The Beginnings –
Many German immigrants came to America after the unsuccessful German Revolution of 1848 when the people lost faith in their government’s ability to resolve economic troubles. The political disorder of a non-unified Germany also stimulated the immigration of its people to America. Over the next ten years following the revolution, approximately a million Germans came to America. Among those immigrants were several families from the heavily disputed area of Schleswig-Holstein which was at times considered a Prussian province, a Danish duchy, or the northernmost member of the German Confederation. Some of these independently-minded people settled into the Douglas County, Bourbon and Garrett Township, areas of Illinois and brought with them a propensity for the higher things of life which the works of their hands alone could not accomplish.
And, so, it might be considered that Zion is actually celebrating its 150th anniversary, for the groundwork was laid to establish a church in 1860 when some members of this group of German immigrants met with Mr. Adam Kamm and Mr. Claus Greve to discuss this possibility.
Soon after this meeting, Rev. Loeffler of Champaign came to look up the people of this area, probably by request of this “committee” and because he may have also been from Schleswig-Holstein like the rest of the immigrants of this area which was then known as the Bush because of its heavily-wooded landscape. After his visit it was decided to have services, probably in someone’s home, every four weeks. These services included the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Rev. Loeffler continued with this arrangement for two years (1861-1863). Then for the next three years (1863-1866) the people of the Bush were served by a traveling minister, the Rev. J. M. Hartmann.
Lutheran or Evangelical –
During Rev. Hartmann’s ministry there appears to have been a controversy over which church it would be best to be affiliated with – the Lutherans or the Evangelicals, which were both strong and competing Protestant religions of their German homeland. The problem was solved by asking ministers from both denominations to preach a sermon in a district schoolhouse. The Lutheran minister derogated the Evangelicals which made a bad impression, so the group decided they would be a part of the Evangelical Church.
This decision probably delayed the actual founding of Zion Church several years because the Evangelical Church was probably not as strongly represented in the area as the Lutherans and the men and women of the Bush were not strong enough to secure a minister on their own. So an agreement was made with Paul’s congregation in Arcola to have their minister serve the needs of the people of the Bush. Through this arrangement, the people received the services of Pastor Scheuerle (1866-1867), Pastor Staebler (1867-1869), and Pastor A. Zernecke (1869-1871). It was during the ministry of Pastor Zernecke that the residents of the Bush decided to build their own church.
The First Church
Thus the ground work of the 1860’s paved the way for a committee to meet on February 17, 1870 to see to the building of a church. The committee consisted of Henry Heerdt, Jacob Ritz, and Hans Heit as trustees and George Kolb as elder. The selection of this committee marks the founding date of Zion Church.
From this point, then, begins the official 140 year history of Zion Church. In the year 1871, when Pastor Strehlow was minister of the Arcola church and serving the people of the Bush as well, the first church building was completed and dedicated. This first building closely resembled a one room schoolhouse and, for practical reasons, in addition to being used for church services the building was also used as a parochial school.
Now the residents of the Bush felt at home, for they had a place to study about God and His ways, a place to pray and receive the Sacraments, and a place where they could raise their voices in thanks for all the good things God had done.
The Early Years –
Following Pastor Strehlow’s departure in 1874, the Rev. J. P. Langpaap became the Arcola church’s minister. Although he remained for only one year, it was through his efforts that Zion Church became a member of the Evangelical Synod. After Pastor Langpaap the Rev. E. Bourquin came to serve both churches in 1875. His work at Zion prompted the congregation to build a parsonage in 1876 so the minister and his family would have shelter and a home in the country as well as in Arcola. Then it was decided that, because of the minister’s involvement with the schooling of young people, he should live in the Bush during the summer and spend the winter months in Arcola. This caused much worry and unpleasantness for the minister as well as for both congregations.
During Pastor Bourquin’s ministry, Zion Church was incorporated. Then in 1879, he decided to leave because of the mounting work involved in caring for two congregations. After him came Rev. Dr. Adolph Pinckert, whose ministry was cut short by a fatal accident near Atwood. He died June 14, 1880 and was buried in Zion cemetery.
The next minister to serve both churches was the Rev. G. Press. He was minister for four years (1880-1884). After he left, Pastor J. P. Quinius served as an interim for a while until the Rev. G. Eisen came in the spring of 1885 and remained as pastor until 1888. It was during his ministry that the Zion Ladies Aid Society was founded on May 20, 1888.
During the ministry of the Rev. G. Bohnstengel (1888-1892), the Zion congregation felt it would be able to support a pastor without the help of Paul’s congregation in Arcola. Thus, in 1891, Pastor Bohnstengel was asked to accept the full time responsibility of serving Zion Church. From this time on Zion, was able to have worship services on a weekly basis.
The Second Church –
In the year 1892, the Rev. W. Laatsch was called to serve Zion, and his ministry lasted five yeas (1892-1897). Soon after his arrival, the congregation made plans to build a larger and nicer church. The first building was moved north of the original site and converted into a schoolhouse permanently, and a second church building was erected where the first church had stood. The second church was a frame building, and it had a beautiful tower containing two bells to call the people to church. This building was dedicated on November 12, 1893.
The next minister to serve Zion Church was the Rev. Christian Mohr. Because of ill health, he was forced to resign his pastorate after serving eight years (1897-1905). Before retiring, however, Pastor Mohr performed the installation service of his successor, the Rev. L. Rauch, on August 12, 1905. Pastor Rauch came from Berlin, Germany, and was remembered for his ability to preach a powerful sermon. He is also remembered for starting a young folk’s gathering. However, both of these things are overshadowed by the changes in the appearance of the church and the parsonage which occurred during his ministry.
In the year 1906, it was decided to rebuild the parsonage. This task was completed in July, 1907. The minister’s family, after living in the schoolhouse for a time, had just moved into the new parsonage when lightning struck the church on August 7, 1907 at about 2:30 in the morning. Pastor Rauch, his family, and R. C. Kurz, a student from Elmhurst College, were the first to see the fire, which quickly filled the church’s bell tower. Within an hour the building had burned completely to the ground. Everything inside burned, including the minister’s robe and a number of books. Mr. Hans Heit, a member of the 1870 committee that oversaw the building of Zion’s first church, had the date “August 7, 1907” engraved in gold letters on his German hymn book so that he would never forget that day.
The Third Church –
The very same morning that the second church had burned down, the congregation gathered and decided to build another church. It was decided that the new church should be bigger and prettier to show God was still with his people.
