Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in 1861 by a group of men and women who had recently settled in the Fremont area. To satisfy their need for a place of worship, this group, with the assistance of Pastor Beyer, constructed a building with money from their own pockets. The first structure was blown over by a windstorm. But this didn't deter the congregation from erecting another building.
In 1885, our present church was built. The sanctuary has been remodeled several times since then. In 1971, an educational wing was added for Sunday School and Bible Study. the additions and improvements through the years have added to the legacy left behind by the first men and women who established our congregation.
Today we have more than 150 members of all ages. Throughout our one hundred-forty-six year history, our congregation has started variousd ministries and missions in the Fox Vaklley area. We continue to nurture the souls under our care and reach out to the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have added two more histories for those of you who might be interested in a more detailed description of Zion's development through the years. The first history "Led by God's Love" was compiled for the 125th Anniversary of Zion in 1986. In the near future we plan to bring this history up to date in the year 2007.
The second history "History of the Congregation" was written in German and appeared in the worship service which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the dedication of the church building. The worship service took place on October 27, 1935. We have provided a translation of the original German.
"LED BY GOD’S LOVE" (1986)
It is truly a miracle of God’s grace that we can stand here today and celebrate the gifts that have been showered upon Zion Congregation through the past 125 years. God has planted our church in this place. Through the years He has fed us with the Gospel and blessed our people with the faithful ministry of its pastors and teachers. He has led us by His love to this time to celebrate what great things God has done for us.
The mission message that brought our families here, that carried Zion Congregation through her joys and her trials, and has led us on is that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. God’s message of personal forgiveness and salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ, is our one foundation and our theme. To God alone we give all the glory, and we rely upon the strength of His grace to guide us on.
Join us as we recount now the events and circumstances of Zion’s history and acknowledge God’s wisdom and His mercy to His Church.
The early pioneers who settled in our area of Wisconsin along the east and west banks of the Wolf River came mostly from Northern Germany. It seems that the first Lutheran settlers arrived here in about 1852. They settled on government lands in the Rat River district (now known as the Townships of Wolf River and Winchester) and northwest from there into the Town of Caledonia, West Bloomfield and New London.
In the early 1850’s Rev. Lochner kept close contact with the immigrants passing through Milwaukee. These Lutheran settlers were visited and served by him and the following pastors: Ahner, Steinbach, Wagner, and Brose.
The earliest recorded beginnings of the Lutheran Church in these Townships were made in the vicinity of what is now known as Zittau in 1854.
Pastor Martin Stephan of the Missouri Synod was called by Trinity, Oshkosh and Immanuel, Rat River and was installed March 1, 1857.
On March 16, 1857 the "German Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Congregation, U.A.C." was incorporated at the court house in Oshkosh. Papers were signed by Rev. Martin Stephan, Frederick Brodhagen, William Krueger, David Bohn, August Metzig, Ferdinand Krueger, and the elders, John F. Zink and Frederick Klemp. A log church was built on Section 13, Town of Wolf River (at that time, Town of Winchester), Winnebago County.
Those members also engaged a parochial school teacher, Theodore Eissfeldt, who would also substitute for the pastor. This seems to be the first parochial school to serve members of the present North Wisconsin District of the Missouri Synod. The names of the confirmands reveal that they represented families from the Town of Caledonia to the Rat River. The first Confirmation Class in the whole area was recorded in 1859 with 12 members. The second class was confirmed on the Third Sunday after Easter in 1861. From 1862, classes confirmed annually at Zion.
From 1857 the area was served by Rev. G. Fachtmann and Rev. Waldt. It was Rev. Waldt who organized a congregation also at Rat River (St. Peter’s Lutheran Church) located one mile east of Immanuel, Missouri Synod Church and another at Metzig’s Corners (now Zittau) Located 1 1/2 miles north of the Missouri Synod Immanuel Church also naming it "Immanuel Congregation".
This caused some confusion, and the members of the Northern District determined for the sake of peace to organize themselves and chose the name ‘Zion’.
We now come to the establishment of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, U.A.C. Town of Caledonia, Waupaca County and Town of Winchester (now Town of Wolf River) Winnebago County, Wisconsin, situated on Section 35 on the Waupaca Winnebago County Road. This is the title as recorded in the original constitution. The original 1 1/2 acres of land for the church property were purchased from Ferdinand Krueger and his wife Friedericke, July 9, 1861.
The North District (or our Zion) decided to build a church and parsonage and to call a pastor together with Immanuel at Rat River (the South District). Though two congregations, they considered themselves one organization in two units, and Zion subscribed to the same constitution which had been adopted in 1857 by Immanuel at Rat River.
