St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church
121 N. Spring Street, Middletown, PA 17057 (717) 944-4651
Worship with us
Sunday 10:00 AM - Holy Communion
Taped audio Sunday 11:00 AM
Sant Peter's Kierch
The lot of ground on which the first Sant Peter's Kierch was erected was purchased from George Fisher, a founder of Middletown on September 18th, 1764. The same year, King George III of England through John Penn, governor of Pennsylvania, granted permission to the Lutheran congregation of Middletown to collect funds for the erection of a building which to worship. The cornerstone was laid on July 13, 1767, bearing the name "Sant Peter's Kierch".
The construction of the Kierch started in 1767 consisted of red sandstone and is two stories high. The floor of the Kierch for the first sixty years was made of brick and then replaced with wood. The original construction had galleries on the east, west and south sides and a wine glass shaped pulpit occupied the north side. The Kierch at the time had two entrances, one on Union St and the other on High St. The ceiling was domed and the windows were small with diminutive panes of glass. The pews were narrow with straight, high backs. At the time, no provision for heat was present however many years later, members placed two large stoves in the building to warm the faithful congregation who sat for many hours holding services in German in the cold building. The membership when the Kierch was built included sixty-six older members and sixty-three young persons.
The first service was held at the Kierch, and on Tuesday September 12, 1769 the building was dedicated by Rev. Dr. Henry Mechior Muhlenberg, a colonial missionary and Patriarc of American Lutheranism. Muhlenberg's journals indicate the building was not entirely finished even two years later. His visit was encouragement and an inspiration to the Sant Peter's congregation.
In 1813 a bell tower was built on the west end of the Kierch for holding a clear tenor bell. The bell, cast by Hedderly and Leverin, Philadelphia founders was hung and rang for the first time in 1815.
In 1850 the congregation raised $1700 to remodel the Kierch. The two tiered windows were made into one. The High Street entrance was closed and converted to a window. The pulpit was moved to it's present location on the west end of the building allowing the gallery to be extended on three sides. A main entrance vestibule was added with enclosed staircases on each side leading to the upper gallery.
The congregation of Sant Peter's outgrew the Kierch with the last regular service held on January 26, 1879. The following Sunday, February 2nd, 1879, the parishioners of "Sant Peter's Kiech" assembled outside the building and marched to their new building at the corner of Spring and Union where today the congregation still worships.
The old church is still used on occassions by St. Peter's and the community for worship and fellowship. In 1973 Sant Peter's Kierch was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Kierch is the foundation of St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church and is an alive and vibrant part of our heritage and our present.