St. John's Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church




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St. John's Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in 1910 by immigrants from a region of what is now modern day Slovenia in the former Yugoslavia.  In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, this ethnic group is known as the "Windish". 
Pre-1910 The first Windish Lutheran immigrants worshipped at
St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Bethlehem.
1910 St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Slovenian Church was organized under the Rev. William R. Lambert.
1910-1914 Rev. Lambert served as Pastor.  He learned Windish in order to minister to his people more effectively.

Rev. Dr. Ernest A. Steigler served as Pastor.  A native of Hungary, he, too, learned Windish and conducted services in English, Windish, and Hungarian.  For many years the congregation maintained a parish school in which the children learned both English and Windish (taught by Rev. Steigler).  During his service, the congregation also organized an insurance society granting sick and death benefits (known as the Windish Sick and Beneficial Society).

1916 The congregation dedicated its new house of worship.
1923 A home for the parish education teacher was added.

A summer picnic grove, St. John's Park, was acquired.  This was the site of many grape festivals through the years.

1951-1989 Rev. Dr. Frank Flisser served as Assistant Pastor until the retirement of Rev. Steigler in 1956, then as Pastor.  He learned Windish and conducted services in English, Windish, and Hungarian.
1954 The Christian Education Building was constructed.
1976-1986 The Rev. Ralph Hartzell served as Assistant Pastor in cooperation with Rev. Flisser.
1989 The Rev. Robert Williams served as Interim Pastor following the retirement of Rev. Flisser. 
Tragically, he was killed in an automobile accident on December 23rd as the congregation was preparing to call him as its Pastor.
The Rev. Dr. Gary J. Langensiepen began his ministry at St. John's on June 4th.
2004-2005 Restoration of Nave

2006 "New Beginnings" Committee was formed to plan for the 100th Anniversary of St. John's in 2010.  Roast Beef Dinner on October 29 was kick-off for this multi-year celebration.

Restoration of Exterior of Church
The Rev. Suzanne M. Trump began her ministry at
St. John's on July 16.

True to its traditions and the reasons for which it was founded,
St. John's continued to serve the ethnic Windish community of Bethlehem, and the  people whose ancestors came from Slovenia continued to find a home at St. John's.  However, in recent years the congregation has sought ways to broaden its scope of ministry to become more inclusive.  Proud of the role that historically she has played in the development of the community on the southside of our city, St. John's now seeks new ways to share its ministry with its neighborhood.  Thus, in some ways, this large congregation of nearly 1,000 members is a congregation in transition seeking new ways to minister in Christ's name to both its traditional Windish constituents, as well as to those outside of that tradition.

Sons of the Congregation to Enter Ministry

Rev. Stephen Ballek, ordained in 1937, died in 1950.
Rev. Charles Kercsmar, S.T.M., ordained in 1944, retired.
Rev. F. Peter Muhr, ordained in 1967.
Rev. Jimmy Lee Werley, ordained in 1978.

Church Musicians

Ida Steigler, Organist/Choir Director, wife of Rev. Steigler
Margaret Banfi, Organist/Choir Director
Helen Unger, Organist
1970 to present
Maryanne Dedekind, Director of Music, 1970 to 1990
Frank E. Podleiszek, Choir Director
James H. Long, Minister of Music, 1991 - 2023