St. John’s Grace United Church of Christ is a thriving, growing congregation that seeks to welcome all people and practice the radical hospitality that Jesus embodied. We are a congregation of growing diversity and we celebrate the gifts and contributions of every person God brings to our community.
We are a congregation of the United Church of Christ, a historic protestant denomination that has its roots in the New England Congregationalism as well as the Evangelical Lutheran traditions of (mainly) German immigrants. It was a group of those German immigrants who began a worshiping community in 1867 that eventually became St. John’s Grace– this past Spring we celebrated 150 years of ministry in the Baltimore community!
Those German families who originally founded St. John’s Grace have done a wonderful job of welcoming families and individuals from every walk of life, every age, many different ethnicities, political views, religious perspectives and sexualities. We may not all agree, but we celebrate and welcome every person to Christ’s Table.
Click here to view our most recent 2021 Annual Report about what’s been happening at St. John’s Grace!
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The St. John’s Heritage
On March 9, 1867, a small group of Baltimoreans of German descent started a German Protestant congregation in what is now southwest Baltimore. The name of the original congregation was Die Deutscher Evangelisch Lutherische St. Johannes Gemeinde. The church building was erected the following year at Catherine and Lombard Streets. The congregation remained there, eventually with a complex of three buildings, until the summer of 1960 when they moved to our present Catonsville location. The members held worship services in the Overhills Mansion, acquired with the property, until our present colonial church complex was dedicated in 1967 – the 100th Anniversary year.
In our 148 year history, there have been 15 pastors and a number of name changes as our denomination merged with others. In 1922, we joined the Evangelical Synod of North America to become “Evangelical Lutheran”. We then joined the Reformed Church to become “Evangelical and Reformed” in 1934. We became part of the United Church of Christ in 1957 through the merger of the “E&R” with the Congregational Christian Church. These affiliations were all accomplished through a majority vote within our congregation. Congregations in the UCC are affiliated-independent entities which is compatible with our heritage.
St. John’s in its first century was known as the “Butcher” Church because many members were in the meat industry. Also, the church was often called the “Rooster” Church because a gold plated rooster weathervane graced the steeple of the original church. The weathervane was taken to the Rolling Road location and now is installed on the present steeple. The rooster’s significance comes from German Lutheran tradition, a reminder of Peter’s denial of Christ on Maundy Thursday.
Evangelical, a term appearing in our name and/or doctrine over the years, is implicit in this congregation’s actions in that it means “proclaiming the good news of Christ’s love.” St. John’s strives to be a dynamic congregation with many points of active community involvement, actively proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s love as we follow our motto of many years, Go Right On Working.
Facilities at St. John’s
The St. John’s campus is located on 28+ beautiful acres in the Baltimore suburban area. The many facilities on the property are constantly in use by the congregation, as well as the general public. The church consists of the sanctuary, narthex, parlour, offices, Sunday School classrooms, and Fellowship Hall, complete with kitchen and stage. Meditation Gardens is a quiet outdoor location for reflection and prayer, and Overhills Mansion (circa 1897) includes offices and catered banquet facilities for special events. A large modern playground is used by members, visitors and community organizations. Located nearby is Brightview Assisted Living of Catonsville, Brightview RollingHills, and the Y of Central Maryland.
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