The Full Story
St. Peter's United Church of Christ was founded in 1844 as the German Protestant Church of Washington, Missouri. We were the second church established in the town (after St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church) and the first Protestant congregation. Though it was a handful of German Protestant settlers who got the church going, Rev. Hermann Garlichs was the first pastor to serve the church in any capacity. Rev. Garlichs 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 ministerial duties. Other work of the church was done 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 has stood at Fifth and Market Streets since 1868. Other additions to the church were added in the 1900s, including a parsonage and four additions to the main church building as our ministry continued to grow.
As other Protestant churches were established in Washington, Missouri, our congregation changed its name to St. Peter's Evangelical Church or St. Peter's Evangelische Kirche, to be precise (German was still spoken in worship services roughly until World War II). Though we already had a rich relationship with other German Evangelical churches, we officially joined the wider denomination of the German Evangelical Synod in the 1890's, shortly after a tornado struck our church, damaging the roof and parts of the sanctuary.
In 1934, our Evangelical denomination merged with Reformed churches of German and Swiss background, and in 1957, we again merged with the Congregational Christian denomination (of Pilgrim, Puritan and frontier backgrounds), to form the United Church of Christ denomination in which we continue to live our ministry today.
Since it's start, St. Peter's church's members have lived their discipleship both humbly and boldly before the community of Washington and beyond. Giving God our best through worship, Christian education, outreach and a strong commitment to walk in Christ's ministry, vision and way has guided our congregation throughout its history.
2021 marked our 177th anniversary in the town of Washington, Missouri, but more importantly, it marked 177 years of faith-filled work and witness. May God continue to guide and bless our ministry in the community of Washington.
We do have books about our history available for sale. Please contact the Church Office if you are interested.