The newly built church of Zion Congregation was dedicated on September 8, 1861. We believe it was located just west of the present cemetery. At the same time as the dedication, the recently called pastor, Rev. John N. Beyer, formerly pastor at the Town of Herman, Howards Grove, Sheboygan County, was installed. The dedication and installation were conducted by Rev. F. Lochner from Milwaukee and Rev. F. Ruhland from Oshkosh. Pastor Lochner preached on II Corinthians 4: 1-6. and Pastor Ruhland (who up to now had served the congregations in this area and around New London, Bloomfield, and Belle Plaine as daughter congregations of Oshkosh) preached on Matthew 6: 24-34.
Zion dates its anniversaries from the dedication of the church building on September 8, 1861. The first trustees of Zion were August Krenke, Ferd. Brodhagen, and Aug. Quandt. The charter members were Fr. Krenke, Fr. Krueger, Wm. Klemp, Aug. Quandt, Carl Zitzke, Carl Borchardt, Wm. Krueger, Ludwig Drews, John Roloff, Albert Klemp, Fr. Drews, John Drews, and Carl Drews.
The first recorded meeting of Zion took place December 9, 1861. The very first resolution read: "Resolved that in case Teacher Eissfeldt does not wish to serve us any longer, that we then call teacher Barthel of Oshkosh." Resolution number 2 stipulated that the teacher serve both districts or units north and south (Zion and Immanuel, Missouri Synod, at Rat River), one as the other, and that the northern district build the teacherage and stable. Resolution 3 said that an addition should be built to the parsonage. The 6th resolution stipulated that both districts meet separately each month but that both districts meet jointly each quarter year. At the 1st general meeting of both districts in Immanuel Church, Rat River, June 12, 1862, it was decided that Fr. Brodhagen be the delegate at the Synodical Convention in Watertown. The Synodical Report lists August Schmidt (substitute) as the delegate attending.
Cash money was scarce. A penny was worth its weight. The voters decided that each pay 3 cents for a minute book.
Since it was difficult to get a teacher, it was decided to engage Fr. Klemp, Sr. to teach in the interim. The following teacher, Theo. Wegener, taught from 1866 to 1868, 3 days per week in the north district and 2 days a week in the south district. All the children in the 6th year were to be entered at Easter time.
In 1867 the 350th Anniversary of the Reformation was celebrated on October 31. The place of service was Fr. Krenke’s woods. The ladies provided the food. All members helped prepare the necessary accommodations. Teacher Werner and Mr. Ziem provided a U.S. flag (37 stars) and a suitable church flag which were carried by the children in the procession. Four dozen medals were distributed by the teacher. The pastor prepared memoirs and festival hymns.
In April, 1868, Teacher Wegener died at the age of 34 years. His widow lived in the teacherage until fall when the following members offered to build a house for her and her 5 children: Voigt, Groth and Leitzke. The congregation paid for necessary materials. Mrs. Wegener died 8 years later at the age of 41 years. Teacher Hy. Ziehldorf was the next called teacher in 1869.
In 1870 great anxiety and sorrow spread over the whole district. A severe epidemic of "black pox" broke out. Many be came infected and many died. Also the beloved Pastor Beyer contracted the disease and passed away on July 9, 1870 at the age of 45. He was buried on Zion’s cemetery. In 1904 Mrs. Beyer was buried beside him. Survivors were the pastor’s widow, 3 sons, 3 daughters. But soon after, his beloved youngest son, Paul, followed him in death at the age of 9 years.
Pastor Beyer’s successor was Pastor J. L. Daib. He and the members of Zion saw the results of Pastor Beyer’s labors. They evaluated his work thus: "He worked and labored in these parts far and wide, in true faithfulness and great diligence with God’s Word and God blessed this greatly." He served the following congregations and preaching stations: (1) Zion, (2) Immanuel at Rat River, (3) St. Paul’s west of Wolf River - Section 16, (4) St. John’s, Schroeders Corners, (5) St. John’s, Fremont Road, (6) New London, (7) Mosquito Hill, 5 miles east of New London, and (8) Greenville. He held 130 Communion Services, communed close to 3,000, baptized 83, confirmed 99, married 32 couples, and buried 26. Regular meetings of Zion and Immanuel recorded were 42; others were not counted. The meetings were opened with a hymn, prayer, Scripture reading and discussion of an Article of the Augsburg Confession. When a case of church discipline came up for discussion, a chapter of Walther’s "Rechte Gestalt" was read and discussed for clearer insight and understanding of the matter at hand.
