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.