The following is an excerpt from the History of St. Peter's Episcopal Church organized and compiled by Joan Bruggink, historian and life-long member.
St. Peter’s was organized as a Mission on April 3, 1864, with Rev. R. Blow from Grace Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin as priest. Services were held in various buildings in Sheboygan Falls until the first church was built in 1869. The church was on the east side of Broadway Street, south of the Cedar Street intersection.
In 1885, the Rev. N. D. Stanley came to St. Peter’s and served as the first resident vicar. There were only 16 members. During his time, flooding of the Sheboygan River caused the church to be moved to higher ground on the east side of Buffalo Street, between Pine and Elm Streets, and the number of communicants increased from 16 to 225. Fr. Stanley left in 1920, and St. Peter’s was served for a year by Rev. M. Kilpack. He became very ill, and the following year Rev. B. Norris came to serve as Vicar. In 1922, the Rev. Herbert Stanton came to St. Peter’s.
In 1925, the first church was torn down and replaced by a brick and stone building erected on the present site at the corner of Elm and Broadway. The first service was held in the new church on September 12, 1926. In addition to the church, there was a rectory on Broadway and a chapel, dedicated to St. Mark, located between the church and rectory.
As a Mission, St. Peter’s was a very active congregation. There were several guilds, a choir, a Sunday school and a Laymen’s League. Since there was no hall at the church, the community events were often held at the Woodman Opera House or in the rectory. On June 28, 1953, St. Peter’s became a Parish. This meant the church was self-supporting and could now have a vote in matters concerning the Diocese of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. This service also marked the installation of the Very Rev. Herbert Stanton as the first Rector of St. Peter’s Parish. Fr. Stanton served 37 years, and died in 1959.
The Rev. James Samter served as Rector from 1959 to 1962. It was during Fr. Samter’s time at St. Peter’s that the new altar was given in memory of Fr. Stanton. The Rev. Richard Brown was Rector from 1962 to 1966, during which time a building fund was begun for a new rectory. St. Peter’s celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1964. Fr. Brown resigned in 1966 due to ill health.
In 1966, the Rev. Howard Kayser became Rector of St. Peter’s. In June of 1969 the new rectory was built at the corner of Elm and Buffalo Streets. The old rectory and chapel were torn down due to disrepair. Fr. Kayser was active both in the community as well as the Diocese and became a friend to all of Sheboygan Falls. He retired in 1983 after serving St. Peter’s well for 17 years. He moved to Fond du Lac where he continued to serve the Dioceses and the Sisters of the Holy Nativity.
St. Peter’s was served from 1983 to 1985 by the Rev. Lawrence E. Franks. He was from California and not used to life in a small town so after 1-1/2 years he left for New York. In October of 1985 Rev. Kent Tarpley was installed as Rector. He was the first married priest with a young family to serve at St. Peter’s. During this time an electronic carillon was installed and the sacristy renovated. Lay readers, lay chalice ministers, and female acolytes served at the Eucharist, and a lay theological education program, EFM, was begun.
In 1989, St. Peter’s celebrated its 125th anniversary with several activities and a banquet. A social group for adults, the Episco-pals, was organized, and a youth group met regularly. St. Peter’s served the local Food Pantry collecting food and funds and taking part in its distribution. This practice continues to this day. Fr. Tarpley served until October of 1992, when he accepted a call to Kankakee, Illinois.
On February 27, 1993, Rev. Richard Daly arrived from Trinity Church, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin with his wife, Dawn, and two daughters. During his time at St. Peter’s he instituted the Catechumenate program and shared adult education with the Plymouth, Wisconsin and Sheboygan parishes. There were ecumenical services held jointly with the local churches on Thanksgiving and Good Friday. Stewardship and Evangelism committees were formed and began actively reaching out to the congregation. Fr. Daly left St. Peter’s in January, 1996, to serve St. Stephens in Sherman, Texas.
Between Father Daly’s departure and the arrival of a new priest, St. Peter's was served by two supply priests and their senior warden, Diane Murray (who became a Deacon in 1998). Mother Barbara C. Johnson came in January 1997, from Toledo, Ohio with her husband, Eric Johnson,and baby girl, Evelyn. During this time there were Lenten Bible Studies with “Soup & Bread” suppers, monthly newsletters, youth choir, and Homework Connection.
On Palm Sunday, 1998, St. Peter’s experienced a devastating fire which gutted the lower level and caused serious smoke damage to the upper level. The church services were moved temporarily to a building shared by the Word of Grace Church of Sheboygan until the renovation was completed. On Christmas Eve the congregation returned to the church for a special service. By April ,the Sunday School was able to hold classes in the remodeled Fellowship Hall, and on April 5th, a Celebration and Rededication Service was held, with Rev. O.C. Edwards as Preacher, and Bishop Russell Jacobus as Celebrant. The redecorating of St. Peter’s has brought out the beauty of the Gothic style of architecture. All of the stained glass windows were preserved and additions included a chapel, an office, class rooms, an elevator, and a ramp.
In December 1999, Deacon Diane Murray left to serve St. Paul’s in Plymouth and Deacon Greg Schultz came to St. Peter’s. Deacon Greg began a Prayer Group which met once a month after the Sunday service, and was an active Youth Director. In August 2001, our Music Director, Zach Holzer, left to serve the Manitowoc Catholic Churches and Mary Jo Holzer accepted the position here. Mother Johnson served until December 26, 2001, when she accepted a call to Ashtabula, Ohio.