The minutes reveal the brotherly, evangelical spirit of pastor and members. When Pastor Beyer had received a call to LaPort, Indiana in 1867, members from West Bloomfield on to New London assembled in a special meeting, pleading that he should not leave the parish. The call was returned.
One is also impressed with the concern that the, members had for the schooling of their children. Classes were conducted some 4 or 5 months of the year, which seems to be the norm at that time in all country schools.
Pastor J. L. Daib was installed December 17, 1870. Zion Congregation with Immanuel at Rat River decided to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Missouri Synod which had taken place in Rev. Selle’s congregation in Chicago, 1847. At that time Synod was very small. Now after 25 years, it had spread into 26 states of the Union and into Eastern Canada. The minutes state that "since God has by His grace blessed us and kept us with the pure Word and Sacraments, we therefore thank and praise Him in a special Divine Service in April, 1872".
The congregation was also mindful of its duty to apply church discipline when necessary, according to Matthew 18, without legalistic measures. Often a period of 3 to 4 months was given an offender for reflection.
In June, 1872, Rev. J. L. Daib accepted a call to Trinity at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Pastor C. Markworth of West Bloomfield who had served Zion as vacancy pastor, was the next pastor of the parish, serving the parish for 11 years and 8 months. He served the following places, some regularly and some for shorter periods: (1) Zion, (2) Immanuel at Rat River, (3) St. John’s, Fremont Road, Town of Caledonia, (4) St. John’s, Schroeders Corners, Town of Winchester, (5) St. Paul’s, Wolf River until 1877, (6) Fremont Village, (7) Manteufel or Clayton, (8) Amherst, 1873-1884, (9) Tomac, 1875, (10) Phil. Mill, Town of Mukwa, 1873, (11) Weyauwega, organized February 25, 1872. Pastor Markworth, the first pastor, served until 1875 when the West Bloomfield pastor took over.
Pastor Markworth had served this large field for 12 years, preaching 3 and 4 times each Sunday. The last 3 years, as is apparent from the records, must have been quite difficult. Also in the spring of 1882 the school room and teacherage were destroyed by fire. Pastor Markworth died suddenly from a stroke while attending a Synodical Convention in Watertown, Wisconsin. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
One bright spot of satisfaction must have been that Zion decided in 1882 to build a new brick church, but this could not be carried out until 1885.
In 1884 lmmanuel Congregation at Rat River, the oldest congregation in these parts, disbanded, and the few remaining members joined Zion Church.
The next pastor of Zion was Rev. L. Schuetz, from 1884 to 1896. In the first meeting, plans were made to carry out the resolution regarding the building of a new church. On April 11, 1885 a parcel of land, 1 acre plus 2 square rods, was purchased from Albert Krenke for $25.00 where Zion Church now stands. A special corner-stone laying service was held. Again the congregation was sorely tried. As the building was almost completed, a heavy storm demolished it on July 12. At the very next meeting the members who were assembled prayed to God for courage to bear also this affliction in true humility, believing that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28. At the same meeting they decided to rebuild even larger and stronger. A contract was given for $2,159.00. It was noted that as the last stone was laid, the last dollar had also been paid. Remembered also was the kind service of the pastor’s good wife, who did all the cooking for the builders. Dedication took place December 5, 1885.
A change in the parish itself was also brought about in 1885. Fremont Village organized St. Paul’s Church. The members of St. John’s, Fremont Road and St. Paul’s, Town of Wolf River were encouraged to join the Fremont Village Church.
In 1892 the present parsonage got its final form by adding the two wings, east and west, and making it two-storied at a cost of $1,009.14.
In 1895 with the installation of Teacher KaIb, the congregation adopted a detailed curriculum for its parochial school.
In October, 1896, Pastor Schuetz accepted a call and Pastor Theodore Bretscher of Birnamwood succeeded him as Zion’s fifth pastor from 1897 to 1909. The teacherage was now built in the Town of Wolf River, Section 1 on County Road for $424.00.
In 1903 two church bells were bought for $180.00, one weighing 800 pounds and the other 350 pounds; they were designed to harmonize well. Then the congregation purchased a second-hand pipe organ from Pastor Dovidat’s church in Oshkosh for $175.00.
Pastor Bretscher accepted the call to Beloit, Wisconsin. The sixth pastor of Zion was Rev. August Mueller, who served from January, 1910 to 1927.
