A Short Historical Overview of Zion Lutheran Church
The Zion story really began in the late 1840s. From 1848 until the congregation was formally organized, the Rev. Friedrich Schmidt of Ann Arbor, Michigan, served German Lutheran families in Marshall who gathered in their homes for worship. On a regular basis, this outstanding missionary traversed the seventy miles from Ann Arbor to Marshall.
By 1856, enough Lutheran immigrants had settled in Marshall to make possible the founding of their very own Lutheran church, named “Erste Evangelische Lutherische Zions Gemeinde.” They extended a call to their first pastor, Rev. H. Spring. Pastor Spring was the energetic driver behind the congregation’s efforts to purchase property. By 1858, transactions were underway, and the old church and lot of the Trinity Episcopal congregation on the southwest corner of Eagle and Green Street were purchased for a total of $2,000. Several years later, a suitable building was acquired for school purposes. It was moved onto church property, and after remodeling, it was equipped and used as a parochial school. Not until 1867 was the congregation able to purchase a lot south of the church, which later became the site of the parsonage.
During the period of 1856 – 1897, the congregation was served by the following ministers: H. Spring, Adam Buerkle, F.T. Henicke, G.H. Brecht, C. Schlenker, P. Stamm, J. Fritz, and C.F. Boehner. In December of 1896, the congregation called the Rev. Chr. Heidenreich, who assumed the pastorate on January 15, 1897. This pastor faithfully served the congregation for fifty years.
During a meeting in October 1900, the congregation resolved to build a new sanctuary for a cost not to exceed $10,000 (excluding altar, pulpit, and pews). Dedication of the building took place on December 1901. This building is in use as of this date. In 1910, the parsonage was enlarged, and a furnace was installed in the sanctuary. It was a happy day indeed when, in 1916 on the congregation’s 60th anniversary, an organ was installed and dedicated. The year 1969 saw the groundbreaking for a new educational building, which was dedicated in 1970. Shortly thereafter, in 1970, the sanctuary was remodeled, and the old church steeple was replaced with a new one. Modernizing the kitchen and equipment was undertaken in 2005. Also, during that year, the sanctuary’s beautiful leaded windows were repaired and restored to their original beauty.
During 2006, the congregation celebrated its 150th anniversary, thanking and praising God for providing the means and ministers to enable them to cling to their Lutheran heritage. As the Rev. Ch. Heidenreich said in a summary written in 1951, “The Lord has indeed in a rich measure, showered His divine blessings upon our congregation in the days that are now history. . .”
This historical overview was prepared by Erika Flores, Zion’s archivist and historian.