History

Research & Writing: Pastor Arthur Horst, and Mary Jane Schuessler {1983}. This record of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church history concentrates on the earlier years. Pastor Arthur Horst translated from the German a transcript of three folios that contained the church’s historybetween 1858 – 1872.

These folios have been carefully compared with the diary of Pastor C. R. Gerndt, third pastor of St. Peter’s.  Over the years this history was not available to the members because- the transcript was written in German script by various different people. Many thanks to Pastor Horst for the many hours he spent unlocking the past obscured in German script.

Historical Sketch Of St.  Peter’s 
Taken from 125th Anniversary Directory 1983

Early German Immigration into Perth County

When the German immigrants made their way into the bush of Logan township in the middle of the last century, they brought along with them a firm commitment to the Lutheran faith. From the beginnings of their rapid settlement in the 1850’s, they assembled together for Sunday worship in their homes and log school buildings. They became a  worshipping and witnessing community long before a pastor served them or they built their church.

The sturdy Lutheran pioneers who came into the Brodhagen area immigrated from the northern provinces of Germany: West Prussia, Hanover, Hessia, Mecklenburg, and Saxony. They sought out new life and opportunity in a new land. Often the Germans came to avoid the political unrest and militarism in their homeland.

The Germans possessed all the qualities so necessary to pioneer life-hardworking, patient, resourceful, industrious and of simple tastes. They neither were paupers nor renegades. They usually brought farming and trade skills with them.

The Canada Company, that group of entrepreneurs who acquired a block of a million acres of land in southwestern Ontario, recognized in the Germans these strong pioneering traits. The Company welcomed them into their Huron Tract that stretched from the present day New Hamburg to the shores of Lake Huron. Colonel Anthony Van Egmond, an agent and developer for the Canada Company, especially admired the industry and thrift of the German speaking farmers. He noted how the Germans who had settled earlier in the Waterloo region maintained neat, well planned and prosperous looking farms. The Colonel set out to encourage more German settlers into the tract and to find German speaking innkeepers to provide shelter and meals for travellers along the one road that was cut through the vast forest wilderness in 1827. This road, the present Highway #8, became the line of settlement from which all the immigrants moved both north and south.

On or near that toad the two earliest of Lutheran congregations were organized, the Sebastopol Congregation in 1832 and St. John’s Lutheran Church in Seebach’s Hill in 1835. It is noteworthy that the first Christian service held in Perth County was Lutheran.

In Logan township the St. John’s congregation at Seebach’s Hill became the mother church of all the other Lutheran congregations in the district, including St. Peter’s Brodhagen. Andrew Seebach, one of those first innkeepers, was active in starting Lutheran services as early as 1835. He donated land for the church building site. Because of the intense missionary zeal of one of St. John’s first pastors, a large number of Lutheran churches were established in the area. St. Peter’s in Brodhagen is one of them.

While serving as the third pastor of St. John’s at Seebach’s Hill the Rev. John Adam Hengerer travelled five miles northeast and organized the second St. John’s congregation at Wartburg in 1856. Two years later an early history records that “this good and faithful man walked straight west through the woods from Ellice until he came to this point.” And at this point he found in Logan on Concession 6 and 7 more German settlers. Another mile and a quarter north on the next concession he found more Lutherans without any pastor and in need of divine services and sacraments. He learned that for months these families had met together on Sunday and read Scriptures and Lutheran sermons. These two groups became the nucleus from which the present day First Lutheran and St. Peter’s in Logan Township grew.

First Lutheran Church In Logan Organized

In 1858, Pastor Hengerer came together with these two groups of Lutherans worshipping only a mile and a quarter apart. At that meeting on November 8, 1858 the two groups decided to form one congregation called The First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Logan township. Under one name and under one council, they would serve all “members and those believers not yet members” of the Lutheran faith in Logan township.

That first council consisted of seven men: Trustees, William Eisler, L. Muehlhausen and H. Ruoke; Elders, Ludwig Hillebrecht, August Ahrens; Councillors, Gottlieb Hennick and H. Jacobs.

Two months later, the sixty-six legal voting members accepted as its Constitution the one recommended for congregations by the Pittsburg Synod.

Since the membership was too large to meet in one place, the worship services were held in the two school locations. The one group on Concession Six and Seven met in Section #3 School. This meeting place was to serve all Lutherans who lived on the Third to Seventh Concessions. The second group, the present day St. Peter’s Church, was to meet in the Section #4 School in Brodhagen. It would serve Lutheran families located between Concessions Eight and Thirteen. Pastor Hengerer of St. John’s would continue to serve them until a permanent pastor arrived from the Pittsburg Synod.

