Find out about Friedens Peace UCC history along with some history of New Melle area.
Friedens (Peace) United Church of Christ was started by a group of residents who broke off from the St. Paul ’s Lutheran Church . In 1858, there were two Lutheran Churches in New Melle – St. Peter’s and St. Paul ’s. St. Paul ’s congregation joined the Missouri Synod. That same year the St. Peter’s Congregation built a new church of native stone (the building that is now St. Paul ’s). The two churches were originally united, but had split over doctrinal issues. In 1868, they reunited and became St. Paul ’s Missouri Synod Lutheran Church .
Some members continued to be unhappy and according to St. Paul ’s records, the dissent was over doctrine. The first records of Friedens begin in 1904. Some family names appear in both the St. Paul and Friedens (Peace) records. Included in both records were the families of Henry Schewede, John Nienheuser, Jacob Boehm, Ernst Brakensiek, and John Doermann. Fourteen voting members had a dream of starting a new church by accepting the doctrinal statement of the German Evangelical Church Society of the West. This new church would eventually become the Friedens (Peace) United Church of Christ we know today.
The first minister was Rev. Stroetker, resident Pastor of St. John’s Church in Cappeln. This was the beginning of a long history of sharing a minister with St. John’s . The first service was held in German on August 28, 1904 , in the Peniel Methodist Church on Schutzen Street (now part of a private residence).
The property on which Friedens church is located was purchased from John and Laura Koelling in 1905 for $2,400. The building on the property had been used as a grocery store/saloon. Ernest Sudbrock was chosen as carpenter to do the remodeling, along with a lot of volunteer help. The newly remodeled building was dedicated on November 5, 1905 . Shown are pictures of the church.
Work began on the present sanctuary in 1967 with the construction of a foundation basement. In 1980 the present sanctuary was completed and a vision became a reality. The old church was dismantled in stages, beginning with the steeple and ending with the foundation stones, and was moved to the Daniel Boone Home off Hwy. F near Defiance . Over a period of two years, it was carefully remodeled and renewed to fit into the Boonesfield Village architecture, where it is now known as the Old Peace Chapel.
The bell from the old building was retained by the congregation and a free-standing bell tower was constructed near the current sanctuary. The Dove of Peace adorns the top of the tower. The steeple of the Old Peace Chapel also is topped with the Dove of Peace. The two doves were sculptured by Dr. M. R. Jones of Union , Mo. Dr. Jones is the father of Rev. Devin Jones, Pastor at St. John ’s United Church of Christ in Cappeln and long time Pastor at Friedens.
In 1980, the educational and fellowship wing was added, and a new playground and multi-purpose building were built in 2003.
Over the years, the church has undergone several changes in its name. It was founded under the name Deutsche Evangelische Friedens Kirche. As the mission of the church changed and the German language began to disappear from the area, it became Friedens Evangelical Church . The Evangelical denomination merged and the church became Friedens Evangelical & Reformed. With the next merger, the church became Friedens United Church of Christ.
Over time, the area continued to change. The German language almost completely disappeared and the question was frequently asked, “What does Friedens mean?” To help people understand the name, the church became Friedens (Peace) United Church of Christ, and remains so today. This transition took place when the congregation moved into the new sanctuary in 1980.
Shown are the current sanctuary and outside views of the church.
Historical information for this article provided by Ida Gerdiman
Source: “Early History of Friedens (Peace)” by Bill Schiermeier and Ida Gerdiman, 2002
Thanks to Dianne Sudbrock for providing the write-up.
Der Deutsche Evangelische Kirchenverien des Westerns (The German Evangelical Church Society of the West) by Bill Schwab
Additional information on church history for Friedens and other local churches can be found in the 1957 New Melle Festival brochure.