Updates from congregations around the Church of the Lutheran Confession
Saint Peter’s has not celebrated its anniversaries because we don’t know exactly when we started. The earliest services were held in the late 1880’s and were conducted in homes. We shared buildings and pastors for a time. Our own church building was erected in 1907 on top of Stambaugh Hill overlooking the Iron River valley. But exact dates are forgotten.
We may not know precisely when we started, but we are not confused about where we stand. Our church sign proclaims our stand to the community: By Grace Are Ye Saved, through Faith. A banner is also often displayed in the sanctuary proclaiming this same message—the heart of the Gospel message and of our confession.
An important part of every congregation’s mission is perpetuating this truth through its Sunday school. But what do you do when work schedules and other circumstances result in classes being held only once or twice a month? When all the students attend the same school, and that school is only a few blocks away, the answer is easy. Instead of Sunday school, we have Wednesday school and much-improved attendance. Of course, an after-school snack is a very necessary prelude to the actual lesson.
After a few years of canceled and deferred activities due to COVID, we are resuming our traditional schedule, and even adding a few additional items. To help highlight the festival nature of the Reformation celebration, the Ladies of Saint Peter’s decided to hold a fellowship meal following the service. We hadn’t done this for a while, and it felt good to linger together in fellowship, remembering our precious heritage.
Every December, the Ladies of Saint Peter’s also gather for a Christmas party. They invite a guest or two to share the festivities, which involve a shared meal and a gift exchange—whoever is holding the gift when the music stops gets that gift. But most anticipated, enjoyed, and remarked upon is the singing of carols and hymns, because this gets closest to the heart of the Christmas season and gives expression to its joy and meaning.
Each week we go to the Iron River Care Center and have a brief service there. The attendance varies from week to week, but we are getting to know some of the regulars. Highlights from these weekly visits include a sweet lady insisting that I take a quarter from her as her offering, and another woman commenting that this was the only church that she had.
High tech is not much in evidence at Saint Peter’s. But one use of modern technology has become a regular part of the Sunday routine. I carry around a cell phone from altar to lectern to pulpit. In this way one member at a distance is able to participate each week in her home service. This has come to mean quite a lot to her.
We are a small group, and growth has been slow. But there have been some recent hopeful signs. We do have occasional visitors who continue to find us. Several are now repeat visitors and even regular visitors. In one recent service we had as many as six non-members in attendance. For this we thank God with hearts filled with awe. May God continue to use Saint Peter’s as a blessing and beacon in the community far into the future as He has for the past 120 years!