At this time in 1858 the village of Brodhagen was not yet established. It came three years later when Charles Brodhagen arrived and built a hotel. In 1865 he opened the Brodhagen Post Office and served as its first postmaster. A description of this Lutheran settler, Charles Brodhagen, is given in William Johnston’s book History of the County of Perth, 1825-1902. “He was a versatile character, specimens of which found their way into the backwoods. In his own proper person he combined the various callings of farmer, hotel keeper, postmaster, merchant, tailor, bandmaster, music teacher and gentleman.”

The building of the Logan Road in 1857 and 1858, the present Highway 23 north from Mitchell, helped to open up the Logan district in rapid speed. In 1844 Logan township had only 134 inhabitants with 149 acres under cultivation. In 1850 it had a population of 602 with 900 acres under cultivation. But by 1861 the population had increased to 2,257 and 7,970 acres were under cultivation.

The same year that First Lutheran was organized, the settlers experienced a crop failure. One third of the farmers in McKillop and Logan townships received provincial government aid before the next year’s crop could be harvested. Yet the influx of settlers continued. In the decade from 1850 to 1860 seventy-five new families arrived in Logan and McKillop townships. The five years before only twenty-two families had come in.

The new congregation received its first pastor in the summer of 1859. Rev. H. Hoehn served only a year and then returned to the States. He was followed by Carl Rudolph Gerndt, who led and steadied the congregation for eleven years as the Lutheran Church planted itself into Logan’s soil.

Pastor C. R. Gerndt and the Pittsburg Synod

Pastor Gerndt, like the other early pastors in Perth County, came from the United States. Most of the German Lutheran clergymen who served in Canada belonged to the Pittsburg Synod. That Synod was organized in Western Pennsylvania in 1845 to assure German Lutheran people of accredited clergymen.

Early pioneer settlements in both the United States and Canada were rife with men who posed as Lutheran pastors but who were in fact charlatans. The Lutheran historian Carl Cronmiller points out that Ontario had no connection with any official church organization until 1853 when the Canada Conference of the Pittsburg Synod was formed. Yet the first Lutheran congregation in Ontario dated back to 1784. Without any official organization and discipline within its ranks, clergymen without credentials wandered into the backwoods. This led to great havoc. Some were impostors. Others never reported back to the synods that had licensed or ordained them. Still others led immoral lives, or taught unlutheran doctrine. Cronmiller calls them “clerical tramps.”

The Pittsburg Synod from its very beginnings was mission minded. It heeded the plea of Canada West Lutherans to send pastors north. Three areas of German Lutheran settlements in Canada asked for clergy: the Kingston area, Vaughn township north of Toronto and the Perth-Waterloo regions. Within three years of that Synod’s formation, it sent six missionary pastors into Canada. J. A. Hengerer, who organized the Logan Lutherans, was one of them. He lies buried in St. John’s cemetery in Seebach’s Hill.

The Rev. Carl Gerndt, First Lutheran’s second pastor belonged to the Pittsburgh Synod as well. He had preached a number of times to the congregation before the First Lutheran extended a call to him. He was installed on December 15, 1861. He served the two groups meeting in the separate school buildings on alternate Sunday mornings and afternoons. Lutherans who were meeting in Mitchell, Egmondville and McKillop also came under his spiritual care.

The Lutherans in School Section #3 on the Seventh Concession built a log parsonage on an acre of land donated by the Canada Company. Pastor Gerndt and his family lived there close to the smaller of the two Lutheran groups. As a place of worship that school house proved adequate enough for them, but the Lutherans in Brodhagen found themselves outgrowing their school facilities. They needed more room. After almost ten years, they could no longer avoid the contentious issue of where to locate the church building.

Each group wanted the building on its own concession road. On December, 1865 a congregational meeting was called to resolve the issue. The Minutes read: “Two restraining obstacles came in the way. The one obstacle was the location where to build, so that no occasion would be given for the division of the congregation. The second obstacle was that most of the German families had not yet paid off their land debt. They anticipated they must either soon pay or leave the land.”

The meeting ended in stalemate. They put off the decision to build until the next year. The members hoped, too, that the economic conditions would improve. The economy improved, but the future delay did not bring an amicable solution to the building dilemma.