Again, the Lord called from his labors the faithful teacher, C. Schliebe in May, 1911. A special meeting decided that the congregation would pay for the flowers ordered by the school children and the congregation. The elders, two school trustees and two church trustees were to be the pallbearers. The two church trustees were to accompany the deceased to Watertown for interment, the trip being paid for by the congregation. All doctor bills and funeral expenses were also paid by the congregation.
At a meeting on August 4, 1912 the place for the new school house was finally settled. It was built onto the confirmation room, west of the cemetery. Marie Schliebe taught from 1911 to 1916 and teacher Mehrstaedt from 1916 to 1921. The teacher’s salary from 1916 on was to be $500.00.
In 1925 a two-manual pipe organ was purchased from Hinners Company for $3,000.00. In October, 1925 electric power was installed in the parsonage, and an electric motor and blower for the pipe organ was installed. A peaceful release was granted to Pastor Mueller in April, 1927. The congregation introduced one monthly evening service in English in March, 1925. The 7th pastor was Rev. Enno Claus, who served here only 11 months, receiving his release in February, 1928.
The 8th pastor to accept Zion’s call was Rev. W. C. Schaefer from Saskatchewan, June 3, 1928 to June 14, 1942. An outstanding event at this time was the 50th Anniversary of Zion’s church dedication. A Jubilee Service was held by Rev. H. Klemp in the morning and President H. Daib in the afternoon.
In April, 1936 the congregation under the leadership of Pastor Schaefer decided to again call a teacher after a lapse of 15 years. Candidate Teacher Roemke accepted the call and served faithfully until 1944. In 1937 the teacherage was provided with electric lights. In 1939 a major redecoration project was undertaken: the church was repainted and new lights and the stained glass windows were installed.
Pastor Schaefer accepted the call to Marengo, Illinois June, 1942 and the 9th pastor, Rev. H. R. Neitzel from Kennan, Wisconsin now accepted Zion’s call. He served from August 30, 1942 to December, 1945. The ladies of the congregation were encouraged to organize a Ladies Aid Society. More services in English were now introduced, every second and fourth Sundays. In 1945 the envelope system was introduced and the annual financial reports were printed.
After receiving a number of calls, Teacher Roemke persuaded a reluctant congregation to grant him a peaceful release to St. James in Shawano, Wisconsin.
The call for a teacher was now sent to Teacher M. F. Hoffmann in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, who accepted and was installed in August, 1944 in a special service and reception. School reports showed that 47 children were enrolled in the 8 grades.
Pastor H. R. Neitzel was given a peaceful release to accept the call to the Lutheran Child’s Welfare Association in Addison, Illinois. The 10th pastor, Rev. R. D. Tornow of Beemer, Nebraska was now called and installed in a special service on May 5, 1946. A basement was put under the church building and a new oil burning furnace was installed. Pastor Tornow was called upon in 1949 to serve the mission congregation in northeast Appleton.
The congregation continued to improve its property such as the cemetery, church building, school, parsonage and teacherage. Zion’s members also contributed $2,515.00 to Fox Valley Lutheran High School in Appleton, Wisconsin, but later the donations were returned to our members.
Again the congregation was saddened by the death of its beloved pastor, R. D. Tornow, when the Lord called him home to his eternal reward at the age of 58 years on October 10, 1950. The congregation paid all hospital and doctor bills.
On November 27 the members met to call the 11th pastor of Zion with Pastor G. Bernthal opening the meeting with Scripture reading and prayer for the Lord’s guidance. Pastor Emil Messerschmidt of Westfield, Wisconsin was called. He was in stalled December 26, 1950 and served until September 1954.
It was Anniversary time at Zion, the 90th of its founding, which the congregation observed with special services of prayer, praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord for all his grace and benefits He had so abundantly supplied. On June 17, 1951 two special services were held, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
With some changes in the parsonage and teacherage at this time, these homes were fully modernized.
Again the congregation became vacant. Pastor E. Messerschmidt accepted the call to St. Paul’s Church at Hamburg (Naugart) in September, 1954. In November, 1956 Pastor J. H. Lucht from Saskatchewan accepted the call as the 12th pastor of Zion.
In 1957 a lighted cross was placed on the front of the church and tile flooring was laid in the church. Pastor and Mrs. Lucht initiated a Sunday School program at Zion in 1958, starting with a Cradle Roll and with Nursery and Kindergarten Classes.
The parking area of the church was blacktopped in 1959. The next year Maas Chimes were installed for $550.00 from Heid Music Company. A new communion rail was purchased, the front steps in the chancel were remodeled and the alter was moved back.
