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The Faculty explains the St. John's Difference:

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Schedule an Educational Success Consultation today to visit our principal to discuss the opportunities available for your child at St. John's School.


"The best endorsement I could give for St. John's Waltz is that my daughter learned to read when she was in kindergarten." 

     - Heidi Kaminski

"Going to different events - either sports, academic, or extracurricular - at other schools showed me the St. John's difference. Our kids were more respectful and had better sportsmanship."

     - Michelle Cruz

"What I love about St. John's is that the older kids are given the opportunity to mentor the younger kids. This helps them learn patience, leadership skills, and provides them time to help teach - cementing the values they learned themselves."

     - Faith Lewen

"If I had to summarize the St. John's community and experience with one word, it would be 'awesome.' I feel like my family is truly welcomed and loved."

     - Heather Buda

"My family and I have been members since 2003 and our son is an alumni of the school K-8th. If you're looking for a place for your family to grow in Christ this is it!"

     - Candi Golden

"You will not find a more supportive and loving environment like you will at St. John's."

     - Anthony Stone

"St. John's is a safe loving environment to raise my children. My children have learned the value of hard work and responsibility in a loving Christian environment."

     - Jennifer Pinter Grant

"St. John's is a loving and friendly place to have your children be taught God's word! I love this school."

     - Kellie Long



“I feel that the relationship I had with my teachers over the years, the small classrooms, the one- on-one attention we received has helped me tremendously with my studies. I am focused on doing well and push myself to be the very best in my education. I have gained a relationship with God through St. John’s as well as irreplaceable friendships with my peers who have become part of my family in many ways… Mr. Hansell taught me that learning can take place anywhere… Mrs. Gurney taught me what a strong independent woman looks like… I will always be grateful…”


“Thank you for helping me grow not only as a person, but spiritually as well… each teacher has brought something different to my life… In third grade I was in Mrs. Faerber’s class, I learned that some teachers do not have a single mean bone in their body! She is the true meaning of the word patience… Mrs. Jackson [taught me] learning isn’t always just book work, but learning hands-on… Pastor Wade was the hardest teacher I’ve ever had. His religion class was the first and only time I had been grounded from a bad grade… he would not lower his expectations… As we all go our separate ways next year, always remember what we were taught. Psalm 37:5 says, “Depend on the Lord. Trust in Him and He will act.”


“My fondest memory came from fifth grade during our canoe activity – where not only I, but also a couple of my unfortunate classmates got written up… meaning that the rest of our group had to stop canoeing… twice. Mr. Manthei taught me patience… When the [COVID-19] hit… I realized I would be missing a lot… However, thanks to the wonderful teachers at St. John’s, I am able to have a graduation, confirmation, and took my first communion. I appreciate all that you’ve done for me and the rest of the students here. Thank you for teaching me about God and growing my faith.”


“I like being here and helping where I can… but I think the thing that I’ll miss the most is the friends that I’ve made here. I’ve met all my friends, or at least the ones that I like the most, at St. John’s… [We’ll always have] the memories we’ve made…. Attempting to beat Mr. Schaffer at chess, which I managed to do once… although, I think he let me win… because of St. John’s I know that I’ll always have someone to count on… Every teacher that I’ve had has pointed me back to Jesus and reminded me that I’m forgiven and that I belong to Him.”



Did you ever think it was possible to have more than one place that feels like home? St. John’s feels like home to me! This is the place where I was baptized, went to school for 8 years, was married, and the place where our children went to school! In all those years there have been many happy & amazing times. There have also been times of heartache and sorrow. Whether good or bad I know that I can always count on my family at St. John’s to be there for me. They are there to celebrate the happy occasions and fun times. They are also there to lend a listening ear or give a much-needed hug during the difficult times. I have also learned on more than one occasion that people are praying for you and you may not even know it! We all know the power of prayer!

