Ascension Lutheran Church, established on November 29, 2015, was founded as a merger of two historic Chicago area churches – Our Savior Lutheran Church or Norwood Park and St. John Lutheran Church of Niles, however the history of the church truly begins with the history of our mother Church, St. John of Niles.
The first services of the future St. John Lutheran Church, Niles, IL were conducted in a home that stood on land now occupied by St. Matthew Lutheran Cemetery on Shermer Road south of Dempster Street in Niles, Illinois and were conducted in 1848 and 1849 by the Reverend Francis Hoffman, pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church of Schaumburg, about 18 miles west of Niles.
In 1860, the first church building was erected and dedicated on our present property. It was a two-story brick frame building and stood about where our present church stands. The frame upper story was used for church purposes, with the brick lower-level serving both as a school and a dwelling for our Pastor and his family.
The first school building was erected in 1872. There were 115 children enrolled. This building faithfully served St. John well into the 1940’s and was eventually demolished in January 1958.
On May 18, 1958 the new school and parish hall buildings were dedicated and opened officially in September of 1959, with an initial enrollment of 88 children.
Sadly however, the church was severely damaged by fire which destroyed the interior of the 57-year-old landmark, which forced regular Sunday worship services to continue in the school gymnasium.
Unfortunately, the extensive damage caused by the fire left few alternatives to the congregation. The church interior was beyond any possible repair. After careful deliberation and much heartache, the fire damaged church was demolished beginning August 18, 1959.
St. John Lutheran Day School remained in operation through August 4, 1997.
In late 2014, discussions where held between Pastor Eric Carlson of Our Savior Lutheran Church and Pastor Eric Gunia of St. Johns Lutheran Church on the topic of a possible merger due to financial difficulties both churches had been facing. With a great deal of teamwork and belief in the mission of God, both churches decided to merge, creating Ascension Lutheran Church, celebrating their first service on November 29, 2015.