St. Peters Chronological History
What follows is a brief chronological history of our congregation, starting when we acquired the old log house in 1861.
1866: In August, Rev. Bauer resigned and Rev. R.H. Biederman is installed. After his arrival, the first congregational meeting is held.
1867: The congregation began constructing a wood frame church edifice. The church was subsequently dedicated in the fall of 1867.
1869: The first parish hall was erected under the leadership of Rev. F. Ruff.
1875: The church was incorporated.
1883: The new parsonage was built.
1896: English was first introduced at the evening services.
1897: The saddest events in our history occurred when there was a division into Immanuel and St. Peter's Lutheran Churches.
1901-1904: The weekly envelope system was introduced, a choir was called into existence and the art glass windows were installed.
1907: A golden Jubilee was held, at which time Rev. Lauer compiled the first history.
1914: The Rev. W.F. Kraus was installed as Pastor in November.
1918: The Rev. M.L. Baseler was installed as Pastor in June.
1920: Women were given the right to vote at all congregational meetings and a new constitution was printed in English for the first time.
1922: Rev. Baseler accepts another calling and communicant membership now stands at 183.
1923: Rev. G.W. Lenz arrives and is installed in March.
1927: Bids are received for putting a basement under the church and a red brick veneer over the frame at a cost of $6,269. In September, a special service was conducted for the laying of the corner stone and in November, three dedication services were held for the newly remodeled church.
1932: Enlargement of the parish hall kitchen.
1941: A new pipe organ is installed.
1943: The high steeple was removed and a new alter was installed as a memorial.
1950: Rev. James P. Hunter is installed as Pastor in April.
1957: The Newton property is purchased for $7,000 in March, and in November we celebrated our centennial with special services on four consecutive Sundays.
1959: The Gliem property was purchased for $22,000 in July. This gave us an entire city block for future church expansion.
1960: Rev. Hunter accepts another calling in April. Rev. Robert E. Berry is installed as Pastor in June and there is a merger of the American Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church.
1963: The cornerstone for the new Parish Education Hall is laid in August and the new facility is dedicated in December. The hall cost $93,589 and included room for 18 Sunday school classes.
1964: Rev. Berry accepts another calling and Rev. Walter B. Scarvie is installed as Pastor.
1967: Rev. Scarvie accepts another calling in October.
1968: Rev. Paul F. Reyelts is installed as Pastor in January.
1973: We rejoice in the ordination of Gerald Elsholz as the first son of the congregation to be ordained.
1976: Rev. Barbara Andrews, the first woman to be ordained as a Pastor of the ALC preaches the sermon and assists with Holy Communion at the Bi-Centennial worship services.
1984: At a special congregational meeting in March, preliminary plans for the new church were approved by a 78-10 vote.
1985: The final worship services in the old church were held on Easter Sunday, April 7th.
1986: A dedication of the new church was held on March 23rd, Palm Sunday.
1991: Rev. Paul Reyelts accepts another calling in July and Rev. Walter Malkewitz is installed as Pastor in November.
1992: St. Peter's purchases a parsonage in April and celebrates the burning of the church mortgage in August, almost 14 years early.
1996: Marks the 139th year of Christian ministry and service as a congregation in St. Clair.
2001: Rev. Walter Malkewitz accepts another calling in November and Rev. Garnet Haase is appointed by the Synod as an interim Pastor.
2002: Rev. Haase is recalled by the Synod and is replaced by Diaconal Minister Tim Freund in September.
2003: Rev. Roland Troike is installed as Pastor in August.
2014: Rev. Ken Staib is installed in October to replace the retired Rev. Troike.
In the Beginning
1857 to 1882
In the middle of the 19th Century began a strong influx of German
immigrants to the area, attracted by the employment opportunities
offered by numerous saw mills and shipyards that sprang up along
the St. Clair River and the Pine River in close proximity to the
dense hardwood forests. These German immigrants were either
Roman Catholic or Lutheran, the predominant religions in
Germany at that time and to this day. The history of St. Peter's
Lutheran Church is intertwined with the very beginning of
Lutheranism in St. Clair County, Michigan.
