A Letter to Our Next Rector
Thank you for your interest in our parish. We invite you to learn about us and how we have grown and evolved for over 150 years. We hope you will appreciate the significant events in our history and our dedication to parish, community, and diocese. We pray for a rector who will guide us as Jesus guided Peter to "feed my lambs,” knowing that love for Christ is present in our worship, our actions, and our caring.
We are a warm and welcoming parish, and building strong and loving relationships with each other is a signature strength. We pray for a joy-filled priest who loves people, a rector who is approachable and who makes connections easily with all people, on every level.
At St. Peter’s, we deeply value and strive to maintain the excellence of our worship through thoughtful liturgy, enriching and thought-provoking sermons, and an outstanding music program, all in an atmosphere that feels safe and inclusive. Worshiping together and celebrating the Holy Eucharist as the core of our faith begins with a Christ-centered rector eager to do the work of preparing and preaching sermons that make faith relevant to our everyday lives. S/he would be a scholar and a theologian. We know well the obstacles facing “traditional” churches, especially one like ours in an affluent suburb. We look to our next rector to help us reflect and consider how our worship can enrich and engage a wider variety of people while at the same time continuing to celebrate the traditions of our faith and our history.
Like Saint Peter, our patron, we are eager to teach and eager to be taught. Adult and youth education are important to our parish life and, like Jesus, we teach to expand hearts and minds. Our Children’s Chapel, Sunday school, and Vacation Bible School have drawn new families to St. Peter’s, and we pray for their continued growth in the coming years. We pray for a rector who will genuinely enjoy building, promoting, and growing our Christian Education ministries for all ages and life stages.
Parishioners have voiced the desire to enhance and develop outreach, particularly with hands-on experiences to help us to grow spiritually. Within the parish, St. Peter’s Cares is a valued program nurturing those in need through prayers, meals, and transportation. Now we wish to reach beyond our campus into the wider St. Louis community with more of the same giving, caring, sharing, and praying. We seek a rector able to help us consider new and varied approaches to outreach.
The current campus of St. Peter's was established more than 75 years ago and offers a majestic nave and sanctuary in a peaceful setting, including an office wing and an attached building that houses Sunday school as well as a weekday toddler playgroup. We like to say we are a 24/7 campus, able to host various parish, diocesan, and community groups. St. Peter’s is a fun and busy place. As the parish grows, so grows our need to care for campus, members, clergy, and staff as well as spiritual formation. We are blessed with a solid endowment and annual giving that has been successful over the past ten years. We feel that such success will be even more vital in our next chapter. We pray for a rector with a strong desire to lead us spiritually and intellectually, in collaboration with clergy, staff, and lay leaders, and to help keep secure our financial legacy of sharing God’s blessings to do God’s work.
For the past nine months, the Rector Search Committee has been committed to listening, learning, and discerning from fellow parishioners what we seek in our next rector and what hopes and visions we share. During these unusual times, meeting as a group has often been difficult. We met the challenge by offering a parish-wide survey (Holy Cow!) plus numerous small discussions, virtual or in-person and socially distanced. Insights from those conversations prepared us to write this profile and our letter of introduction to you. Now we will listen for whatever the Holy Spirit reveals about our next chapter.
May God bless you as you discern where the Holy Spirit is calling you to be in your next chapter.
With love and peace,
The Rector Search Committee
Worship & Music
The very heartbeat of St. Peter’s is rooted in commitment to worship. The parish’s worship is grounded in the celebration of the Eucharist using the liturgies of the prayer book, provocative sermons, and active congregational participation.
Traditionally, we gather for worship at two primary services every Sunday. Children are welcome at all services.
At 8:00 a.m., a said service of Holy Eucharist is celebrated with organ accompaniment. This service alternates between Rite I and Rite II throughout each month. Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and ushers participate in the service. A quartet or octet of choir members joins the service once a month, singing an offertory anthem and communion motet.
