St. Peters' United Church of Christ

The Evangelical St. Peter's Church in German Township

by John Dekker

This congregation was organized on the 31st day of October, 1867. The first pastor was A. Eisenhauer. In March, 1868, H. Rahmeier became their pastor, who was then succeeded by G. L. Thaden from March, 1870, to December, 1871. From January, 1872, until March, 1874, D. M. Ficken was in charge of the congregation. In the same year, the present church was built. In October, 1874, G. Loeffler became pastor, and in December, 1874, this church was dedicated.

On the 6th day of November, 1877, H. H. Dekker took charge of the congregation until April, 1900, and was then succeeded by R. Kuehne, who served from September, 1900, until September, 1907. In March, 1908, M. Kleinau became pastor, and was in charge until November, 1908, when he was succeeded by H. Rixmann, who is pastor of the congregation at the present time.

--Atlas of Grundy County, Iowa, 1911, pg 98

German Township Church Observes Centennial

Former Pastors To Return For Sunday Program

St. Peter's United Church of Christ, located 6 1/4 miles northwest of Wellsburg in German township, will observe its 100th anniversary next Sunday with three special services during the morning, afternoon and evening.

Three former pastors plus the president of the United Church of Christ, Dr. Ben M. Herbstra of New York, will be among the speakers taking part in the programs.

The services will begin at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Rev. Gerhard Hesse of Ackley and Rev. C. Jankowsyk of Bensonville, Illinois, two former pastors will speak during the morning service.

Associate minister of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ of Des Moines, Rev. Cyril M. Hicks, and another former pastor, Rev. Keith Klosterman of St. Jacob, Illinois, will speak in the afternoon.

The featured speaker of the day will be Dr. Herbstra, who will deliver the evening sermon.

Also during the afternoon and evening, pastors of neighboring churches will attend the programs to give their greetings.

Ladies of the church will prepare and serve meals both at noon and following the afternoon service, plus a light lunch at the conclusion of the evening service.

St. Peter's United Church of Christ can trace its origin back to Christmas evening of 1863 when 10 persons of the Evangelical Lutheran faith gathered together for Holy Communion.

For a number of years this group worshipped in a country schoolhouse about two miles west of the present church.

The church was officially organized on October 31, 1867, as St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church of German township.

Rev. A. Eisenhauer was the first pastor to serve the congregation, and he was succeeded in March, 1868, by H. Rahmeier. Rev. G. L. Thaden followed in 1870-71.

It was during the pastorate of Rev. D. M. Ficken, from January, 1872 to March, 1874, that plans were drawn up for a church building 24x40, with a bell tower 46 feet high, and a 22 by 14 parsonage.

The church building was completed in 1874 and dedicated in December of that year. Rev. G. Loeffler was by then the pastor, having arrived in October to succeed Rev. Ficken.

Also during that memorable year of 1874, the church cemetery was platted, and lots cost for family burial plots.

The sixth minister to serve St. Peter's, Rev. H. H. Dekker, arrived in November, 1877, and he remained with the congregation until April, 1900.

Annual mission festivals, which are still a popular event, were first begun in 1901.

In 1908 St. Peter's changed its affiliation from the Evangelical Lutheran denomination to the Northern Synod of Evangelical churches.

With the merger of the German Reformed and Evangelical churches in 1934, the name was changed to St. Peter's Evangelical and Reformed church. Still another merger with the Congregational Christian churches in January, 1962, resulted in the present name of the church--St. Peter's United Church of Christ (Evangelical and Reformed).

Services were conducted in the German language until 1933, when it was decided to use English and German on alternate Sundays. This was later modified to use both English and German every Sunday. Today only English is used.

From the original 10 members, the church has grown to a memberhsip of 110 persons.

Twenty-five ministers have served St. Peter's during its 100 year history. The present pastor is Rev. John F. Schortinghuis, 68, who came to German township in June, 1961, and is now in his 35th year in the ministry.

The original church building, though enlarged and much improved, is still in use today. St. Peter's is one of only a few churches in Grundy county to be in existence 100 years.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 11 June 1964, sec 2, pg 1

Roster of Ministers
October 1867 - March 1868 Rev. A. Eisenhauer
March 1868 - H. Rahmeier
1870 - 1871 Rev. G. L. Thaden
January 1872 - March 1874 Rev. D. M. Ficken
October 1874 Rev. G. Loeffler
November 1877 - April 1900 Rev. H. H. Dekker
June 1961 - Rev. John F. Schortinghuis