301 East University Ave.
St. John's Methodist Church
Historical mark text
St. John's United Methodist Church
As early as 1871, pioneer Swedish settlers near Union Hill (4 mi. S), also
known as the Brushy Area, were holding Methodist worship services in homes.
In 1882 they formally organized as a Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church. The
congregation moved to this site in 1906, when the present native stone
sanctuary was completed. The name St. Johnís was adopted in 1939, and
regular Swedish language services ended in the 1940s. Church programs,
however, continue to reflect the ideals, traditions and rich heritage of the
pioneer founders. (1983)
Historical mark text
St. John's Cemetery - 3 south on 1460
(Jackrabbit Hill Road)
This burial ground is located on the site where the first Swedish
Methodist Church in Brushy Creek area was located. In the early 1870ís,
Swedish immigrants began to settle in this area and by the early 1880ís,
Pastor C. C. Charmqust and residents established a church and cemetery here.
The earliest known burial is of an infant, dating to 1881. In 1906, the
congregation moved and was ultimately named St. Johnís United Methodist
Church. In 1984 the St. Johnís Cemetery Association began to maintain the
burial ground, though the graveyard continued to be closely related to the
church. Early pioneers, community leaders and veterans of military conflicts
dating to World War 1 are among those interred here.
November 12, 2006
St. John's UMC was organized in 1882. The
first Church was a frame building built at the crossroads between
Georgetown and Round Rock and was called the Brushy Church. The present
sanctuary was built in 1906 of native limestone in Gothic Revival Style.
This was called the Swedish Methodist Church, and in 1938, was changed
to St. John's Methodist, and later became St. John's United Methodist in
1968. The first sixteen pastors were Swedish, and the Swedish language
was used until the late 40's.
Today commemorates the one hundredth
anniversary of the building of our sanctuary, which shows the
farsightedness of those who planned into the future for the rest of us.
It is our responsibility, as those who have received and cherished this
legacy, to also look to the future and to dream dreams and have visions
that come into reality for those yet unborn. In doing so, we honor our
founders' faith and help further the spread of the Good News of Jesus
Christ to all who have yet to hear it.
A Brief History of St. Johnís United Methodist Church
Charlene Haley Price
St. John's United Methodist Church as it is today, in its one hundredth
year anniversary, has members who trace their ancestry to Swedish
emigrants who were settling in the area in the last half of the
"It may be said that the Swedish
emigrants to Texas, 'stemmed from the example of a single individual,
Swante M. Swenson of Barkeryd, Jonkopings lan Smaland'. After S. M.'s
first visit back to his homeland the emigration started. So strong was
his persuasion and influence that the Swedes came to Texas where the
climate was warm, instead of settling as immigration authorities
advised, in the northern part of the United States where the weather was
akin to that of Sweden."
As Swedish individuals and families arrived, they worked hard for those
who had already obtained farms or businesses, usually without pay until
payment for their passage to Texas was satisfied. At the end of the
indentured time, the individual or the family would rent or buy
his own business or farm, and help a member or members of his family to
come to America. Many worked their way over on the ships that brought
As early as 1871, Swedish settlers near Union Hill, known generally as
the Brushy area, began holding Methodist worship meetings in their
homes. This area was also called the Crossroads and was located three
and one half miles south of Georgetown, Texas. The first services were
held in Swen M. Johnson's home. The homes of Mrs. Jonas (Maria Hilma)
Christerson, the Widow Rebeca Lundblad, C. J. Monson, Enoch and
Adla Johnson, and others, were
soon opened to the spirited sermons of Reverend Carl Charnquist Reverend
Charnquist had come to Austin, Texas from Michigan in 1871. He became
organist for the Swedish Lutheran Church, but soon was drawn to leading
others through his revival preachingís. He was the great-grandfather of
Dr. Ellsworth Peterson (Mrs. Wilmer Peterson's son, and organist at
First Methodist Church, Georgetown). Rev. Charnquist conducted Swedish
services in the various homes through 1880. He traveled by horse and
buggy and served as a circuit preacher, establishing missions and
churches in the area under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal
The homes at Union Hill soon became too small to hold all the
worshipers, so they used the nearby school house. Swedish Lutherans and
Swedish Methodists both apparently used the schoolhouse, though not
necessarily at the same time Hostile-differences arose, with some of
them directed at Reverend Charnquist_ Meetings were often disturbed,
furniture broken and efforts made to force Reverend Charnquist from the
Methodist group His efforts at establishing a formal congregation were
not successful at this time.
Victor Vitting served the group from 1880-1882. In 1882, Reverend P. R.
Juhlin came from Burlington, Iowa to serve the Swedish Methodist group.
During his ministry "three acres of land were purchased for $40.00* to
build a church. The land was located northwest of the cross‑
roads of Rabbit Hill Road and Old Round Rock Road. The Swedish
Methodist- Episcopal Brushy Church (Svenska
Metodist-episkopalforsamlingens) was formally organized on March 10,
1882 with a number of people taken in on approval. The church was built
for $2200.00 and was dedicated on October 28, 1883.
"The church stood near two old
cedar trees which still grow today in the cemetery in the churchyard.
