St. Peter's History
In 1845, a group of German families built the first St. Peter. It was named German Evangelical Calvinistic Reformed United Lutheran Church. It was located on the south side of Dundee Road, near Anthony Trail Road, by Northfield Union Cemetery. The land was donated by Lorenz Koeblin. The church had Reformed and Lutheran backgrounds. The church was the first Protestant one in the area. The very first pastor was C.A. Behrendt. In March 22, 1851 the church adopted a constitution. It then changed its name to United Evangelical Reformed Church of Northfield. There were only 38 members, some of which whose families are still members.
The members of the church then built a new building, near Shermer and Willow Road. There was a new building because of new settlers. The settlers wanted it closer to the center of Northfield township. It was dedicated on September 6, 1863. They also built a cemetery. In 1875, the building was enlarged with transepts to form the shape of a cross. This enlargement was necessary to accommodate the growing congregation.
The choir was started at that time. The beginning of the woman's organization was in 1887. In 1897, there was a new pipe organ. The parsonage was built in 1903. In 1912, the building was raised and the basement was added. In 1920, the language in the worship service changed from German to English and in order to be more open to everyone. Services were still in German on the second and fourth Sundays each month and on Good Friday. By 1930, all of the worship services were conducted in English. In 1912, the church joined Evangelical Synod of North America.
Many changes were made during the pastorate of Reverend Bizer, 1923 to 1962. A Community House was built. The Community House was built in 1925. It was open to the whole community. The Community House had a bowling alley, gymnasium, kitchen, and library. The Sunday School was divided into grades. Also, classes were added for youth and adults. In the 1930s, junior and senior youth groups were formed. A church paper was published to inform members on what was happening at the church. Stained glass windows were added and a new electric organ was installed.
On February 22, 1961, the church was destroyed by a fire. Reverend Bizer resigned after the fire, and Reverend Barth took his place. The congregation moved to the gymnasium in the Community House as a place of worship. Pews were donated by Elmhurst College and hymnals were donated by the Winnetka Congregational Church. The American Legion allowed the church to use their hall for the 1961 Holiday Faire (bazaar) and for the 1962 Turkey Dinner. The congregation bought a 7 acre tract of land on Willow Road which gave them a more accessible location. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on September 22, 1963, and the finished church was dedicated on November 1, 1964. The first service in the new St. Peter Church was on October 24, 1964. June 1967, the new parsonage was dedicated. More committees were formed and the practice of having lay scripture and announcement readers began. Also, the use of prayer request cards and a children's sermon was presented. On January 21, 1979, a new pipe organ was dedicated.
History of the Choir
Choir began in 1875. Then, choir was called "singing school". There was a two dollar charge to become a member of the choir. Robes became available in 1935. The junior choir started in 1955. Children's choir was started in 1977. In 1993, the bell choir was added to C.Y.C. (Children's Youth Choir).
Fran Tomandl said that the church was always comfortable and everyone always cared about you. She enjoyed working with people at church activities, such as picnics, couple clubs, and sweetheart night. Sweetheart night is where the men would make dinner and entertain their sweethearts.
We also interviewed Emily Dietz. She told us a story about the church. The members of our church, before there were cars, would drive their buggies to church and park them in the stalls of a barn. There was a cement step that the ladies would step onto to get out or in to their buggies. When there were cars, the kids, including Emily, would play on the cement.
~In the early days, men carried guns to church to protect their families from wolves and Native Americans.
~The Sunday School children had to memorize verses in German, but did not necessarily understand them.
~Kitchen Band-the lively Kitchen Band was a popular group in the 1920's. They wore identical aprons and dust caps, they played at Northbrook Days and other village and church programs.
~The Church Bell survived the fire of 1961 and remains at the St. Peter Cemetery along with a plaque describing its survival. This bell was rung on Sunday mornings to call people to worship and it was rung in mourning after a death of a member.
Names of Pastors
Names of the Church
1845- German Evangelical Calvinistic Reformed United Lutheran Church
1851-United Evangelical Reformed Church of Northfield
1863-St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church
1913-St. Peter Evangelical Church
1925-St. Peter Evangelical Neighborhood Church
1964-St. Peter United Church of Christ
2002-St. Peter Community Church