MILLERSBURG — There are bound to be tears when the small but close-knit congregation of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Millersburg gathers for the final time to worship in the church that’s been home most of their lives.
This coming Sunday the final service will be held at the 140-year-old church. Members of the council met recently to share thoughts about the church and said the reality is the congregation has dwindled and is aging.
“We’re down to about seven to eight active members,” said Church Council member Lauretta Schrock, “and three of those members are over 90.”
Schrock said their pastor, Rev. Cuthbert Paulhen, retired last July and since then retired pastor Rev. Gene Hollingsworth has filled in, along with Rev. James Clifton.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church was built in 1866. Schrock said church records indicate there was a small Lutheran congregation in Millersburg in 1852 and it disbanded sometime between then and 1866. Despite conflicting stories, generally the church has accepted 1866 as its inception.
St. Peter’s is a member of the Indiana Kentucky Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) Synod. The original church served the congregation for 55 years when it was then sold and moved and the current building was built on the old site and dedicated on Dec. 17, 1922.
According to “The History of the Indiana/Kentucky Synod,” the full operating cost of $17,000 including chancel appointments, was covered by parishioner’s pledges. In 1938, a new $2,290 electric organ with chimes was installed in the church and dedicated in conjunction with the 70th anniversary. That same year a parsonage was built to replace the old one destroyed by fire. Half of the cost of the new house was paid by the Ladies’ Aid Society.
On June 20, 1894, the Ladies’ Aid Society was organized with the purpose of aiding the church in any way possible. In 1900 the Ladies’ Aid bought the parsonage and also helped the Orphan’s Home and The Old Folk’s Home. Also in 1900 the Excelsior Class had 20 members with a motto of “Our goal is higher.” They met every two weeks for study and social time and did varied fundraising activities.