St. Peter United Church of Christ
415 Madison St
Red Bud, IL 62278
Come Join Us!
William L. Graves, Pastor
Web Site: stpeterredbud.com
In the beginning St. Peter United Church of Christ was formed by men and women of German descent, of the Evangelical faith. St. Peter’s building was dedicated on December 12, 1897. The movement to organize a congregation and to build started earlier in that year by word of mouth and signed petition, and culminated in a meeting on June 29. This was presided over by Rev. Henry Buchmueller, the then president of the South Illinois District of the Evangelical Synod of North America. The first worship service was held in the Red Bud City Hall on July 11. A permanent organization was effected the afternoon of the same day and steps were taken to incorporate under the laws of the State of Illinois.
The need for a church building was felt from the start and soon plans were completed. The cornerstone was laid on September 5, 1897. Much labor and some materials were donated as well as money. The total cost of the building and furnishings was approximately $4,500.
Sunday worship services were dependent upon the availability of theological students from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis and neighboring ministers until after the new building was dedicated. Then Rev. Albert Reusch became St. Peter’s first regular pastor. He was followed by Rev. Henry Grotefend . These two each ministered for about four years. Pastor Henry Buchmueller was then called and he served the members faithfully for 21 years. He was succeeded by Rev. Paul Brink who shepherded St. Peter’s flock until the end of the year 1945.
Many changes had taken place both in the community and in St. Peter’s congregation, as well as in the building and in the purposes for which the building was used. During the depression years a basement was dug giving a place for Sunday School classes, a kitchen, fellowship room, and space for a furnace to steam heat the completed area. Prior to this, heat was from two large stoves in the auditorium with long pipes leading to the chimneys at the west (front) end.
Sermons and songs were in the German language, for the most part, before World War I. Then the emphasis changed to English for christening, confirmation, and all other occasions. The last sermons in German were delivered some time in the early thirties. The Original sanctuary was designed with a center aisle and pulpit. Men and women did not sit together to worship. Men sat on the right of the center aisle and women and children sat on the left. Gradually men and women became accustomed to sitting together. Church membership was by individuals, not by amilies. No women served on the Council or the Board of Elders in the early years of St. Peter. They were however, given equal status with the men on the committees, boards, and had voice and vote at congregational meetings. The church in the early years of our nation was the center of social life in the community and St. Peter scheduled fellowship events and celebrations for church members and the Red Bud citizens. A big Pentecost Monday picnic was held annually for many years. Public school was dismissed and a church band led a parade to the church where pink lemonade was shared by all the kids. Two big meals were served annually to the Red Bud community, a Wurst Markt and Chicken and Dumpling Dinner. Other sociables were held at suitable times. The budget is supported through weekly offerings, donations and money raising events. There have been donations, bequests, and gifts from the start. The two bells in the tower were gifts; a bequest of $25,000 as a memorial gave impetus to the erection of St. Peter Educational building. Many smaller sums presented from time to time since the church was founded, as well as regular pledges from devoted followers of Christ. They were all made freely and without reservation. All indicate the support we have had as a congregation in our endeavor to serve Christ and our fellowman. Other events during and since World War II have changed habits of worship and understandings about moral, ethical, and religious questions. We have upgraded the Sunday School materials and instruction. The Hymnal replaced the Elmhurst Hymnal. Early in 1946 the pace of life in St. Peter Church began to quicken. Rev. Henry Buege became St. Peter’s Pastor. We emphasized the policy of being “The Church of the Open Door”. We became leaders in the community. We continued to serve meals to the many groups needing a place to meet, but the emphasis was on service rather than on money making. We opened St. Peter’s rooms and services to the many and varied groups: Mental Health classes, ecological discussions, Hospital Auxiliary Carousel, many groups of Scouts, Women’s Club, Chamber of Commerce, Masons, weddings and receptions as well as funerals and funeral luncheons.
Many developments in this country have brought changes that affect St. Peter Church and community. Improved roads and the automobile have brought people closer together. Adults and young people want to attend churches where there are more of their friends and where there are, perhaps, Sunday School classes and sermons that inspire and encourage members in their walk of faith.
Attendance was lagging at two smaller and more isolated churches, St. Marcus and Immanuel to the north and northeast. When the services at these churches became irregular, the decision was made to merge with St. Peter. This joining of the congregations was celebrated on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1949 St. Marcus, or Prairie du Long, or Long Prairie, as it was variously known from the area in which it was located, is just two miles north of Red Bud. It was founded by Rev. John J. Riess, father of Judge A.D. Riess and Dr. John Riess of Red Bud, back in the year 1836. Rev. Riess also preached services at Turkey Hill, and Milstadt. The Church records which are kept at St. Peter, show names of members and dates of christenings, confirmations, marriages, deaths, etc. It gave the names of settlers from four localities: Long Prairie, Round Prairie, Horse Prairie and Red Bud. The occupations of most of these were farmer.
The succession of pastors following the Rev. John Riess with the beginning year of each was: Rev. F. Erdmann - 1857, Rev. August Jennerich - 1876, Rev.Grabau - 1884, Rev. Wiese - 1888, Rev. Kern - 1890, Rev. Moritz - 1898, Rev. Karl Wiegemann - 1901, Rev. Brown - 1922, Rev Betz - 1924, Rev. Herbert Hosto - 1926, Rev. Kalkbrenner - 1927, Rev. Hauff -1931, and Rev. Schultz, at the time of merger. St. Marcus shared the services of these pastors with Friedens Evangelical in Hecker. On alternate Sundays, however, these same men preached at Immanuel Evangelical, or Lord’s Corner, or Round Prairie, as it was known then (and even now). Sunday School was taught every Sunday until 1932, but later, as interest lagged, only on Sundays when there was preaching.
