St. John Lutheran Church

The Purple Door Church

1100 North Main St.  Celina, OH 45822






Ever since our humble beginning in 1870, St. John has been a Lutheran congregation. As Lutherans we are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Beginning January 1, 1988, three large church bodies, with shared beliefs and missions, officially formed the ELCA. This spirit-driven church is composed of 4.8 million members and nearly 10,500 congregations across the U.S. and Caribbean. Today, the ELCA reflects the rich and diverse heritage of the people it serves.


As you know, we don’t necessarily push “Lutheran” at our church. We are Christians first.  Many of us come to St. John from other traditions. Or we come from no tradition at all. Many of us, began being and doing church right here.  Still, we are a Lutheran Church. We have been for about 150 years. So it’s fair to ask, “What exactly makes us Lutheran?”  I’ve put together a top 10 list:

1.    We’re really big on grace. We get that heaven is ours not because of what we’ve done for God but because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

2.    We love the Bible. We believe it is an inspired and living Word; word for word the Word of God.

3.    We love music. From the very beginning Lutherans were called “the singing church.” We’re one of those.

4.    We are evangelical. We’re all about the Good News of Jesus Christ, living by it and getting it out through our words and deeds (but mostly through our deeds).

5.    As a church born out of the Reformation we see change and growth as a good thing (even though we don’t always like it).

6.    We are sacramental, seeing in both Baptism and the Communion not something we do for God, but something God does for us as God brings us grace and forgiveness.

7.    We believe everyone has a calling to serve the Lord. We like to call it equipping. Luther called it “the priesthood of all believers.”

8.    We believe that apart from Jesus Christ, there is no way of salvation. This belief drives us to share the Good News of Jesus with others for heaven’s sake.

9.    We’re all about growing up as Christians, emphasizing Christian education at all levels.

10.       We see the family as the primary setting for living out and passing on our Christian faith and values.


I know, other traditions cherish some of these same values; but these really are at the core of what it means to be Lutheran. And, they are also at the core of what it means to be a Christian. 

Yours, in His service,

Rev. Dr. Jeffery G. Gramza

Purple Doors 

The symbolism of the church begins at the church doors. The purple color indicated royalty. It was a purple robe that was placed around Christ during His trial, scorning His claim to royalty. We use the purple paraments during Advent to emphasize the message, “Thy King cometh into thee.” The purple is used again during Lent as we look forward to Palm Sunday and the shout, “Hosanna to the son of David,” a royal person. The purple doors indicate that we worship Jesus Christ, the King of kings.

Etched Glass Windows

The windows separating the narthex and the nave are marked with symbols sandblasted into the glass. The windows on the south side of the entrance to the nave represent the Holy Trinity. The hand of God reaching from the clouds symbolizes the creative power of the Father. The son is represented by the fish. The Greek word for fish is “ichthus.” Early Christians used to identify themselves to one another and to hide their identity from prosecutors using the letters of the word “ichthus” to stand for the phrase, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Savior.” The flame represents the Holy Spirit who descended to the church on Pentecost as tongues of flame.


On the north side of the main entrance into the nave are symbols representing the means of grace. The sword stands for the Word of God- “The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” The descending dove represents Holy Baptism, reminding us of the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove upon Jesus at His baptism. The Chalice is a symbol of the Lord’s Supper.


On the front of the altar is found the Chi Rho symbol. This is one of the earliest symbols of Christendom. It is made up from the two Greek letters that form the abbreviation for Christ.

Stained Glass

Stained glass is an ancient art in the Christian church. The windows in our church, while very modern in appearance, are a revival of an ancient method of stained glass. They are made of faceted pieces of stained glass set in epoxy resin. The Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia were the designers of these windows.


The Stained Glass Windows depict the life of Christ by the use of symbols. Starting with the full bay on the north side of the church, there is depicted the Messianic prophecy that the seed of the woman should crush the head of the serpent. A crown superimposed above the star of David indicates Christ’s office as “King of the Jews.” The annunciation window displays a lily indicative that Christ was to be born of a virgin. The Fleur-de-lis appears in the Christmas window. It is a conventionalized form of the lily and is used to symbolize the human nature of the Savior. The “SJ” in this portion of the window refers to St. Joseph. The Christmas Rose bridges into the Epiphany window. The Star of Bethlehem in the peak of the window represents one of the first appearances of Christ to mankind. The candle is a symbol of Christ who was manifested as the light of the world. This window also has the symbols of the three crowns and three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, representing the Wise Men and their adoration.


The north-east bay of windows contains symbols from Gethsemane to the crucifixion. The cup of sorrows containing a cross with pointed ends, which is Jesus prayed to have removed, is one of the symbols. The torch carried by those who captured Him is also reproduced. The ewer and basin are symbols of Pilate’s cowardice as he tried to rid himself of the guilt of Jesus’ death. Peter’s denial is symbolized by the crowing rooster. The cross radiates red rays of light as a symbol of the blood of Christ that cleanses men of sin. Superimposed upon it is the crown of thorns. The Chi Rho symbol is also used in the window.


The south-east bay of windows presents the Lord’s Supper and the Resurrection. Stalks of wheat, clusters of grapes, and the chalice indicate the Lord’s Supper. The use of the peacock as a symbol of the Resurrection comes from a legend that the peacock sheds it’s feathers each year only to grow new and more beautiful ones, and that the flesh of the peacock does not decay after death. The ideas of renewal and incorruptibility bursting forth from the pomegranate symbolizes the power of the Lord as He bursts forth alive from the tomb. The beautiful form of the butterfly coming forth from seemingly lifeless chrysalis suggests itself as a parallel to our Lord’s coming forth from the tomb.


