St. John is one of Ottawa’s oldest Lutheran Churches. Founded in 1895, we have welcomed all members of the Ottawa and surrounding communities for 115 years.
When St. John first became a German Lutheran congregation, serving mostly newcomers to Canada, the church sat in the middle of farmer’s fields. Now it’s surrounded by family homes and condos, in a thriving community close to Ottawa’s downtown. The face of the church has changed with it: its members now speak more than a dozen languages, and have roots around the world.
The church continues to open its door to its neighbors: welcoming a community playgroup and lively Christmas party, providing a home to the MacDonald Cartier Academy, and this year, offering space for a new local youth choir with a focus on global music. The church also serves its community – providing year-round support to the Partage Vanier food bank, visitation and a Christmas morning service at the Garry J. Armstrong Center for seniors, as well as ecumenical and inter-faith activities.
St John has also looked beyond Canada for places to help. In the last eight years, the church has sponsored four refugees from Liberia, a large and costly commitment for a congregation of about 140 people. And it has raised the money to build a well providing public access in a neighborhood in Liberia where water is chronically short. This kind of global focus teaches our youth an important lesson about being citizens of the world. They’ve learned that their work here, whether it’s handling the cash at the garage sale, making Christmas cards, or selling herbs on Mother’s Day, can make big differences in the lives of others.
For the last few years, the youth at church have been using the proceeds from selling donated items at New Edinburgh’s garage sale to buy school kits – the supplies are then purchased and assembled into kits on Sunday morning. This year was no different, with the young people kicking off their fundraising efforts at the garage sale. The project is expected to take the entire year and many Sunday mornings – to say nothing of thousands of pencils and notebooks. Their work requires the success of wider partnerships, including an agreement between CLWR and Home Hardware, which covers the cost of shipping the supplies to a central location in Canada, and an arrangement with the Canadian government to help with overseas shipping.
“We wanted a project that everyone at church could get enthusiastic about,” says Bob Pierce, chair of church council. “And it had to be work that would fit with our mandate – to be In Mission For Others.”
But, work aside, what would an anniversary be without a party? This October, in true German tradition, St. John is also hosting an Oktoberfest celebration open to the community, complete with a traditional band that promises to get everyone doing the chicken dance.