The church was built by Hans Henrick, a contractor from Mattoon, Illinois. On October 30, 1907, the cornerstone was laid and on March 22, 1908, the church was dedicated. Pastor Rauch led the service of dedication. Pastor G. Plassmann, President of the South Illinois District, gave the dedication sermon. Pastor M. Hoefer from Mattoon, Illinois, preached in English in the afternoon. His Excellency General Council from Germany, Dr. Wever, from Chicago presented the congregation an altar Bible, which was a gift from the German Kaiserin, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, wife of Wilhelm II, for many of the early German immigrants who founded this congregation had come from her homeland.
The new church’s exterior was constructed of brick. The tower was 58 feet high and the church was 68 x 40 feet, and had plenty of room for visitors. Soon after the new church was dedicated, Pastor Rauch accepted a call to serve as minister of a church in Staunton, Illinois.
The Formative Years –
Rev. I. Th. Seybold, 1907-12
Rev. Rauch’s successor, the Rev. I Th. Seybold, arrived in June, 1908 and remained until the fall of 1912. These four years are perhaps best remembered today for two reasons. First, a 40th Anniversary booklet was prepared by Pastor Seybold in 1910, and second, the oil painting above the altar in the apse of the church sanctuary was commissioned. The anniversary booklet contains a wealth of knowledge that included references to such 1910 church activities as an active Ladies Aid, a young people’s organization, a choir, summer school in Garrett, and another school at Zion. In 1911, the oil painting of Christ surrounded by the heavenly host, a gift from Miss Mary Ritz, was completed.
Rev. G.A. Kanzler, 1913-14
Pastor Seybold left in the fall of 1912, and in the spring of 1913 Rev. G.A. Kanzler accepted the call to serve as Pastor of Zion. His stay was brief (1913-1914) but several accomplishments occurred during his ministry. German militarism had become a global concern and German anti-sentiment in America was on the rise. Partly in response to this, in September of 1913, the minister was given permission to use the English language during the evening services. In February 1914, Jeanette Kolb became the first member of the congregation to be baptized in English and, even though German continued to be the preferred language, the gradual switch to English had begun. The entire church property, including the parsonage, was also incorporated in 1914.
Rev. F. Jerger, 1915-18
Pressure on German-Americans grew stronger when Germany invaded Belgium in 1914. Nationally, German immigrants were sometimes being looked upon with suspicion and attacked regarding their loyalty. When the Rev. F. Jerger came to serve Zion in 1915, he confirmed his first class of students in English that same year.
The following summer, on July 16, 1916, Zion Church was privileged to witness the ordination of one of its most prominent favorite sons, the Rev. Detlaf C. Jensen. Those who officiated at the ordination ceremony included his father-in-law, Rev. I. Th. Seybold, a former pastor of Zion; Dr. Samuel D. Press, President Emeritus of Eden Seminary and son of Rev. G. Press, also a former pastor of Zion; and Pastor Jerger. Rev. Jensen later received an honorary doctorate from Elmhurst College.
When the United States entered the war in 1917, there were reports of German immigrants being tried, convicted, and imprisoned merely for refusing to swear allegiance to the United States. Former president Theodore Roosevelt denounced “hyphenated Americanism” (German-Americans) and insisted that dual loyalties were impossible in wartime. So, before Pastor Jerger left in 1918, English hymnals were purchased for both church services and the Sunday school, and worship services were conducted in English on alternate Sundays. To further demonstrate the congregation’s loyalty to the United States, Zion’s large, bronze bell was lowered to the ground so that it could be melted down for its metal and donated to the war effort.
Rev. August F. Bock, 1918-27
After the arrival of the Rev. August F. Bock, his wife and two-year-old son in 1918, it was decided to tear down the old schoolhouse and build a new school. This work was completed in December of 1919, and the new building became known as “The Cottage.” A 50th Anniversary Celebration was held on June 20, 1920. That same year the English language began to be used exclusively in Sunday school. In 1921, the Church cemetery was converted into a public graveyard under the name of the Evangelical Zion Cemetery.
A construction defect in the church building was becoming apparent. The walls of the building were being pushed outward from the pressure of the slate roof and heavy rafter system. So, in 1923, two iron rods were installed through the Church sanctuary between the north and south walls in an effort to reinforce the Church building.
Church records also mention other changes and improvements which were made to the Church property before Pastor a Bock’s departure in 1927. Years later, Rev. Bock recalled that Zion had two choirs, a fine Young People’s League, fine confirmation classes that did lots of memorizing during their two years of study, and how he and his wife boarded the painters and provided night lodging for them at the parsonage during the remodeling project of the sanctuary in 1923. That project cost $1,192. He also appreciated the land Mr. Ernst provided he and his wife upon which to grow potatoes. Mr. Ernst even helped Rev. Bock cultivate the potatoes and dig them up.
Rev. Arthur J. Habermehl, 1927-31
The Rev. Arthur Habermehl was the first minister of Zion to come directly after graduation from Eden Seminary. During the four years he served the congregation (1927-1931) the following important changes occurred: a piano was purchased for the Church, which meant for the first time hymns did not have to be sung a cappella; “family membership” was replaced by “individual membership”; for the first time women were invited to attend congregational meetings; German-language services were cut to once a month; improvements to the parsonage included adding a basement, a furnace, running water, a new roof, and having the front wooden steps replaced by concrete steps; the coal house was moved from the parsonage to the Church and the summer kitchen was also moved; because Rev. Habermehl and his wife of only a few months were the first occupants of the parsonage to have a car, it soon became necessary to transform the large barn into a garage; and it was agreed to not hold evening services on the third Sunday of the month so the Young People’s League would have a time for their meeting.
Rev. Gregor Kutz, 1931-34
The Rev. Gregor Kutz was called to serve both Zion and the Church in Arcola. He arrived in November of 1931 and conducted one Sunday morning and one Sunday afternoon service each month at Arcola. Rev. Kutz’s first child, a son, was born on March of 1932 in the parsonage, but lived only 10 days. The church mourned with the young couple, and later in 1933, their second child, Ruth, was baptized at Zion. By June of 1934, Rev. Kutz was conducting services at Zion every Sunday and at Arcola on the first and third Sundays of each month. Pastor Kutz later recalled the grape-butter cooking bees when ladies of the church made grape-butter in the school yard between the parsonage and the cemetery, the annual ice cream socials and plays that were performed on a platform built out from the back door of the church during those events, the infestation of chinch bugs and how they destroyed the corn and literally covered the road in front of the parsonage, and especially the Great Depression when the entire country seemed to fall into poverty and despair. When Pastor Kutz tendered his resignation in November of 1934, the agreement between Zion and Arcola was canceled. It is worth noting that the voting age for church members was lowered from 21 to 18 years of age on March 6, 1933.
