St. John Lutheran Church was chartered in 1922 with 20 members who lived in the Sunset Harbor area, For its first five years, services were held in the home of the Reitz family. The original church building was dedicated in 1927 and a social hall was added in 1956.
The 1960’s were difficult times with both attendance and funds down, so in 1966 the church sought help from the Synod which sent the Rev. Fred Benson to serve St. John as well as St. Matthew in Ocala. When Rev. Bensen became full time at St. Matthew in 1972, the church again was served by supply pastors and lay ministers until 1984 when the Rev. Hugh Mozingo was called as the first full-time pastor. The church existed for 62 years without a full-time pastor!
Rev. Mozingo left in November 2000 and was replaced by interim pastor, Fred Vonderlage who served until Rev. Dave Connell was called, ordained, and installed in September 2002.
During Pastor Mozingo’s tenure, Esther Andersen bequeathed her home and property on Lake Weir to the church. After her death in 1992, her home became the parsonage, and in 1996, construction of a new church was begun on the property. The church was dedicated in May, 1997, and the 75th anniversary of the church was celebrated in November of that year. Two Sunday worship services began in 1999. The Broadcaster newsletter began in 1991, Shepherd callers were organized in 1997, and Boy Scout Troop 369 was first sponsored in 1998.
Programs and missions added in recent years include pastor-led weekly Bible studies; healing and support sessions; support of the Pastors Ekka and their India mission and other missionaries; a mission church in Wildwood; a family service on Sundays at 9:45, with traditional worship at 8 and 11 a.m.; and a long-awaited Memorial Garden on the property.
In 2007, the church’s 85th year, an associate pastor, Rev. Ashley Nicolls, was called and installed. Both pastors do much visitation of hospitalized and homebound members. Other recent programs include the Bear ministry and the youth God Squad which meets weekly in the early evening. Both women and men have organized social and service ministries.
St. John Lutheran Church is an active, growing, caring community of almost 500 members. We live our mission statement: Live the Word! Proclaim Christ! Fill the Need!