At 10:30 a.m., a service of Holy Eucharist according to Rite II is celebrated with choral music of the highest standards and spirited singing of hymns. Traditional Anglican music, from the earliest chants of the ancient church to newly commissioned compositions of today's foremost choral composers, forms the foundation of our music program. Acolytes join Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and ushers in this service. Children attending Sunday school join their parents and the congregation at the Peace. Once each month, immediately following the Holy Eucharist, a healing service is available in the adjoining chapel for those who desire it.
At 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday a said service of Holy Eucharist is celebrated in Grace Chapel. The service, predominantly drawn from “Enriching Our Worship,” is small and intimate, with the congregation gathering around the altar to share in Holy Communion.
Other Special Services and Liturgies
Choral Evensong is offered monthly, and other liturgies include Advent Lessons & Carols, Christmas Eve, Christmas Lessons & Carols, Epiphany Lessons & Carols, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension, and Trinity Sunday.
During the Pandemic
During the Coronavirus pandemic we were able to pivot quickly to online Sunday worship, and we added virtual weekday morning prayer as well. In October we began holding outdoor services for a limited number of worshipers, and we look forward to resuming indoor worship once safety guidelines permit. Due to the popularity of our current online worship, particularly for out-of-town and home-bound parishioners, we plan to begin streaming worship online once we resume regular, in-person services.
Learning & Growing
At St. Peter’s, our relationship with God is a lifelong journey, enriched by constant dialogue with teachers and peers of all ages. We are challenged to be open to questions and engaged in how God’s answers are revealed in Christ’s teachings, ultimately impacting our commitment to God and our faith.
Each Sunday from September through May, St. Peter’s children attend an active Children’s Chapel at 10:15 a.m. Fifteen-minute, kid-friendly worship allows children to connect with clergy and be reminded of God’s unconditional love. When chapel ends at 10:30, children are dismissed for Sunday school, a program beginning at age 3 and ending with confirmation (8th grade). Our programs teach the story of God’s love through print, video, crafts, games, and conversation, all creating a positive environment for making friends and developing faith.
Specific events for children take place throughout the year: Blessing of pets on the Feast Day of St. Francis in October, making Advent wreaths, an annual Christmas pageant, making palm crosses for Palm Sunday, and Vacation Bible School in June, in addition to family picnics and frequent activities for all parishioners to meet and mingle.
Children not ready for Sunday school or Sunday morning worship may attend the church nursery instead.
Children from 20 months to three years old may attend the weekday St. Peter’s Playgroup, open from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., providing not only childcare but also thoughtful and healthy preparation for a child’s first encounter with school. The playgroup welcomes children of parishioners and community residents new to the church.
Youth Formation / Youth Group / EYC
Students in grades 6 to 12 build a community of fellowship that emphasizes respect for each person’s uniqueness and talents. Through prayer, service, and common experiences, the youth of St. Peter’s share their adolescence as they deepen their relationships with God and one another. Confirmation classes and yearly mission trips are especially important to the St. Peter’s youth program.
Children's and youth ministry programs at St. Peter’s include at all levels the message of caring for others as a way to grow spiritually, in love and faith. Because it is often challenging for today’s youth to add more activities to busy schedules, our youth ministry strives to offer meaningful special events. One family favorite is Sandwich Makers, when Sunday school children and their parents gather monthly to assemble sandwiches for delivery to the homeless in downtown St. Louis. Our Senior Youth Group has travelled outside Missouri to work, learn, grow, and gain a better understanding of the needs of others.
Young Adult Fellowship
St. Peter’s Young Adults welcomes anyone self-identifying as a young adult (typically age 21-35) to their spirited and frequent interactions. While also playing an active role in parish outreach endeavors, this group hosts events such as monthly gatherings at local restaurants, Bible studies, book studies, and fellowship such as Thanksgiving “friends giving,” a Christmas party, and nights out at the Botanical Gardens or Shakespeare in the Park, a St. Louis favorite.