Two young Lutherans, Joseph Heissler and C. Ide of Marine City
(then called Newport), began a Bible study group similar to one
they had attended in Hermansburg, Germany. The group grew in
size and soon attracted a Methodist minister. After a number of
arguments about doctrine and faith, the two men realized the need
for a leader of their own faith. By coincidence, Heissler had met
Sigmund Fritschel, a Lutheran minister, on the ship that brought
him to America. Heissler contacted Pastor Fritschel in Detroit, who
expressed interest in serving the Lutherans in Newport. He
promised to preach to them the next time he came to Swan Creek
(St. Paul's of Peters) where he had just formed a small
congregation. In 1857 Pastor Fritschel began conducting services
every other Sunday at Newport, and invited the German Lutherans
of St. Clair (then named Palmer) to attend. The residents of St.
Clair so enjoyed the services that they implored Pastor Fritschel to
begin holding services in their community also, to which he
In November of 1857 and through the efforts of Pastor Fritschel,
Pastor A. C. Bauer was called to serve the three fledgling
congregations of Marine City, St. Clair, and Palms. Pastor Bauer
was installed by Pastor Schmidt, a traveling missionary, and began
holding services at St. Clair every two weeks. Under his
leadership a Lutheran congregation was successfully founded at St.
Clair, and affiliated with the Missouri Synod. Charter members
included Mr. and Mrs. Michael Niehmeier, Mr. and Mrs. John
Feldmeier, Mr. And Mrs. Michael Scheuricker, Mr. And Mrs.
Frederick Meier, Mrs. M. Schwartz, Mrs. Hubel, Miss Gutman,
and Miss Koenig. Michael Scheuricker and John Feldmeier were
elected Elders, and were responsible for determining the time and
place of worship, and for the janitorial work.
The first recorded marriage at St. Peter's took place on December
4, 1857, when Matthew Kunzlen and Wilma Huhn were united in
matrimony. The first recorded baptism was that of Emma
Bussironi, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bussironi, and took
place on March 13, 1858. The first confirmands of St. Peter's
were August Beier and Frederick Beier, on June 15, 1858.
Pastor Bauer labored faithfully as a pioneer minister, and endured
many hardships during his travels on horseback over primitive
roads. He was often completely exhausted when he arrived at St.
Clair and needed time for recuperation before he was able to
conduct a worship service. In 1860 Pastor Bauer resigned his other
charges to become the exclusive pastor of the St. Clair church.
The following year the congregation purchased an old log home
with a half lot at 7th and Jay Streets, for the sum of $200. The
house was remodeled such that the upstairs could be used for
worship and church school, and the downstairs as a residence for
the pastor and his family. Pastor Bauer served St. Peter's for
another six years. After serving St. Peter's for nine years, he
accepted a call to Toledo, Ohio, and left the area in 1866.
Old Log House (Circa 1861)
Pastor R. H. Biedermann (1866-1869)
Mr. Fred Meier then went to Detroit and, assisted by a Pastor
Huegli, invited Pastor R. H. Biedermann to come to St. Clair. Rev.
Biedermann was installed as the second pastor of St. Peter's in
August 1866, and lead the first congregational meeting shortly
thereafter. Various rules and regulations were adopted at this
meeting that governed the work and activities of the congregation,
such as the number of times that Holy Communion would be
celebrated in a month, whether private confession should be
practiced, and the kind of books to be used in the school.
In early 1867 construction of a framed structure that would become
a permanent church for the congregation began. This undertaking
was a real challenge for a small congregation with limited means,
but each member did his share. Farmers donated large timbers and
hauled sand, gravel and supplies, while others donated their labor
and money to the project. Pastor Biedermann, assisted by Pastor
Huegli of Detroit, led the service of dedication for the first St.
Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church on the 18th Sunday after
Trinity, in November of 1867.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church
The instruction of the children was taken care of through the
establishment of a parochial school. Initially led by Pastor
Biedermann, this work soon proved to be too strenuous for him.
Despite being small and burdened with debt after building the
church structure, the congregation retained the services of Teacher
Ries for the school. However, Pastor Biedermann's health
continued to deteriorate, and after only three years he resigned his
pastorate and moved to Missouri. Pastors Huegli and Moll, of
Detroit, served St. Peter's until a new minister could be obtained.
Pastor F. Ruff was called to fill the vacant pastorate at St. Clair in
1869, and served St. Peter's for the next seven years. Under his
leadership the first Parish Hall was completed in the Fall of 1869.
By 1875 St. Peter's had grown to 62 members, a large increase
from the 28 members in 1860. After helping to organize Trinity
Lutheran Church and School in Port Huron, throat troubles caused
Pastor Ruff to retire from the ministry in 1876. He remained in the
St. Clair area until his death in 1881. Meanwhile, Teacher Ries
accepted a call from a Wyandotte parish and departed in 1876.
Ries was succeeded by Teacher Hopf, who discontinued teaching
after a short stint because of ill health. Student Riedel was then
selected to teach at the parish school.
Pastor F. Ruff (1869-1876)
Pastor F. R. Lauritzen ( 1876-1876)
Pastor L. Traub (1876-1879)
Pastor Lauritzen, of Port Huron, served St. Peter's congregation for
several months in 1876 and oversaw the incorporation of the
church. Pastor Lauritzen installed Pastor Lorenz Traub as the next
minister on the Sunday prior to Reformation Day, 1876. Student
Riedel then accepted a call to Saginaw and was replaced by Miss
Martha Lauritzen for a short time. Teacher Paul Appett assumed
the leadership of the school in 1877. However, because of
congregational dissension the number of students enrolled in the
school quickly declined, and he resigned in 1878 to move
elsewhere. Because the congregation was in disarray, the Synod
removed Pastor Traub in August of 1879.
Pastor H. W. Schroeder assumed the pastorate at St. Peter's on
September 23, 1879, and labored diligently to unify the members
of the congregation. He re-focused the congregation on Christian
service and ministry, and took charge of the parish school. Under
his leadership the remaining debt of $700 owed by the parish was
soon paid off.
Pastor H. W. Schroeder (1879-1895)
Unity and Disunity
1883 to 1907
A parsonage was built for Pastor Schroeder and his family in 1883,
and the original frame church remodeled that same year at a cost of
$300. Pastor Schroeder reportedly ruled the parish school with an
iron hand for fifteen years, until being forced to retire from
teaching because of hearing loss. Candidate Seebald was then
called to fill the vacancy at the school.
After leading St. Peter's for sixteen years and restoring unity
within the congregation, Pastor Schroeder resigned at a
congregational meeting held September 1, 1895. Pastor F. L.
Schroeder, of Port Huron and his brother, provided ministerial
services during the short absence of a fulltime minister.
Pastor J. Becker 1896-1901
Pastor Julius Becker accepted the call and was installed as minister
on April 12, 1896. Soon after his arrival the evening service began
to be held in the English language. Then in 1897 arose a situation
that irrevocably divided the Lutherans of St. Clair. Until that time
St. Peter's had been affiliated with the Missouri Synod, which
subscribed to the doctrine of Schwager-Ehe (which prohibited
marriage between sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law). However,
Pastor Becker belonged to a different synod which did not accept
that doctrine. After a contentious and acrimonious struggle, the
majority of the congregation sided with Pastor Becker and elected
to withdraw from the Missouri Synod. A minority of the
congregation then left to form a new and separate Missouri Synod
congregation in St. Clair, which continues to this day.
Following the advice of Pastor Becker, St. Peter's applied for
affiliation with the Joint Synod of Ohio in 1900. Pastor Bollmar, a
Synod representative, came from Detroit to explain the doctrines
and practices of the Synod to the congregation. The members of
St. Peter's then voted unanimously to unite with the Joint Synod on
September 15, 1901. Shortly thereafter Pastor Becker resigned the
pastorate due to poor health and relocated to California.
