History of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church

Researched By:  Church Archives Committee:  Luise Campbell, Margaret Scherbarth & Dorothy Wolfe. {approx 1990?}

Settling in Logan

In the 1850’s, Logan Township saw the rapid settlement of German immigrants who possessed a firm commitment to the Lutheran faith.  The majority of these stalwart Lutheran pioneers in the Brodhagen area came from the northern provinces of Germany, namely West Prussia, Hanover, Hessia, Mechlenburg, and Saxony.  The first years in Canada were spent at hard labor clearing the land, building log houses and roads.

First Lutheran Congregation

Two years after organizing St. John’s congregation at Wartburg in 1856, Rev. John Hengerer of Seebach’s Hill traveled west into Logan Township and found German settlers on Concessions 6 and 7 and on the next concession north he found more Lutherans without a pastor.  For months these families were meeting on Sunday to read scriptures and Lutheran sermons.  On November 8, 1858, Rev. Hengerer met with these two groups and it was decided to form one congregation called The First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Logan township..  Since the membership was too large for one meeting place, services were held in two local school houses.  The group from concession 6 and 7 met in the School  at Section  No.3  and the second group from  Concessions  8 and 9 met in the School at Section No. 4  near Brodhagen.

The First Pastors

Pastor Hengerer of St. John’s continued to serve them until a permanent pastor arrived. The new congregation received its first pastor, Rev. H. Hoehn in the summer of 1859.  Rev. Hoehn served only one year and then returned to the United States.  He was followed by  Rev. Carl Rudolph Gerndt, who led and served the congregation for eleven years. 

Expansion

As more and more people settled in the area served by School  No. 4 , the school building was too small to accommodate the people who wanted to attend Sunday services.  School No. 3  was large enough for the group attending there.  The church council now had to consider the need for a church building large enough for the entire congregation.    It was decided to call a meeting of the congregation for December 5, 1865.  This meeting recognized the need for a church building but could not agree as to the location for their church. 

Two Congregations

Two years later, in 1867, First Lutheran decided to divide into two congregations, elect two church councils which were installed February 17th, and to erect two church buildings.  That section which met in School No. 3 represented 30 families and the other group using School No.  4 represented 72 families.  The records show that the group which had used School No. 4 agreed to have the smaller group retain the name First Evangelical Lutheran Church  in Logan township. There was a group of Lutherans in nearby McKillop Township who referred to themselves as St. Peter’s congregation.  This group now worshipped with those in School No. 4 and the name of St. Peter’s was adopted by that congregation.  They also adopted the original constitution, changing only the name and retained their affiliation with the Canada Synod.  Both congregations were served by Pastor Gerndt.

The First St. Peter’s Church Building

In January, 1867, School No.4 was destroyed by fire.  Both school and church services were then held in a woodshed belonging to the school.  This made the building of a church an immediate necessity.  St. Peter’s congregation had purchased an acre of land from Karl Rock opposite School No.  4.   They also were granted 50 acres of land from the Canada Land Company to help support the church.  The cornerstone for the first St. Peter’s Lutheran Church building was laid May 5th and was dedicated August 25th, 1867.  The church was a white frame building, 60 feet by 30 feet and constructed at a cost of $1,200  Two large bells, cast in Cincinnati, Ohio and dated 1889, were installed in the tower.  The larger bell was named Mary and the smaller bell Martha.  These bells were later installed in the second church and today still call the people to worship.

Parsonage

Soon thereafter, St. Peter’s congregation built a parsonage for Pastor Gerndt.  It was completed in December 1868. The present yellow brick parsonage was built in 1896 during the pastorate of Rev. Weigand at a cost of $2,000. The old frame parsonage was moved to Brodhagen where it served for many years as a house.

Cemeteries

In 1869 a new cemetery was established behind the church, previous burials since 1858 having taken place on the school grounds. In 1974, three acres of land just west of the cemetery were purchased from Allan Siemon for future cemetery expansion.