The fall of 1866 brought many meetings and resolutions among the membership. At a congregational meeting on October 17, it was decided to build either at the Brodhagen location or on the sideroad about 100 rods from the Concession Road #8. The meeting resolved to ask the Section #3 members if they would join in and contribute to the building of such a church. A month later the reply came back. “The greater portion of those members in Section #3 will not take part in the building of a church on either of the proposed locations.”

Yet some of the older members of St. Peter’s Church have heard a different story. They’ve been told that the Section #3 members had always been willing to compromise by building on the sideroad even though that location was less than ideal. In fact many members from both School Sections expressed doubt about the hilly knoll site on the sideroad. Each spring the road on both sides of the rise of land became mired in water and mud.

Finally, on November 12, 1866 the congregation voted to accept the Brodhagen location on an acre of land bought from Karl Rock for $100. Subscriptions for the building fund were started at that meeting. A week later at another congregational meeting the size, design and completion date of the building was decided on. A building committee was set up. A draft, to be submitted to the newspaper, was drawn up for the construction of the building to the lowest bidder.

The storm that had been brewing for months could not be stayed. The two groups argued over land ownership and title, the name for the two emerging congregations, the ownership of the Protocol books and the communion ware, the clergy status and synodical affiliation.

At a congregational meeting on New Year’s Day in 1867 for the election of church council members whose term was expiring, the Minutes record that “nearly the whole congregation dissolved into chaos.” They did agree however to continue holding the two services in the two different buildings with the same pastor. But a month later the final break came when each group elected its own council. On February 17, 1867 each council was installed in its own school house.

The Congregation Splits

A week later after bitter exchanges between the two groups it was agreed that the former First Evangelical Lutheran Church should be two congregations. The Section #3 group, numbering about thirty families, would retain the name of First Lutheran. The other group gave up its rights to this name for “the sake of God and peace.” An earlier meeting had decided that Brodhagen would retain the First Lutheran title and the Section #3 group take the name of St. Paul’s. But finally it was resolved that the Section #4 Group with its seventy-two families would take in the small St. Peter’s community in McKillop township. They would join together and build their church with the name of St. Peter’s. This McKillop Lutheran group had been meeting together for four years under the leadership of Pastor Gerndt. Records of their meeting show that they met at the home of Elder John Neumann. Other names included John Steirnagel, Ludwig Beuermann, Ernst Bennewies and Heinrich Kummer. It’s believed these early settlers lived in the area of the present day Manley School on the Tenth Concession of McKillop.

The two groups agreed that the Constitution, the Protocol book , the land and parsonage title on the 6th and 7th Concession would remain with the Section of #3 group. That group also promised to bear the cost of maintaining for four years the parsonage located near the fenceline. They agreed to pay the pastor $140 for at least the current year. Pastor Gerndt was to continue to serve them on either Sunday afternoon or morning.

The Minutes of a congregational meeting in Section #4 on April 7, 1867 expressed its unhappiness over the division in the congregation but nevertheless “we rejoice and thank God that His gracious hand guided in such a manner that once again there is order and peace in the parish and that we can erect churches.” It went on to say that the previous obstacle of the year had also been overcome. Only a few of the members had to mortgage their land.

In January of that year amid all the turmoil of separation, the newly formed St. Peter’s Church members found themselves without a school building to worship in. One day in broad daylight, when all the children and the teacher were assembled, the school house burst into flames. Only the woodshed remained untouched. Both school and church held their sessions in the woodshed until the new buildings were completed. The Minutes record “Our hearts yearned for the completion of the building. The woodshed could not nearly accommodate all the members. God the Lord watched over the work and the workers with His goodness and protection and thus both buildings were quickly ready for use, completed without any mishaps. Praise the Lord!”

The two Lutheran church buildings went up almost simultaneously with St. Peter’s about a month in the lead. St. Peter’s laid its cornerstone on May 5, 1867. Dedication came three months later on August 25. Many German and English visitors came from near and far to celebrate the consecration of the building. The Records say “The countenance of God beamed down with beautiful weather. The procession began at the woodshed across the road from the church. The two oldest members of the congregation led, the one with a German Bible and the other with an English. Then came the president with the key of the church, the resident minister with J. A. Hengerer of Ellice and then the rest of the members of the council proceeded to the door of the new church. Upon the arrival of the celebrating throng, they sang “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty, Zion Let Me Enter There.” One of the elders handed the key over to Pastor Gerndt.