The Evangelical and Reformed Church (E&R) was formed in 1934 by the merger of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) with the Evangelical Synod of North America (ESNA). Up until this time, Zion had been most often referred to as the German Church or simply Zion Church. After this merger, the church began to identify itself more denominationally as Zion’s Evangelical Church, which is as it appeared on the church’s official seal, or Zion E & R Church.
In February of 1935, before the arrival of the Rev. Lynn Tschudy, the Cottage was damaged by a heavy wind. When the repairs were made, a porch was added to the building and the entrance was changed. On November 1, 1936, a beautiful “Thomas” individual service Communion set was given to the Church. It was a gift from the Young People’s League, and the congregation appreciated the thoughtfulness of the young people.
Rev. Lynn Tschudy, 1935-40
Pastor Tschudy began his work at Zion after his graduation from Eden Sminary in June of 1935. As an unmarried man, he stayed in the home of Mr. Hans Frahm until, about a year later, he married a young lady named Sally from Salem E & R in St. Louis, Missouri and the two of them moved into the parsonage. Pastor Tschudy only preached two sermons in German and from then on Zion’s services were conducted in English. During his ministry (1935-1940) the German records of baptisms, confirmation, marriages, and deaths were translated into English and rewritten into a new Church Record. This work was completed in December of 1938 and in Rev. Tschudy’s own words, “The job of re-writing the records was not bad, but there were times when I needed a bit of help and then I went to Mr. Hans Heit.” Two months earlier, in October of 1938, the congregation decided in a special meeting to have electricity installed in the Church, cottage, and parsonage. This was made possible by money bequeathed to Zion Church by Miss Mary Ritz.
Additional improvements and changes which occurred while Pastor Tschudy served Zion include: the appointment of a committee consisting of Mr. O. C. Heit, Miss Clara Jurgens, and Mrs. Margaret Jensen to draft a new constitution for the congregation; the installation of a hard water pipe and faucet as well as a coal water heater in the parsonage basement; and the purchase of a used church bell in Arthur for $25.00 to replace the one given for scrap metal as an aid to the war effort during the Great World War. After an almost 20-year silence, once again the sound of a bell rang out from Zion’s steeple.
For financial reasons, Rev. Tschudy accepted an unsolicited pastorate position at a larger congregation, but always referred to Zion as his and Sally’s “first love.”
Rev. Raymond O. Walkenhorst, 1940-42
Soon after finishing seminary, Rev. Raymond O. Walkenhorst served Zion from March 1940 to March 1942. Shortly after he began his work at Zion, a new roof was put on the Church and the sanctuary was redecorated. Up to this time, the pulpit had been located behind and above the altar and had to be entered by climbing several steps. It was decided to move the altar back against the wall and have the pulpit brought forward to the front of the chancel (its present position). A lectern was built and placed on the step at the opposite side of the chancel. Then the altar, pulpit, lectern, and baptismal font were all painted white, and everyone was impressed with their beauty. There were also considerations about building either a parish hall or a Church basement, but no action was taken.
Since he and his wife, Helen, had never experienced Zion’s summer ice cream social, Rev. Walkenhorst was skeptical when he was told a thousand people would turn out for the event, but later he wrote, “There were!” In May of 1940, the first printing of Zion News celebrated the church’s 70th Anniversary. In 1941, Mr. Simon Greve, at Rev. Walkenhorst’s, request, built a beautiful, white, lighted cross especially for the Easter season. This cross still stands on the altar. In October 1941, a fireplace was built on the south of the parsonage and new cabinets were installed in the parsonage kitchen.
Rev. George A. Schuette, 1942-47
A call was extended to George A. Schuette at the time of his graduation from Eden Seminary. He served Zion Church from 1942-47. During this time several more significant changes took place in the appearance of the Church property. Hardwood floors were laid in the downstairs of the parsonage; permission was given to the cemetery board to move the Cottage, which was subsequently sold when the Church basement was being construction, and to move a fence in order to make a driveway for the cemetery. During the summer of 1945 the parsonage furnace was repaired, storm windows were made, and a contract was let for the insulation of the parsonage. The most significant change resulted from the signing of a contract for the construction of a church basement. This action was taken by the Zion Church Board on October 11, 1945. Max Deem was the contractor and the $17,000 project was completed in the summer of 1947. Rev. Schuette conducted the dedication service on July 10, 1947. A dozen wooden folding chairs were donated by William Hansen.
Rev. Irvin B. Stegner, 1947-51
The Rev. Irvin Stegner served Zion from April 1947 to the summer of 1951. In February of 1948, a young married group was organized. Late that fall the Church interior was redecorated by Schanbacher and Son of Springfield at a cost of $1, 5000. At this time the Church was rewired by Randall Electric, and four new ceiling lights were installed to replace the three lights which had been in the sanctuary. The following year, 1949, the Church steeple was repaired and painted by Harry Geissert. A desk and chair set was given to the Church by the Kolb family in memory of Claus Kolb, and a new three unit gas furnace was installed in the Church basement by H. Ray Warren at the cost of $2,000. On September 17, 1950, the 80th anniversary of the Church was observed. One month later a Confirmation Reunion was held with 65 confirmands answering the roll call. During the month of November the young men and women of the congregation sanded and refinished the Church floor.
Arnold A. Bizer, 1952-59
Following Pastor Stegner’s resignation, Zion was without a minister for almost a year. Eden Seminary helped provide pulpit supply by sending student ministers for Sunday Worship Services. One of these students, Arnold A. Bizer, accepted a call to come and serve Zion when he graduated in 1952. But, before he and his wife, Luetta, arrived, the parsonage floors and woodwork were refinished and the Women’s Guild purchased a new electric water heater for the parsonage. On August 11, 1952, the decision was made to purchase a new Hammond electric organ at a cost of $2,599. Monies were given in memory of the following persons to help pay for the organ: Bertha and Henry Jurgens, Walter Clausen, Hans Heit, Everett Frahm, Mrs. Claus Kolb, Mrs. Phoebe McClure, Mrs. Anna Greve Gross, and Mrs. Louise Greve.
In the summer of 1953, the old barn behind the parsonage was torn down and a new garage was built directly in back of the house. The 1953 version of an ice cream social was held under unusual circumstances. Serving started outside but a thunderstorm broke loose and chased everyone to the Church basement. During the downpour of approximately 5 ½ inches of rain that followed, the electricity went off. People still continued to come and serving went on by candlelight until everything was sold.
The Youth Fellowship was revived in 1955 after several years of inactivity. A new film strip and slide projector plus a screen were purchased by the Sunday school and the Church began sending the devotional booklet “Daily Talks with God” into every home.
