What We Believe at St. Peter’s UCC
St. Peter’s in Punxsutawney is a member of the national church body known as the United Church of Christ. One of the distinctive qualities of the United Church of Christ is freedom of conscience and belief, which allows individual congregations the freedom to decide their standards of faith. That is why the United Church of Christ has a reputation as a very diverse denomination!
The United Church of Christ is a Christian denomination that looks to our past for the testimony of our forebears and to the future in order to make our faith real in our time. We look to the creeds of the ancient Christian church as testimonies, not tests, of faith. Additionally, the Preamble of the Constitution of the United Church of Christ (see below) lays out our basic principles of belief. The United Church of Christ has also produced its own Statement of Faith (see below) in order to express the specific theological emphases of our church body.
At St. Peter’s, we periodically use the Apostles’ Creed (see below), the Nicene Creed (see below) or the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith (see below) during worship to express our trust in God. There are no standards of belief for attendance or participation in our worship service. Adults seeking to become members of the church are asked during the ceremony in which they become members to declare publicly their belief in the triune nature of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and to endeavor to renounce the powers of evil, resist oppression, and to show love and justice as best they are able. Guardians bringing children for baptism are asked to guide their children in these same vows, which they make on the child’s behalf. All baptized Christians are welcome to partake in Holy Communion.
If you have any questions about the beliefs or practices at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, please do not hesitate to contact the church office at 814-938-4021.
History of St. Peter’s
The history of the congregation that would become St. Peter’s United Church of Christ begins in 1838, when the Reverend John Althouse, a pioneer pastor who belonged to the German Reformed church, organized a congregation of German Reformed and Lutheran members. In 1847, an application for a Charter of Incorporation was filed with the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County. The name of the congregation was Punxsutawney German Lutheran and Presbyterian Church. Political instability in Germany during that time caused many families to move to Pennsylvania, many of which who moved to Punxsutawney joined the congregation.
The first permanent church building was erected in 1848. The building was a log-built structure.
In 1853 the Lutheran members of the congregation split from the church and created their own congregation.
From 1895 to 1901, the congregation was left without a pastor, and membership dwindled to 30 members. The local classis of the Reformed Church considered closing the congregation. However, Elder Adam Schneider appealed to keep the congregation operating, so the classis decided to keep the congregation. The next pastor, the Reverend Lewis Reiter, managed to increase membership in the church from 30 to 220.
In 1909 the congregation’s charter was amended, changing its name to St. Peter’s Reformed Church. Since then, the name of the congregation has changed only to reflect changes in the name of the denomination to which it belongs. The German Reformed Church and the German Evangelical Church merged in 1934, forming the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1957, the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational Christian Churches, forming the United Church of Christ.
Construction on the present church building began in 1922. The finishing work on the sanctuary was completed, and the building dedicated, in 1949.
St. Peter’s United Church of Christ is a congregation that is proud of its distinctive German Reformed heritage, which it brings into its life today as the local embodiment of the United Church of Christ in Punxsutawney. We celebrate the theological diversity of our members, while at the same time cherishing our unique identity and unity in Christ. We invite you to become a part of our living history!
If you would like to learn more about the history of the United Church of Christ, please visit our website at www.ucc.org.
The Preamble of the Constitution of the United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ acknowledges as its sole Head, Jesus Christ, Son of God
and Savior. It acknowledges as kindred in Christ all who share in this confession. It
looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy
Spirit, to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. It claims as its own the
faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic
insights of the Protestant Reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each
generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and
expression, and in purity of heart before God. In accordance with the teaching of our
Lord and the practice prevailing among evangelical Christians, it recognizes two
sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.
United Church of Christ Statement of Faith
We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus Christ and our God,
and to your deeds we testify:
You call the worlds in being, create people in your own image, and set before each one
the ways of life and death.
You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
You judge people and nations by your righteous will, declared through prophets and
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to
us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to
You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the Church of Jesus Christ,
binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
You call us into your Church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your
servants in the service of others, to proclaim the Gospel to all the world and resist the
powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at His table, to join Him in His
passion and victory.
You promise to all who trust you forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in
the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in
your kingdom, which has no end.
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary; He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended to the dead; on the third day He rose again; He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father; God of God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made; for us and for our salvation he came down from Heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man; for our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried; on the third day he rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; with the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified; He has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto you. Amen.