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St. John's United Church of Christ Records (MS-612)

Identifier: MS-612

Scope and Contents

The records of the St. John’s United Church of Christ relating to many different aspects of the church, the collection has been divided into nine series; administrative records, vital records, financial records, social clubs and organizations, major events, publications, audiovisual, and books.

Series I, Administrative Records, 1843-2009, contains various records of official business. Meeting minutes of various Church committees and leadership are included. They are arranged chronologically, from 1843 to 2009. These minutes are an excellent resource in learning how the Church dealt with hardships such as funding, disasters, and membership issues. Church history is also included in this series. The story of the Church and its membership are told and re-told over its long history, with names of important early figures and key events being highlighted. Of note are records for a project to expand membership of the church. Correspondence is also included. Some of the minutes have been translated from German to English.

Series II, Vital Records, 1840-1961, includes records on baptisms, communions, marriages, and deaths within the church between the years 1840 to 1961. There are also church directories in this series that list the names of church members during much of the church’s history. Some of the records have been translated from German to English.

Series III, Financial Records, 1859-1996, includes records on annual budgets, special project expenditures, and monthly reports. The bulk of these records consists of monthly financial reports that detail how much money the church is bringing in, as well as how they planned to spend it. There are numerous receipts and invoices relating to contract work done on pew cushions, church maintenance and upkeep, and landscaping.

Series IV, Social Clubs and Organizations, 1920-2015, is divided into four subseries and contains records relating to subgroups and organizations in the church.

Subseries IVA, Mr. and Mrs. Club, 1964-2015, contains the records of the Mr. and Mrs. Club. The group traces back to at least 1964 and organizes social events for married couples. This subseries contains the original constitution and by-laws along with subsequent revisions and minutes and financial records from 1964 to 1992, scattered minutes from the late 1990s and 2000s are also include. Further the subseries includes an event scrapbook from 2008-2010 and scattered event flyers dating from 1964 to 2014.

Subseries IVB, Fellowship, 1920-1980, contains the records of the Fellowship Club. This group, originally all male, was founded in early days of the church in 1920. The group, organized as a social club, provided community outreach and assistance, in addition to organizing events for the club members. The records contain the original bylaws from 1920 and minutes and financial records from 1921-1967 except for 1936-1939. The subseries also includes roles, officer lists, and some assorted correspondence and donation records.

Subseries IVC, Choirs, 1930-1995, contains scattered records relating to musical groups at the church. The subseries includes some programs and sheet music used at the church.

Subseries IVD, Women's Societies, 1933-1990, contains records relating to the different women's groups at the church. Groups include the Ladies Aid Society, with minutes from 1935-1944. The Women's Beneficial Society, with the group's constitution and bylaws, from 1927, minutes from 1944-1957, and financial and membership records. Also included are some notable letters and memorabilia from the Women's Beneficial Society. The last group is the Women's Guild. Records include the groups constitution and logs, ledgers, and minutes from 1933-1972, although there is a gap in the records from 1935 to 1944.

Series V, Major Events, 1899-2015, is a collection of all paper and visual materials regarding major events and programs that were either sponsored by St. John’s, hosted by St. John’s, or events that happened to St. John’s. It contains Anniversary event documents include: bulletins and paper materials for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the church, bulletins and paper materials for the 50th, 100th, 125th, 140th, 145th, 150th, and 175th Anniversaries. These documents are all dated between 1902-1990, as well as 2015. The dates are very specific to the anniversary in which they are celebrating and have been separated into folders to reflect this. This series also contains a folder for a Film Workshop, which hosted their Saturday session at St. John’s. This folder contains curriculum, advertisements, sign-up sheets, and worksheets for this workshop. None of the documents are dated by year. It also contains a news piece called “A Disastrous Sunday,” as well as photographs from the St. John’s fire. This series also contains the following items: • Small booklets and documents regarding Educational Classes that were held by the church. The booklets were created in 1909 and displays the work that was done in these classes. These classes were more of the practical sort and was used as an avenue to teach basic homemaking skills as well as other recreational tasks. • Flyers and other documents regarding the Father and Son Banquets from 1936 and 1938. This flyers and documents mostly deal with the planning of this banquet. • Bulletins and documents regarding their Tribute to Service in WWI and WWII. This service was held in 1946 and served as a time to honor and thank members of their church that served in these wars. • Boy Scouts Troop Charter book from 1949. It is not confirmed if this charter was from St. John’s specifically, but it is assumed that there were members if the scouts that were a part of the church. • Correspondence and documents from Miami Valley Hospital. These documents and letters from 1966 and 1990, and contain donation letters, as well as letters and documents regarding the 150th anniversary of St. John’s. These letters show the long-time partnership between these two institutions. There is also a book about the history of Miami Valley Hospital called “What Great Matter A Little Fire Kindleth.” • Documents regarding dedications and other charity related efforts. These include the dedication of the Trinity Home, the YMCA Battered Women Project, documents and papers regarding St. John’s involvement in an initiative to combat homelessness and the provision of Emergency Housing, the Sponsoring Refugees Program, • A napkin from the Love Lift Dedication banquet. The banquet took place in 1984 and this folder does not contain any other documentation. • A folder of materials and documents for Gospel Fest which was held in 2001. This folder contains advertisements, sponsorship inquires, planning materials, musician lineups, and other correspondence. This event took place outside of the church and was sponsored by many Dayton area businesses including the Dayton Dragons.

