St. Peter Ev. Lutheran Church traces its roots back to Spring 1902, when members of St. Stephen Lutheran Church of Wausau who were living in the Village of Schofield requested their own church. The church located at 1215 Grand Avenue was dedicated on December 14, 1902. St. Peter was served by Rev. Fred Wehrahn of St. Stephen and retained membership with that church with all business transacted at St. Stephen. On January 12, 1908 under the guidance of Wehrhahn, St. Peter Congregation was formally organized. A constitution was adopted, articles of incorporation applied for, and the first officers elected. They were Fred Broecker - Chairman; Fred Wendorf - Vice Chairman; Theodore Muelver - Secretary; William Dehling - Treasurer; and Herman Klingbiel - Trustee. The property was purchased from St. Stephen for $1,000 and Wehrhahn continued to serve for two more years. In 1910, the congregation resolved to call its own pastor, Rev. Ernest Boerger. Under his ministry, the parish grew rapidly. There were more than 200 communicant members by the time he left in 1916.
Succeeding pastors were Rev. John Ebert from 1916-1918, Rev. William Boysen from 1918-1921 and Rev. G. A. Zimmer from 1921-1923. With the departure of Zimmer and post - World War I economic difficulties plaguing the community, St. Peter could no longer support its own pastor. Rev. William Eggert of Salem Lutheran Church, Wausau, agreed to serve St. Peter making it part of a three congregation parish with Salem and Grace Lutheran Church, Ringle. St. Peter also became a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. In 1928, Eggert departed and Rev. Gustav Fischer was called. During his pastorate, a fourth congregation at Brokaw was added to the parish. When he left in 1932, it was decided to split the parish because no pastor could adequately serve four growing churches. Rev. G. C. Marquardt was called to the Schofield-Ringle parish.
After St. Peter completed an extensive remodeling project in 1938, the Wisconsin State Industrial Commission found the church building no longer safe. Flooding from the nearby Wisconsin and Eau Claire Rivers over the years had undermined the foundation of the structure to the point of collapsing. With no other alternative, construction of a new church began on the corner of Eau Claire andGrand Avenue. Groundbreaking was May 25, 1941, the cornerstone laid on July 27, and the church building dedicated on April 12, 1942.
Grace, Ringle decided to call its own pastor in 1955 leaving Pastor Marquardt with St. Peter as his only congregation. The present parsonage was dedicated on May 25, 1956. In addition, an educational wing was erected at the northeast corner of the church and a new heating and ventilation system was installed. Due to ill health, Pastor Marquardt resigned his pastorate January 1, 1962. His successor, Rev. Burton Stensberg, was installed March 31, 1963.
On November 7, 1965 a 15 rank Wicks pipe organ made possible as gifts from the Caroline Schoenfeld estate and other donations was dedicated to God's glory. Since then, we have added two manual ranks and a pedal rank.
In September 1972, Mr. Michael Bahn was installed as Minister of Education and Music. When he left in 1974, St. Peter began participation in the WELS Vicar Program. During the next ten years, the following student vicars served St. Peter: Gary Stawicke 1974-75, Burgess Huehn 1975-76, Mark Schwertfeger 1976-77, Mark Schwertfeger, Jon Guenther 1977-78 1976-77, William Heiges 1978-79, Joel Leyrer 1979-80, Keith Amborn 1980-81, Mark Birkholtz 1981-82, Steven Schlicht 1982-83, Thomas Bauer 1983-84.
In 1984, it was decided to add a second pastor. Rev. John Ruege was installed on July 8, 1984 and served until 1988. Rev. Roger Carter was installed July 10, 1988 and served until 1995. Rev. Burton Stensberg retired on June 30, 1995. Rev. Walter Davidson was installed on August 13, 1995. Rev. Randy Loux was installed on November 19, 1995 and served until September 27, 1999. After calling from the field for a year and half, the congregation applied for a Seminary graduate from the WELS Assignment Committee. Rev. Joel Heckendorf was assigned to St. Peter and his ordination/installation service was held on July 1, 2001.
The congregation saw a need to grow in ministry and outreach with the vision of a Christian Daycare & Community Center. So it resolved to add a third pastor to its staff in May of 2005 through the WELS Assignment Committee. Seminary graduate, Rev. Ryan Wolfe, was assigned to St. Peter and was ordained & installed on July 10, 2005.
Pastor Heckendorf served the congregation until March of 2008 when he accepted a call to serve Immanuel Lutheran Church in Greenville, Wisconsin. On January 18, 2009, Rev. Jeffrey Mahnke from Clearwater, FL was installed as St. Peter’s third pastor. Currently, St. Peter is served by Pastors Walter Davidson, and Jeffrey Mahnke.
St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church has always taken to heart the command of our Savior to feed his lambs (John 21:15-17) as the congregation continues to support a vibrant Sunday School program. On September 6,1977, the doors were opened for the first time for 41 K- 8th grade students at St. Peter Lutheran Elementary School in the renovated DCE administration building that the congregation purchased for $53,511. Five years later, our current school building completed construction and was dedicated on March 7, 1982. The school has experienced God's blessings with dedicated faculty and an average annual student enrollment in the 70-80 range.
The congregation revamped its entire ministry operation by undergoing a complete evaluation with the help of the WELS Parish Assistance Mission-Vision analysis in the years 1994-1995. This analysis led to a mission statement for ministry and a reorganization of the way our Boards and committees operate. It led to more lay involvement in operation and program decisions by empowering boards and committees to do the work of ministry in a more efficient and "hands-on" way.
The Mission-Vision document guided the congregation to embark on a three phrase expansion & renovation project of the office complex in the former parsonage, lower level classrooms and a narthex addition in February 2001. On April 28, 2002 a groundbreaking service was held for the narthex addition.
On May 19, 2002 the congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary, as well as the school’s 25th anniversary. A son of the congregation, Pastor Joel Zank, preached the sermon at the special anniversary service held in the afternoon. On October 27, 2002, special Reformation services were held with another son of the congregation, Pastor James Werner, preaching the sermon. The narthex addition, upgraded organ and church offices were dedicated to God’s glory. In the afternoon another special worship service was conducted with Pastor Mark Schwertfeger preaching.
In 2004 the congregation began a feasibility study for a second campus for Christian childcare and a community center. On April 9, 2006, a groundbreaking service was held to begin construction for the Key To Life Christian Child Care & Community Center at our Weston site on Sandy Lane. Key To Life was dedicated on January 28, 2007 and it opened its doors with eight children on March 19, 2007. The first worship service at Key To Life was held on April 7, 2007 with 62 worshippers present and continued on the first Saturday of each month. On September 19, 2009, the congregation began weekly Saturday worship services at 5 PM to reach out with the gospel in that area.
In 2005 St. Peter underwent major renovations for school heating, cooling, carpeting, computer lab and the kitchen. In November 2006 the gym renovation wood floor project was completed for $92,000.
God has richly blessed the gospel ministry here at St. Peter in the past, and we look to him to continue showering his love upon us in the present and future!