We don’t know where you are in your faith walk, but we understand that questions are worth answering. While it’s impossible to address every question you might have, we hope this overview will at least provide a start.
About the Bible
Everything Lutherans believe comes from the Bible, God’s message of love and hope for all people. The Bible is the written Word of God, handed down to us in order to point us to the truth that we are saved from our sin and eternal death by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe that the Bible is completely reliable and without error. In it we learn everything we need to know about God’s love and His gifts to us.
There is only one true God — the Triune God — who exists in three separate but equal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God the Father is our maker and the creator of all things. By the Father’s word, all things were made, and we are His most beloved creation; we are closest to His heart. The Son is Jesus Christ, who came to earth as the perfect “go-between” between God and humanity. He has redeemed us and is the voice to the Father on our behalf. The Holy Spirit calls us to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, keeps us in the one true faith, and equips us for living out our faith. He is the whisper in our heart’s ear.
We all fall short of God’s expectations because we are all born “sinful” — and we aren’t talking about “sinfully” rich desserts, we’re talking about the serious side of sin. Sin can be summed up as all the things we say, think, do, and don’t do, that fall outside of God’s holy will for our lives and end up separating us from God.
Sin was brought into world when Satan lured the first people God created (Adam and Eve) into temptation through their own free will and weakness, breaking the perfect relationship between God and us. From that point on, sin became part of our very existence. Because God also demands perfect obedience, our ultimate punishment became death.
Yet God is a loving God whose will is not for us to live in eternal punishment. That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live the perfect life He requires and to become our substitute. Christ never sinned — not even once — and then He took our sin upon Himself and died on the cross, on our behalf. When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, He bears our sin and gives us His forgiveness.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
About Being Saved
There is absolutely nothing we can do to “be saved” — Jesus Christ has already done everything necessary. In His death and resurrection, everyone who believes in Jesus as Savior has been brought back into a right relationship with God. That means that, on account of Jesus, everyone who believes is “justified,” or declared innocent by God. God has done justice to the world’s sins; because of Jesus, all who believe are forgiven and will live eternally.
We do not cooperate in our salvation and there is nothing we could ever present to God to make our way into eternal life with Him — not money or even good works. Neither can we really feel it or prove it. We cannot reason our way to salvation, nor can we earn it. All we can do is to believe in Him, trusting that all that is necessary has been done for us through Jesus.
It is through faith in Jesus that we receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life — by believing that He has freed us from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin. Faith is a gift worked in us by the power of the Holy Spirit; it doesn’t come to us through anything we are capable of, but through what God does for us. We simply receive what is already being offered out of God’s great love.
Lutherans often refer to grace. The word itself might remind you of the grace period you are given when paying bills — when your debt can be paid without further penalty. God’s grace is even more wonderful; that’s why it’s called “amazing grace.” While we deserved to pay the penalty for our sins, God had a different plan. Christ paid the debt and we receive forgiveness and eternal life from Him that is offered out of unconditional love. That’s why it’s called grace because it is truly undeserved.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
God has provided tangible ways through which He delivers His grace to those who believe, assuring us that the sins we commit are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. These are called the “means of grace” and are God’s Word, holy Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion). Through these means, God makes Himself known to us in a very personal way: God’s Word reveals His faithfulness and love; Baptism is our rebirth and renewal in Jesus; the Lord’s Supper is our closest communion with Christ as we receive His body and blood.
About Good Works
Since there is nothing we can ever do to earn salvation, we do not do good works in order to be saved; good works are done out of praise and thanks because we are saved. Such good works include, but are certainly not limited to, serving and caring for the needs of others, honoring and giving respect to those in authority, honoring our vows and commitments, and generally doing what is considered by many to be good and right. It’s often said that Martin Luther expressed it this way: God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.