Zion Church cooperated with the Arthur Ministerial Association in a community-wide religious survey in 1956. One of its purposes was to help discover those who might be without a church and to invite them to attend a community church of their choice or religious tradition.
During the fall of 1956 new art glass windows were installed in the Church by the Virginia Art Glass Co. of Mahomet. The old amber-colored glass of the arched windows was replaced with the multi-colored, geometrically-designed, stained glass windows of today.
After some internal discussion about the future of Zion’s denominational affiliation, the church decided to remain part of the newly formed United Church of Christ (UCC), which came about by a merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Church in 1957.
Also in 1957, Zion Church purchased the following items: a new Gestetner mimeograph machine to print bulletins and newsletters, 110 new E & R hymnals, a filing cabinet for Church use, and two dehumidifiers for the church basement. On October 7, 1957, the Zion went on record as favoring the proposed Nursing Home project in Arthur. Since its completion in 1959, Zion has had several members reside at the Home.
Shortly before Easter in 1958, new carpeting was installed in the church. During the summer and fall, the parsonage kitchen was remodeled and enlarged and a half-bath was installed in a section of the old kitchen area. This work was done by Mr. Willis Frahm of Tuscola at a cost of approximately $3,200. The Bizer family enjoyed this improvement less than two months, for in January of 1959, Pastor Bizer presented his resignation to Zion and accepted a call to serve Salem Evangelical and Reform Church at Alhambra, Illinois.
Rev. Carl F. Hanser, 1959-65
Once again Zion found itself being served by senior students of Eden Seminary and once again Zion chose to call one of these graduating students as its minister. The Rev. Carl F. Hanser became the twenty-seventh minister in Zion’s history. Shortly after his arrival with his wife, Grace, the parsonage was painted and the congregation decided to purchase a new electric stove for its kitchen. Improvements to the Church in 1960 included a new roof on the back section of the Church and conversion of the small room in the northwest corner of the church into a reading room. The newest Church organization to be formed was the Junior High Youth Fellowship, which held its first meeting in August of 1960.
1960 marked Zion’s 90th year, and through the efforts of Pastor Hanser and several members of the congregation, a very complete history was recorded. Most of the early records were in German and with the help of some of the older church members including Anna Schultz, Anna VonLanken, and George Sohort, those records were painstakingly translated along with the 40th Anniversary booklet that Rev. Seybold had prepared in 1910. Zion’s 90th Anniversary was celebrated on November 27, 1960 with some former ministers present and others sending letters of congratulations. Forty-four years after his ordination at Zion, Dr. D. Jensen had been invited to deliver the anniversary sermon on Sunday morning. Speaking from the pulpit, Dr. Jensen paused for a long time and began turning white as a ghost. Members of the congregation finally sensed that something was wrong and rushed to his aid. They carefully pulled him back into the small room next to the chancel and laid him on the floor. Dr. Jensen explained he was having a heart attack and that he needed his nitro glycerin tablets. Someone found the pills, and after he took one or two, and briefly rested, Dr. Jensen got up off the floor and finished his sermon.
Also in 1960, before the 90th anniversary service, Marie Hansen and her family presented a guest register to the Church in memory of her husband, and their father, William (Bill) Hansen. Later, Mr. & Mrs. Fred Jensen gave an Altar Book of Worship to the Church in honor of Dr. and Mrs. D. C. Jensen.
After the first 100 years –
On April 30, 1961, the congregation met to review the results of a survey about the need for a new addition to the church. After discussing the need to “construct an educational building,” a vote was called and the idea was defeated 24 to 19.
“Zion United Church of Christ,” was the heading on a new sign constructed and erected at the southwest corner of the Church on August 29, 1961 by members of the Couple’s Club. Little did many people know the sign had originally been a rusty, old Coke-a-Cola sign that had been repaired and painted black by Bob Randall. A local sign painter made the finishing touches and men of the Couple’s Club erected the sign on aluminum poles.
On October 16, 1961, Zion’s congregation finally accepted a plan to add an educational unit on the east end of the Church. Dedication services were observed a year later on October 7, 1962. The cost of the project was approximately $6,800, and much of the labor was donated by members of Zion, and many memorials were given to offset the cost of the project, several in memory of Richard Suhl. The general contractor was Mr. Willis Frahm of Tuscola, Illinois.
A Confirmation Reunion service was held June 3, 1962 for all persons confirmed through 1920. Rev. August Bock was the guest speaker.
Also in 1962, a public address system was installed in the sanctuary and offering plates for the Sunday school were given in memory of Tena Jurgens. Mr. Bob Day, an artist from Atwood, Illinois repaired the mural on the ceiling of the apse because it had been damaged by moisture over the years. A new church constitution was also written and adopted.
To help preserve the church’s brick exterior, a firm was hired to tuck point the motor joints and seal the walls at a cost of $2,136 in 1963.
A portable stand was given as a memorial to Mrs. Minnie Kolb by her children, August, Jeanette, and Dorothy. A water cooler and six volumes of Clark’s Commentaries were given by Mr. Art Gross in memory of his brother Mr. Casper Gross.
On May 17, 1964, Zion voted to transfer its credentials from the South Illinois Synod to the Central Association of the Illinois Conference of The United Church of Christ. A new Church record system was given to the Church by Mr. & Mrs. Albert Clausen in memory of their parents, Mr. & Mrs. John Clausen and Mr. & Mrs. Hans Frahm.
Also in 1964, he Elmhurst College Choir honored Zion with a concert. A dinner was prepared for the students after the concert and they stayed overnight in the homes of many of Zion’s members. A Memorial Committee was also formed to record and assist with memorial gifts to the church.
With deep regrets the Congregation accepted the resignation of Rev. Carl Hanser to become effective May 26, 1965. The youth of the church, especially, had responded to his ministry and his sincerity of faith.
Rev. Joseph Jeide, 1965-68
Zion was without a minister for a few months until a call was accepted by Rev. Joseph Jeide in October of 1965. With a bequest of money from Mrs. Hulda Jensen, the Memorial Committee purchased two altar chairs and a set of spring loaded candles in memory of her husband, Dr. D.C. Jensen.
A new look for the church occurred in 1966 when Schanbacker & Son again redecorated the sanctuary at a cost of $2,537. New light fixtures in the chancel area were installed to highlight the mural above the altar in memory of Mr. and Mrs. George VonLanken by Minnie Taylor and Grace Randall. A gift from Art Gross in memory of Casper Gross provided funds for two brass altar vases.
Also in 1966, a change in the by-laws of the Constitution lowered the voting age of members to include any confirmand in good standing.
A reunion of all confirmands was held on April 30, 1967. A large number attended and Rev. George Schuette conducted the service.