The full bay on the south pictures the Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity. The rising eagle, that seems to disappear into the heavens, symbolizes the Ascension of Jesus. Another symbol of Ascension is the wheel, recalling Ezekiel’s vision of a wheel in the middle of the air. The coming of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost is suggested by the descending dove and by the seven tongues of flame, indicating the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is symbolized by a shamrock and a triangle, both shapes of the three-in-one nature of God.


The small windows in the back of the church symbolizes St. John and Martin Luther. The eagle was used as the symbol of St. John for his Gospel is considered the most inspirational so that it mounts toward heaven as does the eagle. Luther’s coat of arms consists of a cross on a heart, reposing on the Messianic (or heraldic) rose and surrounded by a circle to symbolize eternity.

The choir room windows are an abstract break-up of color with musical notes defined in the matrix.


The balcony window in the West end of the church depicts Christ enthroned in glory. The large figure almost spreads beyond the confines of this irregular opening. It seems to shimmer in the light due to the fact that an extra large percentage of the glass used was faceted. The large scale of the head enables it to be seen from a distance outside the illumined church at night. Our Lord is shown holding a cross-topped world, symbol of majesty, in one hand, and extending the other hand in mercy and forgiveness toward mankind




St. John Lutheran Church 

Rev. Dr. Jeffery George Gramza 

Senior Pastor 

Every day I thank God for the honor of serving this awesome congregation.  I love this community of real people, living, learning, loving, laughing, worshiping, serving, struggling and growing together.

I grew up in South Bend, Indiana. I earned a Bachelor's of Science (BS) in Biology and Chemistry at Valparaiso University, a Master's of Divinity (M.Div.) at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio and a Doctorate in Ministry (DMin) at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. I was ordained in 1998. I interned at St. John Lutheran Church in Wilson, Texas.  After ordination I served Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Wessington Springs, South Dakota and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in New Castle, Indiana.  I began my ministry at the Purple Door Church in August of 2011.

My ministry is sustained through the loving support of my wife Elizabeth. She is my best friend and partner in ministry.  She is a nursing instructor at Wright State University’s Lake Campus. Together, we have four wonderful children—Molly, Lilly, Nathaniel George, and Grace.

When I accepted the call to ministry, I knew I was embarking on an impossible venture. What gives me the ability to accomplish daily ministry is the knowledge that God goes with me. Where my own faith or strength or courage or skills may fail or fall short, God is there guiding me, renewing my faith and strengthening me for ministry. Through every aspect of ministry, I remain open to the blessings and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I believe the Word of God is relevant for life. God's Word has transformational power in my life and I believe God calls me to do "relevant ministry." I endeavor to keep others connected to God in meaningful and relevant ways. I want others to experience the power of the living Word and the blessings of Almighty God as much as do.

In my spare time, I am an active leader in Scouting. I enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and camping.

Jenelle Gross

Director of Children's Ministry 

Greetings! My name is Jenelle Gross and I am the Children’s Director here at St. John’s. My family and I have been a part of the WOW Wednesday night program since 2010. Prior to becoming the Children’s Director in June of 2018, I volunteered for several years teaching the WOW program and VBS.


I live in Coldwater, Ohio with my husband Jeremy and our five children Rudi, TJ, Jenessa, and twin boys Marshel and Beckett. I have earned my associates degree in Early Childhood Education and Bachelors in Intervention Specialist. I have taught preschool for 14 years. When I am not at work I love spending time with my family. Some of my favorite things are listening to music, butterflies, sweet tea, traveling, and watching almost all sporting events!


I have a passion for teaching and learning. I love to watch young children develop and grow in knowledge and faith. If you ever have a question just ask! My children have always loved the children’s programs here at the Purple Door Church, as I hope your children do as well.

Heather Kuhn 

Church Administrator

I have attended St. John's since 2009. We absolutely love how the  congregation treats you like family. My family and pets are my world. My husband Eric and I have 3 boys; Kobe, Gavin and Elliot. And we have 3 dogs; Tucker, Stella and Penny. Our boys love to attend the Wednesday night WOW program and VBS. I thank God everyday for allowing me to serve as your Church Administrator.

Denny Rolfes

Property Steward

I started as the property steward in 2015. I love my job and the members I come in contact with. My wife, oldest boy, Toby and his family  attend church here. Toby's son and daughter, 8 & 7, love WOW taco night and my grandson Leo loves to fish with Pastor Jeff at his pond. My youngest son, Casey and his wife have 2 little girls, 2&4. I'm a very proud grandfather.

Mary Meyer


Hi, I'm Mary Meyer. I'm the custodian at St. John. I started here in 2018. I live in Celina with my husband Kevin. We have 2 kids and 4 grandsons. 

I truly enjoy my job and all of the people I get to interact with. 

Rachel Russell


Hi, I am Rachel Russell, your church secretary. I have been with St. Johns since June of 2018. I am married to my high-school sweetheart, Tyler. Together we have four beautiful and talented children, Chloe, Noah, Lily, and Reese. Tyler and I are both Celina graduates and love raising our children in our hometown.

Although we are members of another church, we feel so welcome and have become part of the St John family. My children participate in all the activities here that they can and my husband and I volunteer when we can. It is amazing that we are so blessed with two church families. This position and church have changed our lives.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. " Jeremiah 29:11