Pastor A. Ebert (1901-1904)
A call was then extended to Pastor Adolf Ebert. Although he
would serve only three years, Pastor Ebert made many friends
within the congregation and reinvigorated the parish. During his
tenure the debt accumulated by St. Peter's during the previous
several years was paid off, a weekly envelope system was
introduced to encourage regular giving, the liturgical service of the
Ohio Synod was adopted, the first choir was organized, and stained
glass windows were added to the sanctuary. In 1904 he resigned
the pastorate at St. Peter's to accept a call to Pittsburgh,
Then followed another 17 months of disarray because of the lack
of pastoral continuity. Pastor Meinecke filled the pastorate on
June 4, 1905, but departed after staying only nine months. The
singular accomplishment of this period was the donation of pipe
organ in the memory of Mr. F. Sauer. Finally, Pastor C. F. Lauer
assumed the pastorate of St. Peter's on May 13, 1906, and
provided the leadership to move the congregation forward again.
Renovation and Re-invigoration
1908 to 1932
St. Peter's celebrated its Golden Jubilee anniversary in 1907. As
part of this celebration, Pastor Lauer undertook the writing of the
first history of the congregation. Pastor Lauer served the St.
Peter's congregation for eight years, during which time the
congregation grew in numbers and financial strength. Various
improvements were made to the parsonage such as the basement,
furnace, porches, bathrooms, and redecorating. In the Spring of
1914 Pastor Lauer accepted a call to Shelbyville, Illinois, and the
congregation was again left with a vacant pastorate for a few
Pastor C. F. Lauer (1906-1914)
Pastor William F. Krause accepted the call and was installed at St.
Peter's on November 1, 1914. The congregation continued to
grow stronger during the four years that he filled the pastorate.
Under his leadership a Brotherhood was organized, and English
was introduced to all church services. By 1918 St. Peter's
congregation had grown to 183 members, larger than before the
split in 1897. Pastor Krause resigned to accept a call to a Detroit
church in 1918.
Pastor M. L. Baseler then accepted the call and was installed as St.
Peter's minister on June 9, 1918. During his ministry the
congregation established a building fund to improve and
modernize the church. The Brotherhood, Ladies Aid, Luther
League, and Choir were all active components of the church's
ministry. The right to vote at Congregational Meetings was
extended to women in 1920, and the church constitution was
Pastor W. F. Krause (1914-1918)
rewritten in English. Pastor Baseler accepted a call to New York
City in 1922, leaving the pastorate at St. Peter's again vacant for a
few months. In January of 1923 a call was extended to Pastor G.
W. Lenz, then serving a congregation at Fairview, Kansas. Pastor
Lenz accepted the call, and arrived at St. Peter's in March of 1923.
Pastor M. L. Baseler (1918-1922)
Pastor G. W. Lenz (1923-1950)
In 1927 the congregation undertook a major renovation project of
the original frame church. A basement was built under the existing
church structure at a cost of $3,800, and red brick veneer was
added over the original frame at a cost of $2,469. A special
service for the laying of the cornerstone was held on September 18,
1927. The cornerstone read both 1867 for the building of the
original wooden church structure, and 1927 for the newly
remodeled and rebuilt church. Three Services of Dedication
were held on Sunday, November 20, 1927, to dedicate the
remodeled St. Peter's to the glory of God. Guest speakers included
Pastors Ebert, Lauer, and Krause, who had all served St. Peter's, as
well as Pastor E. W. Matzner of St. Martin's in Marine City.
In 1930 St. Peter's became affiliated with the American Lutheran
Church, which was formed through the consolidation of the Joint
Synod of Ohio, the Buffalo Synod, and the Iowa Synod.
The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of St. Peter's was celebrated during
the week of November 6-13, 1932. Speakers included Pastor J.