The early pioneers of the church are buried in this cemetery, which is
still maintained by the Cemetery Committee and the Seekers' Sunday
School Class, all of St. John's.
In 1906, the present white limestone church was designed by C. H.
Paige, Jr. in the Gothic Revival Style and was built by Swedish
It measured 43 x 73 feet, with a seating capacity of four hundred. The
nave (Greek word meaning ship) contains the seating arrangement for the
congregation the rear portion of the present church was constructed so a
balcony could be added to seat sixty people. The beautiful stained glass
windows have been described as priceless by experts who repair them, as
materials used in making the glass are no longer available. The stained
glass windows were made in Kansas City for approximately $557.00.
The window on the east wall, nearest the altar, is in memory of Mrs. C.
J. (Anna) Carlson, formerly Anna Christerson. She was the daughter of
Mrs. Jonas Christerson, and sister to Hedda Sandberg (original founders)
and great aunt to Mabel Lindell, Ruth Carlson, Edwina Adams and Tommy
Sandberg. The center window of the group of three was donated by the
family of Carl Monson, father of the original founder, Carl J. Monson.12
The middle window of the west wall was donated by the wife of C. S.
Lindell, (Mrs. Matilda Munson Lindell) in his memory. Mr. Lindell was an
uncle to Mrs. Alma. Crone and Hilmer Lindell.
The third and last window on the
west wall was donated by the family of William E. Sandberg, original
founder, in his memory. One of the most significant and impressive
windows is found in the back of the congregation, but toward the front
of the building. It depicts the Good Shepherd and was donated by the
Sunday School of the old church at Brushy. Symbolism in several of the
windows is depicted as follows: the cross and crown (victory through
suffering); the open Bible (Revelations); the anchor (steadfastness);
the Lily (innocence and purity); the Fleur de lis (majesty of Christ);
and the Stone Tablets (Ten Commandments).
The twelve pews located in the rear of the sanctuary were original to
the old church- The pulpit was hand made by Henry Lundblad and William
Sandgren. The ceiling is made of beaded wood; the large wooden beams are
there for support. The watercolor hanging in the vestibule was done by
Carl Bergquist, Jr., son of Rev. C. W_ Bergquist, pastor 1927-1948.
The light fixture in the back of the church was originally in the old
church at the Crossroads- Kerosene was used in the lamps. The shades
have since been turned down and the fixture wired so that it could be
used in the main section of the new church. In recent years, it has been
moved to the back area.
The beautiful windows, inspiring steeple and native stone combined, gave
the church an Old World look. The total cost of the church was
A special dedication ceremony was
held in December, 1906 at which time the cornerstone of the new church
was laid. "A well-thumbed Bible, a Swedish and a Georgetown paper, a
daily paper, the officials' names, and other mementos were placed in the
cornerstone. Tom Lundblad, then a boy of thirteen, remembers well that
beautiful fall day. He was there when the bell rang in the morning and
still there when the whistle blew that night to end the day. There were
speeches, singing, rejoicing, testimonials, and, of course... gemsom
smorgasbord, and at 4:00 P.M. peach cobbler and ostkaka with cream!"
After the celebration, the day of reckoning came_ Money was needed to
pay the church debt of $10,000.00.
Dr. O. E. Olander, a well known pastor and at that time district
supervisor from Austin, was invited to conduct a drive to raise money
for the church. "He arrived by train three days early to scrutinize the
stores, banks, gins and farms. He knew a cotton crop when he saw one!
That next Sunday in church he read a short text about the rich man's
barns bursting with grain. Then he praised the Temple built to the glory
of God, such a Temple as he had never seen, all done by cotton, which
the Lord seemed to have especially blessed that year. He asked if there
were any in the audience who felt like they had been blessed and had a
few dollars they could spare to clear the title to this great edifice.
If so, they should come and place it on the altar. His compliments and
praise worked. Members rushed forward with purses open and told him,
'Here am I'.
"Mr. Tom Lundblad remembered, You have read how Jesus drove the money
changers from the Temple with a rope. Well this day the money men had
been invited. They were there. They brought money, purses, and pouches.
Even my Daddy, Henry who was known (and this was not denied by his sons)
"'He got so enthused, seeing the
dollars roll so free, he handed Pearl over to Mama and (in church mind
you!) stepped up and told Dr. Olander that he himself would give an
extra $100.00 for every $1000.00 the doctor could raise that
day. Mama rolled the whites at him, but it turned the tide.
Money rolled in faster than ever. Men would add an extra $100.00 just to
make papa Pay.
When Dr. Olander had $5,000.00 subscribed, he looked over at Daddy,
grinning till his face was red as a beet and asked, 'Are you still with
me, Henry?' Henry nodded, yes, so the doctor started again.í
The men went home shouting that the church debt was paid, with money
left and cotton in the fields to be picked. It was a great day in the
life of the church.
In 1906 the name of the new church was changed from Brushy Swedish
Methodist Church to the Georgetown Swedish Methodist Church, with a
membership of 160, Sunday School 140, Epworth League forty-five, and
Ladies' Aid Society fifty members.