Series VI, Church Publications, 1904-2005, is divided into 5 subseries. This series is a collection of all publications that were circulated through the church. These publications were published by St. John’s or by other organizations associated with St. John’s. This series is divided into five subseries based on the type of publication. The subseries are labeled as follows: Calendars, Newsletters, Publications, Family Directories, and Bulletins.

Subseries VIA, Calendars, 1972-1991, contains church calendars that were distributed throughout the congregation. They are dated from 1972-1991 and contain church related events along with the other major holidays and celebratory events.

Subseries VIB, Newsletters, 1977-1999, contains a collection of the church newsletter, which they called the Tower Times. These newsletters are dated from as early as 1930 but run mostly from 1977-1999. The Times served as the main avenue for church related announcements and other church related news.

Subseries VIC, Publications, 1904-1997, contains a collection of other publications that were circulated throughout the church. These publications include publications from a variety of other organizations that partnered with St. John’s or that just simply left their publications for the church to distribute. These publications are dated from 1979-81, 1996, and several of them remain undated. This subseries also includes a Stewardship brochure from 1967, various publications from Church Dedication services from 1979-1997, publications and sheet music used by the Choir and Drama Departments from 1979-1984 as well as other undated publications for this use, and a book titled “Our Story Book: Stories of Churches of the Ohio Conference, United Church of Christ,” which was published in 1997.

Subseries VID, Family Directories, 1933-2005, contains a collection of Church and Family Directories from St. John’s. These directories are dated from as early as 1933, and as late as 2005. These directories contained the names and contact information of the members of the church as well as the Pastoral and Church staff. This subseries also contains a folder of all of the pieces, receipts, photograph orders, and other administrative papers for the making of the 2000 Family Directory.

Subseries VIE, Bulletins, 1951-2000, contains a collection of church bulletins. These bulletins contain information regarding Church Services and the routine of Sunday Services. This collection also involves bulletins from special services such as Advent, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Some of these bulletins are undated, but the rest are sorted chronologically. The date ranges are as follows. Nonlinear bulletins are dated from 1951-1957. A smaller section of the bulletins is dated from 1968-69, 1973, and Jan-June 1974. The rest of the subseries is divided by half year (Jan-June, July-Dec.) and are dated from 1978-2000.

Series VII, Audiovisual, 1894-2003, is divided into three subseries containing photographs, photo albums, and VHS tapes and memorabilia.

Subseries VIIA, Photographs, 1894-2003, contains numerous photographs covering all range of Church business. The series is organized chronologically, with undated photographs at the beginning. Of particular interest is the "St. John's Historical Photographs" with images of each of the church’s pastors and group confirmation photos from 1935-1984. The later photographs include many pictures of the building and landscaping of the church relating to different construction projects. Included in this series is a labeled set of individual ID photos of church members taken for the church Directory in 2000.

Subseries VIIB, Photo Albums, 1934-2001, contains 6 bound photo albums and scrapbooks. Included is an album containing confirmation photos from 1934-1992, a scrapbook of general church events from 1988-1989, a scrapbook for the Red Hat Society from 2003, a scrapbook from the Mr. and Mrs. Club from 2001, and an undated scrapbook documenting youth trips to Kirkwood Camp. This subseries also includes the photo album of Rev. J. G. Mueller from the late 1800s. This photo album is in poor condition and multiple photographs have fallen out. Which are likely included in the loose photographs in subseries VIIA. The album contains cabinet card style photographs of the Mueller family and friends, early church events, the church building, and pictures from the church fire in 1899.

Subseries VIIC, VHS Tapes and Memorabilia, 1977-1997, contains VHS tapes, CDs, and assorted memorabilia. The 6 VHS tapes are all undated except for Christmas Eve Service from 1997. The subseries includes 2 CDs, one labeled "photo disk" the other "Christmas." The memorabilia in this subseries is a plaque from 1997 for Mrs. Maclash a Sunday School teacher, and a button from the early days of the church featuring an image of the early church building with some writing in German.

Series VIII, Books, 1882-1981, contains a number of books. Many are sermon planning books, mostly in German. Also included is a church history book from 1891, a Bible, in German, from 1905, a large book of remembrance from 1963, and a three book series on the history of Dayton published in 1981.


  • Creation: 1840 - 2015
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 2000


Language of Materials

Collection is predominantly in English; materials in German are indicated at the file level.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no donor-imposed restrictions on accessing material in this collection. This collection is stored off site. Please provide us at least two days advance notice if you would like to research this collection. Call (937) 775-2092 or e-mail us at Also, access to electronic files in this collection, indicated by an e-number (e.g., ms612_e0001), is restricted until they are fully processed.