Following the 8:00 a.m. Sunday service and a hot breakfast, the St. Peter’s Rector's Forum offers opportunities for thought-provoking conversations. Themes typically range from scripture to religious history, living a Christian life in today’s society to the meanings of worship, firm beliefs to new ideas, and in-house issues to outreach. Usually led by the rector, discussions reveal questions, insights, and answers drawn from the many years of experience of those assembled. The opportunity for newcomers and lifelong members of St. Peter’s to come together in such a setting enriches dialogue and displays the thoughtful, sincere spirit of St. Peter’s.
Adult Bible Study
At 7:00 a.m. each Friday, parishioners gather to read and discuss the Bible. The group typically works through a book in the Bible over several sessions and devotes most of the time to questions and explorations, deepening their love of God and fellowship with one another.
Searching for God in the Daily News
Each Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., one of the St. Peter’s clergy hosts a discussion that probes current events and connects them to parishioners’ practice of their faith. Described as “reading through the Anglican trifocal of scripture, tradition, and reason,” the sessions help us find God in the daily news.
Indaba Nights is a newer four-week, seasonally based Wednesday night adult Christian education forum. Pre-Covid-19, adults were invited to attend the 5:30 p.m. Eucharist in Grace Chapel and then proceed to the undercroft to share a meal. Following the meal, parishioners were given the option of attending three different groups with different topics. At present, groups meet virtually, and all gather for compline to conclude the evening.
Fellowship & Fun
Gathering together apart from worship services is integral to parish life at St. Peter’s. We know and appreciate that fellowship – learning together, enjoying meals with one another, supporting each other in celebratory or challenging times – strengthens and sustains our relationships.
Food for gatherings large and small is undoubtedly a St. Peter’s theme, and something is often cooking in the undercroft. Each Sunday between worship services, a hot breakfast provides fellowship as well as an opportunity to meet and get to know newcomers in a relaxed and informal setting. More than fifty dedicated volunteers do the cooking, serving, and cleaning up for forty breakfasts a year.
Men’s Breakfast and Woman’s Guild luncheons are important parts of our fellowship. Additionally, groups like Hospitality and Altar Guild take time off from parish work for lunches and holiday gatherings, furthering their closeness and friendship. Members of the Choir socialize not only during rehearsal breaks but after-church hours at homes and restaurants, cementing their cohesiveness. Now, during the pandemic break when the Choir cannot sing together, they meet weekly during rehearsal time for conversation, music, and sharing life stories and future plans.
On October 13, 2018, we celebrated our 150th Anniversary with an All Parish Dinner for over 300 parishioners, surely a labor of love and fellowship. We were honored to have The Most Reverend Bishop Michael B. Curry with us for the dinner as well for Sunday worship services where he was the preacher.
Some of our fellowship events combine fun with raising funds for outreach or specific needs. The Young Adults group has hosted Trivia Night, the Woman's Guild held Estate Sales, the Parish Choir hosts Cabaret Nights, and most recently our Youth Group has engaged in a “Flamingo Flocking" fundraiser.
While we love our fellowship, food, and fun, from Easter Egg Hunt to Blessing of the Animals and St. Peter’s Day Food Truck Sunday, many parishioners have said they would like to go back to simpler times of potluck dinners where communal meals are enjoyed and a sense of community is built, bringing people together. As we continue to grow, we find a desire in the parish for new kinds of fellowship that perhaps also raise funds for those in need.
Caring for One Another
As our congregation has grown, so has the desire to answer Christ’s call to service and to grow in our caring for one another and for those in need. Ours is a parish of community volunteers active in nonprofits and civic organizations, and at the same time many desire to engage more personally in service within and beyond our parish.
