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Between 1852 and 1857 many German Lutherans settled in the township of Pilot, IL. They met together for worship services at private homes. In early 1859, they formed a congregation of approximately 20 members. Alexander Betz donated land which was to be used for a church building and a cemetery. The first church cornerstone was laid June 27, 1861 and measured 20" by 34" and cost $700. The first parsonage was built in 1864 and the second one built in 1877 due to the need for additional space. In 1900 Zion became a member of the Missouri Synod.

Our present church cornerstone was laid in November of 1881. The church was 32 feet by 68 feet with a 75 foot tower. The cost of the building was $3,000. The tower can still be seen for many miles. A day school, which could seat 60 students, was also built at this time. The first organ was acquired sometime in the late 1880's as well as the bell for the tower. A 700 pound bell was ordered from St. Louis. The bell is still in the tower today and has been rung Sunday after Sunday for the past 97 years. In 1902, a new day school was built and a new school bell was purchased. The school is gone, but the bell remains on the church grounds. In 1924, the church was raised and an electric lighting plant was installed. A new altar and pulpit were also added at this time. In the summer of 1925, the barn, light plant, and several other buildings were destroyed by fire. The cost of remodeling the church and replacing what was destroyed totaled $16,500.

In 1909, Zion marked its 50th anniversary. 1909 was also the year that Trinity of Herscher was organized. Many of the younger members left Zion and joined Trinity mainly because the services at Zion were only in German, not English. The first English service at Zion was not until 1918 by a guest minister. in 1923, English services were inaugurated every Sunday in addition to the German services. Beginning in 1935, German services were held every other Sunday while English services were held every Sunday. By 1944, Zion's German services had been reduced to only one Sunday a month and later eliminated all together. Until 1924, Sunday School classes were only for those taking Confirmation. This changed in1924 when classes were formed for all ages. The Walter League also began in 1924. The Ladies Aid was organized in 1925, and the L.W.M.L. (Lutheran Women's Ministries League) was formed in 1944.

A small Wangerin organ was purchased in 1938 for about $1700. This organ was paid for in part by contributions started in 1935 when an organ fund began. Later, an additional rank and a set of chimes were added. This same organ is still in use enriches our Sunday worship.

In 1954, washrooms were installed in the church basement. During Zion's Centennial Celebration in 1959, extensive renovations were made to the church. These renovations include new pews, lighting fixtures, new altar and pulpit, carpeting, and much more. At that time, a chronological history of Zion was compiled and included pictures of both past and present. The parsonage needed to be replaced, and in 1964 a new brick home was built in place of the older building.

In May of 1975, the church members decided that more remodeling needed to be done in accordance with bringing the church up to date. The coal furnace was replaced with two electric furnaces and air conditioning. An 18x32 foot addition to the front was built, and the walls were insulated and paneling was added.

In preparation for the 125th anniversary in November, a special clean-up and repair project was conducted. Along with the clean-up, a special service was planned with Dr. Oswald Hoffman as the special guest speaker. A dinner followed the service at Herscher High School.

October of 1992 brought the renovation of the parsonage and the church office. The pastor at that time, Pastor John Kiefer, moved his office from the parsonage to the church where he made an office behind the altar.

In September 1993, renovation was done to the inside of the church. This renovation included painting the church and chancel, refinishing the statue of Christ that is located on the right side of the church, and also the addition of a new Religious symbol above the altar.

September 1994 brought about the 135th anniversary of Zion. After the worship service commemorating the anniversary, the congregation gathered in fellowship and held a potluck.

© 2024 by Zion Lutheran Church

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS)

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