A regular feature at St. Marcus was the big annual October Mission Fest, open to the general public. Other meals also were served for money-making purposes. Until the later years, the food was cooked in the homes and brought hot to the tables, where it was served. Finally a shed was built to house the preparation of the food. The first church building was a log structure. This was replaced at an early date by a substantial stone building made of rock quarried nearby and built by local labor. It still stands and is the oldest Evangelical structure in southern Illinois. The Congregation voted to sell the old log house, but the man charged with the sale feared “Gypsies” might live in it and thus “desecrate” the old church, so he had it destroyed.
The building at Immanuel, erected in 1884, was first a schoolhouse, then, after a couple of years it was purchased and occupied as a church until 1949. The sermons and confirmation classes were in German until after World War I. Communion was held four times a year.
Each of these congregations had its own cemetery plot. When the three churches merged not all of the members from St. Marcus and Immanuel went to St. Peter. Some went to Hecker, some to New Athens, some to Belleville, a few elsewhere.
Back in 1934 each of these three had become E. & R., as the Evangelical had merged with the Dutch Reformed. The St. Peter Parsonage was built in 1923. A basement was dug for the 39 year old sanctuary and dedicated in 1936. A new chancel was built with organ added in 1947. St. Peter celebrated its Golden Jubilee the last week in September, 1947. Also in 1947 a new constitution was adopted. Altogether we felt rather proud of the progress we had made. Rev. Henry Buege served us until the fall of 1953. Then Rev. Roy Alberswerth accepted the call and assumed his duties in January, 1954. In 1957 the congregation voted to build an Educational Building. This lies between the parsonage and the church proper. The basements and first floors of the buildings are on the same levels and connected for easy access. There were now rooms for all classes from nursery to middle high. There is a large basement room for meetings of all kinds and for receptions and banquets. A multipurpose room serves smaller groups; a pastor’s study, a vault, and work room with some storage areas completes the space allocations. Rev. Alberswerth resigned in 1959 and was succeeded by Rev. George W. Hohmann. Under these three ministers since World War II, St. Peter membership increased substantially, St. Peter properties were made much more useful, and St. Peter services to the community broadened. A sound system was installed with large trumpet speakers in the tower, some hearing aids in the pews, and speakers in the auditorium and basement. The floor has been carpeted, kitchen equipment built into a corner of the multi-purpose room, and new appurtenances obtained for the kitchen and dining room as well as for the office. The E. & R. Church in Red Bud became the United Church of Christ in 1961 when the merger with the Congregational Christian was effected. We are in the Illinois South Conference which holds an Annual Meeting for all the churches in the conference each September. St. Peter was the host church for this Annual Meeting in 1979. In the summer of 1970 Rev. Hohmann resigned, Rev. Paul Stange served very effectively as interim Pastor, and then in January, 1971, St. Peter congregation called Rev. Kenneth Knobloch to be the pastor. He moved into the parsonage with his wife and two daughters. A son was born to their family here in Red Bud during his almost 30 year tenure as pastor. In the summer of 2001, Rev Knobloch retired.
Rev. William L. Graves was called to be the pastor of St. Peter in January of 2002.The members of the church redecorated and remodeled the parsonage and Rev. Graves and his wife Carolyn moved into the 1923 brick residence. In 2004, a new constitution and by-laws were written to meet the future demands of the church in society. Worship services and Sunday School classes are held weekly on Sunday mornings. Wednesday evening worship is held during the pre Easter season of Lent. Confirmation classes for youth in 7th and 8th grades meet on Wednesdays after school. Adult and Children’s Choirs practice weekly and sing for Sunday services. The Church Council conducts the business of the church at monthly meetings. The Women’s Fellowship meets monthly. They hold a very popular Annual Mother Daughter Banquet in May and raffle a quilt as a fund raiser. The women of this organization are available to serve funeral luncheons also. They donate the majority of the money they make to ministries of the Illinois South Conference such as and Hoyleton Youth and Family Services. The Men’s Brotherhood also meets monthly. They hold an Annual Spaghetti supper in April and operate food stands at community events as fund raisers. They use their money for work projects such as building cabins at DuBois Church Camp. The congregation also sends a group of workers annually to Hoyleton Youth and Family Services for 3 days to help with various projects such as painting and sorting clothes and school supplies for residents. In addition to Sunday School, a Vacation Bible School is also held for a week each summer for children from preschool through grade five. The St. Peter United Church of Christ serves very effectively in ministering to the needs of this community. Membership has grown steadily to well over 450 communicants. St. Peter activities and accomplishments are summarized in the annual Year Book. The annual directory lists the names of all officers, boards, and committees. It also enumerates the names and addresses of church members. Worshiping with us are those from other faiths and places as well as confirmed members and Red Bud natives. These attest to the fact that we have truly opened St. Peter’s doors and acted as a church wanting to gather to its fold all who are seeking to follow the example of Jesus Christ and lead lives that glorify God and serve mankind.