In streamed the celebrating throng, filling the 60′ x 38′ decorated church both top and bottom so that some people had to remain at the entrance. A special singing group under the leadership of Charles, sometimes known as Carl, Brodhagen sang. The choir also sang. Pastor Hengerer preached a sermon in German, followed by an English sermon by Pastor Gerndt. The offering amounted to $36.00. After a dinner at the church another service was held. This time Pastor Gerndt preached in German. The offering amounted to $9.75.

The white frame church cost $1,200.00 to build. For that same amount the First Lutheran Church on the next concession south built a similar structure. That congregation laid its cornerstone a week after St. Peter’s. Pastor Gerndt attended. About a month after St. Peter’s dedication came First Lutheran’s on September 22.

Over the years the First Lutheran Church has been known as the Front Line Church and St. Peter’s as the Back Church. First Lutheran was closer to that original line of settlement on the present day Highway #8. It fronted that original line while St. Peter’s Church located a mile and a quarter further back from that road.

Two days after Pastor Gerndt preached the dedicatory service at the Front Line Church, he was dismissed from his pastorate there. The following July in 1868 a clergyman from the Missouri Synod was installed. The congregation has remained with that Synod ever since. St. Peter’s kept its Canada Synod affiliation. Along with other Perth County Lutherans St. Peter’s had joined the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Canada formed six years earlier. Pastors Hengerer and Gerndt attended that first meeting when the Synod was organized in Vaughn Township in 1861. It was an outgrowth of the Pittsburg Synod from the States.

St. Peter’s First Parsonage

Even though Pastor Gerndt was dismissed from First Lutheran, he remained at the parsonage there for almost a year. Living proved stressful. Dry rot in the house threatened the health of the family. Once he planted some apple trees along the fence line of the church property, but the congregation tore down the fence and cattle destroyed his plantings.

The Brodhagen congregation busied itself with the building of a parsonage for Pastor Gerndt. It also turned over to him the use of 51 acres of land over and above his salary. The congregation in 1867 had received 50 acres from the Canada Company for church use. It had bought an acre from Karl Rock for $50.00. In May, 1868 the congregation cultivated seven acres in oats, grass and clover for the pastor. The seventh acre was called the “church” acre. The pastor planted five bushels of potatoes. I. Wietersen planted a row of apple shoots along side the fence line for him. The pastor also transplanted some of the remaining apple trees from the Front Line property.

That fall in September the twelve bushels of sown oats produced 125 bushels. “Thanks be to the Lord for His rich blessings” reads the Minutes. The congregation donated its labor for the planting and threshing. Pastor Gerndt paid for the seed and the use of the threshing machine.

In December of that year the St. Peter’s parsonage was finished. For several months Pastor Gerndt and his family had lived in cramped quarters of two rooms in Brodhagen since he had been forced out of the Front Line parsonage.

Pastor Gerndt’s Resignation

Pastor Gerndt remained with St. Peter’s for four more years. He resigned on June 9, 1872. The Minutes record only that “he was troubled because last Sunday a successor had already been at this place.” No more details are given about his decision to leave. Apparently opposing factions existed within the membership. Three years earlier Pastor Gerndt had quelled trouble in the congregation. Rumours reached him that some members were stirring up the congregation against him and the Canada Synod. It was suggested that the money gathered for missions was being badly used. This group wanted the pastor discharged and replaced with a Missouri Synod one. A congregational meeting was called. The pastor warned against the wiles of the Prince of Darkness. He reminded them of the great things the Lord had done in this place. He urged them to stay together. The congregation resolved: “What we have, we hold.”

Pastor Gerndt preached his farewell sermon in August and he left for Webster, New York for a new charge. After serving two other New York State congregations, he died at the age of 66. Born in Berlin, Germany, Karl Gerndt came to Canada at the age of 33. He had already served as a missionary in India for seven years. That same missionary zeal brought him to Canada and it inspired his efforts in organising three other Lutheran congregations in the district: St. Peter’s, McKillop which became part of the Brodhagen congregation; St. Paul’s Egmondville and St. Paul’s, Cranbrook, both in Huron County.

For eleven years Pastor Gerndt had secured the Lutheran Church in Logan township. He proved a faithful pastor during the tempestuous beginnings. He carried forward the work of the church even though the congregational split broke Lutheran unity. Perhaps the split was inevitable. Carl Cronmiller in his History of the Lutheran Church in Canada notes that since the two groups held services in two different locations from the beginnings, “such an arrangement was not conducive to unity.”