Upon receiving his B.D. Degree from United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, Minnesota, in May of 1967, plans were then made to hold an ordination service for Robert Lee Randall on June 11. Zion had the privilege of presenting the Rev. Robert Lee Randall with his first pulpit robe at this ceremony. Rev. Randall also later received a doctorate from the University of Chicago and served as Minister of Pastoral Counseling at St. Peters UCC in Elmhurst, IL.
1967 also marked the beginning of meetings with other area churches for a study on how we collectively could become more effective witnesses in the community.
Rev. Richard Bushman, 1968-69
Rev. Jeide’s resignation was accepted in February of 1968, and Rev. Miss Helen Archibald filled Zion’s pulpit until, in July, Rev. Richard Bushman accepted a call to serve both Zion UCC and Atwood UCC. A favorable agreement was worked out with the Atwood church and a temporary yoking situation resulted. During the summer of 1968, the two UCC churches combined services, meeting at each church on an alternating basis.
Storm windows were installed over all the stained glass windows by the Houser Glass Company in July of 1968. Improvements on the Church and parsonage in 1969 included: the painting of the parsonage and garage by Dewey Morris of Pierson, Illinois; a new public address system for the sanctuary because the old system had been stolen; and a sump pump for the church basement. The church had always been left open until the incident of the stolen PA amplifier occurred, so from then on the church was kept locked. The 1968-69 Confirmation Class gave the church two large brass collection plates.
After nine months of being yoked with the Atwood UCC, a meeting of both church boards was held to evaluate the arrangement to date. After discussion, all present expressed a desire, with minor adjustments, to extend a call to Rev. Bushman to be pastor of both churches. But before the call could be formulated and signed, Rev. Bushman tendered his resignation to take effect the last of September, 1969. So, on September 8, another special congregational meeting of Zion was held to consider being part of a merger of the Atwood Christian Church, the Atwood UCC, Lake Fork UCC, the Atwood Methodist Church, and the Garrett United Methodist Church. Association Minister, Rev. Lammert, was present to help the congregation with this decision. Many members attended the meeting to discuss the ramifications of a merger like this, not the least of which would be abandoning Zion’s existing church building for a new building in Atwood. At a special meeting of the congregation on September 21, 1969, the vote to merge with the other congregations was defeated.
Rev. Arthur Van Camp, 1969-81
During the first week in October of 1969, two members of Zion’s Church Board visited Rev. Van Camp, the minister of Tuscola UCC, in his home and spoke with him about supplying Zion’s pulpit and possibly yoking the two congregations. His reaction was favorable and, so, on October 16, the boards of both Churches met together to work out a plan. A special congregational meeting was subsequently called on October 26 to accept this plan and, when the votes were counted, all were “yes.” Rev. Arthur Van Camp became the 30th pastor to serve Zion.
In 1969, a memorial gift of a silver tea set was given in memory of the Jacob Gross family by Mr. Art Gross. In 1970, two glass doors were purchased from Bacon & Van Buskirk of Champaign for the front of the church to replace the old, solid wood doors that were always in need of painting as a memorial to Clara Jurgens and Albert Clausen, and the church foyer was redecorated. William Randall made an exact replica of the sanctuary light fixtures, but on a smaller scale, and he and his wife, Grace, installed it in the newly decorated foyer.
During this time, through the wills of George and Maggie Sohrt, Zion was bequeathed $1000 from each. Mr. Sohort also left his entire estate in trust to Mr. Millard Dukeman for as long as he and his wife lived. However, provisions were made in the will that 10% of the profits from the estate’s farm operation be accumulated during the Dukemans’ lifetime for Zion and four other area churches. Also, upon the death of both Millard and his wife, the profits from the entire estate would be shared by the five churches named in the will.
In February of 1970, Zion celebrated “Founder’s Day” with a basket dinner. Old newspaper clippings, photographs, and other items of interest were displayed.
228 plates were ordered for Zion’s 100th Anniversary with a color picture of the church on it and were sold at $2.50 each. Zion held its 100th Anniversary on June 21, 1970 with a special service. An anniversary booklet was printed with over fifty families having their pictures taken for inclusion in the booklet.
A new Baldwin piano was purchased from the House of Baldwin, Champaign, and delivered on December 8, 1970 at the cost of $750.
In 1971, new red oak church pews with cushions were purchased with gifts from Mr. George Sohrt and Mrs. Maggie Sohrt and many other memorials were given to cover the remaining expense. Eighteen old Church pews were sold to the Church of God in Tuscola and others were made shorter for use in some church member’s homes.
Improvements to the church building included new steps in front of the church, and new walks west from the church and south to the parking lot. All labor was donated by our members. In addition, shrubs were taken out in front of the Church and replaced.
In 1973 the Church Steeple was repaired and 50 new metal chairs and a chair rack were purchased by the Women’s Fellowship. Two new Church signs were bought by the Sunday school. A security light was purchased and placed on the south side of the Church.
The Atwood and Arthur Centennial Committees were given ten dollars each for a sponsor listing and the Women’s Fellowship donated a Church plate and Anniversary booklet to put in the time capsule at Atwood.
In 1974, a new sound cabinet for the organ was purchased and two large fans were given to the church, one by the Youth Fellowship and the other by Mr. Art Gross. In 1975, repairs on the parsonage and painting were completed.
The Church steeple was repaired and permission was given to the United Church of Atwood to use our Church for weddings and funeral while they were in the process of building their new Church.
At a special congregational meeting on May 2, 1976, a carpet pattern was chosen and it was voted to purchase new carpet and pad for the Church. Mr. Art Gross gave Zion a Certificate of Deposit for $1,000.
A confirmation Reunion service was held on June 6, 1976. Zion had a special morning worship service, a basket dinner, and the Rev. Arnold Bizer was the afternoon speaker.
In 1977, ceiling tile for the basement was purchased and installed by members of our Church. Grace and Bob Randall had fashioned a large cross made from a single tree for display in the sanctuary during the Lenten season. Members of Tuscola UCC would worship with members of Zion during the Lenten season, meeting at one church for part of the midweek services and at the other church for part of the services.
A basket dinner was held on June 25, 1978 to honor Kerstin Soderstrom, the foreign exchange student from Norway, who made her home with the Lyle Heit family. The foyer and front steps were carpeted by an anonymous donor and repairs were made to the parsonage.
There were special services and activities in 1979 including a Mission Sunday on April 1 where Mrs. Dottie Miller was the guest speaker and, on June 24, Zion participated in a “lay-exchange” where several members from Zion went to Danville while persons from the Sidney UCC worshipped with us. One of the major goals for our Church that year was to try to interest some of Zion’s inactive members into getting involved in the church again.
