History of St. John's Lutheran Church
Ironwood Township, Michigan

July 1, 1990 - 60th Anniversary Celebration
- History written and read by Marian Saari.

July 9, 2005 - 75th Anniversary Celebration
- History updated and written by Bertha Erickson
and read by Marlene (Saari) Weishuhn.

Worship services were held in north Ironwood, in what was known as Montreal, Michigan in 1905 in different homes and the Temperance Hall on Pump Station Road according to records kept by the church.

On October 7, 1917 plans were made to establish a church under the Suomi Synod, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  Serving on this committee were:  Oskari (Oscar) Levijoki, Johan (John) Tassava, Vihtori (Victor) Talo, Tomi (Thomas) Saari, Vihtori (Victor) Kataja, Johan (John) Saari, Pauli (Paul) Ruotsalainen, Frankki (Frank) Talo and Matti (Matt) Hill.  The John Palojarvi's moved into the Township in 1918 and joined the planning and building of the church.

The lot was purchased from Sakri Riutta in 1927 and volunteers were asked to come with their horses to dig the basement.

The basement was constructed in 1928 and services were held there, as well as in the homes until the completion of the church in 1930.

The Ladies Aid was started in 1928 with Mrs. John Palojarvi as President and she served in that capacity for 27 years.  Vice President was Mrs. John Tassava, secretary was Selma Tassava, and treasurer was Mrs. Frank Talo.  In later years, Mrs. Gust Abramson served as secretary for 13 years, as well as, Mrs. Ernest Hill, who served as secretary for 14 years.  Others active in the church at that time included Mrs. Richard Talo, H. B. Snellman, Kalle Tikkanen, Frank Talo, Andrew Muhonen, Otto Spets, Andrew Tervo, Sakri Riutta, Charles Auvinen, Seeta Stoole, Arnold Waurio, Matt Hautanen, John Levo, Matt Hill, and Erick Vuorenmaa.  I am sure there are many descendants of these people in our audience.  This group worked hard to raise money for the church and to spread the Gospel.

The benches and all the woodwork were made by John Palojarvi.  Mr. Matt Hill collected the dues for many years.

Eero Matara painted the altar picture.  Arlene Spets Renkin volunteered her services in touching up the picture in 1989, as it had been water damaged.  She is a former member of our church and we are grateful for her time and services.

The young people organized a Luther League in March 1929, with Helmi Palojarvi as the first president.  Gust Abramson directed our choir for many years.

Pastors' Alfred Haapanen and David Elm were two of the earliest pastors.  Pastors' Matero, Stadius, Hallberg, Laananen, Puotinen, Syre, Kuusisto, Maki, and Bob and Kelli Fisher followed them.  Today's services are held twice a month with Pastor Julie Summers, who also serves St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

The Sarah Circle was organized in 1942 with 32 members.  Our officers today are:  President - Bertha Erickson, Vice President & Secretary - Frances Voyce, Treasurer- Saima Walkonen.

Sunday school was held here until the year 2004.  Saima Walkonen was the Superintendent for over 40 years.  Vicky Nelson, Lori DeRosso and Heidi Ofstad were in charge until the children started attending the combined church school at Salem Lutheran Church in Ironwood. 

Present officers of the church are: Chairman - Marvin Tassava, Vice Chairman - Russell Saari, Secretary - Bertha Erickson, Treasurer - Frances Voyce. 

We were fortunate to have Claude VanOoyen as our organist for 20 years.  Aileen Anderson is our current organist.  We thank them and John Neumann, our maintenance man, who has served intermittently for numerous years.

Several improvements have been made to the church over the years.  A new roof in 1991, new windows upstairs in 1992, a new furnace in 1993 and the long awaited well and septic system for a bathroom in 1995 along with a remodeled kitchen.  In 1999 a new basement ceiling was installed and the electrical wiring updated.  We thank Tom Voyce, Marvin Tassava and John Neumann for the many hours they spent working on these projects.

In 2002, through the efforts of Sonja Luoma, the church received the electric organ, donated by Joan Nerenz and hauled to the church by some of the men of our congregation.

The church has been blessed with many memorial gifts given by our members and others, one of the most recent being the lectern donated by the Voyces.  St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Marquette donated the baptismal font and Larry Brumfield, husband of a former member, Sylvia Stoole, has given several significant monetary gifts.

Our thanks to them and to all of our members who have given so generously of their time, gifts and talents.  Special thanks to Heidi Ofstad, chairman of our 75th anniversary celebration committee and other committee members, Lori DeRosso, Bliss and Gayla Rovelsky, Vicky Nelson, Saima Walkonen and Marvin Saari.