Another thing I learned many years ago was how important it is to serve at this church and school. My mom was incredibly involved here from the time I was a child until a few years ago. I remember the close friendships she made and how much fun they always seemed to have while serving together. I saw the dedication and love they showed while serving at many different events though out the years. It was something that I always admired about her and her friends. I sometimes wondered if I would get involved when I became an adult. I also wondered if I would have the same kind of friendships and have the same experiences that I saw them have together. Well, I did get involved! I have had the chance to serve on a couple different boards. The first one was the high school youth board. I had the opportunity to be part of a multiple mission trips, two national youth gatherings, and the Michigan District youth gathering. It may not sound like fun to travel on a bus across the country with a group of high school students, but it is amazing to see them worship our great God with thousands of other teens. It is also awesome to see them work for hours in the Mississippi heat to help clean up after a hurricane, serving those in need.

After my kids got out of high school, I had another opportunity to serve. I became the head of the PFPR board. In case you don’t know PFPR stands for Parish Fellowship and Public Relations. What this also means is that I get to be part of many fun events and activities around St. John’s. Events such as, celebration dinners, the bi-annual auction, trunk or treat, the Christmas bazaar, the Christmas cookie exchange, Euchre nights and more. We have events that involve not only our church and school families but our community as well. It may seem like a lot of work or a huge time commitment to serve on a committee or board while trying to handle all the normal everyday life things. However, it is such a blessing to be part of an event and see our friends, families, and neighbors gather together for times of fun & fellowship. Maybe you are looking for a chance to build new friendships or an opportunity to use some of the talents that God has given you. If so, please prayerfully consider following Jesus’ example to serve and join one of the boards here at St. John’s.


Hello St. Johns! My name is Kim Manthei, and I am the Youth Chairman here at St. John’s. Although we haven’t been able to get together these last 10 months, our youth are still planning and preparing for the future! Our pause in fellowship hasn’t dampened the spirit of these youth members who are excited for what 2022 holds in Houston, TX! Our 2019 trip to Minneapolis was inspiring on so many levels for these teens. Before our plane ever left Minnesota, they couldn’t stop talking about what Texas was going to be like in 2022. These moments and memories are why being Chairman is so rewarding. To see teens in today’s society so eager to praise our Lord is something you won’t find anywhere else. The LCMS church goes above and beyond for our youth to bring them closer to Jesus, and strengthen their relationship with Him every three years. It is our job as a congregation to encourage this supplement! I am so proud of the faith these students display in their daily lives to those around them. And we are SO thankful for the support that St. John’s gives to these students to be able to experience this triennium. Just because they haven’t been visible during the pandemic, doesn’t mean they aren’t preparing. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing these youth members to have memories and a relationship with their Lord and Savior that will last a lifetime! If you have a young adult interested in experiencing something that will change their life – let them know they are invited! God’s blessings!


“Why did I choose St. John’s Waltz?” is an easy question for me to answer because I can simply say “I didn’t.” I didn’t choose St. John’s Waltz; I am a member here because my husband has been called by the Holy Spirit and this congregation to serve as the Senior Pastor. I knew when I said “Yes!” to Jeff’s marriage proposal twelve years ago that I was relinquishing my right to choose my place of worship in the years to come. So why am I at St. John’s Waltz? because this is where my husband is called to administer the Word and Sacrament and I go where he goes.

In my early years, I had the privilege of attending a Lutheran grade school from Kindergarten through 8th grade - St. John, Defiance. At St. John, Defiance, I learned the value of a Christian Education. As a student, I studied the core curriculum, participated in sports where I learned the value of teamwork and sportsmanship, studied the Catechism, and was surrounded by adults who showed me the love of Christ every day. I earned a detention once or twice, was reprimanded for speaking out in class, was bullied periodically, failed once or twice on classwork, earned a place on the honor roll - and in every instance was told and shown that my value and worth did not come from my actions - good or bad - but rather that my value was found in my Baptism, where I became a member of the family of God. My “self-worth” had nothing to do with myself, but rather my worth was bought with a high price, the innocent blood of Christ. Growing up is hard. Junior High is difficult. Learning is challenging. I am forever grateful that my parents recognized the value of facing these formative years in an environment where Christ is at the center of it all. A Christian Education is valuable, and that value is far more than the dollar amount that my parents, grandparents, and members of the congregation sacrificed so that I could have that life forming experience.