Pastor Gerndt survived as well Missouri’s initial inroads into the congregation. Another attempt by that synod came in 1878 during the pastorate of A. R. Schulz. Disagreement arose within the congregation over the cemetery and fence lines. A few dissatisfied members called an illegal church meeting, but Pastor A. R. Schulz was able to convince the dissidents to work out their problems in a council meeting. He came to learn “that the whole situation existed because of Missouri influences.” The history minutes go on to say “Every now and then there have been vexations. Especially has the Missouri minister left no means untried whereby he might plant his flag on strange territory. He cunningly entices under the cloak of righteousness.”

Missouri Synod did make inroads into other Canada Synod congregations. By calling Missouri Synod pastors to serve them, St. John’s Seebach Hill and Wartburg, and Grace Lutheran in Mitchell became churches of that Synod.

The Church Cemetery

For the first eleven years of, the congregation’s history, burials took place on the school grounds. Fifty-eight people were buried there. The first funeral was that of Mrs. Anna Kaiser in March, 1858. A new cemetery was begun next to the church in 1869. During a snow storm on a March Sunday Pastor Gerndt dedicated this “God’s Acre.” He committed to the earth that same day the child of Ernst Bennewies. The pastor said this first little body of Frederich August was “sown in the first furrow as the first seed for the resurrection.”

The next year brought many more burials. In 1870 fifteen members died in two months with quincy and nerve fever. The family of John Siemon who numbered eight in all died out completely except for the second youngest child. Three children of Karl Strickert died. In the family of George Wieben the mother and a 19 year old daughter died within a short interval. The year’s toll from the epidemic mounted to twenty-four, most of whom were children.

Another epidemic in 1881 and 1882 during the pastorate of Rev. A. Stein took fifteen lives within two months. This diptheria onslaught was called “The Great Dying.”

Fires

Another natural disaster, forest fires, endangered the lives of the early Brodhagen settlers. In 1871 Ontario suffered the same vast fire destruction as had Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. One third of Chicago had burned down. St. Peter’s Church stood in grave danger, for many of the surrounding woods blazed in bright flames. The history account says, “Every time we said only one day more and the storm of fire may happen to us, the loving heavenly Father sent a heavy rain that smothered the heat of the fire.”

Five years later another fire threatened the church. In 1876 a fire started in the old barn of Karl Rock. It stood only thirty paces from the church. The winds drove the flames toward the church and parsonage. Pastor Schultz and his family were away at the time. Fortunately some people were on their way home from a nearby auction. They helped put out the fire that had already begun to burn the roof of both the parsonage and church.

St. Peter’s Church Properties

When William Johnston traveled around Perth County in the late 19th Century to collect material for his History of the County of Perth he was impressed with the way the German people kept up their church properties. He wrote: “In conformity to a rule apparently applicable to German congregations, there is a neat, tidy appearance in the surroundings of their church buildings. Characteristic of German homes, comfortable parsonages have been built for their ministers and spacious sheds for sheltering their horses during services, all indicating care and attention of the lay managers of the congregation.

Throughout its 125 year history the congregation has built handsome buildings and maintained them with meticulous care. The first St. Peter’s church building was larger than most frame churches of its day. The Minutes of a congregational meeting in January 5, 1867 explain that “the size of the church is to be large enough to accommodate that portion of First Lutheran Church in School Section 3 and that the doors remain open for them to join us.”

Made from lumber taken from the surrounding dense forest, the building was rectangular in shape with a roof not steeply pitched. From the center of the ridge roof rose a stately 12 ft. octagonal tower with a weathervane on top. Small arched openings at the steeple’s top allowed the bell sounds to carry out across the countryside.

Four tall narrow windows that ended in a pointed arch, called commonly a beehive window because of its shape, were set into the two long east and west walls. Three smaller arched windows rose above the wide north entrance doors. All those eleven paned windows were of clear glass. The building, painted white and trimmed in a deep maroon brown, spoke of a classic simplicity and dignity.

The interior consisted mainly of wood-tongue and groove pine panelling throughout the walls and ceiling. Long straight back pine pews in the center formed two side aisles.

Short pews stood on both sides of the two aisles. Pillars that supported the balconies ran down the side aisles. Some pillars had coal oil lamps and brackets attached to them. Toward the front of the building a large central lighting fixture hung from the ceiling. It contained 15 lamps set in a circle and provided the main lighting. Other small lamps were bracketed on the side walls.

