St.Peter's UCC Church History
St. Peter's United Church of Christ was founded in 1844 as the German Protestant Church of Washington, Missouri. Ours was the first Protestant congregation established in town and just the second church (shortly after St. Francis Borgia Roman Catholic Church). Though it was a handful of German Protestant settlers who organized the group, Rev. Hermann Garlichs was the first pastor to serve the church in any official capacity. Rev. Garlichs also helped to establish seven other German Evangelical churches on the north side of the Missouri River. About once a month, Rev. Garlichs would cross the river to Washington to assist in leading worship, providing sacraments and performing other important ministerial duties. Between his visits, the work of the church was handled by the dedicated founding members of the congregation.
The first and second church buildings were located at the corner of Third and Lafayette Streets (the edge of town at the time). The present church sanctuary was erected at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets in 1868. As our ministry grew, many enhancements to the property were made, including four major additions to the main church complex and construction of a parsonage across the street.
As other Protestant churches were started in Washington, our congregation changed its name to St. Peter's Evangelical Church (or St. Peter's Evangelische Kirche, to be precise--German language worship services were still occasionally offered until the onset of World War II). Although we had a strong relationship with other German Evangelical churches in the region, St. Peter's didn't officially join the wider denomination of the German Evangelical Synod until 1893, shortly after a powerful tornado struck our church, destroying the roof and seriously damaging much of the sanctuary.
In 1934, our German Evangelical denomination joined with the like-minded Reformed Church of German and Swiss descent to become the Evangelical and Reformed Church of North America. Then, in 1957, we merged again, this time with the Congregational Christian denomination (of Pilgrim, Puritan and frontier backgrounds) to form the United Church of Christ, within which we continue to live our ministry today.
Since its founding, St. Peter's church members have lived their discipleship both humbly and boldly before the town of Washington and beyond. We strive to give God our best through worship, Christian education, charity, outreach and community service. Our congregation continues to maintain a strong commitment to walk in Christ's ministry and vision, following the path that has guided our church throughout its history.
2024 marks our 180th anniversary in the town of Washington, Missouri but, more importantly, it marks 180 years of faith-filled work and witness. May God continue to guide and bless our ministry in the community of Washington.
A complete book about our St. Peter's history is now available. Please contact the Church Office for details.