Appel of Port Huron, Pastor Charles Spithaler of Detroit; former
St. Peter's Pastor Adolf Ebert of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Pastor
Walter Fritschel of Roseville (grandson of Pastor Sigmund
Fritschel who first brought Lutheranism to St. Clair in 1857); and
Pastor E. W. Matzner of Marine City.
Stability and Growth
1933 to 1957
Pastor Lenz was to become the longest-serving pastor of St.
Peter's, and served the congregation for 27 years, from 1923 until
1950. He oversaw many significant changes during his tenure.
Among the most notable was the change from German to English.
The congregation had voted to hold only one service in German
each month in 1931. In 1933 the congregation voted to hold only
three services in the German language each year. This continued
until 1944 when the German-language services were discontinued
entirely. This changeover from the German language to the
English language was common during this period throughout the
Other changes completed during Pastor Lenz ministry included
the enlargement of the Parish Hall kitchen in 1932, the building of
a garage, the elimination of Sunday evening services in the mid
1930s, and the addition of a new pipe organ in 1941. The high
steeple that graced the church was removed in 1943 after it was
determined to be structurally unsafe. The wooden altar that is still
in use was given to St. Peter's as a memorial and installed in 1943.
Pastor Lenz retired from the ministry and from St. Peter's in
January of 1950. In appreciation of his long and faithful service,
the congregation voted to award a monthly pension to Pastor Lenz.
Pastor James P. Hunter was called from the Mt. Zion Lutheran
Church in Detroit, and assumed the pastorate of St. Peter's in April
of 1950. Under the leadership of Pastor Hunter a new Constitution
was adopted and a Memorial Building Fund was established for
future expansion. The Newton property immediately north of
the Parish Hall was purchased in March of 1957 at the cost of
$7,500 for future use. Replacement of the furnace in the Parish
Hall and in the parsonage, construction of a concrete foundation
under the Parish Hall, and the remodeling of the parsonage kitchen,
were also completed during the 1950s. Vacation Church School
was also begun in the late 1950s, as a 2-week program for the
youth of the church.
The One Hundred Year Anniversary of the founding of St. Peter's
was celebrated on the four consecutive Sundays of November,
1957. Dr. Norman Menter, President of the Michigan District of
the American Lutheran Church, led the Centennial Anniversary
Service on the first Sunday. Dr. Edward Schramm, Editor of the
Lutheran Standard, led the Centennial Family Service on the
second Sunday. Pastor James Hunter served as speaker and led the
Centennial Communion Service on the third Sunday.
Former Pastor M. L. Baseler was the principal speaker at the
Centennial Confirmation Reunion Service, held on the fourth
Sunday. Pastor's Lauer and Krause, also former pastors of St.
Peter's, attended and participated in this service. Afterwards, the
congregation enjoyed the opportunity to discuss memories with the
three former pastors.
Pastor J. P. Hunter (1950-1960)
St. Peter's Lutheran Church (1927-1985)
Planning for the Future
1958 to 1982
In July of 1959 the former Gliem property was purchased for
$22,000. Through this purchase St. Peter's acquired control of the
entire city block between 6th and 7th Streets, and north of Jay
Pastor Hunter accepted a call to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
of Seattle, Washington, in 1960. He was succeeded by Pastor
Robert B. Berry, who came directly from the Wartburg Seminary.
That same year the American Lutheran Church merged with the
United Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran
Soon after Pastor Berry's arrival, a building committee was formed
to oversee the replacement of the old wooden Parish Hall with a
new structure. Following congregational approval of the
Pastor Robert Berry (1960-1964)
architectural plans in January of 1963, the old Parish Hall and the
Newton house were quickly demolished. Construction of the
present Parish Hall began with a groundbreaking ceremony on
June 9, 1963, followed by the laying of the cornerstone on August
4, 1963. The completed structure was dedicated on December 15,
1963, at a cost of $93,589. The facility includes room for Sunday
School classrooms, a Pastor's Office, a Secretary's Office, the
Fireside Room, and a Kitchen.
