St. Peter’s in Punxsutawney is a member of the national church body known as the United Church of Christ. One of the distinctive qualities of the United Church of Christ is freedom of conscience and belief, which allows individual congregations the freedom to decide its standards of faith. That is why the United Church of Christ has a reputation as a very diverse denomination!
The United Church of Christ is a Christian denomination that looks to our past for the testimony of our forebears and to the future in order to make our faith real in our time. We look to the creeds of the ancient Christian church as testimonies, not tests, of faith. Additionally, the Preamble of the Constitution of the United Church of Christ lays out our basic principles of belief. The United Church of Christ has also produced its own Statement of Faith in order to express the specific theological emphases of our church body.
At St. Peter’s, we regularly use the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed or the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith during worship to express our trust in God. There are no standards of belief for attendance or participation in our worship service. Adults seeking to become members of the church are asked during the ceremony in which they become members to declare publicly their belief in the triune nature of God (Parent, Son and Holy Spirit), and to endeavor to renounce the powers of evil, resist oppression, and to show love and justice as best they are able. Guardians bringing children for baptism are asked to guide their children in these same vows, which they make on the child’s behalf. All baptized Christians are welcome to partake in Holy Communion.
If you have any questions about the beliefs or practices at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, please do not hesitate to contact Pastor Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
The history of the congregation that would become St. Peter’s United Church of Christ begins in 1838, when the Reverend John Althouse, a pioneer pastor who belonged to the German Reformed church, organized a congregation of German Reformed and Lutheran members. In 1847, an application for a Charter of Incorporation was filed with the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County. The name of the congregation was Punxsutawney German Lutheran and Presbyterian Church. Political instability in Germany during that time caused many families to move to Pennsylvania, many of which who moved to Punxsutawney joined the congregation.
The first permanent church building was erected in 1848. The building was a log-built structure.
In 1853 the Lutheran members of the congregation split from the church and created their own congregation.
From 1895 to 1901, the congregation was left without a pastor, and membership dwindled to 30 members. The local classis of the Reformed Church considered closing the congregation. However, Elder Adam Schneider appealed to keep the congregation operating, so the classis decided to keep the congregation. The next pastor, the Reverend Lewis Reiter, managed to increase membership in the church from 30 to 220.
In 1909 the congregation’s charter was amended, changing its name to St. Peter’s Reformed Church. Since then, the name of the congregation has changed only to reflect changes in the name of the denomination to which it belongs. The German Reformed Church and the German Evangelical Church merged in 1934, forming the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1957, the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational Christian Churches, forming the United Church of Christ.
Construction on the present church building began in 1922. The finishing work on the sanctuary was completed, and the building dedicated, in 1949.
St. Peter’s United Church of Christ is a congregation that is proud of its distinctive German Reformed heritage, which it brings into its life today as the local embodiment of the United Church of Christ in Punxsutawney. We celebrate the theological diversity of our members, while at the same time cherishing our unique identity and unity in Christ. We invite you to become a part of our living history!
If you would like to learn more about the history of the United Church of Christ, please visit our website at www.ucc.org.