts are given each season; one of which this year commemorated Detroit's 250th birthday anniversary. Other established musical groups include special quartettes, trios, Luther League choir Children's choir, Sisterhood and Brotherhood choirs. Soloists or group songs are always an integral part of our worship services.

Additional organizations participating in church activities are: Sunday School work which has been carried on uninterruptedly since 1917. Mrs. Herbert Stierna is the director and Mrs. Eino Lukkari assistant, with a staff of some 30 teachers. The youth work of the church is under the direction of the pastor and present parish worker, Miss H. Taipale. The Brotherhood president is Reuben Kyro and Mrs. Toivo Huurto president of the Sisterhood. The Finnish Ladies Aid work has developed into a Tuesday evening devotional service. Other activities include mission work, Mrs. Allan Wehvilainen is contact woman; the Diaconate which coordinates and guides the activities of the various charity committees. The most recent organization in the church is Troop 517 of the Detroit Area Boy Scouts of America; Mrs. Lilja is Scoutmaster and Mr. W. Niemisto is Troop Committeeman.

At the head of these organizations is the Church Board with its integral committees. This group includes such able and experienced workers as Mr. Eric Ludin, Mrs. Emil Sihtala, Mrs. Werner Huurto of longer standing. The present vice-chairman is Mr. Toivo Huurto. Other members of the Board are: Mrs. A. Kivi, Messrs. Olaf Saarinen, Alfred Pekkala, Robert Leppala, Matt Kristo, Toivo Rantala, and Arthur Jacobson.

Published in Finnish album to commemorate Detroit's 250th birthday. Detroit, Michigan 1951, p. 16-17.

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