Group will tour through the end of the year.

After 33 years in Christian music, pioneering rock band Petra is calling it quits. The group will continue to tour through the end of the year then disband.

“We really worked hard last year to get Petra back in the focus of as many people as possible, and I don’t think there was a disappointed ear ever, anywhere. ” lead vocalist John Schlitt tells Billboard's Higher Ground column. “But it was just time to quit.”

The decision was mutual among current band members Schlitt, drummer Paul Simmons, bassist Greg Bailey and guitarist/principal songwriter Bob Hartman. Founded in 1972 by Hartman, the group broke down walls and paved the way for other acts looking to deliver the gospel through rock music. Petra has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and has 10 Dove Awards and four Grammys to its credit. The band released more than 20 albums over the years, most recently recording for Inpop Records. The group’s last release was 2003’s Grammy nominated “Jekyll & Hyde.”

In looking back on Petra’s legacy, Schlitt feels ministry is the key word. “That’s all I want Petra to be known for,” says Schlitt, who joined the band in 1986. “Yes, we played rock ‘n roll because that’s the style of music that we loved, but we always put ministry first. To us, that’s what counted.”