“We seek to serve Christ in all our communities through transformative partnerships that empower our neighbors who live with injustice and hardship as their constant companions”
St. Peter's Outreach Mission Statement 2020
St. Peter’s is known for founding its longstanding outreach ministry, The Haven of Grace, in 1988. The mission of The Haven of Grace remains as it was 30 years ago, to serve pregnant, homeless women with a safe place founded in faith; and to instill hope, dignity, and pride of independence, one family at a time. Today St. Peter’s outreach programs also include Episcopal City Mission, providing hope and healing to children in the juvenile justice system, and Beyond Housing, a program empowering communities to “reach beyond.” At St. Peter's we know that we grow in faith when we serve others, weekly or monthly by serving meals or replenishing food pantries, or seasonally through the Advent Giving Tree. Although some outreach funds are included in the annual budget, much is supported through fundraising activities led by ministry groups within the parish, such as Woman’s Guild and Young Adults. Growing our fundraising activities to support outreach is a current goal of the Stewardship Committee.
At St. Peter’s we strive to find new and better ways to feel connected, especially reaching out to fellow parishioners unable to attend services or housebound by illness. As part of our intention to improve our welcoming and caring spirit, an internal ministry, “St. Peter’s Cares,” was formed by clergy in partnership with parishioners. The ministry includes three teams – prayer, transportation and meals – led by two shepherds and three team leaders who coordinate fifty trained lay ministers, all working together to fulfill needs and answer requests. After a slow beginning, perseverance and much encouragement led to growing participation, and today St. Peter’s Cares is a cherished ministry, caring for, praying for, and ministering to others. Truly, this is God’s work.
St. Peter’s outreach often extends beyond our immediate community, engaging with other communities to work and learn alongside those who live there. Recently some of our parishioners joined members of The Church of the Good Shepherd in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to support their signature outreach program, Outreach Haiti. Members of The Church of the Good Shepherd have not only built a school but also rebuilt a church destroyed by earthquake in Petit Harpon, a mountain community. Good Shepherd has faithfully remained Petit Harpon’s primary sponsor for more than two decades, and St. Peter’s is exploring ways to continue working with them.
In early June, our Anti-Racism Group formed to develop a parish response to racial inequity. Long before George Floyd’s death in May, generations of this and other St. Louis communities worked to address racism and build bridges across racial and socioeconomic lines, and that work has intensified in 2020. Our strategy focuses on two distinct but interrelated areas: understanding, leading to meaningful and deep reconciliation; and justice, flowing from a heart made tender, longing for thy kingdom come. The 11-member core group has created two teams: (1) inward-facing, focusing on helping us understand, through conversation and book studies, structural racism and white privilege in our own lives; and (2) outward-facing, engaging in ministry to offer time, talent, treasure, and sweat equity toward building justice. To that end, we have begun conversations with Tabernacle Community Development Corporation (TCDC), a coalition seeking to build trust among residents, local law enforcement, government officials, and neighboring non-profits.
While we at St. Peter’s have many opportunities to serve, we feel called to do more, to understand our unique purpose as a congregation, and to grow spiritually through doing God’s work. We pray that discernment of God’s will for us as a congregation, together with leadership from our next rector, will guide us towards meaningful and faith building experiences for all of us.
"Inheritors of a great past, we shall be measured by our ability and willingness to create a great future. Well-equipped, unified, and spiritually responsive, St. Peter’s stands upon the threshold of its greatest opportunity.”
Hubert A. Woolfall, Rector of St. Peter’s 1939
For over 150 years, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has been bringing the sacred word of God to our community. Founded as a mission of Christ Church Cathedral in 1868, our parish has a rich past, filled with stories of faithful Christians who have built a healthy, vibrant parish. Three parish homes and fifteen rectors are part of a history deeply grounded in hope, with gratitude for the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Like other churches, we are a parish that has faced times of challenge both in attendance and finances. With prayer and perseverance, the people of St. Peter’s have weathered the storms and with love and courage have grown stronger. Ours is a history that proves the power of the Holy Spirit is ever present. The blessings that God has bestowed upon our parish for over 150 years are blessings we will nurture and preserve for the generations to come.
