Real vital growth for St. Peter’s German Evangelical Church located at 108 E. Church Street in Champaign began with the pastorate of Rev. Henry Strehlow who served the church for 23 years, from 1873-1896. Beyond his ministerial services, Rev. Strehlow has also been credited for his attention to detail as he recorded member events for the church. Genealogists and historians alike have noted that his records are a goldmine of information as they document family, church and community history along with immigration summaries for many of the early members.
Rev. Henry Mueller accepted the call to St. Peter’s Church on 4th and University in 1906 for a successful ministry of 34 years. The congregation grew to about 300 families. Services were conducted in both the German and English language on alternate Sundays until 1918 when English became the predominant language. During these 34 years, such organizations as the Women’s Guild, the Brotherhood, the Sewing Circle, and a Junior Choir were started. In 1934, the church became St. Peter’s Evangelical and Reformed Church. Rev. Mueller suffered a coronary seizure and passed away in 1940 during the 75th anniversary celebration. A set of cathedral chimes were installed in the bell tower in his memory.
Rev. Walter Noffke accepted the call to St. Peter’s in 1957 as the congregation moved into its new church on Russell Street. Membership growth created the need for a new church and a new location and this growth continued after the move to Russell Street. Space issues followed the congregation resulting in the need to develop the south wing addition more quickly than originally planned. This was accomplished through volunteer work provided by the congregation. Two church services were introduced and member activities increased. Focus during this period was on decreasing the debt, growing staff to serve the congregation, and deepening church purpose and personal commitment. The congregation honored Rev. Noffke with the title of Pastor Emeritus in 1979.