The pulpit dominated the front. It rose high above the small altar below which was enclosed by a wooden curved railing. The pulpit steps, at least thirteen of them, carried the pastor to lofty heights. When he spoke he stood at eye level with the men sitting in the balcony. That gallery, which extended around three sides of the church, held three rows of benches. The older men of the congregation sat in the west gallery. The confirmed boys and younger married men occupied the east side of the gallery as well as the west side of  the north gallery. The choir sat on the east side of the north gallery. The women and children sat downstairs.

Ten years after the church was built, the tower was without a bell. The history minutes record in 1877 “It is a pity that our stately tower has no bell. Yet patience! The congregation’s willingness has been demonstrated in the past.” Finally two large bells, cast in Cincinnatti, Ohio and dated 1889, were installed in the tower. The larger bell was named Mary, the smaller one Martha.

To this day the congregation preserves the custom of tolling out the number of years a member has lived when the news reaches the community that he has died. Until fairly recently the bells would ring at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, a call to preparation for Sunday worship.

When the present brick structure was built, the two bells were reinstalled into the new twin towers. A final service was held in the old church on April 3, 1921. The following day the men started to tear down the building. All that winter the men with their teams of horses had hauled the red pressed brick for the new church from the Monkton railroad station. The brick, the last of its kind, came from the Milton brickyards.

On May 22, that same year the cornerstone was laid with 2,000 people in attendance. In November the basement was dedicated. Worship services were held there until the $45,000 structure was completed. Even before the building went up, all the stained glass art windows were purchased as memorials. The young people supplied the Delco Electric Lighting System by contributing $1,500.00.

Built during the pastorate of J. Alberti, the second St. Peter’s was dedicated on July 2, 1922. Two services were held that Sunday. The overflow crowd in the afternoon service had to sit on the parsonage lawn. The structure to this day remains one of the largest and most beautiful of rural Lutheran churches in southwestern Ontario.

Continual upkeep and modernization have kept the building worthy of its repute. When the brick on the towers deteriorated rapidly, they were repaired in 1940. Further repairs were made in 1949 when the towers and the south wall of the church were rebuilt in permastone. In 1955 the roof was reshingled and the brick further repaired. In 1966 the brick once again replaced the deteriorating permastone towers.

In 1941 the interior of the church was redecorated. In 1967 the Thomas Brown Co. of Willowdale painted the interior and added symbols and extra art work to the walls.

Throughout the years the beautiful stained glass windows have been well kept. In 1947 storm windows were installed to protect them. Several years ago some of the windows were straightened and releaded.

Other recent renovations in 1980 include the leveling of the basement floor, the installation of two new furnaces and the remodeling of the kitchen and Sunday School rooms.

The Parsonage

The first parsonage built for Pastor Gerndt in 1868 housed nine successive pastors. Eight years after that parsonage was built, a room for Christian instruction was added. Then during the pastorate of Rev. H. Weigand the present white brick parsonage was built in 1896 at a cost of $2,000. The old frame parsonage was moved into Brodhagen. Now rebricked, it serves as a family home less than a mile from its original location.

The present parsonage, just as the church, has seen continual update and modernization. In 1897 a well was drilled to a depth of 100 feet. In the 1950’s the parsonage was insulated and the kitchen modernized. A garage and laundry were added in 1955.

In 1977 further renovations came. A fireplace was installed, the kitchen renovated as well as the room above the kitchen which served for many years as the room for confirmation classes.

The Cemetery

The years have brought continual enlargements to the cemetery property. The congregation bought its first burial land from Karl Rock in 1869. Eight years later it bought another acre from him for $175.00. It was stipulated that one half of that acre was to be used as cemetery and the other half for church driving sheds.

For 47 years that land, situated to the south and east of the church, was used as burial ground. By 1916 – 417 people were buried there.

Expansion continued into a second section of land located to the south and west of the church. Seven years earlier the congregation had bought more land from Mrs. Karl Rock. Mrs. Christine Heckman was the first member buried in the new section in August, 1916.

Up until 1920 the cemetery was made up of single gravesites. As each member died, he was buried in succession along down the rows. There were no family plots. Husbands and wives were not buried next to one another.

Burials in the middle section opened in 1975. Only the low, flat pillow type grave stones are permitted there. Several years ago the congregation bought three acres on the west side adjacent to the cemetery from Allan Siemon for further cemetery expansion.