About Life After Death
On Judgment Day — we don’t know when — Jesus Christ is going to return. On that day, everyone who has died will be raised and those who are still alive will be bodily transformed. At that time, the final judgment will take place. Those who do not believe will go into eternal damnation in hell and all those who believe in Jesus as Savior will have eternal life in heaven.
If You Would Like to Know More...
Get in-depth information on the Lutheran Church. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod features information on Lutheran Belief & Practice online at www.lcms.org, including Lutheran Confessions, Doctrine, and a Christian Cyclopedia. This site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions section with FAQs on Denominational Differences, The Bible, Moral and Ethical Issues, LCMS Views, Doctrinal Issues, and Worship/Congregational Life.
© Copyright 2005 by Lutheran Hour Ministries
to be the intersection between faith and real life
St. Peter's Vision:
We will actively live out our faith so that our local community is connected to God’s transforming power
We see this happening as…
- Individuals turn compassion into action
- People walk beside one another through difficult times
- Our local community becomes a culture that glorifies and honors God and His teaching
- People realize they need a relationship with God
- Christ is present in homes, building stronger families through life transitions and reducing the divorce rate
- Children are taught and sent from the classroom to serve in the community
- Neighbors befriend one another and realize they are of value to Christ and to one another
- Neighborhoods become safe, open gathering places
- Individuals change from being selfish and self-serving to those who embrace Biblical values
- Individuals come alongside one another, sharing their time, talent, and resources
- Community Engagement – intentionally serve and impact the community with the love of Jesus
- Worship Gatherings – growing in faith as God meets us through His word inspiring a personal response
- Missional Small Groups – missional small groups will gather to build relationships, to address needs, serve others, and grow in faith
- Ministry to Early Childhood Education Center Families – help families recognize and embrace God’s presence in their lives
- Biblical Living The Gospel is not only something to be studied, but to be lived.
- Relationships The Gospel is about relationships. We have a personal relationship with the Lord and with each other.
- Selflessness The Gospel is about sacrifice. As Jesus fully gave of Himself, we fully give of ourselves.
- Compassion The Gospel is showing the same grace to others that God has shown us through Jesus Christ.
- Faith The Gospel comes alive through faith.
In the spring of 1928, two young students from Concordia College, St. Paul, Martin Scharleman and Herbert Berner, accepted an extra-curricular assignment to assist the Twin City Mission Society in a canvass of the neighborhoods of Southwest Minneapolis and the adjacent community of Edina. From their facts and figures it became apparent that a need existed for a formal mission effort in the area. A small chapel was constructed and Pastor H. Motzkus was called to serve the area. Some 55 people attended the first service on October 28, 1928.
This new mission was formally organized as St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on December 13, 1929 with a charter voting membership of 13 and a communicant membership of 25.
Within a year, the congregation outgrew the original accommodations and on November 6, 1930, ground was broken for a new church building. On April 19, 1931, St. Peter’s dedicated its new $22,000 house of worship. In the three years that followed, the congregation grew to 100 communicants and had a change in pastorate with the installation of Pastor L.S. Imm in June, 1933.
The advent of World War II found both pastor and sons of the congregation joining the ranks of the armed forces. During this period Pastor Harold Schweigert arrived to serve as supply pastor and was later installed as pastor in June, 1943.
In the autumn of 1945 a Christian School was established. The initial enrollment of 42 children in nursery, kindergarten and grades one through three occupied classrooms in the church basement and parsonage. In 1947 a new $27,000 educational building was dedicated to the glory of God as an expression of gratitude to Him for safe return of all the servicemen from the war. Shortly thereafter, Frederick W. Ibeling was called to serve as the first fulltime Minister of Education and Principal at St. Peter’s Lutheran School.
By the time the 20th Anniversary was celebrated in 1949, the communicant membership numbered 285, the baptized membership was 480 and the school enrollment had climbed to 120 children. A pressing need for additional classroom space prompted the congregation to add two classrooms to the educational building in 1950.