With that experience, I chose a career in education, earning a Lutheran Teaching Diploma so that I could continue to be part of a community that values the whole student and sees and treats each one as the Child of God that they are. Teaching that, while every action has a consequence, it is not those actions that define you. I was given the opportunity to serve full time in a Lutheran School the five years that Jeff studied at the Seminary. When Jeff was called to St. John’s Waltz, I needed to find new ways to be part of Lutheran education instead of simply teaching in a Lutheran School.

I took on the role of Chairman of the Board of Christian Education when there was a need for a Sunday School Superintendent and was able to help develop a curriculum that took students through the Old and New Testament as well as Lutheran Doctrine pointing out who God is, what He has done throughout history for us, and how He interacts with us today through Word and Sacrament. This position also placed me on the School Board where I have been able to work with other individuals who are passionate about providing a quality Christ-centered education to everyone interested, regardless of their background, church affiliation, or membership and making it financially accessible. During my time on the School Board, I have seen teachers give the same care to students, their eternal future, and Christ-given value that I experienced.

I am at St. John’s Waltz because of my husband. I serve at St. John’s Waltz because I was blessed with a quality Lutheran education and am passionate about ensuring that others have the same life formative experience. 



“I have always felt like he won’t get lost in the shuffle. The teachers at St. John’s are very in tune with each individual student and their needs… Since [kindergarten], every teacher he has had, has been our favorite. My husband and I have had full confidence and trust in their ability to take care of our child and help to prepare him for his future… The most important reason my husband and I have kept our son at St. John’s is because of Jesus. Having our son at a Christ centered school has made all the difference in the world. We want him to know what is most important in this life. At St. John’s he is taught about the saving grace of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ every day and sees what that looks like lived out in the lives of our teachers, staff and peers.”


“Each of my children has a unique personality, all have vastly different interests, abilities and academic needs. Impressively, St. John’s has been able to accommodate each child, while emphasizing strong morals and Christian values… More impressive than St. John’s meeting the needs of my three children, is the fact the teachers are AMAZING! They each bring kindness, knowledge, patience, and love to their classrooms. Even more importantly, they are called teachers, who are extremely knowledgeable of the Bible, and how to share it lovingly with children. St. John’s has been a blessing to my family, and I am confident that the years they have spent at St. John’s will serve them well for the rest of their lives!”


“Approximately four years ago my wife and I walked my oldest son into St. John’s Waltz to begin a moderately priced, convenient option for preschool. At the time, we did not know that we were getting ready to leave our child with people that would eventually become part of our family… Not only did we feel love from the staff at St. John’s, but the older students were also testimony of the environment in which they had been raised. It was amazing to see older students greeting my son at school with smiles and high fives… The motto at St. John’s is “Believing, Loving, Teaching” and I cannot think of three better words to capture the goals we have for our own children.”


“St. John’s offered us everything we were looking for, and so much more. The love and mentorship that our son experienced while attending St. John’s are so invested in creating an optimal environment for students to grow and learn… We are confident that his education, spiritual growth, and experiences have influenced and motivated him for the future, it has helped him to develop a plan and a path in which to follow.”


“There really is something remarkably special about the land and building that is St. John’s. I do believe it was heaven sent for the mission of teaching about the love that is Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us… In the nine years [of having my boys here] I have watched my little boys grow and mature and become the young men of faith I was so hoping for, as any parent would… Their teachers were like an extension of me – we were a team, trying to grow and mold and prepare these two bright lights for what would come later in their lives… I began helping in the Café with [Lindsay, Dave, and Torri] … My life would not be what it is without them… I pray the children I have served have felt the love I have for each and every one of them and that they remember their ‘crazy lunch lady’ for years to come.”


