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Our Founding History

As early as 1859 services were held in Stratford, Ontario among German-speaking Lutheran immigrants by Pastor J. S. Hengerer, a member of the Pittsburgh Ministerium, who was also serving First St. Johnís Lutheran Church in Seebachís Hill. A wooden frame chapel located on Brunswick Street was built in 1863, and in 1874 a larger brick church building on Cambria Street was dedicated. Three years later, when the Canada Synod was unable to provide a pastor for the congregations, originally called First Lutheran Church and later renamed Zion Lutheran Church, Pastor Friedrich Dubpernell of the Missouri Synod, who was serving at First St. Johnís, Seebachís Hill, was requested to provide them with pastoral services. His acceptance of this call resulted in the congregation severing its connection with the Canada Synod and so becoming one of the founding congregations of the Canada District of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States in 1879.

With the departure of Pastor Dubpernell in 1885, the congregation joined with St. Paulís, Tavistock in calling Pastor Christoph Merkel. Later they were served by Pastor A. Doehler, and in 1893 the congregation called its first resident pastor, Rev. S. B. Eix. He remained until 1900 when Pastor J. G. Spilman was called. Pastor A. N. Frey would follow him in 1904, but a dissension arose in the congregation almost immediately upon his arrival. He soon resigned and the congregation left the Missouri Synod to rejoin the Canada Synod.

In 1911, however, a number of members of Zion congregation approached Pastor Theodore Huegli of First Lutheran Church in Logan with the request that he provide them with Word and Sacrament ministry. Their intention to establish a separate congregation was approved by the Canada District president. Rev. William Boese. The reason for leaving Zion Lutheran Church was, as the chronicle of St. Peterís congregation records it: ďThe Evangelical Lutheran St. Peterís Congregation of Stratford, Ontario, was established by people who earlier belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Zion Congregation. This Zion congregation, namely after the call to Pastor O. C. D. Klaehn of the Canada Synod, made itself guilty of un-Lutheran practices, and so angered a number of true Christians, thereby pressing the organization of the St. Peterís congregation in February 1911 which was to be served by the Missouri Synod.Ē

OldSt.Peter'sSeminary graduate, Frank Malinsky, would become its first pastor in 1912. Since Zion Lutheran Church had relocated to its present site on Erie Street in 1908, the members of St. Peterís congregation attempted to purchase the old church building. When their offer to purchase was refused, the matter was taken to court. The court ruled in favour of Zion congregation and, as a result, a piece of property two blocks from the old church was purchased by the congregation from one of its members. In 1912 a church building was constructed that is in use to this day. The old church building was eventually sold to Pounder Brothers Mill which built its premises around it. Some portions of the original church could still have been seen in the Pounder TIM-BR Mart store. It now operates as Jobsite Brewing Company and Junction 56 Distillery.

St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church
115 Cambria St
Stratford, Ontario, N5A 1H2

Copyright (c) R.McEwen 2008