The Silver Anniversary of St. Peter’s was observed in a special service of worship and praise in 1954, with Dr. Oswald Hoffman of the Lutheran Hour preaching the sermon. By this time it had become increasingly apparent that the worship facilities were inadequate for the present and future work of the Lord. Congregation membership had reached 490 with 795 baptized souls. A building fund resulted in pledges of $83,000. During the year Robert Nieting was called to serve as principal.
In 1956, in anticipation of the groundbreaking for a new church building, the chapel was moved down France Avenue to become the home of the new Mount Hope congregation in Bloomington. During the period of construction of the new church building the congregation held their worship services in the educational building. At this time Omar Dittmer was serving as Principal of the school and Paul Boerger was called to the faculty as Minister of Youth.
On May 4, 1958, a new house of worship was dedicated to the glory of God by the members of St. Peter’s. The unique architectural style of the sanctuary caught the attention of both the local and national press. During this festival year William Wittmer joined the staff as Minister of Music.
By 1964 communicant membership had reached 788 with 1168 baptized souls. The school had an enrolment of 189. In 1969, at the 40th Anniversary, communicant membership had reached 861 and the school enrolment totalled 242 students. Clifford Kuxhaus was principal. During the 1970’s, Robert Hepburn succeeded Mr. Kuxhaus to serve as Minister of Education and Joel Becker was called as Minister of Music. Joel Schumacher arrived in 1978 to serve as Minister of Education.
Pastor Fred M. Miller came as an interim pastor in 1978. In 1979, Pastor Clarence Hinz was installed as the 4th pastor of St. Peter’s. Pastor Miller’s title changed to Assistant to the Pastor.
Groundbreaking for a new school took place in June 1983 and the facility was completed in early January of the next year. The dedication of the new School and Parish Education Center was celebrated on February 5, 1984. Pastor Timothy Booth served from 1985 through 1993. Jeanne VonDerAhe served the congregation and school as Director of Music beginning in 1993 through 2002.
In the years that followed, Principal Joel Schumacher was called to his home in heaven and Randy Ash became principal. Pastor Dave Anderson served from 1994 until 1998. It was during these years that a major step was taken to remodel the church sanctuary and expand the fellowship area and the offices. A Re-dedication Service at the conclusion of the renovations was held in June, 1997.
The late 90’s were a time of emotional, spiritual and organizational conflict in the church and school. We rejoice in the power of Christ’s forgiveness and renewed our efforts to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1998, John Aurich was called as School Principal. Also in 1998, Pastor Vic Meyer began serving as an intentional vacancy pastor. The 70th Anniversary was marked by a remembrance of God’s guiding hand “Through the Years.” In 2000, active membership numbered 318 baptized members with communicant membership of 251.
In June, 2000 Pastor Mark Shockey was installed as the 7th pastor of St. Peter’s. In the year 2000, the leaders sought the Lord’s Vision for a new millennium: People alive in Christ – each one going out to share God’s gift. In 2002, the Discipleship Room, Gym, and Fellowship Hall / Cafeteria areas were renovated and a Childcare Center was opened across the street from the church/school building.
Jen Moen and Jan Schrader began sharing their gifts and music skills for worship in 2003. At the same time, we were pleased to welcome back Principal Steve Schrader who was on staff as a teacher some 20 years earlier. In 2005 Jim Grimm began serving in a new position at St. Peter’s, the Director of Ministry Life, helping to develop and coordinate Ministry Teams and helping individuals live as disciples of our Lord Jesus. At that time, the people of St. Peter's started to worship together in a "blended" style Sunday morning worship Gathering as well as the addition in 2006 of “Pause!” a service intended to share our faith in Jesus in a conversational way with post-modern thinkers. Pastor Fred Miller remained the Lord’s and St. Peter’s ever-faithful servant, serving full-time as the Assistant to the Pastor until his 96th birthday in 2007! Pastor Norm Ruthenbeck now serves the congregation as visitation pastor and occasional preacher.
