St. Peter's Lutheran Church Chester Springs History

St. Peter's Lutheran Church Chester Springs

St. Peter's Lutheran Church Chester Springs from 1771-1839

At the time of the building of the log church, there was no provision for regular pastoral care. Since the break with Zion's was not made with the encouragement of the sister congregation, her members were unwilling to share with the new congregation the limited time that Pastor Voigt could spend in Pikeland. By 1776 another pastor was sent over from Halle and Voigt resigned from all his charges except Pottstown, Zion's, and St. Peter's, which he served until his death in 1800. In 1776, Zion's and St. Peter's purchased fifty acres near Zion's and built a parsonage. There Pastor Voigt lived until his death. In his late years Rev. J. F. Weinland was his assistant here.

During Pastor Voigt's time of service, St. Peter's played its part in American history. At the time of St. Peter's founding, the American colonies were rapidly moving toward a break from Great Britain. The ensuing Revolution came home to St. Peter's after the Battle of Brandywine. According to later accounts, both Zion's and St. Peter's were used as hospitals for the sick of the army on its way to Valley Forge and during its encampment there in the spring of 1778. Pastor Voigt continued to think of himself as a subject of Great Britain during the Revolution, and refused to stop praying for the king. On this account he was subjected to persecution.

Following the death of the venerable pastor, there was a period of some confusion. Rev. H. A. Geissenheiner was elected in St. Peter's but rejected in Zion's where Rev. F. Plitt was pastor, who later also preached here. Rev. Ravenauch also ministered here for a few years "but he did not live in the parsonage and was discharged on account of his lady." During these early years there was no regular pattern by which congregations banded together for the support of a pastor. For example, about 1805, "the Rev. Henry Anastasius Geissenheiner served St. Peter's, Nice's congregation, East Nantmeal, and the church in Amity."

A better day dawned when Rev. F. W. Jasinsky became pastor in 1808. He met with marked success and was beloved by the people. A fine new stone parsonage and barn were built. During his ministry the new church of 1811 was built. He died in 1815 and at his request was buried in our cemetery. "The next pastor was Rev. F. W. Geissenheiner, D. D. About the same time his father, of the same name, was chosen pastor of the adjoining charge in Montgomery County. Then the father and son united their two fields and served them together." "It was during the ministry of these two men that English preaching was permitted on Sunday afternoon in both churches." Rev. Jacob Wampole, Sr., began his aggressive ministry in 1827. He built a new church in Montgomery County and organized St. Matthew's Church in Chester County, near Chester Springs, in 1833. During his pastorate the fire and subsequent rebuilding of St. Peter's occurred. According to a different tradition from that mentioned earlier, Pastor Wampole introduced English in the services of St. Peter's. "Then English became from necessity more and more frequent, until 1844, when the German was entirely discontinued.

Let us conclude this section with a few facts and figures. The Pennsylvania legislature granted a charter to St. Peter's in 1789. According to Rev. J. R. Dimm the lowest number of communicants recorded in the time of Rev. Jasinsky, was sixteen. The highest number, recorded in Rev. Ruthrauff's time, was one hundred eighty-three.