Swedish morning services were conducted in the Swedish language until
the nineteen forties at St. John's. Swedish services were discontinued
altogether in the early forties except for occasional special services
such as Jul Otta. Jul Otta is the traditional Swedish early morning
Christmas Day candle-lighting service. This tradition is still being
observed in church today.
Rev. C. W. Bergguist came to the Georgetown Swedish Methodist Church in
1927 and for twenty-one years he was the pastor of the church. Rev.
Bergguist arranged in December, 1930 to have the annual Southern
Methodist Conference at Georgetown Swedish Methodist Church.
The Swedish Mission Conference was merged in 1926 with the Gulf
Conference and the Southern German Conference to form the Southern
Conference of The Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1939, the Southern
Conference was divided and was then known as the Central Texas
Conference. At this time the Georgetown Swedish Methodist Church became
known as St. John's Methodist Church.
The little church progressed at its own rate with an enrollment of 110
During the late forties and early fifties, the church was going through
a period of hard times, and it was difficult to meet the church budget.
With the help and leadership of several outstanding, dedicated pastors,
the church grew and prospered through the years.
Reverend Charles J. McAfee came to St. John's in 1955, initiating Sunday
night services and special prayer time at the altar rail. St. John's
celebrated its 50th anniversary during his ministry.
The traditional Methodist money-making project, "Lord's Acre, Lord's
Hour", was begun at St- John's in 1966, when Reverend John Williams was
the minister, and has been continued every year in the fall- Many years
ago it was a custom for farm people to set aside one acre's yield for
the Lord. Salaried people gave a day's wages. Today the custom has been
enhanced with a turkey dinner, sale of crafts and home-baked goods, as
well as a sharing of money offerings.
During Reverend Williams' ministry, St- John's provided an extended
ministry to Northside Methodist Church. St. John's pastor conducted
early morning Sunday services at Northside and performed necessary
ministerial services for the congregation.
In 1968, the Methodist Church
united with the Evangelical United Brethren Church and was called the
United Methodist Church.20 The present white brick educational building
(older part) was built during Reverend Terry Nelson's ministry,
1967-1969, for $42,000.00. Previous educational buildings included the
Epworth League Hall, built in 1921 with $1250.00 borrowed from the
Centenary Board. A former frame barracks, used by Southwestern
University, was donated to St. John's in about 1954 for a nominal fee
and moved to the church grounds. Church members remodeled the building
and used it, as well as the League Hall for education rooms. The old
League Hall may still be seen in San Gabriel Park where it serves as the
Woodmen of the World Lodge meeting place.
In 1976, St. John's participated in the nation's Bi-Centennial
celebration by opening its doors to guided tours of the church, noting
the history, architecture and decoration of the structure. During
Georgetown Community's Ethnic Day celebration, held at Georgetown
Community Center in 1976, St. John's members sang in a Swedish choir,
and sold Swedish foods such as Spritz, Rosettes, brown bread, ostkaka,
coffee cake, molasses cookies, Swedish meatballs, and Swedish coffee.
The 1970's saw a significant population growth. The church was in a very
favorable position to benefit from the growth explosion and had been
steadily increasing in membership.
When Reverend James Smith arrived in 1979, the growth and promise of new
During Reverend Smith's ministry, the new educational wing was financed,
built and consecrated at the Charge Conference in 1979. The total cost
of the new addition was $22,000.00. Four new Sunday School classes were
organized and an expanded nursery was provided. The parsonage was
completely redecorated. Protective covering was placed over the stained
The church sanctuary was painted and renovated in preparation for the
Reverend Smith has initiated many
new programs, traditions and rived some old customs. These include a
taped sermon ministry and a meals on wheels program for the shut-in
members, an impressive "hanging of the greens" Sunday evening service.
This service occurs the first Sunday evening in Advent and includes the
Advent Wreath and lighting of the Advent Candle, both a contribution
from the Lutherans of Germany; the hanging of the wreaths in the choir
loft and on the chancel doors, hanging of the greens in the pulpit and
chancel, and placing the candles in the windows. (The candle holders
were made by Reverend Bergguist from the ends of apple crates). From
stories and legends of the past, the greenery, such as fir, cedar and
pine, have come to be known as trees of life and symbolic of Christ.
The second year Reverend Smith was at St- John's, he surprised the
congregation at the traditional Jul Otta Christmas service by giving
shiny red apples to the members, a custom remembered by many from long
ago Christmas days. These apples were said to be "the best apple one
would have all year long".
Lifelong members were invited by Reverend Smith to come forward on the
first Sunday in December and hang the Chrismon ornaments on the tall fir
Reverend Smith's dynamic ministry has seen the Centennial Celebration
theme integrated into many of the church's activities and programs,
culminating with the Centennial Celebration itself.
St. John's serves the community through participation in the
Ministerial Alliance, and the Community Bible Study. The Bible Study
members use the church's educational building facilities for their
St. John's has reflected the growth of the Georgetown area during the
last few years, with a current membership of 600. All areas and age
divisions have shown growth and are continuing to grow, increasing the
talent and potential of St. John's. The congregation looks forward to a
bright future as the old, the new and the future grow together.