On April 1st, 2003, Rev. Samuel Nsengiyumva accepted the call to serve as the ninth Rector of St. Peter’s. He came to us from Holy Family Church in Angola, Indiana, with his wife, Marie Rose, and three of their four children. Fr. Samuel brought many new people into the church, and introduced new contemporary music mixed with the traditional hymns. He led the Alpha program in September of 2003, which was very successful, followed with “A Life Worth Living” series.
In June of 2004, St. Peter’s sponsored parishioners Dan and Miranda Repp who left for Nashotah House where Dan was accepted for a three-year Master of Divinity degree. Also in June, St. Peter’s celebrated its 140th Anniversary.
In January 2005, Bible 101 Classes were offered, the Just Friends Women’s Group was formed. A Rwanda Mission was sponsored with Lindsay Gregoire spending part of the summer working with children in Byumba. Hannah Ministries, which helps child-headed families in Rwanda, was identified as an ongoing outreach ministry which continues to receive support from St. Peter's today.
The Church office was moved into the Rectory, which allowed more room for the secretary, conference room, youth group facility and storage. A website was established.
In July, 2006, a new Youth Minister, Nick Whitford, was hired to replace Ben Hall, who returned to college. Also in 2006, a youth service called P3 (Praise, Prayer & Pizza) was initiated. St. Peter’s assisted in a fund-raiser for the Sharon S. Richardson Hospice and Palliative Care Center with a rummage and bake sale at the Municipal Building; all proceeds went to the Hospice Center. A Pastoral Care Committee was formed to minister to those in need of healing and to visit the sick and home-bound. A Spiritual Gifts Workshop was led by Fr. Ken Okkerse, and a projection system was purchased for contemporary services and other purposes.
In 2007, the Evangelism and Social Outreach Commission organized the co-sponsorship of a refugee family with St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. The family of three from Burundi, needed housing, transportation, medical and other assistance; Arnold, Sauda and Fleli Hakizimana arrived in March. The Friends of Hannah Ministry, led by Lindsay Gregoire and family, organized a fund raiser for the Ministry. Mrs. Josephine Rwaje, Direct of Hannah Ministries, attended and $14,000 was raised.
In 2009, the St. Peter’s Prayer Shawl Ministry was formed for those who like to knit or crochet. The shawls would be blessed and distributed to those in need of comfort, the home-bound, and nursing home residents.
In April of 2010, St. Peter’s hosted a Faith Alive weekend. The Vestry announced that St. Peter’s was blessed with a generous gift from the estate of William Richardson II. This gift allowed for substantial remodeling of the rectory.
On June 6, 2011, the newly remodeled rectory, renamed the Church House, was blessed.
In 2010, St. Peters was blessed with a generous gift from the estate of William Richardson II. The plans are to use the funds for capital improvements.
The Sunday Coffee Hour Committee set up a schedule for the year forming six groups with two team leaders and several helpers. Each group served the whole month and the leaders and helpers were assigned a Sunday.
Some activities held throughout the year included Yoga classes, a Healing Mission with Fr. Paul Feider and his teams held in November, A graduation party held for five Malawian students who attended St. Peters before their return home to help with the education program there. The remodeling of the Church House was completed and many activities took place there
Including the St. Peters Book Club, meetings, a Youth Lock-in and other youth activities.
A Faith Alive Weekend was conducted by Ken and Sue Lawrence of Ohio with their team Six Neighborhood Groups met for discussions, a dinner, childrens activities, and an inspiring program.
In 2011, The Annual Ministry Appreciation Dinner was held at the Bull Restaurant with Jihn Ingrisano, author from Christ the King, Sturgeon Bay, as the speaker. The Lenten programs, Annual Ecumenical Breakfast, Good Friday Cross Walk were
events included, as well as the UTO collections and Pastoral Committee services.
An Advent Retreat conducted by Kitty Clark of The DeKoven Center, Racine, was held at the Pam Ellis home as a Quiet Day with prayer and meditations. The church Newsletter was now being sent out electronically and the website was
Updated. The annual Coats for Kids, the Christmas Shoe Box Project, and the Christmas Tree Gift Tag were some of the Christmas activities conducted.
In 2012, The year began with the 3rd Annual Ministry Celebration Dinner, and the Annual Meeting which noted the many good things happening at St. Peter’s. Dome of the plans involved reaching new people, support for Adult Education team, and Young Families team.
The Lenten program included Devotional booklets, Staations of the Cross with a light meal following. The Maundy Thursday services, Good Friday Community Cross Walk and Service completed the Lenten activities. After three years as Administrative Assistant, Angela Rhu left and Zach and Kara Vincent began their work in Evangelism, family ministries, communications, music and Arts.
In the Fall members of Grace Church, St.Paul’s, Plymouth, and St. Peter’s met to study and discern the “Being the Body” series. The family ministry called Ðiscover” was launched with a Fun Night, then a Pizza Night, and an Odyssey Bowling night with friends joining in Bishop Jacobus made his annual visitation in December and Received a new parishioner. His wife, Jerrie attended and a reception was held n the Fellowship Hall.
An Advent Retreat was held at the Church House with Deacon Roger Patience speaking on “Living in the Meantime”
The Adopt-A-Family program of giving gifts to the nursing homes and families in need as part of our Outreach Service continues, as well as the Coats for Kids, and the Shoe Box Gifts for Children. The “Tats-Us” group of women who love to tat have given their many beautiful pieces to decorate the Angel Tree this year.
St. Peter’s continues to grow in Faith, Hope and Love.