After only four years of ministerial service, Pastor Berry accepted
a call to St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Greenville, Michigan, and
departed from St. Peter's in August of 1964.
Pastor Walter B. Scarvie accepted the call and was installed as the
minister of St. Peter's on October 11, 1964. Pastor Scarvie became
involved with the urban renewal program then being undertaken by
the City of St. Clair, and was instrumental in the building of
Palmer Park Manor for senior citizens. He encouraged the
congregation to adopt an outward focus towards the community
through such programs as the expanded use of the Parish Hall for
Pastor Walter Scarvie (1964-1967)
activities such as Women's Lenten Teas, Inter-Church Vacation
Bible School, Campfire Girls, various teen-oriented activities, and
non-denominational prayer meetings.
The Cooperative Nursery School that still uses the Parish Hall was
formed at that time also. After three years of service, Pastor
Scarvie accepted a call to the Campus Ministry in Washington, D.
C. and departed from St. Peter's in October of 1967.
Pastor Paul Reyelts, from Calvary Lutheran Church, Angola,
Indiana, accepted the call and assumed the pastorate of St. Peter's
in January of 1968. Pastor Reyelts also had an outward vision for
the church. A joint worship service with Immanuel Lutheran was
also held in 1969, the first such service since the congregation had
split in 1897. Pastor Reyelts and Pastor Donald Reinbolt of
Immanuel both preached sermonettes. The organizing committee
included Arnold Metz, Ed Oldenberg, Loretta Lukasak, Lucille
Zacharias, Gerald and Ruth Kammer, and Thornton Christy.
Members of both churches sang in the adult choir under the
direction of Irene Dundas, and the young adult choir under the
direction of Linda Lukasak. The organists were Lucille Zacharias
and Renee Zacharias. Leland Sass and Julian Sullivan read the
Gospel and Epistle lesson, respectively.
Pastor Paul Reyelts (1968-1991)
Pastor Reyelts was also deeply interested in mental health, and
served on the Mental Health Board of St. Clair County for a
number of years. He was also interested in athletics, and was
instrumental in starting a wrestling program at St. Clair High
School. He coached the sport for a number of years.
Pastor Reyelts also oversaw several significant changes in the
Lutheran Church in 1971. The Confirmation Ministry was
revamped, with the adoption of a modernized curriculum and the
elimination of public examinations. Also, a First Communion
program was instituted, which allowed youths to receive Holy
Communion prior to Confirmation after proper instruction. Lastly,
50 years after receiving the right to vote at congregational
meetings, women were finally granted the right to serve on the
In 1973 Pastor Gerald Elsholz became the first son of St. Peter's
to be ordained into the Lutheran ministry. Several other sons
and daughters of St. Peter's have since participated in
theological education, including: Pastor Nelson Bock and Craig
Bock, Pastor Dennis Rocker, Patty Zacharias, Pastor Renee
LiaBraaten, and Pastor Audrey Lukasak.
Between 1977 and 1981 St. Peter's joined with St. Martin's of
Marine City to sponsor a Husband/Wife Internship Program as
part of theological education through Trinity Lutheran Seminary,
Columbus, Ohio. Of the eight interns, seven were ordained and
have served as pastors: Richard and Nancy Ferris; Nancy Connor
and Dennis Sepper; David Littke and Garnet Haase; and David and
Nancy Vinciguerra. Pastor Garnet Haase served her internship at
St. Martin's in 1978, and returned to St. Peter's in 2003 to serve as
Soon after the completion of a new Parish hall in 1963, the
congregation began to discuss the need for a new church structure.
After the mortgage for the Parish Hall was paid off in 1972, St.
Peter's established a new Building Fund designated for a new
sanctuary. The congregation numbered 587 members in 1972.
Members of the congregation were surveyed in 1979, and 100%
favored the erection of a new church structure to meet the growing
needs of the church.
