St. Peter's Lutheran Church 1500 Freeport Road North East, PA 16428


Pastor Matt's Story



Before I was called to serve the Lord, I 

graduated from Gannon University with degrees in business-administration (1983) and marketing (1985.) Shortly thereafter, I briefly managed a small showroom for a hot tub retailer near Daytona Beach, FL. From there, I moved back to Erie and fell in love with the book business. I worked for The Erie Book Store, Barnes and Noble, Borders Books, and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, where I was in charge of--you guessed it--the book department. My wife, Stephanie, and I also owned our own book store for three years, which we named after my son, Ben. The old-fashioned shop, Ben’s Books, provided a wonderful adventure for me, as it slowly filled with so many tomes that by the time our three-year lease was up, there was simply no room for more! I was sure that I could not be any happier than to be surrounded by so much glorious paper! But, God had other plans for me, and He called me. Immediately I joined the TEEM program in the Northwestern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I had already been a lay worship leader for a couple of years, but with God’s call, it was time to do more. So, here I stand in North East, ordained as a minister in the ELCA in 2015, and ready to serve the community of North East, both at St. Peter's, and beyond. Here's praying that some day I will be able to serve you, too! Peace be with you, Pastor Matt  


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History of St. Peter's


On 6/4/1896, the congregation of St. Peter's English Lutheran Church was organized in North East, PA through the work of Rev. I. O. Baker. Later the word "English" was dropped and the word "Evangelical" was substituted. The original constitution was adopted on  6/7/1896. Land was purchased at the corner of Pearl & Eagle Sts from Mrs. Almeda Loomis on 12/17/1898 for $500!  When the final payment for the property was made, plans were made to construct a church building, not to cost more than $3000. The cornerstone was laid on 9/6/1900. Pastor C. E. Read was always aware of opportunities to establish new congregations in the area. Through his work, two missions were begun through St Peter's Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dunkirk, NY & Messiah Lutheran Church in Wesleyville, PA. Land north of town was purchased on Freeport Rd to eventually build a new church and parsonage. The lot spanned from Freeport Rd to Pearl St. with rows of Concord grapes planted on the lot. An area was cleared and a parsonage was built on the Pearl St side in 1960's.  In 1976, because of the structural and space problems with the original church building, the congregation of St. Peter's relocated to 1500 Freeport Road where the present worship center and fellowship hall was constructed. With the help of many members, the new church was furnished with new custom furniture designed and built by those members. At a later date, the stain glass windows from the original church were retreived and refurbished also by our members. They are installed in the front of the current sanctuary with back-lighting for our members & guests to enjoy as they worship.  The parsonage and a lot were subdivided to allow the sale of the parsonage & allow Pastor Laber to build his own home.  The fellowship hall was added on for additional storage & meeting areas. Space was made available for the Headstart/GECAC Preschool Program. We are grateful to our members over the years for their support and commitment to our mission & future.      

What We Believe



St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We profess a faith in the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Father created and loves all of His creation. We believe that Jesus Christ, God’s only Son redeems us through His life, death, and resurrection. And, we believe and trust that God’s Holy Spirit is active in the world and in our lives. Thanks be to God!  


Apostles Creed  

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen  --Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) service book --The Apostles Creed was given its name in 390 CE in Milan, Italy, though it was formed over the previous two centuries.  


St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran 

Church actively participates 

in Christ's mission by nurturing, 

teaching, praising, and sharing 

the Gospel of Jesus Christ 

with all people. 

2020 Congregational Council


Dale Ballerstein

Pastor Matt Dennison

Stephanie Dennison

Elizabeth "Mae" Dudick

Gary Johnston

Patty Kimmy

Cathi Newara

Scott Torrance, Sr.

Carol Wakley

Paul Witosky



Cathi Newara, President

Paul Witosky, VP

Carol Wakley, Secretary

Frank Gildersleeve, Treasurer

Scott Torrance, Financial Secretary

Cheryl Nielsen, Recording Treasurer


Ellsworth Textor, Organist

Gerda Wheeler, Bell Choir Director


Cathi Newara


Robert Riser