St. Peter's Lutheran Church Chester Springs
Background of St. Peter's Lutheran Church Chester Springs
Today, St. Peter's is located on the urban fringe of Philadelphia. But, just over two centuries ago, when the first Lutherans came here seeking religious freedom and a peaceful place to raise their families, "back home" was Germany, a trip to the thriving city of Philadelphia required a hard day's ride on horseback. Because of poor travel and communication, each settlement was independent of the others, and groups of Lutherans worshipping together were pretty much on their own. They had no regular pastors, but were dependent on the ministrations of itinerant preachers, who often were looking for their own profit rather than to serve God.
The period of isolation and lack of proper pastoral care came to an end when Henry Melchior Mehlenberg arrived in Philadelphia in 1742. He was sent by the church in Halle, Germany, to be a missionary and to provide pastoral care to three congregations... one in Philadelphia, one at Trappe, and one at New Hanover. He organized the first Lutheran synod in North America as a Ministerium of pastors in 1748, and visited congregations from Georgia to Upper New York. As a missionary, he wrote and transmitted careful reports of his activities to the church in Germany. In these reports we find the earliest history of our congregation.
In May of 1744, Muhlenberg records that he baptized seven children of Lutheran families in this area... families active in St. Peter's more than a century and a quarter later: Heilman (Hallman), Moses, Dury (Deery), Stein, and Fedderling. Tradition says he preached in homes here in 1751, and he mentioned the home of Michael Koenig, or King, as his headquarters.