Who We Are

Who We Are, At St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church & School, Joliet, IL

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Who We Are: The Early Years

 

            St. Peter Church was organized on May 24, 1857 with the name “German United Evangelical Lutheran, St. Peter’s Congregation.”  The number of voting members signing the constitution was twenty six. Three days after the organization of the congregation the Cornerstone of the first church was laid.  It was a frame building and was located not far from the present church edifice. In 1875 the congregation changed the charter and name from A United to an Evangelical Lutheran Church, to an Evangelical Lutheran Church (UAC) of 1530. Since then the congregation has been known as “St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation, UAC, of Joliet, IL.” Then in the 1980’s due to a state of Illinois ruling, the plural “St. Peter’s” was changed to “St. Peter.”

 

            The growth of the congregation continued over a number of years.   A larger House of Worship was needed and the Cornerstone for a larger church building was laid at that time on July 8, 1883The new church was then dedicated on January 20, 1884. In 1891 the Congregation joined the Orphans’ Home Association, which was conducted at that time, The Lutheran Waisenhaus, in Addison, IL. In the same year the congregation became a voting member of the “Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other states.”  The years passed very quickly and the fiftieth anniversary of the congregation was celebrated in 1917. In 1919, the church was rebuilt at the cost of approximately $22,000.00. In 1936 further structural changes were made in the interior of the church and at that time, nearly 1,500 families called this congregation their Church Home.

 

            As the congregation grew, our St. Peter Christian Day School was established. The pastors were the first teachers. The first called teacher came to Joliet in 1869. The first building was a frame structure standing at 216 N. Broadway. The congregation then resolved to build a modern school, sufficiently large enough to meet the needs of the enrollment in 1920. This also afforded several societies and organizations to have a convenient meeting place. The Cornerstone of this building was laid on May 11, 1902 and the completed structure dedicated on January 4, 1903, the cost was $28,000.00 and Paul Kretschmar was the first called teacher.

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            The congregation continued to see significant growth under the pastoral leadership of many pastors who faithfully taught the Word of God and administered the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion to the flock.

 

Who We Are: As the Years Continued

 

On Sunday, April 18, 1926, under the pastoral direction of the Rev. Karl Kurth, St. Peter broadcast one of its Sunday morning services, and by the grace of God this congregation has continued this opportunity to share the Ministry of the Divine Worship Service. This has been continued for these many years and it is still active today. The service is heard over WJOL AM 1340, every Sunday morning at 10 am. The original radio booth and broadcasting equipment was replaced in 1938 and has had continued updates over the decades.

 

St. Peter Church was greatly blest with the arrival of the Rev. Erdmann W. Frenk, 1932-1970, followed later by his son The Rev. Martin L. Frenk, 1947-1975. During these years after the ending of World War II, once again, our church saw large growth. This included both the congregation, the Sunday School and the Christian Day School.

 

            During these years many introductions were brought to the congregation. In the autumn of 1941, The Lutheran Hymnal was established and used for the next 45 years. A visitor’s register was added to the narthex in 1941, as St. Peter Church & School reached out as a strong “Evangelical Lutheran” congregation. The placement of The Revolving Cross in 1941, sanctuary lamps in the chancel in 1943, the installation of a set of chimes in 1944 and replacement of the overhead peel bells in 1954.

 

            Many of the societies and organizations at St. Peter Church & School also had their beginnings during these years. In 1933, under the direction of the Rev. Erdmann Frenk, the Altar Guild was started. The following groups also began: The Mission Society, The Ladis Aid and Ladies Aid Handbell Choir, The St. Peter Church Adult Choir and Men’s Chorus. The Senior and Junior Walther League were active. As time went by even more opportunities for Christian Fellowship were created: The Couples Club (now the Fellowship Club), the Richland Circle, the Marycrest Circle, the Women’s Evening Guild. Some of these are no longer in existence and some have been combined.

 

            Finally in 1957, the congregation celebrated our Centennial. The theme for this event was “One Hundred Years of Grace,” which is on the cornerstone of the concourse that was added as well as our St. Peter Christian Day School, which was moved to its present location during the centennial year, after a large building program was completed. The year marked many events which were then commemorated and celebrated. The day school was ready for operation in the fall of 1958 and has been blest and continues at this time.

 

            During the next 50 years, until the time of our Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2007, with the theme “Built on the Rock the Living Stone” from 1 Peter 2:4, the church and our school have undergone tremendous change. In 1957 nearly 2,500 members called St. Peter their Church Home, with nearly 600 enrolled in Sunday School. May of our faithful members have been called to “Eternal Rest” and left our midst. However the purpose of this congregation as outlined in our Church Constitution still remains the same.

 

Who We Are: Present and Future

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            St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church & School, today still remains unchanged doctrinally. In its charter and constitution of 1957 it emphasized its firm faith in the Bible, as the verbally inspired Word of God.  Its Belief in Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of our sins is the only hope for our redemption. We preach Jesus Christ to a changing world. The goal of this congregation is to proclaim salvation by Grace Alone, Faith Alone and Word Alone, by means of the proclamation of the Holy Gospel. Many of the organizations and societies that had their beginnings decades ago, still continue to be active today. St. Peter congregation still operates the Christian Day School grades K-8, that was started in 1869. We are a congregation with a “Strategic Plan” and “Visioning” to be able to accomplish and do the work of Jesus Christ and His Church. We have four main points to our plan that will allow us to work in this present day and in the days and years to come.

 

            The four main components of the plan are as follows.

* First – Worship, in the Divine Service our Lord Jesus comes to serve us. We have specific goals and ways that we will accomplish this: music, the Household of God, Planning and Coordination, Elders and Ushers, Teaching and Stewardship.

* Second – Evangelism, in our daily callings, the Good News of Salvation that we receive weekly goes with us, and we are meant to share that with others. There are specific goals and ways that we will accomplish this need to tell others: Divine Service, Vocation and Personal Witness, The Family, The Catechumenate, Reconciliation and Planning as a Congregation.

* Third – Christian Education,  Christian Day School, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Confirmation Instruction, Bible Classes (Adult and Youth), and Youth Group.

* Fourth – Mercy, Holy Scripture describes the church as “the body of Christ,” a fellowship in which all Christians are united in Christ, we are also commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.

 

            This is just a brief description of Who We Are at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church & School. If you have any questions or concerns, or perhaps you would like to talk to our Pastor, please feel free to call the Church Office for an appointment.