The bottom of the hymn racks were padded to reduce noise, and a new rope was installed on the bell after it broke one Sunday morning.
In 1980, a new white altar cloth was given to the church by the Women’s Fellowship, Sunday school, and Memorial Fund.
Members of the church tore off wall paper and put on new at the parsonage. Also acoustic tile was installed in three rooms upstairs, and a new door was purchased.
On August 4, it was decided to purchase micro filming of our Church records.
A church family night was held September 21 and Troye Kauffman told of his experiences as a Scout Camp Counselor and Lisa Heit told about her trip to Denmark.
At Christmas, Mrs. Phyllis Schultz presented the church with a group of hand-painted nativity figurines to decorate the altar during advent.
At the January 1981 annual meeting of the congregation, Rev. Van Camp read a letter of resignation effective the end of August. Several joint meetings were then held between the Tuscola and Zion churches and it was eventually voted on to remain yoked with one another.
A bouquet of flowers was sent from Zion to the Tuscola UCC in honor of their 75th Anniversary Celebration. A picture of Jesus was given by Miss Lavenda Adolph.
Rev. Kenneth Roedder, 1981-2002
A special congregational meeting was held on Sunday, October 18, to ask questions and to vote on whether or not to call Rev. Kenneth Roedder as our next pastor. The vote was unanimously in favor of calling him to serve both congregations and he accepted. Rev. Roedder began his pastorate at Zion on November 1, 1981. Dr. Arthur Bradley, Area Conference Minister of the Central Association, preached at the installation service for Rev. Roedder on December 13, and a reception was held at Tuscola UCC afterwards. Another special meeting was held to discuss the times of the two churches’ worship service, and a motion was made and carried that we leave the time just as it currently was – six months at 9:00 A.M. and six months at 10:30 A.M.
Three Sunday worship services were canceled in January were cancelled because of blizzard conditions and drifted roads in 1981. Wireless hearing aids were purchased and, after their installation, it was explained how to use them. Two new Hunter ceiling fans were purchased and installed by Randall Electric in the church sanctuary. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Korte took upon themselves the task of bringing the church records up to date and Bill and Kathy Kauffman, Gary and Phyllis Hendrickson, and Paul and Delores Greve provided Zion with a special Gospel Hymnal.
Even though Zion had not had its ministers and their families living in the parsonage since Rev. Jeide in 1968, the home was kept in good repairs for those who rented it. To that end, in 1982, the outside walls and attic of the parsonage were insulated at a cost of $2,316.
In April of 1983, the Harlan E. Moore Co. insulated the entire attic area of the church with special attention to the attic area above the mural of Christ above the altar. It was decided to fill the space above the painting completely to avoid any air movement which could create condensation on the painting. Cost of the insulation project was $2,156.
A lock box was secured at the State Bank of Arthur for important documents and to store the Bible received from Kaiserin Augusta Victoria in 1907.
Several other changes occurred during 1983. It was decided to have communion only on the first Sunday of every month. It was decided to purchase steel doors, painted white with glass inserts, for the Sunday school entrance. A used mimeograph machine was purchased. A kneeling bench made by F. & B. Woodworking was given to the Church through Memorial Fund monies. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services were cancelled that year because of cold temperatures and drifted roads. The temperatures were 19 and 23 degrees below zero.
At the January Congregational meeting in 1985, plans were made to celebrate the 115th Anniversary of Zion. As part of the celebration, 200 booklets for the 115th Church Anniversary were ordered for the service held on June 23, 1985.
A family night was held at Tuscola UCC on February 19 for a program presented by Rev. Roedder about his recent travel to the Holy Land. Zion members helped financially to make his trip possible.
A special congregational meeting was held on August 26 to decide about tuck pointing and sealing the exterior of the church building, waterproofing the basement, and proceeding with the possible remodeling of the sanctuary. The cost of the exterior repairs was $4,840, and waterproofing the basement would cost $3,082.
The first meeting of our “Young Adults” group occurred on November 25, 1985.
Average church attendance for worship services during this period of time was 60 per Sunday. Being mindful of the fact that we need to make our building accessible, Bill Kauffman built and donated an aluminum ramp for the front entrance of the church to make it easier for the disabled to enter.
In 1986, Zion had six family nights featuring a Sunday brunch, a special speaker from Matthew House, a hamburger fry, a Halloween party, a soup supper, and the traditional “Hanging of the Greens” at the start of the Advent season.
At a specially-called congregational meeting, members voted to proceed with a redecoration project. Zion had received $10,775.80 from the Kruse Trust and that gift, together with the generosity of the entire congregation, enabled Zion to again hire the services of Paul Schanbacher of Springfield, Illinois to completely remodel the sanctuary at a cost of $28,449.30. At this time, the canvas-covered interior walls were covered with “blueboard” and plastered. Zion worshiped in the old sanctuary on January 4, 1987, but while the remodeling was in process, church services were held in the basement for three months. Then, on April 1, for a Wednesday evening Lenten service, the congregation was able to worship in the newly redecorated sanctuary. On May 17, a “Service of Thanksgiving” was held to give thanks for the successful completion of this project.
During 1987, the parsonage was covered with vinyl siding, improvements were made to the church’s basement and kitchen, a partition was built on the west end of the basement to provide a storage area, and a plain-paper copier was purchased.
Dr. Robert L. Randall, a favorite son of the congregation, and Dr. C. Arthur Bradley, Area Association Minister, were guest speakers for a worship service held on June 14 to honor the 25th Anniversary of Rev. Roedder’s ordination.
An oak bulletin board for the back of the church was given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Clausen through memorial gifts. A new sign with interchangeable letters for the front of the church was given in memory of Walter Von Lanken by his family and memorial gifts. The concrete base for the sign was poured by Rick Taylor and Bob Randall and the masonry work was done by Bud Bolt of Atwood.
In 1988, the congregation voted to purchase and installed a new roof over the entire church building with architectural fiberglass shingles designed to resemble the original slate roof, and approved plans to make repairs on the bell tower in 1989.
New oak coat racks were installed at the back of the sanctuary, the congregation remodeled and renovated the rooms in the Sunday school wing, and speakers installed in the nursery so worship services could be heard. We had six family nights, four at Zion and two with our sister congregation in Tuscola.
1989 was another productive year for Zion. Repairs to the bell tower and the parsonage re-siding was completed. Through the efforts of Larry and Judy Gardner a youth fellowship was organized. An all Parish picnic was held at Ervin Park in Tuscola in honor of Rev. and Mrs. Van Camp. An important addition to our worship service was a gift of pew Bibles in memory of Henry Schultz. On October 29, our parish celebrated the 20th Anniversary of “Yoked Ministry” with the Rev. Karen Olm-Stoelting, Area Association officiating.