However, even while planning efforts continued, two other
improvements were made to address immediate maintenance
concerns that had arisen, and paid for through the Building Fund.
The original flat roof on the Parish Hall continually leaked. It
was replaced in 1982 with a new roof consisting of wooden trusses
and sheathing, topped with asphalt shingles. Also, storm windows
were added to the Parish Hall to reduce or eliminate the drafts due
to the single pane windows.
Building on the Rock
1983 to 2006
By 1983 more than $100,000 had been accumulated in the
Building Fund, and planning for a new sanctuary intensified as St.
Peter's entered its 125th year. The members of the Building
Committee included Louis Eisen, Chairman; Robert Green, Agnes
Haas, Ron and Gail Hayden, Ken Leverenz, Peter Lukasak, Ron
Meiselbaugh, James Rocker, Edward Snyder, Julian Sullivan,
Joyce Whittaker, Gustave Winter, and Pastor Reyelts. At a special
Congregation Meeting held September 11, 1983, the congregation
voted to hire architect Loton Eastman of Port Huron to draw up
preliminary plans for a new church structure that would connect to
the Parish Hall.
At a special Congregational Meeting held September 19, 1984, the
congregation approved the preliminary layouts and authorized
completion of design. The congregation also approved the
formation of a Finance Committee, with members consisting of
William Cunningham, Doris Eisen, George Eisen, Richard
Freimuth, Carl Haas, Don Knudsen, Ron Meiselbaugh, Fred
Russell, and Del Vogel.
At a third congregational meeting held on January 13, 1985, the
members of St. Peter's approved the final design and authorized
the building of the sanctuary. The final worship service in the old
church was held on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1985. Immediately
following the last service, a procession of members moved the
altar furnishings, paraments, and hymnals to the Parish Hall where
interim services would be held. The Finance Committee
designated 1984 as Miracle Year and raised an additional
$100,000 for the Building Fund. Additional money was also raised
in 1985 through memorials and special gifts. These additional
funds enabled the installation of six stained glass windows and
twenty padded pews.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church (1986)
The old church structure, originally white frame and later
remodeled to include a basement and red brick veneer, having
faithfully served the congregation for 118 years, was demolished.
A symbolic groundbreaking ceremony was held in the area of the
new front door on Sunday, April 21, 1985. The re-laying of the
old cornerstone, and the laying of the new cornerstone, was
celebrated on Sunday, October 27, 1985.
By the time of dedication in 1986, through special gifts and
memorials and the faithful giving of the congregation, more than
$330,000 had been raised to pay for the new church. Conceived
originally as a shell, the additional support provided by the
congregation had allowed for the erection of a fully furnished
sanctuary and lobby area. A group of seasoned members and
retirees, referred to as the Over the Hill Gang, undertook a
significant part of the interior finishing work. Through their
efforts all of the drywall was erected and finished, the platform for
the altar was built, the sanctuary and fellowship area were painted
and decorated, and the basement was remodeled. Their efforts and
labor saved the congregation many thousands of dollars.
The dedication of the current St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran
Church was held on Palm Sunday, March 23, 1986. The church
offers pew seating for 220, substantially larger than the original
church, to better meet the needs of the community. At that time
there were 489 members of the St. Peter's congregation. Three
additional interns served the congregation as part of their
theological training in the late 1980's. Kathryn Bielfeldt served in
1987, David Mumford in 1988, and Linda Sprick in 1989.
On January 1, 1988, St. Peter's became a member of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA was
formed through the consolidation of the American Lutheran
Church (ALC), the American Evangelical Lutheran Church
(AELC), and the Lutheran Church in America (LCA).
Having overseen the building project to completion, Pastor Reyelts
left St. Peter's in July of 1991 to accept a position as pastor of
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, in Morgantown, Georgia.
Pastor Walter E. Malkewitz accepted the call and became pastor of
St. Peter's in November, 1991. The congregation purchased a
parsonage for Pastor Malkewitz and his family in April of 1992.