My name is Kari Tapley, I began serving on the School Board in July of 2017 and started working here in February 2019. Because my job includes church and school finances, I also sit in on Church Council meetings. I grew up in a Lutheran Church and School. Serving is something I have witnessed all my life and thanks to my youth group, something I started at an early age.

When Chris and I moved back to Michigan in 2005, this place seemed to fit. We had experienced a broken church and were a little leery when we became members. But I knew I wanted a similar nurturing environment for my child, and St. Johns quickly became our church home.

Initially, we sat back and didn’t get involved. No congregation is perfect, but you can’t improve anything by sitting on the sidelines. Through service here at St. John’s I have had the opportunity to build friendships and learn about the gifts of our fellow brothers and sister in Christ. Service has also helped me learn more about myself, and provided me a sense of fulfillment. Service is not always easy or fulfilling, but I have found there are often unexpected gifts in it.

I was nervous when I started working here. I did not grow up in this church or community, and I didn’t know how things worked or how they have always been. People have been so kind and afforded me much grace in my current position. Working here has allowed me to see God at work. The dedication and love that people have for our school and church does not cease to amaze me. On the other hand, the potential we have here that seems untapped also leaves me in awe. I implore you to see where you might fit and plug in. Ask questions and find a place where God can use you to further His Kingdom. The work is great, and many hands and hearts are needed. Please don’t wait for someone to ask you to help or get involved. While that may seem contrary, it is easy for people to get lost in their work and not ask for help, but please know you and your help are both valuable and needed.

God has blessed us all with unique gifts. By serving and working together, we can further His Kingdom. I know I could never be a teacher, but interacting with the school kids and watching their relationships with the people around them makes my heart swell. God is truly at work here and while I never planned to work at a church or school, I am blessed to have the opportunity to do so. I pray God uses me to the best of my ability to work and serve here, just as He blesses you in your faith and service here at St. Johns.



Paycheck Protection Plan Loan: It’s January 7, 2020 and I just submitted the paperwork for Loan forgiveness. A great deal of documentation was required, as well as the normal myriad of calculations showing pay rates of all employees for most of 2020 calendar year. What a relief to finally submit. We have a Voters’ meeting this month on January 25, 2021 at 6:30 pm. I am hoping to be able to tell you at that meeting our loan application was accepted by Fifth Third Bank, please pray that is the case.

Good news, Candi Golden has decided to volunteer to be the next Church Council Secretary. I appreciate all members who volunteer and use their talents to carry out the work of our church! Having someone record and file Church Council minutes, Voter’s meeting minutes, and Voter rolls is particularly important. Please tell Candi thank you next time you see her. Also, we are especially thankful to Sandy Fritz for her many years of being the Church Council Secretary.

EJ Long has served as our treasurer for the past 2 1/2 years. He has decided to pass on the treasurer duties to a new member next fiscal year. Please prayerfully consider if this position is something you can fill. It is a difficult, but critical position that needs someone with financial and budgeting experience. Please contact me if you feel the calling to serve St. John’s in this capacity. We would like the new treasurer to work with EJ for a few months prior to the start of the new fiscal year.

The Pandemic has made it difficult to meet in person. Yet, I am so grateful that we are able to gather around God’s Word. I pray the infection rates begin to decrease now that a vaccine is available. Worst case, we may have social distancing and mask wearing required for many more months. Until then, we will continue to have our Voter’s meetings available on Zoom.

Please continue to financially support St. John’s with your tithes and offerings. Our main mission here is our school and it has been a challenge to properly staff and fund. Many of you have been approached to support families and students that cannot afford tuition on their own. Thank you for providing your financial support. I pray more people are willing and able to give above and beyond their normal tithe to support this important mission. I pray God will bless all St. John’s members who make good use of their time, talents, and treasures.


