Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:37-39
...to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
United in Spirit and inspired by God's grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.
United in Christ's love, a just world for all.
The church that is now called St. Peter's United Church of Christ began in the nineteenth century as the German Protestant Church. After some years, there were mergers with the Evangelical and Reformed Lutheran churches and, later, with the United Church of Christ and the Congregational Christian Church.
Spring Branch is in the Memorial Villages area of the western edge of Houston in west central Harris County. It began as a religious community settled by German farmers, many of whom owned dairies. The earliest settler was Karl Kolbe, who arrived from Germany in 1830 and settled on the banks of Spring Branch where it joined Buffalo Bayou, nine miles from Houston. In 1848 farmers cleared the surrounding forestland for farms and built St. Peter's United (Lutheran) Church with lumber set aside from one of three local sawmills on a site donated by the Bauer family, who owned the mill. The Spring Branch school district began with the Spring Branch School Society, sponsored by St. Peter's Church in 1856.
Nelda Reynolds, a sixth-generation Kolbe, provided the following historical information in an interview with the Houston Chronicle on October 10, 2002. Spring Branch began as a German community when founder Karl Kolbe sailed from Gotha, Germany, to Galveston. As many German immigrants did, Reynolds said, Kolbe fled the oppressive laws of the German Confederation, a conglomerate of 35 states, each ruled by a prince. Seeking the right of self-determination and opportunity, Germans ventured to Texas, known to many in the 1800s as the "land of milk and honey," Reynolds said. In Texas, Kolbe and the Ahrenbeck, Schroeder and Hillendahl families, all German pioneers, settled on a tributary of Buffalo Bayou, now known as Spring Branch. Church member Karen Herridge said Kolbe named the town Spring Branch after the branches that covered the creek, believed to be supplied by natural springs. Soon, other German families made their home in Spring Branch, including the Rummels, Bauers, and Beinhorns. Reynolds said the families met in the Bauer home for church services for six years as the Spring Branch community continued to grow. Hoping to fill the needs of the thriving community, the Rummels donated land for a church in 1849. Part of the grounds was immediately used as a cemetery in 1850. With the families' combined resources, the German Protestant church was built in 1854.
The families named the new church St. Peter's Church, after one of the 12 disciples in the Bible. "Most Protestant scholars believe Peter led the early Christian community," Reynolds said. "The German families were starting in a new place, and the name was symbolic of a new beginning and their faith in God." In its early days, the church was Spring Branch's town center. "It was their gathering place," Reynolds said. "They always had big barbecues and picnics. It was a gathering place for all their social, recreational and spiritual events. All these farms were spread out, and you went on horse and buggy, so it's not like you went a lot of places." The church also served as Spring Branch's first school, which opened in 1856 and closed in 1889, when the first public school was erected at the corner of Campbell and Long Point.
In 1864, church and school operations were interrupted when a fire damaged the building. The same year, the families built a new-frame church with 12-inch pine logs, perhaps one secret of the structure's longevity, Reynolds said. The church served the congregation for nearly a century until a new larger sanctuary was added in 1961. In 1968, the old chapel was renovated, and a historical marker was posted. "The chapel has all the original pews," Reynolds said. "We put it back into its original state. We also have numerous pictures of the people in the area, historic pictures. "Through the years, the changing faces of the church have accompanied changing denominations."
On January 1, 2019, Cathedral of Hope Houston united with St. Peter United Church of Christ in ministry. We will continue our journey together carrying forth the rich history and legacy of both churches. While our legal name remains St. Peter United Church of Christ, many refer to us as St. Peter United indicating the merged identity of both churches.