Sheds

In 1877 an acre of land was purchased for the erection of church sheds.  The church council decided each shed should be built by those wishing to use one.  The first set of sheds were close to the road along the east side of the church and eventually extended a full 200 feet back to the end of the property and made an “L” turn west to the edge of the cemetery.   In 1904 a second set of church sheds was built on land across the road from the church. . In 1938, these sheds were replaced by a single cement walled shed, but with the advent of motor cars, the need for the sheds was questioned. However, until roads were passable in the winter, horses continued to bring the faithful to church. In 1951, the shed was turned into a community rink by asphalting the floor. Unfortunately, the new millennium has seen the shed fall into disuse, and despite a grand effort, it is scheduled for demolition in the near future.   

The Second St. Peter’s Church Building

Eventually the congregation outgrew its facilities and it was decided to erect a larger church. On April 3rd, 1921 the final worship service was conducted in the old church building .The following day volunteers started to tear down the building.  On May 22nd that same year, the cornerstone was laid with two thousand 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’s group supplied the Delco Electric Lighting System by contributing $1,500.  Built during the pastorate of Rev. Alberti, the second St. Peter’s church building was dedicated on July 2nd, 1922.

Property and Improvements

Continual upkeep and modernization have kept the building a proud landmark in the community.  When the brick towers began to deteriorate, they were repaired in 1940. Further repairs were made in 1949 when the towers and south wall of the church were clad with permastone.  In 1955 the roof was reshingled and the brick walls further repaired.  In 1966 the failing permastone on the towers was removed and the towers were completely rebricked, but permastone still remains on the south wall.  The interior of the church has been redecorated and the stained glass windows repaired.  In 1980 the basement was renovated by leveling the  sloped  basement floor.  Two new furnaces were installed and the Sunday School rooms and the kitchen were remodeled. An elevator that services the basement and nave were built in 2001 with a new entrance on the west side of the church.

Music

Since the congregation’s beginning, music has played  a large part in worship.  To assist the congregation and choir, a small organette was purchased  in Guelph in 1874 at a cost of $200 and is still in working condition today. In 1903 a pipe organ was purchased at a cost of  $1,000  and was placed at the rear of the old church. When the new church was built, the organ was installed at the front of the church on the west side along with choir benches in an enclosure. In 1960 the organ was rebuilt and electrified and the console was moved to its present location facing the choir. In 1996 the organ was again extensively upgraded. It has been estimated that it would cost at least $100,000 to replace this beautiful pipe organ today.

St. Peter’s congregation has had a choir ever since Mr. C. Brodhagen organized one for the dedication of the church in 1867.  Mr. E. Brodhagen also served in the same capacity.  Later Mr. Louis Becker directed the choir for forty years.  He was followed by Mr.George Geil. A number of talented organists have played for the services over the years.  The congregation owes a debt of gratitude to the many members who have sung in the choir over the years including the junior choir.

Sunday School

The Sunday School at St. Peter’s was first started during the pastorate of A.R. Schulz in 1874.  Classes were held for two hours in the afternoon and were conducted in German.  The Sunday School has continued and flourished over the years under the guidance of many dedicated teachers and superintendents.  They have presented many inspirational Christmas Eve programs.

 Other Ministries

Other organizations in the church include the Ladies Aid begun in 1933 by Pastor Friedrichsen.  As time passed, the name of the group has changed from United Lutheran Church Women to Lutheran Church Women and now to Evangelical Lutheran Women.  Over the years the group has been very active and has participated in many worthwhile endeavors both at home and abroad.

The Young People were organized into a youth group in 1920.  In 1936 they joined the Luther League, affiliated with the Senate. Through the years, the group have had different names, but the purpose has been the same-an organization to involve the young people in activities   to further their Christian education and fellowship.

In 1950 a young married couples group called Stewards of the Christian Home was organized.  For a number of years they contributed to various projects at the church such as converting the church sheds into a skating rink for the children  and buying new equipment for the Sunday School  and the church.

Today

The membership of St. Peter’s congregation has remained stable over the years with approximately 450 confirmed members and 150 child members. St. Peter’s is proud of its heritage and committed to serving the community as Christian people dedicated to giving praise, honour, and glory to God.


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