- 1868 – Founded as a mission of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis.
- 1872 – Established as a parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.
- 1893 – Parish moved to the corner of Lindell Boulevard and Spring Avenue.
- 1949 – Parish moved to its current location at corner of Warson and Ladue Roads.
- 1957 – Education Wing and Little Building added for needed Sunday school space.
- 1963 – The St. Peter's Playgroup, founded as a mother's co-op, occupies the Little Building.
- 1988 – St. Peter’s founded The Haven of Grace.
- 1992 – First phase of Columbarium completed with 155 niches. Funds raised through purchased niches have allowed for additional phases, now totaling 286 niches. The Columbarium Endowment supports, maintains, and preserves this sacred space.
- 1995 – Building for the 21st Century campaign raises $1,807,000 for campus maintenance and infrastructure improvements.
- 1998 – Through the generosity of donors, $116,000 supports the addition of Grace Chapel, built to provide space for worship, prayer, and meditation.
- 2001 – Interior of church building is restored and the Mander organ installed, thanks to an anonymous gift of $1M.
- 2008 – Building renovations completed with “quiet campaign” of $147,427 in donations.
- 2017 – Lift Us to the Joy Divine long range planning campaign gathers the hopes and visions of parishioners through a six-month process of discovery and discernment.
- 2017 – With $2M in pledges, work begins to preserve worship and gathering spaces, replace the original windows, and renovate the undercroft.
- 2018 – St. Peter’s holds All Parish Celebratory 150th Anniversary Dinner and welcomes The Most Reverend Bishop Michael B. Curry. Gathering spaces renovations complete.
Places & Spaces
St. Peter’s, surrounded by majestic trees, is located in the suburban city of Ladue, Missouri, at the corner of Warson and Ladue Roads. The facilities include worship, office, and education spaces with a balance of green space and parking areas. The west end houses worship spaces, the nave and sanctuary built in 1949, and Grace Chapel completed in 2000. Stairs and an elevator lead to updated gathering spaces on the lower level.
The nave and sanctuary of St. Peter’s are holy places and beloved for being airy, bright, and welcoming. The space is home to many artifacts and architectural features from past parish homes. Thanks to the generosity of a parishioner, the chancel organ, built by Mander Organs of London, was installed in 2001.
Grace Chapel, open each day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., offers a more intimate setting for private prayer and meditation, Wednesday Evening Eucharist, Sunday Children’s Service, and smaller worship services as needed. Custom-designed stained glass windows and a free-standing altar offer a contemporary tone, a pleasing contrast to the more traditional nave. A movable chamber organ was designed to accommodate services in Grace Chapel and is sometimes moved to the chancel for concerts.
The sacred space of the Columbarium, as well as the adjacent Laird Garden, offer settings of peace and tranquility nestled between the main sections of the building.
Beyond Sunday worship, the St. Peter’s campus is active throughout the week with daily prayer and study groups as well as community groups that regularly meet at St. Peter’s. Six Alcoholics Anonymous groups, St. Peter’s outreach affiliations, diocesan groups, and local school organizations are able to use the campus free of charge.
Several capital campaigns have supported maintenance and updates to the facilities. In 1995, the 21st Century campaign raised funds for campus maintenance and infrastructure improvements. In 2018, thanks to the Lift Us to the Joy Divine campaign, seventy-year-old original windows in the nave, sanctuary, and undercroft were updated with thermal replacements in keeping with the architectural style of the building. The undercroft and adjacent parlor were also updated to provide more practical and flexible meeting spaces with advanced audio-visual technology, allowing worship services to be live streamed to that area. A state-of-the-art kitchen supports parish meals and celebrations. Clergy and staff offices connect to the worship and gathering spaces via corridors with two levels of offices, classrooms, a dedicated choir room, and additional meeting spaces. At the east end of the property, the former parsonage now known as the Little Building provides four early childhood classrooms for our Sunday school and a weekday playgroup, a tuition-based program that welcomes parish and non-parish families.
