Then Samuel took a stone and set it up…, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” – 1 Samuel 7:12
Ebenezer Lutheran Church had a humble beginning. German immigrants who had settled in this area west of St. Louis felt the need for a church in the community – a church close to home so they could attend regularly and be active participants. They wanted the blessings of God in their daily lives as their community grew.
On September 1, 1846, a congregation was formed. It was called The Evangelical Lutheran Protestant Church at Johannesburg. They met in a log house on what would later become the property of Harvey and Esther Hoemann. That log building is still standing; the banner at the top of this site’s pages shows a close-up of the beams in one of its walls.
Our church was reorganized and renamed Ebenezer in 1849. A log church was built on our church’s present site. The log church served until a frame church was built in 1863. In 1868, our congregation joined with the synod founded by their Saxon brethren of Perry County in 1847, which is now known as the Missouri Synod.
In 1896, as part of the congregation’s 50th anniversary, the present brick building was constructed at a cost of $3,073. This church building, which has undergone many renovations and additions over the years, has served us since.
On December 30, 1968, the church experienced a destructive fire caused by lightning. The fire started in the pipe organ console, causing damage to the choir loft, church ceiling and furnishings. A re-dedication of the repaired church building, new organ and furnishings was held April 20, 1970.
The teaching of God’s Word and Lutheran doctrine has been an important part of our church’s history. A school was founded and maintained for 106 years until its closing in 1952. Today the tradition of education continues in the form of Sunday School, confirmation classes, Bible studies and Vacation Bible School.
As part of the Great Commission, community outreach has deep roots in our church. Our members have served God by serving their neighbors. Ebenezer’s organizations, including the Ladies Aid, Men’s Club, Altar Guild and Choir, work locally and in conjunction with worldwide missions. We sponsor an annual picnic the second Sunday in June and a sausage dinner the fourth Sunday in October. Our 40-acre campus serves as a site for community gatherings, and is a favorite venue for walkers who want to excercise and take in the splendor of God’s creation.
With the basic doctrine and ethics acquired at Ebenezer, many of our members have served in state and county government. Our members and their descendants have served our nation in many other capacities as well. The “Rock of Ebenezer” has been a foundation stone for people now spread across this country.
By placing the great stone near the entrance to the church, the congregation wished to always remember that God is our “Stone of Help.” This church has flourished for more than 160 years by the Grace of God. From its founding in the wilderness to the challenges of adapting to the change from a rural church to a suburban church, God has graced us with His presence. He has gathered our hopes, our dreams and our prayers, and He will allow us to surmount whatever challenges occur in the future.
Hitherto hath the LORD helped us. Amen!