History of Zion

The church’s history began in January of 1874 when the Rev. C. W. Baumhoefener from Columbus came ot the area. He first preached in Bader’s school house. On June 4, 1874, Pastor Baumheefener conducted a meeting of Lutherans gathered when they extended a call to August Leuthaeuser as their resident pastor.

He arrived in Grand Island in mid-August, but the people were discouraged because grasshoppers had destroyed their crops. They asked him to return because the congregation felt they could not provide for a pastor. Rev. Leuthaeuser persisted and would not leave. On August 23 he was installed in Collman’s School House.

Because the congregation was scattered, Pastor Leuthaeuser preached in various school houses in the vicinity, in Granger’s Hall and in the court house in Grand Island. Witt’s school house was the main scene and it was here the congregation was officially organized on September 17, 1874, under the name “Zion Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Prairie Creek Township.”

Although the congregation was very poor, they had the courage to call another minister in 1876 when Pastor Leuthaeuser accepted a call to another congregation. The new pastor, the Rev. F. H. Jahn, labored under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the congregation began to grow.

Shortly after his arrival at Zion, Rev. F. H. Jahn, began offering education beyond confirmation classes. Information concerning courses, hours taught, and enrollment of this school are not recorded and are thus lost to the ages. It is known that each of the early pastors taught school until the congregation actually called a teacher.

Receiving 5 acres of land from George C. Tallman on Nov. 28, 1877, the congregation built a small frame church and parsonage. Johannes Bader gave the church its first bell.

In 1878 one part of the congregation group broke away and formed the Trinity congregation in Grand Island.

In 1891, Rev. Duever accepted the call to Worms where he served as both pastor and teacher. In 1893 a new church was built, leaving the old church to be used as the school. The Lord called Rev. Duever to his eternal rest on May of 1895.

On July 7, 1895 Rev. J. D. Schroeder was led to serve the congregation. He organized a church in Palmer in 1900 and also preached in country churches near Archer, Central City, Fullerton and Belgrade. The Lord blessed the congregation and they saw the need to call their first teacher, Mr. H. Hartman, in 1898. The church was enlarged in 1902 by adding a wing to the east side. Rev. Schroeder is credited with originating the name “Worms” for this little settlement.

In 1903, Rev. K. Jahn was called as new minister followed by Rev. William Ludwig who was installed in 1908 and served until 1919.

Mr. Paul E. Frese was installed as teacher in 1906. Dora Peters taught the primary grades while Mr. Frese taught the upper grades. He was Zion’s first principle and served until 1940. In 1910, the congregation built a second and larger school, which is the present intermediate room and most of the upper room. The teacherage was built in 1910 also.

From 1919-1932 Rev. Franz Frese served. He organized the Dorcas Ladies Aid and also the youth group.

During the Depression years, the Rev. H. William Meyer was called to be pastor. The call stated that the pastor would receive $75 a month, feed for two cows, chickens and a few pigs, some meat, flour, a swelling and part of his fuel. But these obligations were not always met. He served from 1932 until 1949.

Mr. A.C. Bangert was called to serve as teacher and installed as principal at Zion in 1940. He remained there until when Mr. M. Bohlen assumed the position in 1945 and served through 1949.

Miss Joan Bader (Mrs. Eugene Vetter) served as principal for the 1949-1950 term.

Rev. A. F. Otto was called to be pastor in 1950 and served until 1957. During this time the Sunday School was organized. Mr. Ervin Kohtz accepted the call to Worms as principal in 1950. During the following five years the school would undergo some great changes. The “small” school was sold and approximately 15 feet were added to the south end of the “big” school, as well as restrooms, office space, and a “confirmation room” added to the west side.

Kindergarten was introduced while under the leadership of Ernest Pflughoeft, who came in 1955. In 1957 a lunch program was started, with Edna and Ruby Luebbe serving lunches for $0.25 per meal.

From 1958 to 1965 Rev. Lester H. Boehm served Zion. Under his guidance a third room was added to the school. On September 27, 1959 the cornerstone was laid for a new church. The old church was razed and on February 21, 1960, a lannon stone church was dedicated to the glory of God. The original bell from 1893 was refinished, electrified, and installed in the new bell tower. The pipe organ was rebuilt with a new console and electric action in a transept directly off the chancel. At the same time a 60ft. Tunnel was constructed by the members connecting the church and school.

In 1960 Zion needed to add a third teacher. Miss LaVonne Peterson taught grades kindergarten, first and second. Ted Bader taught the intermediate grades and Mr. Pflughoeft taught the upper grades. At this time a classroom was added to the southwest side of the school and the basement under it became the school library.

In 1963 Mr. Loris Rather was called as principal. Rev. A. H. Kreidt served as pastor from 1966 until 1971.

In 1969, S. Fehlhafer, who had been teacher the middle room since 1966 was extended the call as principal. The school building was improved with the addition of carpeting in the two upper grade rooms. Carpeting was later installed in the little room.

In 1971 a special service was held to burn the mortgage of the church.

In 1972, Rev. Gary R. Schmidtke was installed as pastor and served until 1975. During this time the school building was enlarged to its present size by the addition of approximately 20 feet to the northwest side adding restrooms and an office area.

In 1976, Rev. Phillip Hannemann accepted the call to Zion and served until 1982. From 1983 to 1985 the church was served by Rev. Edward Heineke. In November of that year a call was sent to Lyle Hansen.

In 1985, Mr. Fehlhafer accepted a call to Lincoln and Mr. Gerald Niebling accepted the call to Zion and served until 1987. Mrs. Lois Watt then became principal and served the school in that capacity for four years.

In 1990 Rev. Robert Bayer was called to Zion.

In 1991 Dean Plummer accepted the call as principal and also as teacher to the upper grades. The middle room was taught by Mrs. Carole Spiehs and the primary room by Lois Watt. During this year a new brick parsonage was built and the old parsonage was moved 3.5 miles north on Worms Road and became the residence of Everett and Lois Watt. Lois had taught at Zion for 19 years and was now retired.

On January 9, 1994, the newly installed elevator was dedicated to the glory and praise of God. It was a memorial give given by Gerhardt Bruns in memory of his parents.

In 1997, Bruce Mertens took over as principal and teacher to the upper grades.

Pastor Karl Ziegler came to Zion in August of 1997 and served until 2002.

Rev. Dan Molyneux served from 2003 until 2006.

Rev. Craig Niemeier was installed in 2006 and is still serving at Zion today.