Many volunteer hours were spent to build an additional bathroom,
and to clean and renovate the house. The Malkewitz family moved
into the parsonage in June of 1992.
Through the continued generous financial support of the
congregation, St. Peter's celebrated the burning of the mortgage
on the sanctuary August 30, 1992, only six years after the building
was constructed and 14 years early. There were 621 members of
the congregation at the time.
Pastor Malkewitz resigned from St. Peter?s in November of 2001
to accept a call to Elvira Zion Lutheran Church of Clinton, Iowa.
Following the departure of Pastor Malkewitz, the church parsonage
Pastor. Walter Malkewitz (1991-2001)
was sold off in 2002, and the majority of the money received was
placed into an endowment fund. The Southeast Michigan Synod
of the ELCA appointed Pastor Garnet Haase as interim pastor.
Pastor Haase served at St. Peter's for about 8 months, and was
instrumental in organizing a pastoral call committee under the
leadership of Christine Ritter. After Pastor Haase received another
assignment, Diaconal Pastor Timothy Freund was appointed as
interim pastor at St. Peter's.
Pastor Roland C. Troike, Jr. accepted the call in 2003, and was
installed as pastor of St. Peter's on Sunday, September 12, 2004.
Blessed with a wonderful singing voice, Pastor Troike has reinstituted
the chanting of the service as well as introduced several
new liturgies to the congregation.
Pastor Roland Troike (2003-present)
The Church Council authorized the formation of a Redecorating
Committee in 2004 under the leadership of Kathy Nummer. Using
designated gifts and memorial funds, the committee successfully
oversaw several improvements of the church sanctuary, including a
major upgrade to the sound system, the re-carpeting of the
sanctuary and lobby, and the re-upholstering of the chairs and
A new program, Stephen Ministry, was approved at the Annual
Congregational Meeting of 2004. After completing training in
2005, the Stephen Ministers serving St. Peter's are Patty
Armstrong, Vi Dunn, Lou Wegmeyer, and Mike Morenko.
The 150th Anniversary Committee was organized under the
leadership of Louis and Doris Eisen and the guidance of Pastor
Troike in 2005. As 2006 draws to a close, plans and opportunities
have been developed to celebrate our Lutheran heritage as well as
expand the horizons of the congregation to include new areas of
service to St. Clair. With the strength of 544 current members, St.
Peter's continues to Build on the Rock as it enters its 150th year.
Sign donated by Wilma Baumann
150 Years of Statistics
First Recorded Emma Elizabeth Bussironi, daughter of Mr. and Mrs.
Henry Bussironi, March 13, 1858.
First Recorded Matthew Kunzlen and Wilma Huhn, December 4, 1857.
First Class August Beier and Frederick Beier, June 15, 1858.
First Recorded Dorothy Schreinen, march 25, 1858.
544 Baptized Members
424 Confirmed Members
36 Sunday School
A Closing Thought
As we review the last 150 years of St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran
Church, the obvious impression is that much has changed. The
congregation moved from a log cabin to a wooden building, which
later was bricked in, and finally to a new structure where we gather
for worship today. Transportation, communications, and styles of
dress have also gone through an evolution in 150 years. Worship
styles and language used in liturgy have changed to reflect the era
and the people who have made up this community of faith.
If we could talk to a charter member of this congregation today we
expect they would be shocked with the changes that have occurred,
just as we would be 150 years from now. But we would hope that
they would be pleased that what hasn't changed is the faith that
draws us together. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
proclaimed in word and deed continues to be at the center of who
Hebrews 13:8 says, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today
and forever. This passage from the New Testament concluded the
anniversary booklet at the 100th Anniversary celebration, and it
could also be referred to again at the 200th Anniversary
celebration. For the one thing that is constant in our lives is Jesus
and God's love expressed to us through his life, death and
God has blessed this congregation! May that blessing continue
until we finally hear God's call, well done, good and faithful
The 150th Anniversary Committee
Louis & Doris Eisen, Co-Chairs
Pastor Roland Troike