History

From humble beginnings, St. John’s church grew rapidly into one of the largest of churches in Albany. Today, changes in society and the neighborhood challenge us to reach beyond the walls of our lovely sanctuary and to witness again to the love of God in Jesus.

March 12, 1857 – Thirty-two members leave St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to establish St. John’s. The first service is held at the old City Mission. Worship is in the German language.

January 25,1859 – The cornerstone is laid for a church building on “The Bowery,” now Central Ave. A Sunday School of 60 persons is organized, and a parochial school enrolls 16.

1873 – The Cemetery on Sand Creek Road is purchased and the chapel built. A second Sunday School is begun there also in 1874.

1879 – A fire severely damages the church building.

May 30, 1886 – The congregation dedicates the present church building to accommodate a growing congregation. The old church is moved to the back of the lot to be a parish hall.

1887-95 – The Chapel is enlarged, with a 2-ton bell hung in the steeple. Monthly services in English are held there.

1895– St. John’s purchased a parsonage at 393 Washington Ave.

1920 – The present pipe organ is installed at a cost of $17,000.

1924-46 – Under Pastor Posselt the congregation thrives. A newsletter and Sunday bulletins are introduced, extensive renovations completed, and an English Service started on Sunday mornings.

1947-1962 – Pastor Gaenzle’s ministry emphasizes evangelism. Over 600 new members are won, and attendance reaches 700. But an exodus to the suburbs has begun and by 1957 less than half the members live locally. The last German service is held in 1949.

1962-1973 – Under the Rev. Alvin Butz, St. John’s renovates the sanctuary extensively, builds the new education unit and courtyard. Summer courtyard services are introduced. The exodus to the suburbs continues.

1974-1992 – The Rev. John Huenniger’s ministry emphasizes youth work. George Kenyon and Mark Ridley serve on the pastoral staff, and Dorothy Carlson is Lay Assistant. But attendances are declining and the congregation is aging.

1993-1999 – The Rev. Hugo Schroeder assumes the pastorate of St. John’s. Chapel services are resumed, and the congregation begins a long range study to determine its direction for the future. The Outreach Ministry with neighboring parishes grows.

September 1999 – The Rev. Paul Rees-Rohrbacher became the thirteenth pastor of St. John’s.

2000 – The Outreach program changes some focus in the neighborhood and its name is now Center City Parish Social Ministry.

2014 – St. John’s begins a period of transition.  Pastor Jo Page is our Intentional Interim Pastor.

September 2016 – St. John’s congregation elects to sell our beloved Central Avenue church building and relocate services to the chapel in early 2017.