A small group of German Protestants settled in West Covington in the 1870s and 1880's. Many of them attended religious services at St. Paul German
Evangelical Church on Banklick Street in Covington. On May 1, 1892,
16 of these German Protestants held a meeting and organized St. John
German Evangelical Protestant Church. Most of these early West Covington
German pioneers were from Thuringia and Saxony near the cities of Dresden
and Leipzig. The original members of St. John Church included the following:
Christian Schwindt, George Bluemlein, August Miller, August Barkhau,
Conrad Dietz, Andrew Winter, Henry Bremenkamp, Philip Zoble, Peter Freimuth,
Chris Barkhau, Fred Barkhau, Frederick Steinhoff, Henry Hischemiller,
Adolph Hugentobler, Gottlieb Moser and William Kurtuum.
The new congregation quickly purchased a parcel of land on Highway Avenue
and work on constructing a new church was begun. The cornerstone was
officially set into place on October 2, 1892. The first services in
the new one-story frame structure were conducted on December 26, 1892.
The building was dedicated on April 16, 1893.
The parishioners of St. John brought with them a great love for music
and singing from their homeland. The fledgling community established
a choir in 1893. In 1900, the congregation purchased a used pipe organ
from a neighboring Covington congregation. The organ was dismantled,
moved to West Covington, and re-assembled in the rear balcony of the
During the First World War, services at St. John began to be conducted
in the English Language for the first time. This movement away from
German Language services and music took place in many Northern Kentucky
congregations. Residents of German heritage wanted to show their neighbors
that they were loyal American citizens.
By 1923, the congregation had outgrown the original 1892 facilities.
At this time, a new first floor was constructed under the original building.
This new level provided ample classroom space and a large meeting room.
The cost for the new addition amounted to $8,000. During the same year,
the congregation became affiliated with the Congregational Christian
Church. At this time the name of the parish was officially changed to:
St. John Evangelical Protestant Congregational Church.
The congregation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1942. At this
time, asbestos siding was placed on the exterior of the building. Also,
the interior of the sanctuary was remodeled for the occasion. At this
same time, World War II was raging in Europe and the South Pacific.
Many young members of the congregation fought in the armed forces, including
the following: William Edgar Augur, Mildred L. Back, Herbert E. Barker,
Edward M. Chadderton, Earl B. Clayton, Elmer Clayton, Jesse Ehrman,
Camden Floyd, Ulrich Haupt, Robert Heideman, William J. Heideman, Carl
W. Hunzicker, Edward M. Kerler, Joseph W. Miller, Alex Papas, Richard
L. Ragan, Edward Rahn Jr., E.J. Roberts, Robert E. Schwindt, August
L. Sheehan, S.R. Sheehan, S.P. Stevenson, William C. Stottlebower, James
O. Tibbs, William O. Tipton and Paul M. Walters.
The congregation continued to grow in the 1950s. In 1959, ground was
broken for a new classroom annex. The addition was dedicated on March
20, 1961. In the following, the interior of the church was greatly enhanced
with the installation of colored glass windows. The 1950s also witnessed
the merger of the Congregation Church and the Evangelical Reformed Church
in the United States to form the United Church of Christ. The St. John
Congregation decided to refrain from affiliating with the new denomination.
Since this time, St. John has remained an independent, non-denominational
During the 1950s, the congregation sponsored a family of refugees from
East Germany. The parishioners provided the family with a home and transportation.
Once the family became financially stable, they were able to purchase
a farm and home in Wisconsin.
Today, the congregation continues to meet the needs of its members and
the broader community. Service has been a hallmark of the ministry conducted
at St. John's for over a century.
Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, 1892-1967, St. John's Church Congregational;
St. John Congregational Church, West Covington, Ninetieth Anniversary
1892-1982; St. John's Congregational Church 1892-1992: Celebrating 100
Years Of Christian Service, pp. 11-12; Kentucky Post, December 27, 1892,
p. 1; Ambassador Newsletter 1942-1945.