The Church Sheds

In 1877 the congregation bought an acre of land, one half of which was to be used for sheds to keep under cover the horses and buggies that brought the members to church. The Council decided each shed should be built by those who wanted one. The member was to pay $1.00 into the church treasury for the use of the land.

The first set of sheds were built close to the road and along the east side of the church. These two long narrow rows of sheds eventually extended a full 200 feet back to the end of the property and made an “L” turn west and then stopped at the cemetery. The sheds, open on the one long side, formed a single alley way down which the horses passed and turned into either the right or left side.

Each member built his own portion of the shed from timbers taken out of the bush. They were rough pine board and batten construction. These sheds formed one continuous line by the splicing of one shed beam into the next. The sheds passed down into second and third generations of families. They were bought and sold as needed.

By 1900 a second set of sheds began across the road. These continued to be built until 1919 with tongue and groove lumber. Eventually, the sheds became unsightly and many needed repair. A decision was made in 1938 to tear down the sheds and replace them with one single cement walled shed.

The need for the new shed was questioned, since cars were becoming a major means of transportation. Yet even into the 1940’s the township roads were not plowed in the winter for automobile travel. Horses still brought members to church. Some people never believed that the car would completely replace the faithful horse. So when the new shed was built in 1941, the north wall was not entirely enclosed with a cement wall. It contained a large door, just in case any further expansion was necessary.

But the shed never tethered that many horses. It was used on a first come, first serve basis, mainly in the winter months. In 1951 the Married Couples Club took on the project of putting down asphalt on the ground. By flooding the surface, the shed became an ice skating rink in the winter for the entire community. It is still used for that purpose today. The metal rings embedded in the walls still testify to the days when horses were tied there. The building stands as a late model of sheds every church built for its members’ horses.

Music

Since the congregation’s beginning, music has played a large part in worship. At the dedication of the first church building on August 25, 1867, the church was filled with song. The congregation sang in prayer, praise and thanksgiving, the choir sang under the direction of Carl Brodhagen, a member of the congregation and the founder of the village of Brodhagen. The history Minutes record that Carl Brodhagen “had gone to great pains to make the celebration a worthy event.” The choir sang in four voice song and participated in both the morning and evening services.

Two years later the choir came under the direction of Ernst Brodhagen and at St. Peter’s First Mission Festival “the choir did much to enhance the festival.”

In those early days a choir was formed to sing at special occasions and then disbanded. They came and went. At a Sunday School picnic held in 1878 it was noted that “It was a pity that the one-time choir, which had been directed by C. Brodhagen, had given up its existence again, so that it could not help to add glory to the event.”

During that time however the rich musical talents of the Rev. A. R. Schulz served the congregation. During his six year pastorate (1873-1879) a children’s choir was organized. He instructed them twice a week during school hours. The last hour of school he also taught singing to the public school children. The school teacher helped along with the instruction of spiritual hymns, chorales and liturgical responses. The children sang them in church on Sunday.

In 1875 with the encouragement of Pastor Schulz, Ernst Brodhagen directed a mixed choir. “That choir” records the Minutes, “added much to the embellishment of the Christmas program that year.”

The pastor took his turn at directing the choir. A year later at a Mission and Dedication Anniversary Festival the evening closed with the singing of the mighty Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. “The pastor and the choir well practiced it for a good three months.” The following year the pastor and his choir sang passages from Oratorios and responses at the next Mission Festival. As they always did for such festivals, the young ladies of the congregation decorated the church with great “diligence and talent.”

Shortly after Pastor Schulz arrived, the congregation raised money to buy an organette from Guelph in 1874. They wanted to ensure and encourage the best use of his talents.

In 1903 the congregation bought the present pipe organ from Kearn-Warren of Woodstock for $1,000.00. Made of oak, it measured 10’6″ wide, 5’6″ deep and 15′ high. It was located between the two small inner entrance doors at the rear of the church. It was moved to the front of the new church when it was built in 1922.

In 1960 the Willits Organ Company of Woodstock rebuilt and electrified the organ. The console was moved to its present position in the church. In 1981 chimes were added to the organ.

Dedicated laymen have directed the choir. Mr. Louis Becker directed the choir for forty years. Mr. George Geil followed him. Mrs. George Mogk served as organist for over twenty years.

