Although Peace Lutheran Church was formally organized on January 27, 1946, and joined the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod that summer, its origin began some twenty years before. Emmaus Lutheran Church, then on Broadway, had operated a branch parochial school since 1923 at property on Lexington Street between Harrison and Webster Streets. Members of Emmaus who lived on the south side of Fort Wayne and had children in the branch school discussed during those years forming a daughter congregation nearer to where they lived. When the branch school was closed, proceeds from the property sale were designated for use by a new congregation, with the stipulation that it must be south of Pettit Avenue and started by the end of 1945.
In June, 1
945, the south-side families quickly planned. When builder John Worthman purchased a 100-acre farm southwest of Fairfield and Pettit Avenues from Mrs. Nellie Wood, she first arranged to sell about three acres at the northeast point of the land, now known as the Woodhurst subdivision, to the forming congregation for only $100.
On November 25, 1945, 107 people gathered at the Sears Pavilion in Foster Park for worship. Subsequent services were conducted by retired Pastor W. C. Meinzen at the Jefferson Community Center, once at the corner of Jefferson and Ewing Streets, now the site of a McDonald’s restaurant. Charter members of the congregation in 1946 included the families of Theodore Fuelling, Harry Grote, Edward Lebrecht, Herman Melcher, Edwin Moellering, Jacob Schaefer, Edward Schroeder, Lawrence Springer, Henry Volmerding, Albert Wehmeyer, and Lester Zollinger. The congregation numbered 104 baptized members.
On September 8, 1946, the Rev. Edgar H. Albers became the congregation’s first full-time pastor. During his pastorate of nine years a combined chapel and classroom building, designed by Milwaukee architect Mr. Hugh Haeuser and with Fred Grote and Son as the general contractor, was built on the Faifield site. A new parochial school of only the first four grades, with Mr. Carl Bloedel as teacher, began to use a room in the still uncompleted building in the fall
of 1948. The chapel/school was then dedicated on June 12, 1949. That September the school began to offer eight grades with added teachers and had Mr. Theodore Becker as its principal until 1958.
Pastor Albers accepted a pastorate in Southport, Indiana, in 1955 and the Rev. Hartwig M. Schwehn became Peace’s pastor on February 19, 1956. Greatly increased membership by 1960 called for the construction of a larger sanctuary. It was designed by Charles Stade and Associate of Parkview, Illinois, and attached to the north end of the original building.
General contractor C. Doenges and Son began work at the end of 1961 and the new church, with large areas of stained glass designed and fabricated by City Glass Specialty of Fort Wayne was dedicated on March 17, 1963. On November 17, 1963, a 23-rank pipe organ manufactured by the Tellers Organ Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, was dedicated. Pastor Schwehn died of a heart attack on July 4, 1968. At the end of his twelve and a half years as pastor, the membership of the congregation numbered over 1,100 members.
The Rev. Luther Strasen was installed as the next Pastor on November 17, 1968, and served for 28 years. In September of 1968, Peace and Redeemer Lutheran Church on Rudisill Avenue began an arrangement that unified their resources and facilities to form Peace-Redeemer Lutheran School, with an enrollment of 235 students. Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Waynedale joined the school in September 1973 and the name of the school was changed to Unity Lutheran School, with classes held in all three of the congregations’ buildings. Redeemer Lutheran Church elected not to participate in the inter-parish school after the 1976-77 school year. Plans were advanced in 1981 to add a library and gymnasium to the south end of the Peace school building, but were abandoned that July when the Fort Wayne Community Schools announced the sale of its South Calhoun elementary school.
Peace congregation purchased the campus so that all of the Unity School classes began meeting in the South Calhoun building in the fall of 1982. Subsequent principals of the parochial school were Mssrs. Floyd Rogner (1958-71), Wayne Clements (1971-77), Raymond Rosenthal (1977-79), Will Neumeyer (1979-87), Richard Brune (1987-2001), Mrs. Joyce Pixley (2001-2006), co-principals Mrs. Joyce Pixley and Mr. Mark Doepner (2006-2007), and Ms. LuAnn LeBeau (2007-2011).
After Pastor Strasen retired in 1996, Pastor James R. Teasdale became the pastor of the congregation on November 30, 1997. During his pastorate, a ministry to the growing Hispanic community was initiated and a vibrant youth ministry flourished.
As Peace’s ministry evolved, Rev. Teasdale left the parish and Rev. Galen Drawbaugh was installed in March 2006 as an Intentional Interim Minister. Under Pastor Drawbaugh’s guidance, congregational leadership developed new mission and vision statements, reorganized the constitution, reorganized boards and committees and began revitalization plans.
On July 13, 2008, the Rev. Paul J. Spira was ordained and installed as Peace’s new pastor.
On March 15, 2009, the voters’ assembly voted unanimously to enter into a new association entitled Lutheran South Association with Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, and Historic Zion Lutheran Church to continue to provide high quality education on the south side of Fort Wayne. Unity Lutheran School became Lutheran South Unity School operated by a new school board comprised of members of all four congregations.
Peace moves into the future with excitement in the gospel, hearts willing to tell the good news of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and prayers for God’s guidance as the congregation faithfully ministers to members and reaches out to the community with open arms.