In keeping with being welcoming and inclusive, parish leadership envisions responding to the pressing need to improve ADA accessibility in all areas of the campus, to improve security systems, and ultimately to update the classrooms, office spaces, Little Building, and playground. We are always a work in progress.
Stewardship & Financials
At St. Peter’s, stewardship is a spiritual exercise, an opportunity to share the gifts God has given us so we can do the work God calls us to do. Parishioners’ generous giving of time, talent, and treasure supports and enhances the life of the parish, deepens our spirituality, and strengthens us as a congregation and as individual children of God. We seek a rector willing to preach the values of stewardship, to assist in contacting parishioners for their support of the parish, and to collaborate with staff and lay leaders during our annual campaign.
Intentional and Proportional Giving
Although we hold an annual campaign, we are striving to move towards year-round giving, intentional and proportional, with individuals faithfully and prayerfully considering an annual pledge. Such a model will enable the vestry to plan with funds in place for meeting parish operating costs. An important aspect of our stewardship mission is asking parishioners to aspire to give to one’s capacity as part of spiritual growth. To intentionally reflect God’s blessings is a means to grow in our faith, show our gratitude, and secure the legacy of the parish.
Annual Giving Campaign
In early fall, the rector, wardens, vestry, and staff establish an annual budget and assess expenses for the upcoming year, after which the financial needs of the parish are defined and goals set. The annual campaign then begins, becoming a time to focus on giving with gratitude, to reflect on intentional and proportional giving, and to consider how we sustain and expand our parish. A stewardship committee comprised of a chair, 4-6 members, and the staff stewardship director, is charged with overseeing stewardship in the parish under the guidance and leadership of the vestry. Transparency is always at the forefront in reaching our annual goal. Both vestry and stewardship committee lead by example to pledge early and to give with faith, intention, and proportion.
Time and Talent
While meeting the financial needs of the parish can never be understated, neither can the impact of giving of oneself. Additional gifts of time and talent support ongoing needs and reduce our costs. More importantly, with the faithful involvement of parishioners, we demonstrate our care for one another and for our church, becoming more deeply connected.
Future Stewardship Goals
- Strengthen and develop strategies for estate planning and planned giving.
- Continue our full financial commitment to support the diocese.
- Maintain no more than 5% draw from the endowment to support the budget.
- Continue to develop new and innovative ways to encourage pledging as a means to assist the staff and the vestry to prepare for the coming year.
- Continue to be transparent and informative on all financial needs and concerns.
The St. Peter's endowment consists of seven different funds and is overseen by a parishioner-led endowment commission, in conjunction with the vestry and its professional advisors. Its value is a little over $4.5M and approximately one third of the funds are restricted in usage.
General Fund: This fund supports the annual operating budget.
Boehnken Fund: Small bond fund held within the general fund which produces income which is added to the General Fund.
The S. William Aitken Fund: A restricted endowed fund with a year-end draw of 5% to support the music mission and ministries of St. Peter’s, locally and globally.
The Columbarium Fund: An operating fund used to support the maintenance of the columbarium and surrounding grounds, supported by parishioners' purchasing of niches.
The Ilda S. Elzemeyer Leshen Fund: A restricted endowed fund that supports the mission of the church and, as needed, capital improvements.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Mrs. Rolla B. Wetzel Fund: Permanently restricted endowed fund which requires maintenance of principal balance and capital gains but permits use of interest and dividends to support the annual operating budget.
Rev. Allan Zacher, PhD and Deborah Zacher Endowment Fund: A restricted endowed fund with earnings to be used for The Clifford L. Stanley Speaker Series.
