[Text provided by the evangelisch-lutherisch Kirchgemeinde Lübtheen]
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in 1849 in Grove City, Ohio, by German immigrants. The brick church is the oldest in the city, and until the mid-20th century, services were still conducted in German. Remnants of this German heritage can still be seen: we sing some of the same hymns in the mother tongue. Oktoberfest is celebrated every year in Grove City. More about our partner church in Ohio can be found at www.stjohnsgc.org.
The first church in Lübtheen was built as a half-timbered church in 1689 and was replaced with a larger structure in 1820. The church serves as the town’s center and has become a landmark.
Our church partnership has existed since November 1991. Since then, there have been encounters both large and small on both continents. Participants in three separate groups from Lübtheen were named honorary citizens of Grove City. We are connected above all else by our belief in Jesus Christ, the son of God. Our partnership is sustained by personal connections. And if we don’t see each other for a while, it’s as if no time has passed at all when we finally catch up!
Since 1990, the Mecklenburg Synod and the Southern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have been partners.
November 1991: Pastor George Hartmann and Olga Hesch of Grove City come to visit. Hartmann and Pastor Halpick of Lübtheen sign the partnership agreement.
July 22 – August 19, 1992: Nine youths from Lübtheen get acquainted with their counterparts in Ohio, travel to Niagara Falls and Washington, and become honorary citizens of Grove City.
July 20 – August 9, 1993: The Whyte family of Grove City visits and experiences two full weeks in the land of Martin Luther, with a side trip to Poland to discover their family roots.
September 23 – October 12, 1994: M. Peiser and E. Sokoliess renew acquaintanceships in Ohio.
June 30 – July 3, 1995: The Yeater family makes a quick visit to Lübtheen during their European road trip in a rented VW bus.
July 16 – 31, 1995: Chad Whyte visits Lübtheen for a second time. He learns how to ride a bike and visits with residents in Heide Park.
August 1995: A group of 28 Americans leave their mark in Lübtheen. (They could only come into the bookstore in small groups because it was too small!) They also travel around Germany and Europe. A reception with Mayor Beuth of Lübtheen is on the agenda. They are hosted by locals. The communities get to know each other.
July 1996: A group of 19 Lübtheeners travels to Grove City and also makes a detour to Washington and Niagara Falls.
August 1996: The Sokoliess family is greeted with warm hospitality by their hosts in Grove City.
1996: R. Wehrhoff travels alone to friends from St. John’s, who then accompany her further on her trip west until Denver.
July 2 – 31, 2000: The Busackers become acquainted with everyday American family life and vacation Bible school.
April 2003: T. Sokoliess celebrates Easter with the St. John’s community. Old contacts are renewed and new ones established.
June 16 – 19 2004: Bishop Holloway of Ohio leads a youth group on a trip through Germany. Guests are also accommodated in Lübtheen. The regional church community holds a BBQ on the final night of their stay.
April 2006: T. Sokoliess makes time for a short visit to Grove City during a business trip to Ohio.
May 2006: R. Wehrhoff and daughter C. Becker visit friends in the United States, as well as Grove City and New York.
May 26 – June 2, 2006: Pastor D. Allman goes on sabbatical, during which he busies himself with Martin Luther’s works and travels with his wife Glenda for 17 days to the land of the Reformer. One week visit to the partner church in Lübtheen.
July 8 – 22, 2011: A group of 19 celebrates the 20th anniversary of the partnership with a trip to Ohio. Due to bad weather, they have two unplanned days in New York. They are welcomed by local families in Grove City when they arrive and also travel to Niagara Falls and Washington. The participants are named honorary citizens of Grove City.