The Sheridan Road Apostolic Christian Church of Peoria began in 1850 with only a few people and is now the largest city congregation and one of the largest of the Apostolic Christian Faith. Brother Joseph Virkler came to the Peoria area in 1850 from New York State and delivered the first sermon of the Apostolic Christian doctrine. In 1852 services were held at the home of a Sister Sommer living on the Metamora Road and Brother Johannes Kraehenbuehl (Kreinbill), one the earliest converts in Illinois, was their minister for the six other members assembled there.
In 1851, John Frederic Hartman and wife Anna Marie Eleanora and family moved to Peoria from Detmold Lippe (Germany) via St. Louis, MO. They assembled with the believers, repented and a short time later, Brother Hartman became the minister in Peoria. Soon, the small congregation of about twenty souls assembled in his home at 1507 North Monroe Street, and this house still stands today. Brother Hartman was the grandfather of Brother LeRoy Hartman, who also is a member and past minister of the Peoria congregation.
A short time later, Brother Schlatter and Sister Porig came to Peoria and joined the assembly. In 1865, Brothers Heiniger and Richle and Sisters Pilza and Brunner also joined the assembly. Later in 1867, Brother John Schneider, Brother J.W. Schmidt, and Brother Felix Cromer came to Peoria and joined the assembly. Brother Schmidt later moved to Eureka and then to Roanoke where he became a minister.
By 1874, the assembly room at Brother Hartman’s home became too small for the growing congregation. A decision was made to build a wood frame church at 511 Green Street and this church was completed May 10, 1874 at a cost of $1,000. Brother John Spies and Sister Hafle came to Peoria and joined the assembly the same year. Sister Katherine Wagenbach (Ludwig), grandmother of Brother Les Wagenbach, was the custodian of this first Peoria Apostolic Christian Church.
On March 4, 1876, Brother Rudolph Rusterholz and Brother George Stieglitz arrived in Morton and later moved to Peoria. Brother Stieglitz became a minister and later Co-Elder of the Peoria church. In 1894, Elder Brother Rudolph Witzig of Gridley, who was the father-in-law of Sister Nettie Witzig (Fred) and grandfather of Brother Walter Witzig and Sister Anna Schneider (Ernie), was given the oversight of the Peoria Church. Brother Andrew Rapp of Morton assisted him.
The members of the Green Street Church decided in 1896 that their building was too small for the growing assembly, so it was torn down and a brick building was erected on the same site costing $7,500. Trustees at the time were Brothers Peter Sommer, John Schneider, Rudolph Rusterholtz, and Jacob Schilz. Brother Schilz later became a minister. Brother Emil Schubert and his wife Anna (Seiber) emigrated to America in 1906 from Lichtenstein, Saxony, Germany. After two years in Philadelphia, they moved to Peoria, joined the assembly and he became a minister in 1910.
In February 1912, Brother Bartel Rapp of Morton was given the oversight of the Peoria church, replacing aging Brother Witzig. Brother Rapp served as Elder until 1924 and was succeeded by Brother Mike Mangold of Roanoke. During that time, Brothers Fred Wuethrich, Dan Knepp, and Silas Leuthold ministered at the Peoria church.
Brother Emil Schubert, Sr. was ordained the first resident Elder of the Peoria church on February 17, 1929, and served until his death on August 14, 1950. During the time of this Eldership, Brothers Dan Knepp, Mike Weyeneth, Silas Leuthold, Fred Feucht, Chris Koehl, and Roy Sauder were made ministers. When Brother Schubert passed away, Brother David Mangold of Roanoke was given the oversight of the Peoria church with Mike Weyeneth, the minister in charge.
The Peoria membership had grown significantly during the fifty years it used the Green Street Church and was now not large enough to accommodate the growing congregation. A decision was made to build a new church and land was purchased at 3420 North Sheridan Road in 1949. The present church was dedicated December 10, 1950. It cost approximately $350,000 and seats 950 people. Brothers Michael Weyeneth, Chris Koehl and Roy Sauder were ministers at the time and the building committee consisted of Brothers C.C. Hoerr, Sam Getz, and Henry Leman. Trustees were Brothers W.O. Schlipf, Chris Sauder, C.C. Hoerr, Sam Getz, and Henry Leman.
During the time of Brother Mangold’s Eldership, Brother Jim Hoerr and Brother LeRoy Hartman became ministers on January 20, 1957. In 1959, Brother Mangold, due to ill health, passed the Eldership to Brother Silas Leuthold of Princeville. In 1959 there were 253 families, 580 members and 380 Sunday School students. Trustees were Brothers C.C. Hoerr, Henry Leman, Emil Hoerr, Lester Wagenbach, and John C. Hoerr. Ministers were Brothers Michael Weyeneth, Chris Koehl, Roy Sauder, LeRoy Hartman, and Jim Hoerr. Brother Hartman retired from the ministry on August 23, 1989, with over 32 years of dedicated service.