Diocese of Missouri
St. Peter’s has a rich history of involvement within the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. In the early years, in keeping with the principles of its own beginnings, St. Peter’s leadership played a key role in the founding of four missions that grew to parish status: the Church of the Good Shepherd, Town and Country (1956); Saint Matthew’s, Warson Woods (1958) which merged with Grace Church, Kirkwood in 2014; Saint Timothy’s, Creve Coeur (1961), and Saint Martin’s, Ellisville (1965). Parish members, as well as clergy past and present, participate broadly in diocesan governance including Diocesan Convention, Diocesan Council, Diocesan Commission on Ministry, Standing Committee, and General Convention. St. Peter’s supports the diocese with our full apportionment and sent five delegates to the 181st meeting of the Convention of the Diocese, the first ever as a virtual gathering.
In November 2019, the diocese elected The Rev. Deon Johnson as the 11th Bishop of Missouri on the first ballot. The Rev. Johnson was consecrated bishop on June 13, 2020, and inherits a diocese that comprises 42 churches, campus ministry, and an intentional community (Deaconess Anne House, a part of the Episcopal Service Corps). All are located in the eastern half of Missouri, and according to parochial reports, membership in 2018 was 10,065. Twenty of the congregations (about 74%) are in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Bishop Johnson and his staff have provided solid leadership to ensure safe worship practices for all parishioners during our current pandemic, and churches have responded with a variety of creative online offerings as we continue to evaluate safe practices for in-person worship. St. Peter’s presence, fostering growth and community in the work of the diocese, remains an important emphasis of our parish.
Ladue, an inner-ring suburb with a population of 8,500, is an affluent, highly-educated community, and home to some of the finest schools, public and private, in the area. Like other parts of the county and city, Ladue is a vibrant place full of religious commitment and wonderful families, great experiences (e.g. Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park), and people who love living here. Although St. Peter’s address is Ladue, it belongs to the larger communities of St. Louis County and St. Louis City, both areas rich in history and diversity. Parishioners hail from many of the county’s 88 municipalities, particularly Ladue, Clayton, and University City as well as Creve Coeur, Ballwin, and Chesterfield.
St. Louis County’s population is almost one million, making it the most populous county in Missouri; St. Louis City’s population is just over 300,000. The areas are racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, encompassing both wealthy and poor communities as well as some of the most racially/ethnically segregated and diverse neighborhoods in the state and the country. Despite--and because of--these differences, the area has a rich history of social activism and philanthropy evidenced by a lively arts scene (e.g., Jazz St. Louis, Opera Theater of St. Louis, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra), vast numbers of museums, educational, and cultural centers—many of which are free to the public (e.g., the Saint Louis Art Museum and Contemporary Art Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center, and the Saint Louis Zoo), and a plethora of grass roots and community-based organizations (e.g., ArchCity Defenders and Casa de Salud), as well as multiple universities and colleges (e.g., Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis University, and Webster University), all nationally and internationally recognized. Beautiful parks in and around county and city include Forest Park, considered one of the nation’s best urban public parks. The sprawling 1,300-acre park hosts amazing events such as the annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race. The St. Louis area offers much to see and do.
New investments in housing, technology, and entrepreneurship are helping these communities to grow, as shown by a burgeoning culinary scene, multiple startups, and the revival of neighborhoods. Many believe that St. Louis, once one of the largest and most important cities in the country, is experiencing the beginning of renaissance focused on uplifting the entire county and city, not just parts of them. To be sure, the county and city must and can continue to improve and develop. While some communities provide positive lives and friendships, others present well-defined and enduring challenges ripe with potential for those willing to engage in and help others reinvent and rebuild the broader community.
St. Peter’s has the opportunity to help build up its own and neighboring communities and the lives of all who live there. The church is known for being positively family oriented, and parishioners have shown deep love and respect for the community and its families, a strong base for engaging in outreach. We have seen increases in our average Sunday attendance, and we embrace continued growth and successful integration of a diverse array of new members as a key goal for the parish.