On September 17, 1961 Zion Congregation thanked God for a century of blessings. This centennial celebration was observed in two morning services with the Rev. W. C. Schaefer as the guest speaker and one evening service with the Rev. Eldor Bruss (a son of the congregation) preaching the sermon. A Wednesday evening service was also held on September 20. Another son of the congregation, the Rev. Adolph Bruss, preached the sermon. Pastor J. H. Lucht served as the liturgist. A centennial book, "100 Years of Grace 1861-1961" was produced under the direction of Pastor Lucht, Teacher Hoffmann and the members of the Centennial Planning Committee.
At this time the congregation’s thoughts turned to the future of the Christian Day School. The school building was in need of repair and consideration was therefore given to either renovating the present structure or constructing an addition onto the church building. Action on this subject was put aside for several years.
Early in 1962 after several years of deliberation, Zion went ahead with the purchase of new pews. Dedication of those pews took place in October of that year. Cost was $1,989.00.
The question of incorporation also came up and later that year the voters granted authority for Articles of Incorporation to be drawn up. In January of 1963 these articles were accepted.
1963 marked the 50th Anniversary of Pastor Lucht’s service in the pastoral ministry. This was observed with a special service of thanksgiving, followed by a reception in the church basement. The seven-stick candelabras were donated to the church in 1964.
In August of 1965 Teacher Hoffmann accepted a call to Tigerton, Wisconsin. The congregation decided to keep its day school going and proceeded to call a teacher. However, when it was obvious that a teacher was not available for the school year at hand, Zion decided to wait a year and meanwhile seek a teacher for the 1966-1967 school year. In an effort to compensate for the children’s loss of daily contact with the Scriptures, the Sunday School program was expanded to include all children from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade.
On March 1, 1966 Zion’s parochial school was officially closed at a meeting of the congregation’s voters. At the same time, Vacation Bible School was authorized for Kindergarten through Grade Eight.
In 1967 a new furnace was purchased for the church. Early in 1968 Pastor Lucht announced his plans to retire later that year. Since there was a shortage of pastors, Zion Congregation received a vicar from the seminary. Willard Krueger accepted this position and began to serve the congregation in July of 1968.
At this time it was decided to celebrate Holy Communion once a month rather than every other month as had been the custom.
Zion issued an official call to Vicar Krueger in February, 1969 to serve as its pastor. The call was accepted, with his ordination and installation taking place at Zion on June 8, 1969.
1969 was a busy year at Zion. Authorization was given for the purchase of new carpeting in the church. In July, a new Allen Organ was purchased for $3,469.25. This replaced the pipe organ which had enriched the worship services for many years. Also, a committee was appointed to consider the construction of an educational addition to the church building.
Dr. Lucht’s retirement was observed with a special dinner in August of 1969. The Luchts were now living in the teacherage which had been purchased from the congregation by a member of the Lucht family.
Early that fall, Pastor Krueger was given permission to serve as vacancy pastor at Emmaus Lutheran Church, Route 3, Waupaca. At Zion’s October meeting a dual-parish situation with Emmaus was considered, but the following month Zion voted against the dual-parish idea.
Authorization for the construction of an educational wing on the church was given in January of 1970, and the committee began to contact architects and contractors.
In March Pastor Krueger accepted a call to St. Paul, Shawano and Zion, Gresham, Wisconsin. The dual-parish idea was again considered because it appeared that Zion Congregation by itself was too small to support a full-time pastor. And, since Emmaus of Waupaca was essentially in the same situation, committees from both churches were appointed to discuss this possibility.
In April of 1970 Zion and Emmaus Congregations became a dual-parish and called one pastor to serve both congregations. Meanwhile, Pastor Hanson from Greenville served as Zion’s vacancy pastor. After a number of calls were returned, it was decided to ask for a Candidate from the Seminary. On October 19, Noel Koss accepted the call and was installed as Zion’s 14th pastor in January of 1971.
In April of 1971 approval was given to build the educational wing on the church at a cost of $28,000.00. A spring ground-breaking ceremony was followed by summer and fall construction. Dedication took place on December 12, 1971, with Pastor Willard Krueger as the guest speaker.
In July of 1972, a new church sign was constructed. Pastor Koss accepted a call to Marysville, Washington in January of 1973. Pastors Westmeyer and Going, retired ministers at Fremont, shared the vacancy at Zion until June 17, 1973, when Candidate Richard Mundt was installed as the fifteenth and present pastor of Zion Congregation. A new cross was placed on the steeple that year.
A mortgage burning ceremony on June 20, 1976 celebrated the completion of our debt on the educational addition. The congregation voted to proceed with the repair of the church’s exterior walls that year.
