St. John Lutheran Church History

In the early years of the 20th century, many Libby families were of German ancestry and were professing Lutherans. It was only natural they would band together, and on Aug. 10 1909, the first worship service was led by the Rev. Emil Ziegler of Kalispell. That service and others subsequently were initially held at the Presbyterian Church. Fifteen people attended that first church service. 

Paul E. Rohlfing was ordained on Sept. 1. 1913, and he was installed as the first resident pastor of St. John Lutheran Church. This service was held at the First Methodist Church, located at Eighth Street and Montana Avenue. 

On March 3, 1913, the congregation was officially organized by the Rev. Rohlfing with seven members signing the church's newly adopted constitution. Church services were conducted in both English and German until 1918 when the German services were dropped in compliance with a request from the Montana State Council of Defense. 

The first sanctuary for the St. John Lutheran congregation was built in 1924, just south and across the street from the parsonage. In 1925, the congregation joined what was then known as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod with offices and a seminary in St. Louis, Mo. 

St. John built its present sanctuary located at 1017 Montana Ave. in 1951, and it was dedicated Sunday, Feb. 17, 1952. The first unit of St. John Lutheran School, consisted of four classrooms was built and dedicated in 1956, and in 1957 a gymnasium was added. 

Through years of economic downturn in Libby, the school was eventually closed and the building and grounds were sold in 2005 to the Kootenai Valley Christian School. During the best of times in Libby, the congregation had grown to 873 baptized members and 447 communicant members. Nowadays, the congregation has 143 members, most of whom regularly attend. 

Throughout the years, St. John has had 19 pastors, from the earliest days of the Revs. Ziegler and Rohlfing to Rev. Steven Thomas - our current pastor - who has served St. John and it congregants since 2011. 

For more information on St. John Lutheran Church attend 10:30 am Sunday worship, ask an usher, talk to pastor or call the church office at 406-293-4024 weekdays from 9am until 1pm.
St. John Congregation has been serviced by the following pastors:

Emil Zielgler, 1909-1912
Paul E. Rohlfing, 1912-1919
Otto Hoffman, 1919-1928
Herbert L. Pfotenhauer, 1928-1942
Heubert L. Haaskamp, 1942--1946
Arthur O. Werfelmann, 1947-1969
Theodore Dorpat, Spokane, Wa., vacancy pastor
Ervin Prange, 1970-1971
Gerhard F. Kempff, 1971-1977
Fred Riedel, Spokane, Wa., vacancy pastor
John Rasmussen, 1978-1982
Darold A Reiner, Kalispell, Mt., vacancy pastor
Michael L. Flannery, 1983-1988
Wayne J. Berkoben, Eureka, Mt., vacancy pastor
Howard D. Schreibeis, 1989-1995
James D. Wilson, Eureka, Mt., vacancy pastor
Eric M. Christiansen, 1996-2010
Rev. C. Tabbert, Vacancy Pastor, 2010-2011
2011 - current Pastor Steven Thomas

Over these many years we have also served by many vicars, including: Robert Weinhold, Alfred Saeger, Eugene Juergensen, George Mock, Albert G. Pullman, Louis Reith,Thomas Hepting, Clarence Marquardt, John Mornes, Charles Geischen (married Kristi Kienas 1985). Greg Williamson, Allen Vornhof, Douglas Breite, Matthew Payne, Eric Zachastias, and Troy Scroggins.