Friedens United Church of Christ was called into life as a people of
faith in 1857, the same year that the Dred and Harriet Scott case was
decided in St. Louis. Throughout our nearly one hundred and fifty years
together, we have been on the corner of 19th Street and Newhouse Avenue
in what is now known as Hyde Park. With the ebb and flow of populations
and prosperity in and out of our city, we have remained where we are.
We believe that divine presence continues to draw near and to partner
with us in new life.
Our early years were marked by services in German, then in German and
English. By the middle years there were eight hundred children in
Sunday School, and Friedens was instrumental in helping to establish
several other congregations. In these later years we are a smallish
band of eighty-year-old women with unmmistakable German names, African
American children and youth, and a growing and diverse smattering of
others in between, both Caucasian and African American. We walk and we
car pool on any given Sunday from within the neighborhood and around the
metropolitan area. We gather with joy as we listen to the gospel, and
lean into a common language where we hope and search to discover an
illumination of God with us, an illumination of Christ in the face of
neighbor and stranger, an illumination of ourselves as images of divine
love in word and service.
We have a sturdy tie to Clay School, one of our neighborhood public
elementary schools. For ten years now Friedens Church, Clay School, and
Hyde Park neighbors have co-sponsored Friedens Haus, an after school
program. We work intentionally to support and appreciate school staff;
we collect toothbrushes for students and kleenex for classrooms. We are
very involved in sustaining the arts in our neighborhood and in recent
years have worked with Taproots School of the Arts, Musicians United for
Furthering Youth (MUFFY), the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater, the
Regional Arts Commission, and individual artists. Every Wednesday our
Large Hall is the site for delicious neighborhood lunches. Over the
last year we have shared our space with another small north side
congregation. We delight in unfolding relationships with various people
and projects of Metropolis.
At Friedens we carry a memory of and a commitment to the church and
ourselves as a people and place open, safe, and welcoming to needs and
dreams, imagination and pain, stories and possibilities. We are
grateful for all who have gone before us and for who we are becoming.
The photos below were taken at Friedens Church during the early and mid 1900s. Move the pointer over a thumbnail image to view the caption in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. Click on a thumbnail to view the large version.