historic lutheran church | Background

St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1429 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown, will be the site of an interfaith Christmas Eve service at 8 p.m. with a “Christ Mass.” The traditional Christmas Eve candlelight festival will include the Eucharist. A reception will be at 7:30.

History: Slovak immigrants founded the church in 1903. They worked along with construction workers to build the church designed by Kling and Zink, a German architectural firm in Youngstown. The church is detailed in poplar and oak and its ceiling features a post-and-beam construction with wooden dowels, not nails. The church, Colonial Hall and rectory were historically preserved in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the church, and restored to the original 1903 design.

Features: The church’s Christ statue is by the Swedish sculptor Thorwaldson. The high altar is detailed with carved Gothic tracery in oak as is the altar table, pulpit and lectern. The pipe organ, which was installed during the 1930s, was built by Kimball Organ Co. of Chicago.

Side altar: Devotional candles illuminate the side altar that is dedicated to the old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, which was next to Stambaugh Auditorium, and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Austintown. A cross from St. Andrew’s and candlesticks from St. Paul’s are among the artifacts.

Academy: The church sponsors the St. John Academy for Theological Study, which provides participants with higher level study of Christianity. Teaching associates are the Rev. D. Gary Schreckengost, pastor of St. John’s; the Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee, pastor of Third Baptist Church; and the Revs. John Wigle and Stephen Pressey, retired Episcopal priests. Students come from all denominations. For information, call the church at 330-792-7462.

Ecumenical parish: St. John’s is known as an “ecumenical parish church” because it has welcomed clergy associates from Orthodox, Catholic and Episcopal-Anglican traditions. It also has shared worship and study with members and clergy from St. Columba Cathedral and St. Brendan Church. It is a “high church parish” noted for its excellence in liturgical worship.