Founding of St. Peter's Lutheran Church Chester Springs
The first church organization in this vicinity was at Zion's Church, in Pikeland Township, near the present Spring City. The Lutherans had a loose church organization in 1743. Then, in 1757, they joined with the German Reformed, secured a piece of land, and built a church. From Zion's, the pastor reached out into the "regions beyond", especially across French Creek and into this vicinity into the homes of our first members.
"Before long, additional pastors came from Halle, ... including a man who occupies a large and honorable place in our church in this region... the Rev. J. Ludwig Voigt. He became pastor at Trappe, Swamp (New Hanover), and Zion's in 1764. The congregations, especially Zion's, grew rapidly, and the old log church was soon too small to hold the people. Though all desired a new church, there was hopeless division of opinion or desire as to its location. Those living on the south side of French Creek desired the church to be built nearer them, but the majority favored the old site." In 1770, the dispute was taken to the synod which had been founded by Muhlenberg in 1748. Since there were insufficient pastors to supply the congregations already in this area, the synod adopted the following recommendations, as recorded in the official minutes of the Ministerium:
1. "The congregation should, if the building of a church were necessary, build on the old place."
2. "Those living beyond the France (French) Creek (i.e., St. Peter's), who wished to undertake another building, should wait with it, and rather out of Christian love contribute to this church."
3. "If after the completion of this church, those across the France Creek also wished to begin a building for themselves, the Ministerium would promise to assist them on this side with a preacher of their own as soon as possible."
4. "And then those living on this side of the France Creek (i.e., Zion's) should practice the same Christian love and contribute to the building of the new church. This answer was given to the delegates in writing."
The delegates from this side of the French Creek did not follow the recommendation of the synod. They purchased land on which to build a church... St. Peter's. "The first authentic record is that Michael King and Henry Hipple, on May 16, 1771, conveyed to Peter Hartman, George Emerie, Conrad Miller, and Adam Moses, as trustees, the former one acre and eight perches for twenty shillings, and the latter forty-five perches for five shillings. On this ground the Lutheran congregation erected... a log church."
The next year it is recorded in the synod minutes: "Seeing, therefore, that they, so to say, have swarmed away from the first Peikstown beehive, and have attached themselves to the new hive across the Franzkrick, the question arises whether they can be cared for in the new hive, or shall be left to roving birds of prey."
Pastor Voigt was chosen to minister to St. Peter's, along with his numerous other charges. He and Pastor Muhlenberg dedicated the first building on November 8, 1772. Muhlenberg wrote a lengthy account of his journey to Pikeland for the dedication, which is preserved for us in his Journals:
To see the Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg click here.