I was asked to write about why St. John’s? As I was pondering what to write I thought about all the things I could talk about. Why do we call St. John’s our church home? Why do we choose to send our daughter to St. John’s school? Why do I choose to be part of Men’s group and other fellowship opportunities? Why do I choose to serve at St. John’s? What one of these reasons answers the question Why St. John’s for me? I realized that not one of these, but all of these answer the question for me of “Why St. John’s?”

At St. John’s we have found a Church home that meets all our family’s spiritual needs. We are and have been blessed with amazing pastors that weekly bring us the weight of the law, a greater understanding of the Catechism and the promise of the Gospel. We have a Christian education program that provides for my daughter’s spiritual growth as well as great adult bible studies. I know that when my daughter has questions about her faith I can’t answer that I have two pastors that she feels comfortable going to and asking the questions that can only come to a child’s mind.

At St. John’s we have found a school for my daughter that provides a solid education, meeting all her intellectual needs. More importantly we have found an environment that is meeting all her spiritual and emotional needs. A place where she can grow in her faith, explore all the questions a child has and make the mistakes in a loving environment that a child will make. I know that she is surrounded by teachers and staff that will treat her and love her like their own. This family also provides us the support as parents that we need to shape our daughter into an amazing young lady.

At St. John’s I have had the opportunity to develop friendships and relationships through Men’s group that would not be possible in any other way. What often looks like a bunch of guys getting together and drinking or brewing beer often develops into some of the deepest conversations surrounding faith and day to day life that I have ever been part of. This group has also been responsible for raising thousands of dollars over the last 10+ years that have supported our youth group, the church, and (most importantly) the ongoing Lutheran education of our St. John’s Graduates. Seventy percent of what Men’s group raises every year goes to support our students that choose to continue their Lutheran Education at the high school and college level.

Finally, why do I serve? Why do I give of my time to sit on church council and the Board of Elders? Why do I attend multiple meetings in a month on top of a full-time job and my role as a father and husband? I serve because this all matters and will not happen without people willing to serve and give of their time. Through serving I am able to give back to this amazing mission that supports myself and my family. I am able to ensure that others hear the Gospel and of the amazing salvation that is ours because of Jesus’s sacrifice. Ultimately, I serve because God has blessed me with a gift, and this is my way of using it.

So Why St. John’s, because God has blessed me and my family with an amazing Church and School family that helps us continually grow in our Christian journey.



St. John’s is the greatest church and school ever. I have been a member ever since I was baptized here at three months old. I went to school here from preschool through eighth grade. It is a great place to make friends. All my classmates were my friends and still are today. I am also great friends with the pastors, teachers, and staff – they are so welcoming that you feel like you’re at home. The lessons you learn stay with you permanently, because they prepare you for high school and beyond. Even with CoVID-19 going on, they are still all doing their best to provide for everyone. We have food drives, offer tuition assistance, and continue to have worship. All these things help us understand God and His ways. They are always ready to welcome you with open arms and do what they can to help you get where you need to be. I am very blessed to be at St. John’s and I am always ready to attend Sunday to visit and learn more about God and what He has done for us. Even though some may consider St. John’s on the smaller side, it gives students more face- to-face time with those they need to speak to for help. What I am today is because of St. John’s, and what they have helped me accomplish, they can also do for you if you let them. They are always glad to help in anyway they can because it is in fact God’s Will to spread the Gospel message of love and forgiveness to everyone. Even in high school, I still think about St. John’s and it makes me wish that we had a high school because I love this place so much. St. John’s is my source of inspiration. It inspires me to become a great person and be mindful of others. God has blessed us here. At our heart, I know that we should strive to be selfless, focus on Jesus, care about others, and pass this on to everyone. That’s what “Believing, Loving, Teaching” means to me. At St. John’s, we are taught this from an incredibly young age, and we are taught to never forget it. For me, St. John’s is the best place ever and that will never change.