The 1990’s brought about all kinds of changes, additions, and events to Zion. In 1990, the Memorial Committee purchased a new set of purple altar cloths, the Come Join Us group had new carpet installed on the front steps, and Zion participated in a pulpit exchange with the Vine Street Christian Disciples of Christ Church of Arthur.
In 1991, a preschool Sunday school class was formed and a set of green altar clothes were given in memory of George and Almeda Ernst.
On October 3, Rev. Roedder had quadruple heart by-pass surgery, and his first service back in the pulpit was November 3. Rod Randall served as liturgist for three months during his absence and even upon Rev. Roedder’s return so that he would not have to stand for long times during the worship services.
1992 was a special year for Zion. On June 7, the congregation recognized and celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Dr. Robert Randall’s ordination and Rev. Roedder’s 30th Ordination Anniversary. On the same day after worship, Zion held an informational congregational meeting for the purpose of purchasing a new organ for the church. There was some discussion about the need to replace the old Hammond organ that was purchased in 1952, but on June 21, before the vote was taken, the congregation was informed that enough money had been donated or pledged to completely pay for a new Rodgers organ at a total cost of $24,950. The organ was dedicated on September 20, and the guest organist was Mr. Mark Gifford, A Rodgers Organ representative for Byerly Music Company.
On October 25, another son of the congregation was ordained into the Christian Ministry, the Rev. Michael Mulberry, and our Parish presented Mike with his first robe.
1993 proved to be another busy year in the life of the church. One of the interesting events that caught the imagination of the congregation was “The Use of Our Talents.” In January, Rev. Roedder gave ten dollars of his own money to 28 families and individuals who were willing to participate in this Parable of the Talents project. At the end of the program the original seed money had grown to $1,983.
Throughout the years, the members of Zion have been concerned about the protection of the church’s beautiful stained glass windows, and 1994 brought some wonderful surprises. A special congregational meeting had been called for May 22 to discuss the need to replace the old protective storm windows covering the stained glass and the congregation overwhelmingly accepted the challenge. Total cost for the project was $22,400, but because of various options selected, such as having the metal framework of the storm windows follow the lines of the wooden arches of the original windows and using the more permanent plate glass instead of Plexiglas, the above figure was increased approximately $3000. Once again the congregation came through with the necessary funds, as did St. Peter’s United Church of Christ of Elmhurst, Illinois. St. Peter’s UCC was entering upon a capital funds drive called “Preserve the Treasures” and Zion was included in that congregation’s goal. On September 4, Dr. Robert Randall presented Zion with a check for $6,420.84 and later in the fall, we received an additional amount from St. Peter’s which made the total gift $7,092.34 toward the preservation of the church’s windows. During the process of installing the storm windows, some small pieces of stain glass had to be removed to provide space for window frames that could be opened. These small pieces of glass were collected and made into crosses that several members of the congregation purchased to hang in their homes.
For decades, when people spoke about of Zion, one of the things most often mentioned was the annual ice cream social. It is not certain when this tradition began, but it was in full swing in the early 1930’s when Rev. Kutz was pastor because he mentioned it in a letter he sent to Zion for its 90th Anniversary. Members of the congregation would perform plays behind the church and provide other forms of entertainment to the crowd enjoying home-made ice cream on the church grounds. For a number of years, members of Zion made as much as 165 gallons of vanilla, pineapple, and peppermint ice cream for the event and regularly served over 400 people. People came from far and wide and exclaimed, “It’s the best ice cream ever!.” All things must come to an end, and since the large, tractor-driven ice cream freezers were getting older, as were the church members who made the ice cream, 1993 marked the end of Zion’s legendary ice cream social.
Zion began to view itself as “A Church in Mission” and sought out ways to reach out to the greater community. The church began collecting food regularly for the Arthur and Atwood food pantries, donated annually to the two communities’ fire departments for Christmas food baskets, responded with a gift of $500 to the Atwood Christian Church when a fire in 1993 completely destroyed their building, donated $1,030 through a special offering to the “Hurricane Disaster Fund” when there was devastating flooding along the Mississippi River, and created a “Local Charities” fund to assist those in the area with emergency needs. In 1997, Zion had an all-church auction to raise funds for the church’s various projects. Members of the congregation donated items to be sold and items of the church no longer in use were auctioned off as well.
Other events and changes this year included the purchase of new pew seat cushions, participating in the Meals-on-Wheels program in Arthur, holding three family nights, church member participation in the Walk for CROP, having Sunday morning greeters, and
the Women’s Fellowship hosting their first Bazaar in November. Members of the Women’s Fellowship and others had met weekly to work on craft items for the Bazaar, items for Bazaar’s bake sale were made, and the men of the church served a free-will donation breakfast. The event was nicknamed “BBB” which stood for “Breakfast, Bake Sale & Bazaar” and it continued for ten years until 2007.
In 1998, The Memorial Committee had a chair lift installed so that it was easier for some members to go to the basement for church events.
During 1999, Zion served a meal to the United States Marine Corps Marching Band when they were participating in the Apple Dumpling Parade in Atwood. Zion also had a float in the parade. Other events that year included five family nights, the installation of new windows for the Sunday school rooms, new carpet for the basement steps provided by the Women’s fellowship, an organ concert by Mark Gifford, and a live nativity scene for the Christmas Eve service.
During this time, the Sohort estate became available to the area churches it was ultimately designed to support. Jerry Hale and Rod Randall of Zion’s Church Council attended a meeting at the Atwood State Bank to learn the details of the trust. This trust began providing annually approximately $30,000 to Zion. The congregation voted to tithe 10% of this money received annually for assistance to others. An endowment fund was also established for the Church and some of the Sohort Estate money was put aside in this fund along with other generous contributions from several members of the church over the years. A “Perpetual Member” plaque was made by Ed Suhl to recognize gifts of $5000 or more to the Endowment Fund and hung in the foyer of the church.
In 2000, the church purchased a new water fountain, painted the basement, had a new water heater installed, painted the Sunday school rooms installed a new combination lock on the Sunday school exterior doors, installed new guttering, purchased a MIDI for the organ, and held five family nights. Bob Randall and Ed Suhl made several white crosses for members to put out in their yards for Easter. Zion marched in the 4th of July parade in Arthur and the Apple Dumpling Parade in Atwood.
