St. Peter celebrates 150 years
Weyauwega church plans special services in August
By James Card
St. Peter Lutheran Church will celebrate its sesquicentennial throughout the month of August by hosting special services and other events.
The 150-year mark refers to the founding of the congregation – not the church building.
In 1872, a small group of Lutherans organized a congregation and wrote a constitution. They worshipped in members’ homes at first and sermons were given by traveling preachers that rode into town on horseback.
A year later, they built their first church, a small wood-frame building that was located where Star Dairy currently exists.
Former pastors who have served the congregation will conduct the special services.
On the first Sunday of the month, Aug. 7, Pastor Newlin Schafer from Florida will host the service. On Aug. 14, Dennis Lemke of West Bend with be the guest pastor. On the third Sunday, Aug. 21, Robin Robbert will preside and on the fourth Sunday, Pastor Matthew Crass will be the guest.
On the first Sunday in August, the bell will be rung 150 times to celebrate the anniversary. Also on the first, second and fourth Sundays in August, breakfast will be served and on the third Sunday evening there will be a dinner.
In the church there will be displays, memorabilia, timelines and a memorial wall of pastors who served the church over the years. The services will have special musical performances.
The church is also setting up displays on Weyauwega’s Thursday Night on Main weekly event and they will build a float for the Horse and Buggy Day Parade.
1888 – A second wood church was built on the present Main Street site with a 400-person capacity.
1891 – A parsonage was built.
1896 – First pipe organ purchased.
1900 – A two-room school was built.
1910 – The present brick church was dedicated and the first English service was conducted. All others were in German.
1920 – Electric lighting installed.
1928 – The last German-only confirmation was conducted. Thereafter, it was bilingual until 1933.
1929 – The present pipe organ was installed.
1931 – English became the official language of the church.
1941 – A new three-room school building was dedicated.
1955 – Three more classrooms were added.
1960 – The congregation voted to have two English and one German service each Sunday.
1962 – Three more classrooms were added, plus a multi-purpose room, a kitchen, workroom and an office.
1969 – German services were discontinued.
1971 – 1989 – The congregation spends thousands of dollars during this period in various upgrades, remodeling and improvements.
1996 – The train derailment forced temporary closure of the church and Immanuel in Waupaca offered their church as a place of worship.
1999 – The pipe organ was restored and repaired.
Spreading the word
The church has a new milestone: going digital in the age of the Internet. It has a website (www.splwega.net) but the church now reaches people from around the world through its broadcasts.
The church congregation currently numbers around a 1,000 members. Not all attend every Sunday and the COVID-19 pandemic put attendance numbers down.
“One good thing since we’ve got it [church services] online we’ve got people all over the country that are watching. We’ve been getting a lot of that, you see it in the comments section and some are people that aren’t Lutheran, too,” said Gloria Prillwitz, a member thawhot comes from a long line of church trustees.
“It’s a blessing because of the fact because if you are sick or a shut-in you can tune in online now,” said Marietta Paap, a former teacher at the school and a member of numerous church committees.