A gifted teacher on our staff, Julie Reid, was called to serve as the 10th principal of St. Peter’s Lutheran School in 2006. The next year Julie was invited to launch the Jr. High program at Concordia Academy. 2007 brought a transition in our school as we sent our Jr. High students to a new campus. In the empty classrooms, we expanded our Early Childhood Education Center. Deanne Hofer helped grow this program as director and Dick Timm was called to build a new team as an experienced principal to guide this transition. As we continued to expand our childcare offerings, Jeremy Ashley was called to serve as School Administrator in 2010 overseeing both the Elementary School and the growing Early Childhood Education Center and continuing to build unity with Pastor Mark in our church & school outreach to the community. FamJam! was launched on Sunday mornings at the end of 2012. This is child friendly, energetic, fast paced, noisy time of worship designed for families to enjoy together with meaningful Biblical teaching where everyone grows in faith at their own level of understanding.
In 2012, fresh with excitement from Missional success in our efforts in sharing Christ's love in our community, we launched a year-long Vision 20/20 process to seek the Lord's continuing direction and clear focus as we look to the future. With the diverse experiences and God given gifts found in the people God has brought together here, we have been able to serve the Lord, His church, and community in a number of exciting ways. The Lord continues to bless and lead St. Peter's. We have many committed, dedicated members who serve the Lord gladly. Support in terms of time, talents, and treasure continues to be excellent. St. Peter's is blessed to have a strong ministry to the family with a staff committed to building the Kingdom of God.
The words IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT are inscribed in Latin on the ring above the altar at the heart of the church, for the Trinity, the one true God, is the object of our worship and love. The unending ring upon which these words are inscribed suggests the eternity of God and His all-encompassing love. Placed at the center of the church it emphasizes that by reason of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, “God is in the midst of us.”
The Church of Jesus Christ is built upon the solid foundation of the apostles and prophets, the Bible. Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone. People gather in the sanctuary to “show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This is suggested by the windows that face out in every direction of the compass. This allows “the heavens to declare God’s glory and the firmament to reveal His handiwork” but also reminds us of Christ’s great commission to go and teach all nations, to let the Gospel light shine before all men.
The nave of the church is octagonal. This is a symbol of regeneration, derived from the fact that eight souls were saved from the Flood. Christ said, “Unless a person is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” How can I be born again? Is a logical question. Christ’s answer is presented in the large central cross rising out of the altar. In John 3 Christ says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
The altar at the foot of the cross is the table from which the grace earned for us by Jesus on the cross is dispensed to the congregation in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In its marble top five Maltese crosses are engraved to symbolize the five wounds of Christ, in His hands, feet and side. It stands on three marble steps, symbolic of the Trinity. There are seven candles on the altar because the number seven symbolizes completeness (creation) or perfection, which is ours by faith in Jesus Christ.
We baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The font, therefore, contains the creative hand symbol for the Father, the cross for the Son, and the dove for the Holy Spirit. “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved.” The baptismal font, the pulpit, and the altar emphasize the centrality of Baptism, Holy Communion, and the Word of God (the three means of grace) in Lutheran Worship.
The circular seating around the altar gives beautiful expression to the fellowship of saints (believers in Christ) and the family of God as we gather around the table of the Lord. The location of the altar in the center of the congregation accents the doctrine of the royal priesthood of all believers, according to which we hold that all believers have the privilege of direct access to God, through Jesus.
The central ceiling grill with its eight points suggests the eight gifts of the Holy Spirit found in this benediction: “May God grant you His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, of grace and prayer, of power and strength, of sanctification and the fear of God.” Finally, the beautiful, impressive roof structure is shaped as a crown – the Church of Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This reminds us of a beautiful jewel, symbol of the Church triumphant, beautiful and glorious. (Revelation 21) “This is none other but the House of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.”