The history of our congregation
Due to the increasing influence of Prussia in many parts of Germany in the latter half of the 19th century, Lutheran and Reformed churches were forced into a church union by decree of the state. Not willing to compromise their faith, many Lutheran Christians opposed the new church union. Pastors with their congregations as well as individual members and entire families left the Evangelical state churches. The pastors who did this were suspended from their office and to a certain extent persecuted by the state.
Then, in 1873 in the North of Hessia, the "Renitency" arose on the occasion of a mission festival in Melsungen. Shortly thereafter the recalcitrant group numbered 43 Pastors. Wilhelm Villmar from Melsungen and Friedrich-Wilhelm Hoffmann from Felsberg emerged as leaders of this Lutheran movement. Pastor Hoffmann was forced to move to Homberg in 1874. He then went about gathering Lutheran Christians from Homberg and its surrounding villages. In 1878 the congregation joined up with the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hessia (Hessia-Darmstadt).
Services were held in the home of one of the members until 1885, when the congregation was able to purchase a large building, the oldest portions of which date back to 1508. Having been thoroughly renovated, the framework building with the address Bergstrasse 17 is now the Lutheran Retreat Center of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK). (www.lutherisches-jugendgaestehaus.de)
From 1911 to 1947 pastoral care for the congregation was provided by pastors who came from other Lutheran congregations, particularly from the congregation in Breitungen in Thuringia. After the second world war, though, pastoral support from Thuringia became impossible. The congregation then got their own Pastor.
In 1988 and 1989 the congregation decided to thoroughly renovate and enlarge the Lutheran church in Homberg. Because stained glass windows with scenes of the life of the apostle Peter were put into the church, the church now bears the name "St. Peter's church."
Many of the free Evangelical Lutheran church bodies merged together in 1972 to form the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK). In 1991 the Evangelical Lutheran Church ("altlutherische Kirche") in what had formerly been the German Democratic Republic joined up with the SELK.
The SELK is officially recognized by the German government. It is, however, independent from the state, which, for example, means that the members of its congregations support the work of their church and congregation not by church taxes, but rather by voluntary contributions.