Feb 22, 2024

St. Peter’s UCC, Ferguson, Mo., recently premiered a documentary born out of 18 months of conversation and relationship building between the church, Invested Faith, and Good Faith Media.

A Powerful Focus on 180-plus Years of Ministry

“From those conversations came the strong belief that the story of St. Peter’s is one needing to be told across the greater Church in America because of the current landscape of congregational ministry across the country, combined with St. Peter’s unique perspective of being located in Ferguson, Mo.,” says St. Peter’s Senior Pastor Rev. Patrick Chandler.

The documentary features interviews with church members and staff, while taking a look at the full history of St. Peter’s. The church’s original location was in downtown St. Louis at 14th St. and Carr St., moving next to North City at St. Louis Ave. and Warne Ave. before finally settling in Ferguson. These moves coincide with the history of racial tension in St. Louis, but the story also shows St. Peter’s decision to commit to ministry in a neighborhood that had changed around them.

Since its founding in 1843 as a German Evangelical Church, St. Peter’s has grounded its mission in Jesus’ example of caring for and connecting with those often overlooked, oppressed, or marginalized with its presence in Ferguson since 1957.  In 2016, the church opened a resource center on their property, offering space for nonprofit work and much-needed services and programs for the community.

“Churches rarely tell the story of their witness in ways that reach beyond their own walls,” says Rev. Mary W. Nelson, Transitional Conference Minister. “A documentary tracing the history of their commitment to service not a list of former pastors’ names or a catalog of building construction creates a focus that can propel a church’s ministry into the future while making their story available to a wider audience.”

Co-Producers Hope Documentary Inspires

Invested Faith and Good Faith Media co-produced the documentary. As as fund for faith-rooted social innovators, Invested Faith works to become a bridge between traditional churches and social innovators who are creating new expressions of faith and community. Good Faith Media strives to be a leading resource for people of faith who wish to stay informed about the pressing issues of the day and to be equipped to engage constructively in working for justice.

Both organizations have a shared commitment to storytelling; their hope is the documentary will inspire other congregations like St. Peter’s.

Subsequent Gift Moves Partnership Forward

Following the collaboration on the documentary along with meeting together regularly for the past year to worship, learn about shared values and vision, and explore ideas for partnership, St. Peter’s recently announced a $200,000 gift to Invested Faith as a way to further the mission of each.

“Our partnership with Invested Faith is a natural continuation of St. Peter’s long history and witness,” says Rev. Chandler. He says the gift from the church’s endowed funds will help equip new models and understanding of what it means to be “church.”

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, founder of Invested Faith, says the gift reflects St. Peter’s mission and vision and their long history as a justice-seeking community, signaling the beginning of ongoing investment by the congregation.

“St. Peter’s long-time presence and impact in the Ferguson community through their resource center and local partnerships now expands to include justice issues across the country,” says Rev. Butler.

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