Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  St. Peters United
Church of Christ

Coupland, Texas

Wather St. at S. Broad St.
 
  St. Peters United Church of Christ -
Historical Marker text

This congregation was organized in 1894 by German and Swiss immigrants, Originally known as St. Petri Deutsche Evangelische Gemeinde (St. Peters German Evangelical Church), the congregation built this vernacular Gothic Revival sanctuary in 1905-1906. The meeting hall was added in 1925, and the two structures were connected in 1953. By 1955 English Language services, introduced in 1929, had replaced the worship originally conducted in German. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1989



 
 
 


Coupland's St. Peters United Church of Christ plaque


 click to enlarge

 

 

 



 
History of St. Peters United Church Of Christ -
Coupland, Texas

Historical Narrative by Rev. Paul Mohr
 
The German and Swiss immigrants who were farming around the budding village of Coupland (established in 1887) felt an urgent need for religious leadership and decided to have a German speaking minister visit to perform necessary religious rites and conduct worship services. In 1893, the group was able to call the Rev. Gus Czillat of Taylor to perform these services. The church organized itself into a congregation in 1894 named St. Petri Deutsche Evangelische Gemeindi at Coupland, Texas and appealed to the German Synod of North America for a pastor. This was an immigrant denom­ination that traced its origins to Uhlrich Zwingli of Switzerland and Martin Luther of Germany. [1]
 
The church had four ministers from 1894 until 1905 when the congre­gation called Rev. G. Krebs, who served the church for twenty-one years.
 
During his leadership the church grew stronger in numbers and finances, and in 1905 a building program was begun which resulted in the present building, which was dedicated on February 11, 1906. The original bell is still rung on Saturday evenings reminding the members that the next day is a day of worship. The bell is rung also to announce the death of a member. The original colored glass windows have been replaced with the present stained glass windows.
 
Soon after the sanctuary was built the congregation began to feel the need of even more space for purposes other than worship. In 1910, the congregation purchased lots east of the sanctuary, planning to build a Schule Halle, a building that would be used for organizational meetings, Sunday School, and a German summer school. [2] It was not until April of 1925 that the new building was dedicated, and still is in use today.
 
In 1918 when the first world war was taking place in Europe the Coupland community suffered severe persecution. Monitors were assigned to the worship services to see that nothing subversive or unpatriotic was said. The use of the German language, particularly offended many patriotic groups, and the congregation voted to abolish the German summer school in the hope that they would be allowed to continue the German worship services. [3]
 
Following the war the congregation reverted back to the German language, but after a few years, some of the members decided that they should have some English language services. After Rev. Krebs resigned' the congregation called Rev. Paul Kniker, who could preach in both languages. There was much tension over this issue within the congregation, but they Finally voted, in 1929, to conduct one English service a month.
 
Rev. Kniker resigned in 1931, and the congregation called Rev. Robert Mohr in 1932. The language barrier continued to be a problem during his pastorate, but he insisted that English worship be provided every Sunday evening, and through a slow and tedious process English worship services were gradually introduced on Sunday mornings, until 1955 when German services were eliminated entirely. It was not until 1945 that congregational meetings were conducted in English. Another historic, event took place during the annual meeting of 1938. Words limiting church membership to males only were stricken from the constitution. Up until this time only male members' names were listed, and males only had a vote and men and women sat on different sided of the church. It was not until 1948 that women were allowed to attend congregational meetings. [4]
 
In 1942 the old 1895 parsonage was demolished and the lumber salvaged to build the present building, at a cost of $6,500.00.
 
In 1953 the congregation engaged in an extensive building program to tie the sanctuary and educational building and add classrooms and kitchen space. The project was completed and dedicated on September 27, 1953, with John Thompson as the contractor. Rev. Mohr resigned in 1954 after serving 22 years. The church called a pastor in 1955 who could not speak German, Rev. Jewell Johnson. During his leadership, the congregation grew in both numbers and in finances, and significant changes were made in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The original schedule called for the Sacrament only four times a year. Those not communing were dismissed from the service and those who did commune gathered around the altar in small groups of twelve to drink from a common cup. On the way back to their seats they dropped an extra offering on a plate on the front pew. Some years earlier the common cup had already given way to individual cups, but in 1956 the dismissal was discontinued. Also the use of grape juice instead of fermented wine was introduced. In 1934, St. Peters Evangelical Church became St. Peters Evangelical and Reformed Church. The parent denomination, the Evangelical Synod of North America, had merged with the Reformed Church of America, a denomination also made up of Swiss immigrants who had settled in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
 
In 1957, the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational-Christian Church, naming the new denomination, the United Church of Christ. [5] This was an historic event for it was the first time in history that denominations of different ethnic backgrounds merged into one denomination, as the roots of the Congregational Christian Church were in England; the first Congregationalists were the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The United Church of Christ has 2,000,000 members throughout the United States.
 
Today, the St. Peters Church has 300 members, a fine educational program, an excellent music program , a number of organizations for old and young, and is the center of many community activities.
 
researched by Rev. Paul Mohr, former pastor

endnotes PDF


 
 

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