A thumbnail look at St. John’s history:
If our little brick church could speak to us, what a story it would tell. For six generations, St. John’s has offered a safe and inspiring place to worship, haven in times of need and grief, and a beautiful and warm place to celebrate the Lord’s Meal, baptisms, weddings and Holy Days.
When people first knelt to pray in their new church home, Grover Cleveland was president. The Nave would have been lighted with kerosene lamps and a pot bellied stove would have provided warmth. Lumber from the surrounding land and ice from the lake provided local income, and Otter Lake was a boom town, with hotels, railroads, and large stately homes.
It was in the living room of one of those homes that plans were made to construct a church for the residents of the town that was growing up on the shores of Otter Lake. At the time members of the United Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church and the Episcopal Church were residents in town, and all were eager for a place to worship. However, funds to construct three buildings were beyond their means. So, a town meeting was held at the home of Mr. C. W. Cummings. It was decided to seek formal affiliation with the denomination having the greatest number of representatives at the meeting. The Episcopalians were in the majority by only one vote, with the Baptists coming in second. An Episcopal mission was established, but out of consideration for the many voting Baptists, our church was named St. John the Baptist.
St. John’s was constructed with local lumber and the mighty beams in the ceiling were hand hewn and hoisted in place by members of the congregation. In September 1885, the building was dedicated and the first service held.
Today, 137 years later, the boom town has become a quiet village, and 20 men have followed Grover Cleveland as President of the United States. A gas furnace keeps us warm, and electricity provides our lighting and our service music.
This sturdy little building, as well as the Christians who have worshiped here, has weathered the winds of change with steadfastness.
The building has been added onto three times and survived a fire in 1952 that severely damaged the south end of the church.
The faithful have seen two revisions of the Book of Common Prayer, the ordination of women, and recently fully embraced the ministry of the Baptized, with the commissioning and ordaining of a team of leaders. That team is comprised of nine people who have been called by God to empower others and themselves to be the face of Jesus in a world that needs desperately to see Him! We are committed to our vision statement, to Believe, Embrace and Empower!
It is with the greatest joy and thanksgiving that we celebrate this historical place and the life of the Little Brick Church by the Lake, St. John the Baptist! Thanks be to God!