About St. John

Who We Are and What We Do


Our History


St. John Lutheran Church of Amherst, the Mother Church of Buffalo Lutheranism, had its beginning on September 20, 1828, when a group of Lutheran men met in a room over a grocery on Main Street near Genesee Street and agreed to set up a church. For four years they, and like-minded persons, continued to meet for worship and to build a congregation. Here they welcomed the first pastor, Francis Guenther, and organized on February 10, 1833.

A gift of one-half acre on Hickory Street, then on the outskirts of the newly incorporated city of Buffalo of about 11,000, gave the little congregation a place for the building they needed, and a cornerstone was laid in 1835. Soon the need for a school was felt, so a teacher, who was also an organist, began to meet his pupils in the unfinished building, which was dedicated on May 25, 1843. Soon benches were purchased, a large bell was ordered to be cast and a better organ was installed.

Membership increased greatly. Galleries had to be added to accommodate the congregation, and a second service had to be held on Sunday evening. By 1855 they saw the need for a cemetery of their own, and the next year they began a separate building for the school. A young Men’s society was organized, and several years later a home for orphan boys was built at Sulphur Springs.

In 1873, it was clear that a larger church was needed. This was built on the lot next to the old church, an ideal place for the fiftieth anniversary in 1883. By now there were fifteen hundred members and a Sunday school of six hundred. More activities continued to be added: a Women’s Society, an Usher’s Society, and a committee to plan for a church home which was built on East Delavan in 1890. For the seventy-fifth anniversary, stained glass windows were purchased for the church.

Meanwhile other changes occurred. The church school was given up, but a Vacation Bible School was added. A monthly paper, “The ST. JOHN’S MESSENGER”, began publication. In 1930, women were given the right to vote at church meetings. For almost a month, from May 29 to June 18, a grand celebration with its theme, “A CENTURY FOR CHRIST”, marked the one hundredth anniversary.

A bronze plaque bearing the names of the first eight pastors was unveiled. Two world wars brought sorrow and heightened activity to the church. During the second of these, 180 young people served in the armed forces.

As more and more members moved to newer sections of the growing city or to the suburbs, talk about relocation increased. Hickory Street now being on the edge of downtown, the feeling grew that in order to serve its members better, the church would have to move to where the members were now. Several possibilities were entertained: a merger with an outlying church, the purchase of a lot in Amherst where an existing house could be used as a chapel and where on Sunday a second service could be held. The last option was chosen.

As soon as it could be built a Fellowship Hall served the congregation until a new church was completed and dedicated on January 24, 1965. Though no longer a city church, St. John continues to draw its membership from those who remained in the city as well as a new membership from the surrounding suburbs. St. John, with its long and active history, is continuing to bring Christ’s message to the modern world.


Old Church

New Church




Our Mission

St. John is a growing, vibrant community located in suburban Buffalo. Our congregation has a rich history of faithful worship, community involvement, pastoral care and faith formation which we continue to live out today. Whether you are a lifelong Lutheran, a drifting disciple, or new to Jesus altogether, you are welcome at St. John. Come to St. John where all people discover joy, share love, and grow faith.


Church Staff