ST. JOHN’S HISTORY
In 1847, a group of German immigrants got together to plan the formation of a church in the city of Newport. Back in these times, German immigrants had to travel to Cincinnati to attend church and it was rather difficult to do so and the people felt their children were not receiving the proper instruction in faith. On May 1, 1847, the group came together and bought some land in Newport on Dayton Street between 6th and 7th street. With the purchase of this land, the group was able to start their own church to attend. Along with the creation of this church, the members planned for a school for the children to attend since there was no public school at the time.
In 1857, the church was growing in size and could not hold the number of people in their current space. After much debate, on March 14, 1858 a lot was purchased at Columbia and Mayo Streets (now 7th street) to build a new two story church building. With this expansion there would be more room for the services, the Pastor, and the schools the children attended. The new church was dedicated on January 30, 1859 as the Congregation marched from their previous location to their new one.
As time progressed several events took place in the life of the church. The Sunday school was organized in March of 1861, in 1863 the day school was flourishing with 200 students attending, in 1864 the Ladies Aid Society was formed with 45 members, and records of the St. John’s Choir appeared in 1880. In 1873, the public school system was introduced and this was the end of the day school for the church.
The church continued to meet and expand as time went by. New ministers came in bringing new life to the church, renovations took place to help out the Sunday School and Minister, and a new pipe organ was installed for our music ministry. In April of 1894 the beautiful art glass windows that still stand today in our church came to be thanks to Rev. Ernst. Later on, in 1915 Rev. Reikow created our monthly “Visitor,” a monthly news source for the church that is still published today.
In 1937, the current minister, Rev. Barkhau, began the Christmas Eve service that St. John’s still performs today. People from all over the area would come to St. John’s to attend this special service. It was the first Christmas Eve service held by a Protestant Church south of the Ohio River.
On January 10, 1939, the church caught fire and burned beyond use. After several offers, the church decided to use the auditorium at Newport High School for meeting space during this difficult time. Services and Sunday School continued there for a little over two years until the new church was complete.
It was decided that the land at Park Avenue and Nelson Place would be bought for the creation of a new church building since the previous site had no room for expansion. As the church building came to be some items from the previous building were saved and are still seen today in the church. Some of these item include: the tower bell, the pews in the balcony, baptismal font, the cross and candlesticks on the alter, the alter in the chapel, and the stain glass picture of Jesus knocking at the door with no handle from the outside. The stain glass is important to the church because it reminds us that we have to let Jesus in from the inside.
In 1947, St. John’s celebrated our 100th anniversary. There were Priests and ministers from a variety of denominations in Newport and Cincinnati that attended the celebration. There was an ecumenical service, which was unusual for these times, but exemplifies St. John’s philosophy which carries on today.
On March 6, 1950, the ground breaking took place for the Children’s education building. Following this, on April 24th, 1960 the Administration Building broke ground which was to replace the old Nelson home.
In 1957, St. John’s celebrated its 110th anniversary but along with this they voted to join the United Church of Christ denomination which is where we get the name St. John’s United Church of Christ which still stands today.
St. John’s worked to get their message out to the community. In 1960, St. John’s 10:45 Easter service was televised live and was the first time a Protestant Church in the area televised a church service. Our radio ministry began on October 17, 1971. Finally the videotaping of our worship services for airing on cable T.V. began in December of 1982.
St. John’s is proud of the history we have had over the years. We continue to work on and shape our future by helping our members and those in the community. To find out more about our history we invite you to visit the church archives located inside the church.