St. Peter's Lutheran Church
In the late 1700s, Shenandoah County residents who were members of the Lutheran and Reformed denominations banded together to form Frieden’s Union Church west of Toms Brook.
This served the needs of Toms Brook’s residents until the mid-1800s when they built a separate Union Church in town. This building, called Brook Union Church was located near what is now the Methodist Church. It was dedicated on May 28 1842 and was used by all the town’s churches for 27 years. The only disruption to worship was caused by soldiers who used the building as a hospital during the Civil War.
By 1869 the Lutherans in Toms Brook were able to afford their own church building. So they severed ties with the other local congregations and built their own church on the same site of today’s Lutheran Church. It was named St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1905 a new brick building was dedicated and is still in use.
During the First and Second World Wars St. Peters was one of the many county churches that played a role in community’s war effort. Churches became places were scrap was collected, blood was donated, and defense meetings were held. They also were places that residents prayed for the safety of those off fighting and remembered those who would never return. Memorial services would have been some of the most emotional events, as neighbors and families gathered to honor those who had been killed. When the war ended, county residents gathered again at church to offer thanksgiving for peace and the end of the bloodshed.
When organized, St. Peter’s was associated with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Strasburg with whom they shared a minister. In 1922 this arrangement ended and a new agreement that allowed St. Peter’s and St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, located west of town, to share a minister. Previously these two congregations had belonged to separate synods that split over the progressive versus liberal ideology. On January 1, 1988 the two once again became independent which each felt they could support their own minister.
However, this was not to last an in the spring of 2012 these two churches, and St. Stephens Lutheran Church on Back Road, voted to become a join parish. This was a direct result of decreased membership and financial support at all three locations caused by demographic changes that saw community members leave rural areas for more established towns.