1977 was the year that the congregation gave its authorization for a committee to study the redecoration of the church interior. In February of 1978, the redecoration project was given final approval and a bid of $32,470.00 was accepted. The redecoration began in early June, and throughout the summer months Zion held its worship services in the basement of the church. September 3 marked the first service in the newly redecorated church. Dedication took place on January 28, 1979, with the Rev. Richard Drews, son of the congregation, as the guest speaker.
In April, 1978 the congregation accepted revised rules and regulations for the Zion Cemetery. Zion’s Sunday School was honored in a special recognition of its twentieth anniversary in May. The parsonage was sold in July and because the pastors had been residing at the Emmaus parsonage, the voters decided that a portion of the income from the sale would be put toward the cost of the church redecoration and the balance of $15,000.00 would be put into the Lutheran Church Extension Fund to be set aside for the purchase of a new parsonage, should it be needed in the future. A chancel lamp was donated in memory of the Rev. John H. Lucht.
In April of 1979, Zion and four other area churches joined together to sponsor "The Lutheran Hour" on WDUX-AM on Sunday mornings. In July a Zion Worship Committee was formed to work with the pastor in evaluating various aspects of the worship service and the devotional life of the members.
In January, 1980 a sound amplification system was purchased for the church proper and the church basement. In July the Ladies Aid initiated the purchase of new sets of paraments.
Zion observed its 120th Anniversity on September 13, 1981. The Rev. Victor A. Bartelt from Elm Grove, Wisconsin was the guest speaker. In conjunction with the 120th anniversary the Zion Senior Choir produced a record album of cherished anthems and hymns for the enjoyment of its many members and friends.
In April of 1982 approval was given to have a Youth Representative sit in on the Zion Council and Voters meetings. The congregation purchased Lutheran Worship liturgy books. Zion participated in a three year commitment of $1,800.00 to Concordia College, Wisconsin for its Second Century in Christ campaign.
On June 26, 1983, Zion and Emmaus congregations held a surprise party for Pastor Mundt’s tenth anniversary in the ministry following the Mission Festival held at the Weyauwega Fair grounds.
Zion Congregation celebrated the 100th Anniversary of its present church building with a Festival Service on September 29, 1985. A brief history of the Church Building was prepared. The loose plate offering for this celebration was given to the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.
In October, 1985 approval was given to purchase 125 copies of the new Lutheran Worship hymnal. It was decided that these new hymnals would be used twice a month in our worship services.
This brings us now to the celebration of Zion’s 125th Anniversary on September 7 and September 14, 1986, as we look back over the "footprints" of our history and see how we have been led by God’s love to this place and to this point in time for the work of ministry that God has prepared for us. God forbid that we should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto us, and we unto the world. (Galatians 6:14). Our glory is that Christ may be magnified in our worship and our ministry and that His Gospel of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God in heaven may be proclaimed to the people in our neighborhood, in our nation, and throughout the world.
Geschichte der Gemeinde (1935) Original.
Translation provided below.
"Bis hieher hat uns der Herr geholfen." So sprach einst der Prophet Samuel, als Gott den Kindern Israel abermals einen Sieg ueber ihre Feinde gewaehrt hatte. Und er setzte einen, Stein zum Andenken an diese Huelfstatt Gottes. Kinder und Kindeskinder sollten beim Anblick dieses Steines an Gottes grosze Taten denken.
Wir, die Glieder der Ev. Luth. Zions Gemeinde, koennen bei Gelegenheit unseres heutigen Jubilaeums auch in diese Worte Samuels einstimmen. Wir wollen bei unser Jubelfeier dem Herrn einen Denkstein setzen. Zwar in etwas anderer Gestalt als Samuel, naemlich, in der Gestalt einer kurzen Geschichte unserer Gemeinde.
Ueber die ersten Anfaenge unserer Gemeinde haben wir nichts Schriftliches vorfinden koennen, und so haben wir uns auf muendliche Ueberlieferung verlassen muessen. Wir haben aber nichts angenommen, was nicht genuegend bezeugt und bestaetigt war.
Die ersten deutch-luth. Ansiedler kamen in diese Umgegend etwa im Jahre 1854. Bald folgten mehr. Dichter, ununterbrochener Urwald bedeckte damals die ganze Umgegend. Staedte, Wege, Eisenbahnen gab es noch nicht. Es erforderte einen Heldenmut, in eine solche Wildnis einzudringen, und ihr ein Leben abzudringen.
