St. John’s Lutheran Church
Emmaus, PA

For decades St. John’s Lutheran Church in Emmaus has supported the work of Liberty’s Lutheran Congregational Services. The church goes well beyond just sending money when it comes to helping others. They invest their heart, soul and body into serving.

The Reverend Fred S. Foerster, pastor from 1970 to 2001, was most influential in the congregation’s commitment to social ministry. He believed the church should “put on the working clothes of the Gospel,” and encouraged them to get their hands dirty.

The church founded the St. John’s Construction company, led by Pastor Foerster. Their work included many projects throughout the community, like repairs needed at Bear Creek Camp in the Poconos. They were instrumental in building ramps and other amenities to make buildings more accessible to all.

Over the years, the church has been involved in disaster response work and refugee resettlement. They helped rebuild homes in St. Croix following a hurricane. The church welcomed families from Bosnia and Uganda.

As members of the church would say, “Pastor Foerster would assign us to do a job and we would do it because we wanted to follow his vision.”
Sylvia Havlish, long-time member of the church, recalls, “I was a high school counselor back in the ’90s when Pastor Foerster and I first envisioned a ministry to support people who are grieving. He gave me the role of a Parish Nurse and made me the grief counselor.”

Sylvia continues that role today, serving as Lutheran Congregational Services grief counselor, coordinating support groups and workshops. She’s helped with Blue Christmas services and provided “Temple Talks” on her work in grief.

The Reverend Wayne Matthias-Long, member of the Liberty Lutheran Board, served as pastor of St. John’s from 2002 to 2013. He shared, “Pastor Foerster inspired the members of St. John’s to focus on doing God’s work by serving others. It was a privilege for me to follow that trail, which he had so faithfully and effectively blazed.”

“The Lehigh Valley mission district’s Ingathering, once coordinated by Lutheran Congregational Services, was a sight to behold,” he adds. “The church continues to thrive as home to many community-based groups like the AA program.”

Lutheran Congregational Services and all who are touched by their work are eternally grateful for St. John’s Lutheran Church and Pastor Foerster. They do indeed wear the working clothes of the Gospel.