On January 3, 1965, Brother Roy Sauder was ordained as the second resident Elder of the Peoria church by Brothers Joe A. Getz, Noah Schrock, and Silas Leuthold. Brother Roy was born November 11,1909, in Roanoke and was baptized April 29, 1928. After forty-two years of faithful and dedicated service, including twenty-two years as the Peoria Elder, he decided to retire on Father’s Day, 1989. His labor of love and diligent unifying work in the Lord’s vineyard will be long remembered. Brother Kenneth Hoerr became a minister on January 26, 1975, and was made a Deacon on July 23, 1989.
The need for an enlarged dining room became apparent and a large church addition was built and opened on January 8, 1978. It included a dining room, kitchen, fellowship area, Sunday School facilities, mother and baby room, rest rooms, and several improvements to the original church at a cost of approximately $800,000. The Building Committee consisted of Brothers Harlan Thomas, Chairman, Dick Haefli, Dave Meister Jr., Willis Hunziker, and Walter Geyer. The trustees at the opening were Brothers Willis Hunziker, Chairman, Walter Geyer, Dave Meister Jr., Max Hoerr, and John Honegger.
In 1985, a tape library with duplication equipment was established. Later, in 1986, the conference room was redecorated and refurnished and in 1987, the former dining room on the lower level was carpeted and converted into additional fellowship area and is used extensively by Sunday School students. Also during this year, the church foyer and dining room were recarpeted, the foyer repainted, and an Adult Bible Study room was provided on the lower level.
On Sunday, March 8, 1987, at 7:00 p.m., Brother Charles hemmer was ordained as the third resident Elder since the beginning of the Peoria congregation. Elder Brother Don Sauder made the opening statement, Elder Brother Bob Grimm meditated on I Timothy 3:1-7 and Elder Brother Ed Ringger had the prayer of ordination. Brother Hemmer became a minister on April 30, 1969, and was ordained a Deacon on September 27, 1970. Brothers Rick Plattner and Mike Rieker were installed in the ministry on February 14, 1988 by Elder Brother Charles Hemmer. He meditated on I Timothy 3:2-4 and II Timothy.
During 1988, an underground sprinkler system was installed to provide a beautiful green lawn during the entire growing and summer season. The fire alarm and smoke detection system was installed to the entire building in 1989. Then, in 1992, the baby room was renovated and redecorated to provide for necessary improvements.
New driveways on both sides of the church and across the rear of the church were completed during the Fall of 1996. Also, a driveway across the front of the church was installed to provide better access to the front door for those who need a shorter walking distance of who may be handicapped and for use at funeral services. The church grounds were completely relandscaped during this construction period with new trees and bushes and brick edging which greatly enhanced the beauty of our church building.
On Sunday, April 13, 1997, Brother Dave Obergfel was installed in the ministry by Elder brother Charles Hemmer. He meditated on Ephesians 4:1-6 and I Timothy 3:1-7.
Brother James Hoerr retired from the ministry and had his last sermon on June 22, 1997, from Galatians 5. His over forty years as a minister and his dedication to the World Relief efforts will long be remembered. He will remain active in his endeavor during his retirement.
Brother Kenneth Hoerr became on ordained Deacon on March 1, 1998.
The main parking lot was reconstructed in concrete in October 1999 with trees and flowers in landscaped planter boxes. A fence of bollards with connecting chain at the East entrance completed the enhancements of our church grounds.
Brother Tim Funk and Brother Tim Roecker were installed as Peoria ministers on June 11, 2000. Elder Brother Charles Hemmer of Peoria was the installing Elder and he was assisted by Elder Brother Charles Sauder of Tremont.
During 2001 a complete new sound and speaker system was installed which provided greater clarity and improved hearing for the entire congregation. Also, the lower level rest rooms were renovated and redecorated.
On Sunday, September 18, 2005, beginning at 7:00 PM, Brother Timothy Funk was ordained the fourth resident Elder of the Peoria Congregation. Assisting retiring Elder Brother Charles Hemmer with the ordination were Elder Brothers Ron Messner of Washington, Earl Rinnger of Gridley, and Charles Sauder of Tremont. Eleven current Elder Brothers, six retired Elder Brothers, and many retired ministeries were in attendance for this succsion ceremony which was fully attended by the congregation.
In 2007, the Peoria Congregraion voted to approve the purchase of land for future needs. As a memorial to David A. and Rose Hoerr, Jim and Virginia Hoerr generously contributed a portion of this land purchase adjacent to the Fellowship Hall and cemetary, thus reducing the overall cost. The trustees pledged to help on the cost of the Biblical Garden next to the cemetary.
In 2008, the Peoria Church installed another minister to serve the church. Brother Craig Stickling was installed as a Peoria minister on May 4, 2008. Elder Brother Kent Heimer of Taylor, OH assisted with the minister selection process.
Retired Elder Brother Willis R. Ehnle of Shioda Japan relocated to Peoria where he has helped with ministry since December 10, 2008.