Diese ersten Ansiedler waren aber auch Glaubenshelden. Sie empfanden es als einen groszen Mangel, dasz sie ohne Kirche, Schule und Seelssorger dahinleben muszten. Welche Freude, als da der erste luth. Reiseprediger sein Erscheinen machte! Es war dies Pastor Fr. Lochner von Milwaukee.
Sein Nachfolger war der treuverdiente Pastor Ruhland, der damals seinen Wohnsitz in Oshkosh hatte. Er erwies sich als ein Mann der seinem Heilande mit ganzer Liebe und Treue ergeben war. Die Jahre seiner Amtstaetigkeit sind mit reichem Segen gekroent. Aber es was noch immer eine Predigstation. Eine organisierte Gemeinde bestand noch nicht. Aber im Jahre 1861 trennten sich eine Anzahl von der Gemeinde zu Zittau wegen Lehruneinigkeiten, und wurden sogleich organisiert. Die ersten Trustees der neuorganisierten Gemeinde waren: Aug. Krenke. Ferd. Brodhagen. Aug. Quandt. Unterschrieben haben die erste Konstitution die folgenden: Fr. Krenke, Fr. Krueger, Wilhelm Klemp, Aug. Quandt. Karl Sitzke. Karl Borchardt, Wm. Krueger, Ludwig Drews, Joh. Roloff, Albert Klemp, Fr. Drews, Joh. Drews und Karl Drews.
Zugleich wurde nun auch Land von Ferd. Krueger gekauft. Dies war am 9 Juli, 1861. Nun wurde auch gleich eine Blockkirche gebaut, die auf den gegenwaertigen Schulplatz stand. Da nun Pastor Ruhland viele Plaetze zu bedienen hatte, so wurde es fuer gut befunden, eine neue Parochie zu gruenden. Pastor Beyer wurde in diese neue Parochie berufen. Town Caledonia wurde als Wohnsitz des Pastors erkoren. Pastor Beyer diente diese Parochie von 1861-1870. Da es den allweisen Gott gefallen hat Pastor Beyer, infolge der schwarzen Blattern, von der streitenden in die triumphierende Kirche zu versetzen, so wurde Pastor Daib berufen, der diese Parochie ein und dreiviertel Jahre bediente. Als Nachfolger wurde Pastor Markworth berufen. Er diente dieser Gemeinde etwa 17 Jahre. Er starb als er zur Synode zu Watertown war, und wurde auch dort beerdigt. Hierauf folgte Pastor Schuetz. Wegen des schnellen Wachstums der Gemeinde, wurde die Blockkirche zu klein. Es wurde beschlossen eine neue Kirche zu bauen. Es wurde jedoch fuer gut befunden die neue Kirche zu verlegen, und zwar da, wo sie jetzt steht. Im Fruehjahr began die Arbeit. Das Gebauede nahte Vollendung, als ein groszer Wind dasselbe umwehte am 12 Juli 1885. Die Gemeinde machte sich wieder daran ein Gotteshaus zu bauen, und zwar ein Groeszeres. Als der letzte Stein gelegt wurde, war auch der letzte Dollar bezahlt. Die jetzige Kirche wurde am 5 Dec. 1885 eingeweiht. Nun wurde Pastor Brettcher von Birnamwood berufen, der dieser Gemeinde fuer 12 Jahre treulich diente. Dann wurde Pastor Aug. Mueller berufen. Er war ein treuer Hirte dieser Gemeinde etwa 17 Jahre. Und da er sein Amt niederlegen muszte wegen Krankheit, berufte die Gemeinde Pastor Claus, der nur 11 Monate der Gemeinde diente. Als Nachfolger wurde Pastor W. C. Schaefer von Canada berufen.
"Weiset meine Kinder und das Werk meiner Haende zu mir." Dies Gebot Gottes zu befolgen war in den Anfangsjahren der Gemeinde nicht leicht, aber trotzdem haben sie doch eine Schule aufrecht erhalten. Schon in den ersten Jahren hielten sie es fuer unbedingt noetig, eine Schule und Schullehrer zu haben, damit ihre Kinder gruendlich erzogen werden koennten in das Eine, das Not ist. Die folgenden waren Lehrer fuer diese Gemeinde: Backus, Wegner, Zielsdorf, Bock, Lehning, Hammer, Kalb, Schliebe und Mehrstaedt. Nach dem treuen Lehrer Mehrstaedt wurde kein Lehrer berufen. Bis auf den heutigen Tag haelt der Ortspastor Sommer — und Samstagschule. Aber lasst uns alle den lieben Gott bitten dasz er den Tag erelien moechte, da wir wieder sagen koenen: "Wir haben einen Schullehrer."