More recently Eleanor Horst, wife of the pastor, has shared her rich musical talents with the congregation. Since 1973 she has served as organist and choir director. Daughter Lois Horst Bennewies now shares the duties as organist and director.

Faithful members still continue to dedicate their talents and time in choir singing. They sing not only during the weekly worship service, but on church festivals, anniversaries and funerals.

The Sunday School and Other Organizations

The first mention of Sunday School begins during the pastorate of A. R. Schulz. In 1874 the records show that a sum of money was turned over to the Sunday School. Pastor Schulz had promoted the classes and he began teaching in 1875. He wrote a lesson plan for a course of four semesters. It is noted that one member of the congregation, F. Jacob, “eagerly took on the Sunday School and showed a moving passion for it.”

The history notes also record that both in 1876 and in 1877, Sunday School examinations were held twice a year before the congregation. “These exams were very edifying and were adorned with recitations on the part of the children and choir.”

The first Sunday School picnic is recorded in 1878. On July 9 of that year parents brought the food. Whoever did not, had to pay 25 cents. The pastor gave a talk; prizes for games were given, and the Sunday School made a profit of $11.10 that year.

Older members of the congregation today remember their Sunday School days. After church in the morning, the children ate the lunch they brought along with them. At one o’clock they began their two hours of lessons taught in German. They had a break midway through. These older members fondly remember Louis Becker and William Bauer as their Sunday School teachers.

Other organizations within the church include the Ladies Aid organized in May, 1933 by Pastor Friedrichsen. Later this local group became part of the U.L.C.W., The United Lutheran Church of America’s organization of church women. In 1962 this group became the L.C.W., the official auxiliary of the Lutheran Church in America.

During the pastorate of Rev. J. Alberti the young people were organized into a youth group in 1920. Reorganized in 1936, the group joined the synodically affiliated Luther League.

The Pastors and People

Throughout its 125 year history nineteen pastors have served St. Peter’s. The earliest pastors were German born and trained. They often came from the States. But as the country and church grew, indigenous Canadian clergy, mainly of German descent, served the Lutheran parishes. The Waterloo Seminary, founded in 1911 has supplied the Canada Synod with graduating classes of ministerial candidates.

In the early years some pastors stayed for only a short time at St. Peter’s. Five remained only one year. In fact up until the end of the last century, every length of pastorate was less than five years. The only exception was the Rev. C. R. Gerndt. Of I. Brezing, the man who succeeded him, the Minutes record: “There is not much to tell concerning his abilities, since to the disappointment of the congregation he was here for too short a time.” In 1879 C. H. Stockman received longer mention, but it was hardly favorable. “Too quickly it turned out that this particular personality was better suited for everything else than for a keeper of souls.” His short tenure involved party factions, locked church doors and court judgements.

The longest pastorate, thirty years, belongs to the Rev. H. Weigand from 1895 until 1920. Pastor J. Alberti remained for 12 years from 1920 until 1932. Pastor Arthur Horst is now serving his twelfth year at Brodhagen.

St. Peter’s claims two sons of the congregation as clergymen, the Rev. Robert Rock and the Rev. Calvin Diegel. Two other men who attended St. Peter’s as youth became Lutheran pastors, the Rev. Paul Bechter and the Rev. John Arbuckle. Three sons of the parsonage are also Lutheran pastors, Godfrey and Paul Alberti and Erich Schultz. Eva Alberti served as a deaconess.

Despite great changes in agriculture over the years, the membership of St. Peter’s congregation has remained stable in the last 25 years with approximately 450 confirmed adult members and 150 child members. Pastor Horst believes the congregation is in a firm “holding pattern” even though the rural population experiences decrease rather than growth.

Conclusion

A Jubilee Booklet in 1911 summed up the history of St. Peter’s Congregation in these words: “The picture presented by this congregation is one of prosperous development, distinguished by faithfulness in confession, piety and adherence to German customs and language.”

Today the German language is gone, but other German legacies remain: the name “Ev. Lutherische St. Petri Kirche, Erbaut 1921 Logan” chiseled into the stone facing, the German surnames of many of its members, the customs of tolling the bell at the news of a death of a member, the observance of midweek Lenten services and the well-kept properties.

But even more the Reformation heritage remains. Faithfulness in confession and piety still distinguishes the congregation. It continues to proclaim the Gospel of love, faith and grace. That mission, started 125 years ago, remains the central task of the church. With Christ as its head, the members of St. Peter’s continue to serve as a great cloud of witnesses to that affirmation.


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