Our Congregation's History
St. John's Lutheran Church has been a member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod since it was formally organized in 1916. At that time, the membership of the congregation was largely made up of Volga Germans who had immigrated to the United State from Russia just prior to the first World Was. In 1908, various farming families who had moved to the Lovell area as part of the effort to establish a sugar factory asked if Rev. Rauh, a Lutheran missionary stationed in Billings, Mt, would visit them. In the fall of that year, he rode the train to Lovell and organized several worship services. When Rev. Rauh learned that there was a Lutheran pastor in Germainia (Zion and Emblem) he contacted Rev. Germeroth and gave the work in Lovell to him.
For the next eight years, Rev. Germeroth traveled by horse and buggy 30 miles to conduct services in Lovell. Several attempts were made to form a congregation, each attempt was delayed by the constant movement of Lutherans to and from the Lovell area. Finally, Rev. Germeroth was assigned help in the form of a seminary student, Vicar Mahler. While Vicar Mahler was present, the congregation was formally organized as St. John's Lutheran Church and a building was erected.
In 1918, a St. Louis Seminary graduate, Rev. Louis Spitz, was assigned to serve as St. John's first pastor. He started a Lutheran School and served as its teacher. His schedule was the following: he conducted services at St. John's; then, he conducted services at the preaching stations in Powell and Cody where he stayed overnight; but the next day, he returned to Lovell and taught classes at the Lutheran Elementary School Tuesday through Saturday. On Sunday, he began the process over again. Rev. Spitz served three years at St. John's before taking a call to serve a congregation in Nebraska. After Rev. Spitz, twelve men were called to serve as Pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church, including the present Pastor, Rev. Jacob Benson.
The Lutheran School closed in 1941 due to a shortage of teachers during World War I, but the work of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ continued. By the 1940's, it was apparent that a larger sanctuary was needed. In 1948, a new sanctuary was built on the corner of 5th Street and Montana Avenue. A parsonage was built next door several years later and the present Parish Hall was added in 1966.
The Spirit of Christ has been very active in St. John's Lutheran Church. The records show that many hundreds of children and adults were baptized and confirmed into the family of God. Through St. John's, God continues to reach out with forgiveness, hope, and salvation in Christ Jesus both to the community, and, through its membership in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, to the world.