Auch bestehen, seit Jahren, in dieser Gemeinde eine Bibelklasse, Singchor und Christenlehre. Moege Gott sie bei uns behalten.
Laszt uns Gott bitten, dasz er seine schuetzende Hand ueber uns halte bis seine streitende Kirche in die triumphierende Kirche eingeht.
History of the Congregation (1935) Translation
"The Lord has helped us to this day." So spoke the prophet Samuel long ago when God had granted the people of Israel victory over their enemies once again. And Samuel set up a stone in remembrance of God’s help. The Israelites children and grandchildren would remember God’s great deeds as they looked at this stone.
We, the members of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, are also able to join in Samuel’s words on the occasion of our anniversary. We want to set up a stone of remembrance to the Lord with our anniversary celebration; of course, in a way different than Samuel’s, namely, in the form of a short history of our congregation.
We have found no written record about the beginning of our congregation, and so we must rely on oral tradition. We have included nothing that wasn’t sufficiently witnessed and verified.
The first German Lutheran settlers came to this region around 1854. Soon more followed. Thick continuous virgin forests covered the entire region then. There were no cities, roads, and railways. To penetrate such a wilderness and exact a living from it required a courageous spirit.
The first settlers were heroes of faith. They considered it a great hardship to have to endure life without a church, school, and pastor. What a joy it was when the first traveling Lutheran preacher, Pastor Fr. Lochner from Milwaukee, appeared.
His successor was the faithful Pastor Ruhland, who in those days had his residence in Oshkosh. He proved to be a man who was devoted to his Savior, with much love and trust. His years of service were crowned with rich blessing. Zion was still a preaching station. An organized congregation didn’t exist yet. But in 1861, a number of people left the congregation in Zittau because of a lack of doctrinal unity and immediately organized a congregation. The first trustees of the newly-organized congregation were: Aug. Krenke, Fred. Brodhagen, Aug. Quandt. The following signed the 1st constitution: Fr. Krenke, Fr. Krueger, Wilhelm Klemp, Aug. Quandt, Karl Sitzke, Karl Borchardt, Wm. Krueger, Ludwig Drews, Joh. Roloff, Albert Klemp, Fr. Drews, Joh. Drews and Karl Drews.
On July 9, 1861, land was bought from Ferd. Krueger. A wooden church was also built, which stood on the present location of the school. Since Pastor Ruhland had to serve many sites, it was necessary to establish a new parish. Pastor Beyer was called to this new parish. The town of Caledonia was chosen for the residence of the pastor. Pastor Beyer served this parish from 1861-1870. It pleased the Almighty (all-wise) God to take Pastor Beyer, who died of the Black Pox/Small Pox, from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. So, Pastor Daib was called. He served this parish 13 years. Pastor Markworth was called to succeed him. He served this congregation 17 years. He died while at the synodical convention in Watertown and was buried there. Pastor Schuetz followed him. Because of the sudden growth of the congregation, the log church became too small. It was decided to build a new church. However, it was necessary to delay building the new church where it now stands. Work began in the spring. The building neared completion when a strong wind blew it down on July 12, 1885. The congregation again prepared to build a house for God, a bigger one of course. As the last stone was laid, the last dollar was spent. The present church was dedicated on December 5, 1885. Now Pastor Brettcher, from Birnamwood, was called. He faithfully served this congregation for 12 years. Then Pastor Aug. Mueller was called. He was a faithful shepherd of this congregation for 17 years. He had to resign his office because of illness. The congregation called Pastor Claus, who served the congregation only 11 months. Pastor W.C. Schaefer was called from Canada to succeed him.
"Let my children and the work of my hands point to me." This command of God wasn’t taken lightly in the beginning years of the congregation evidenced by the fact that the congregation maintained a school. Already in the beginning years they considered it as an absolute necessity to have a school and teachers so that their children would be instructed in the one thing that was necessary. The following were teachers for the congregation: Backus, Wegner, Zielsdorf, Bock, Lehning, Hammer, Kalb, Schliebe, and Mehrstaedt. No teacher was called after Mehrstaedt.
At the present, the vacancy pastor (Sommer) runs the school and Saturday school. Let us all ask dear God to take control of the present situation so we can again say, "We have a schoolteacher."
Also, for many years this congregation has had Bible class, choir, and Christian instruction. May God preserve these among us.
Let us pray to God that He would keep His protecting hand upon us until His Church Militant becomes the Church Triumphant.