During 2001, a light was put in the bulletin board, the church and parsonage were hooked up to “city” water, a plan for new outdoor lighting around the church was worked on, a new chair rack was purchased, and Bob Randall repaired the outdoor sign. The church also had a food drive where the people who normally sat in the pews on the north side of the church competed with those who normally sat on the south side to see which group brought the most food. Both groups brought food and lined it up all around the walls of the sanctuary on their side of the church. At the end of the food drive, the side that brought the least food was going to have to serve a meal to the side that brought the most. The south side won the competition by some trickery when it stashed a large amount of canned goods in the balcony on its side of the church.
In 2002, Rob Randall of Arthur Boy Scout Troop 74 and Elliot Smith of Arcola Troop 88, having both achieved the rank of Life Scout, worked on the God and Life program during Sunday School for several weeks with their fathers, Wally, who was Scoutmaster of Troop 88 and Rod, who was Committee Chairman for Troop 74. Rev. Roedder bestowed upon Rob and Elliot the “God and Life” Award during Sunday worship on June 23.
After serving the longest tenure of any minister at Zion, June 23, 2002 was Rev. Roedder’s last official worship service. In the afternoon of June 30, there was a special Open House at the Community Building for Rev. Roedder to recognize his past twenty years of service to the two churches. His wife, Maxine, and his mother, Esther (nicknamed “Gobie”) Roedder were also recognized. This event also commemorated Rev. Roedder’s 40 years of service in the ministry.
Rev. Ralph Deal began serving as interim pastor in 2002 and was then hired on a permanent basis until the end of 2009. At that time the nearly 40-year yoke with Tuscola UCC ended and Zion proceeded to acquire ministerial services on its own. During these years, more work was done to waterproof the basement, Gary Hendrickson as President of the Church Board led several sessions on vision-building, and new hymnals were purchased in memory of Esther Von Lanken.
Zion voted unanimously to hire Dennis Hanner as pastor on July 5, 2010. Pastor Hanner had been serving Zion since January of 2010. He worked with the 140th Anniversary Committee to plan the Anniversary Celebration held on Saturday August 7 and Sunday August 8, 2010.
Right Now –
The Women’s Fellowship is an active group in the church. This organization makes lap robes for the nursing home, collects and sends off school kits and health kits, do favors for the Arthur Home and entertains its residents three times a year, provides funds to purchase needed items for the church, donates to Matthew House and Beth’s Place, collects food monthly for two food pantries, collects used stamps to be sent off, donates to Emmaus Home, gives to local Christmas projects, and more. Zion is also active with the Atwood Hammond Area Association of Churches. Members of Zion serve on a committee that picks student from Atwood Hammond School District for the Slater Scholarship. Come Join Us is a social organization of the church and meets monthly for fun activities.
Water damaged the unoccupied parsonage when pipes from the hot-water heating system froze and burst. The building required an extensive amount of repair and remodeling. The floors and wood work had to be refinished, new windows installed, walls and ceilings repaired, the half bath downstairs was made bigger to include a shower and room for washer and dryer, new kitchen cabinets were installed, and new plumbing and electrical wiring was installed. Several members donated generously to make these repairs possible. A big tree between the house and garage was removed because there was concern it might fall down on the parsonage in a big windstorm.
Favorite Sons –
A favorite son is a young person of one’s church who ends up dedicating his life to the ministry or some other aspect of God’s work, and Zion is proud to have given to the Christian Ministry three sons and an adoptive son. Dr. Detlef C. Jensen, who was ordained July 16, 1916 and died August 3, 1963 at the age of 69 was the first of Zion’s favorite sons. His body rests in the Zion cemetery.
Rev. Dr. Robert Lee Randall was ordained on June 11, 1967. An honor graduate of the United Theological Seminary, Dr. Randall is a licensed psychologist in the State of Illinois and an ordained pastoral counselor. He received his education from Elmhurst College (1960-1964), United Theological Seminary (1964-1967), and earned his doctorate degree from the University of Chicago (1967-1973. He has retired as Minister of Counseling Services at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Elmhurst, Illinois, a position he held since September of 1971. He was bestowed an honorary doctorate degree from Elmhurst College in 1991 and has written numerous articles and books. In 2008, St. Peter’s UCC named him as only the second “Pastor Emeritus” in its history.
The Rev. Michael Mulberry is a graduate of Metamora Township High School. He received his B.A. in history from Illinois Wesleyan University and his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law. Mike graduated from Eden Seminary at Webster Groves, Missouri in 1992 and was ordained into the ministry of the United Church of Christ at Zion on October 25th of that year. He became associated with Zion through his mentor, Rev. Roedder.
Roger Von Lanken taught mathematics and science at Niantic-Harristown High School for 26 years and also taught math at Richland Junior College for 11 years. In 1984, God called Roger, his wife, Sandy, and their daughter, Lezlie to a life of mission of mission work. In 1988, Roger and Sandy were ordained in Tulsa, Oklahoma under Faith Christian Fellowship. In July of 1991, Roger, Sandy and Lezlie moved to Guatemala to work at Cosecha El Mundo (Harvest the World) Bible School. Presently Roger works for the John A. Logan College at the Alongi Du Quoin extension Center. Roger is Administrator, Adviser, Counselor and also teaches math and tutors students. Roger and Sandy are pastors at Faith Christian Fellowship and live in Du Quoin, Illinois.
And, so –
Our beloved Zion has reached the 140th Anniversary milestone. Many congregations begin admirably in faith and hope, but never survive 140 years. It is a wonderful thing to have great dreams, but it is a far more fulfilling experience to make those dreams come true. The founding members of this congregation had their dreams 140 years ago for Zion, but they have not been able to be at the helm all these years. The baton or torch had to be passed on to the following generations, including the present members, who have kept those dreams alive and have made this celebration possible. For any congregation to reach its 140th year, two things are evident; 1) God has blessed this congregation with His Spirit and Love and 2) the members and friends have been faithful in their witness and support to keep it alive. For the first part, let us give thanks to God for all His blessings. For the second part, let us honor those many individuals who have kept Zion an instrument of the Lord these many years.
Zion has aspired in the past to be a Christian witness to its community and to be of Christian service throughout the world. It has provided a place for worship and hopefully, has served to prepare its members to leave the House of Worship and go out into the work-a-day world with their feet solidly on the ground and their sights firmly focused on God.
Having reached the 140th Anniversary of its founding, this congregation pauses to give thanks to God, and then looks forward to the years ahead. May God bless and keep Zion United Church of Christ.
This narrative history of Zion has been prepared by compiling histories written for previous anniversary booklets starting with the translated version of the 40th Anniversary booklet of 1910. In many cases the phrasing of sentences and terms used in those written histories have been unchanged unless it was necessary for the purpose of clarity. Some information has been added to the original histories in this current version and hopefully other memories and information will come to light to enhance future and ongoing efforts to