Due to preservation concerns, original video tapes cannot be played in the reading room. Patrons may have access to digital reference copies. Items without reference copies can be digitized at the request of a patron for the cost of creating a digital copy. Please provide us at least two weeks’ notice if you would like to request an audio or video reference copy. Call (937) 775-2092 or e-mail us at Use of digitized content is subject to conditions governing use. To access the vital records in Series II, Box 5, files 1-7 please use MFM-138 available in the reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

St. John’s Church stands as a testament to the first German Protestant immigrants who came to Dayton in the early 19th century. Dr. David Winters was the first minister to the growing population of Germans coming to the city. The congregation met in multiple locations, including Dayton’s Old Court House on 3rd and Main, before the current building was erected in 1869.

This building, located at 515 E. Third St., was destroyed and rebuilt through two natural disasters. A hurricane destroyed the original structure in 1871. After a remodel in 1887, a fire destroyed the structure again in 1899. Again, it was rebuilt, this time larger and sturdier, measuring ninety-five by one hundred and ninety feet. Construction finished in 1901.

After 1899, the Church initiated an education program during the winter. Intended to teach young people trade skills. These classes were popular and became a defining contribution to the growth of Dayton. Classes in sewing, cooking, mechanical drawing, music, and art were among the skills taught at the Church. By 1909, membership in these classes grew to over four hundred young people.

The focus on education continued in 1965, when an office and education building was added to the property. The education building houses the English as a Second Language International School.

The floor-plan of the Church is in the five-sided “Akron” style, which was popular at the turn of the 20th century. There is also a moving wall that opened to provide seating for as many as two thousand people. The wall does not move currently.

Of architectural note are the stain glass windows, the frescos that were painted by immigrant Herman Dinkler in 1924, the bells from the Buckeye Bell Foundry in Cincinnati, which are believed to be the original, and the clock, over one hundred years old, which was last restored in 1999.

Contributions to Dayton include the Patterson Co-Operative High School, which came out of St. John’s evening classes. The Deaconess hospital, now the Miami Valley Hospital, began at St. John’s in 1890 under Reverend Carl Mueller. German POWs, who were interned at Wright Patterson Air Force Base during WWII, were served by St. John’s Dr. W.R. Grunewald.

St. John’s was the first sanctuary for German immigrants to Dayton in the 19th century. Their legacy survives today; in the city of Dayton, and in this collection. Unfortunately, other than the contents of the current collection, most of the Church’s records were destroyed in the flood of 1913.


25.5 linear feet


This collection documents over one hundred and fifty years of the church, from its beginnings around 1840 as The German Evangelical Church, then as the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dayton, then St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to its modern iteration as the St. John’s United Church of Christ. The records document all aspects of the church, including administrative functions, finances, membership, ministers, social clubs and organizations, services, and outreach programs. Of note are the vital records including confirmations, births, deaths, marriages and baptism records. The records document early Lutheran and German history in the Dayton area and is a rich source of information on religion and early German culture in the Dayton area.


The collection is arranged into 8 series and 12 subseries.

Series I: Administration, 1843-2009 Series II: Vital Records, 1840-1961 Series III: Financial Records, 1859-1996 Series IV: Social Clubs and Organizations, 1920-2015 Subseries IVA: Mr. and Mrs. Club, 1964-2015 Subseries IVB: Fellowship Club, 1920-1980 Subseries IVC: Choirs, 1930-1995 Subseries IVD: Women’s Societies, 1933-1990 Series V: Major Events, 1899-2015 Series VI: Publications, 1904-2005 Subseries VIA: Calendars, 1972-1991 Subseries VIB: Newsletters (Tower Times), 1977-1999 Subseries VIC: Publications, 1904-1997 Subseries VID: Family Directories, 1933-2005 Subseries VIE: Bulletins, 1951-2000 Series VII: Audiovisual Materials, 1894-2003 Subseries VIIA: Photographs, 1894-2003 Subseries VIIB: Photo Albums, 1934-2001 Subseries VIIC: VHS Tapes and Memorabilia, 1977-1997 Series VIII: Books, 1882-1981

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Appropriate equipment is required to access audio/visual records in this collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to Wright State University Special Collections and Archives by St. John’s United Church of Christ in October 2017.


Future accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Confirmation, death, marriage and baptism records from series II, Box 5, files 1-7 have been microfilmed, MFM-138.

Related Materials

MS-619: Walnut Hills Christian Church MS-620: First United Church of Christ Records

MFM-138: St. John’s United Church of Christ, Dayton, Ohio, Records.

Separated Materials

Records relating to the Walnut Hills Christian Church and United Church of Christ have been separated into their own collections. Oversized materials are located in location 214, file 2 and 3.

Processing Information

Some photographs were removed from individual photo albums and rehoused into binder boxes.

Guide to the St. John's United Church of Christ Records (MS-612)
Craig Finnell, Joseph Griffith, and Derek Pridemore
2018 Apr
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA