Zion Lutheran Church

Serving Christ Through Serving Others

Zion History

In the last 185 years Zion Lutheran has had twenty-nine devoted pastors and a host of several thousand fellow Lutherans. We are a family, an old and very large family.

 

In 1826, the village of Tippecanoe would not be in existence for another sixteen years, however it was then that our church was born. Several families belonging to the German Reformed and Lutheran faiths decided to construct a building for the purpose of a meetinghouse and school. A burying ground was to be included. Jacob Worman, a local farmer of substance, on January 21, 1826, deeded a small tract of land on what is now South Hyatt Street to the trustees of the German Reformed and Lutheran Church, namely John Ritter, Jacob Favorite and George Gump.

 

Our first church was a small simple structure constructed of logs cut from the building

site and the nearby hardwood forest. The floor was planked and rough-hewn benches were installed. The first pastor came as a result of petitioning the New York Synod of the Reformed Church. His name was John Pantz. Pastor Pantz reportedly was a man of many talents. Pastor Pantz stayed with and nourished our church until 1839. His devoted leadership no doubt is majorly responsible for the survival of our church in its infancy.

 

 

Sometime around 1840, the German Reformed members and the Lutherans decided to part. A Lutheran congregation was organized from the members of the original church and they continued to worship at the little log church on South Hyatt Street under the name of the Worman Church. A new pastor was called, his name was A.S. Link. Pastor Link also served three other congregations in the area. He preached in both German and English.

 

In 1878, our church finally became a singular parish. Pastor Link was given the recognition of ordination by the Joint Ohio Synod in 1842. He played an important role in the early history of our church in that he strengthened the doctrine of Lutheranism in this area and consolidated our congregation as Lutherans.

 

At the urging of Pastor Link and the lay leaders of the old Worman Church, a new building site was acquired on February 6, 1847, in the new town of Tippecanoe. This is the same lot where our present church is located. At that time the lot was on the very western edge of town and still in the woods. It was deeded by John Clark, the town’s founder, to the trustees of the newly named Evangelical Lutheran Church, John Ritter, Jacob Rohrer and John Sanders. John Ritter, a successful farmer, donated two thousand dollars toward the building of the new church. It is reported that the total cost of the structure was slightly over thirty two hundred dollars. The old log Worman Church was abandoned and left to ruin, but the deeded property and cemetery remained, as it does to this day, in the ownership and care of our church.

The corner stone for the new church was laid on July 16, 1847. This new church was the talk of the county! Brick was used in its construction, and no cost was spared in the quality and beauty of the building.

Upon the death of John Ritter, he bequeathed a lot on the corner of Main and Third Streets and two thousand dollars for the purpose of building a parsonage. The parsonage was built and there it stood until 1920.

Pastor Link moved to Lancaster, Ohio in 1848. He was followed by Pastors Aughe, Harris, and Schauer, but Pastor Link returned as our Pastor in June 1861. He served here until his death on March 30, 1862.

 

Sometime during the period of 1847 and 1850, our church began to be known as the English Lutheran Church.

 

After Pastor Link’s death our church experienced a period of dispirited drifting. No new pastor was called until late in 1863. Preoccupation with the Civil War and the almost daily reporting of casualties kept everyone in a state of depression. The terrible carnage of this horrible war was brought home to Tippecanoe by our soldiers returning maimed and many families were morning the deaths of their young men. Then came Pastor Solomon Weills. A man of great enthusiasm and motivational skills. Under his pastorate the church experienced a new birth, and it was found then, as now, great comfort and solace can be found in the walls of our church.

 

Following Pastor Weills’ tenure Pastors Welch, Hershiser, Lilly, Bauslin, Altman, Wirick, and Zinn ably served our church thus bringing us to the year of 1894.

 

During Pastor Zinn’s ministry a new church building was planned, and enough money was donated and pledged to ensure this would happen. It has been reported the women of the church were mainly responsible for this new vision and would not permit their dream of a new church to go unfulfilled. The ladies would not be denied, hence the destruction of the old, and the laying of the cornerstone of our present building on August 5, 1894.

 

On May 5, 1895, the new church building was dedicated. The Reverend Bauslin, a former pastor, and S.A. Ort were guest ministers. Installation services for Pastor Leech were held in the afternoon, and Mr. Rohrer presented the church keys to Pastor Leech at evening services. It was a short time after this that the name of the church was changed from the English Lutheran Church to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. The capstone over the entrance to our church still reflects the “English Church” name as it was originally installed when the building was constructed.

T.C. Leonard and family, on Easter Sunday, 1895 gave the bell currently ringing in our belfry to the church.

 

During 1906 the church was remodeled to include the upstairs Sunday school rooms. This same year our church, under the direction of Pastor W.F. Rangeler, was instrumental in establishing the Feghtly Home for Women. Also 1906 saw the establishment of a Sunday School Library loaning books to children  of the community for many years. All the books were eventually given to the local Public Library when it was established.

 

In 1916, a vacant lot on the northwest corner of Third and Main was purchased from the heirs of the John Kantz estate for five thousand dollars. The Kantz family home was moved to a location on North Third Street where it still stands. The clearing away of the Kantz home opened the corner to an unobstructed view of the church, and afforded the opportunity for landscaping and the installation of our church sign.

 

The parsonage built in 1862, on the southwest corner of Third and Main Streets was moved in

1920, to its present location just behind the Kantz home on Third Street. The parsonage, no known as “The Parish House,” is well utilized for church offices and meeting rooms. This fine old building was used as our parsonage until 1968 with Pastor Don Bridinger and his family being the last occupants.

In the 1920’s under the direction of Pastor Edward R. Capewell, Vacation Bible School was established with more than 300 children coming to Zion. The late twenties and all of the thirties were manifest with all the trials and tribulations of The Great Depression. Zion and our entire community were hard hit by the economic woes of the time. Zion worked in concert with many of the local churches to make sure food was available to those most in need. Food and clothing banks were established with Zion members in the forefront of the effort. Our pastors Ralph Harshman and Lloyd Riggle were instrumental in this continuing effort. Since money was scarce among our members, at Pastor Harshman’s urging, Zion folks planted gardens larger than their families needs and gave the surplus, both fresh and home canned, to the benevolent cause.

 

In 1954, a “Building Council” was formed to investigate and make recommendations for updating the church building. The majority of church members embraced and the plan enthusiastically, and in a relatively short time donations of $25,000 were available. During 1955, a professional fund raising firm was employed, and a successful “Church Construction Canvass” of members began to accumulate the additional funds.

 

On All Saints Day of November 1, 1964, a rededication service was held in a new modernized sanctuary completed with new pews, altar, choir loft, and a modern Allen electronic organ. The sanctuary of today remains much as it was on the day of rededication.

 

 

In 1976, we celebrated our 150th anniversary with a series of monthly programs culminating with a sumptuous dinner serving the fare of our 1826 founders. Near one hundred and fifty members attended filling the basement and upstairs elbow to elbow. Southern Ohio Synod Bishop Sauer presented the sermon for the day and was in attendance for the dinner. We were pleased to enjoy two performances in our sanctuary of the Wittenberg University School of Music String Ensemble during the anniversary year.

 

The research work done in preparation for our 150th year brought to light the fact that the very place of our beginnings, the old cemetery on South Hyatt Street, was no longer a part of the life of our church. Sadly, this was true even though it was the final resting place of many of our founders and early members. Investigation proved the gravestones had been vandalized and the location of our first church building was being utilized for growing budded fruit trees. The remaining property was grown up in a tangle of trees and brush. Through the urging of Pastor Parrish, a Cemetery Restoration Committee was formed and work begun to reclaim the property and bring it into the province of our congregation. In 1978, a large stainless steel cross was installed thus permanently marking the location of the little log church where our history began. In 1990 a stone wall, eighty-five feet long, was constructed behind the cross. The many broken and vandalized head stones were incorporated in the wall as a means of preserving them. The precious place of our beginnings is now and forever rightfully back in the mainstream of our church.

 

We began the 1980’s by welcoming Thomas J. Heil as our pastor. A program of internship was commenced with seminary students from Trinity College in Columbus, Ohio. During the decade we had five interns join us for several months each.

 

Our church entered the 1990’s by calling our present pastor, Steven Gellatly. The 90’s have seen major progress in several areas. The music of the church has been enhanced by the 1991 purchase of the new state-of-the-art Baldwin organ. In 1998 a new electronic keyboard and a magnificent set of hand bells were acquired. In 1996 ten acres of prime land was purchased on nearby Kerr Road. The mortgage note was retired in early 2000. Saturday evening services were commenced in 1999. Perhaps most importantly, a firm decision was made to remain in our old historic church building at Third and Main Streets with renewed appreciation for this gift of those who preceded us.

 

History compiled from Church records by W. C. Posey

Photos of previous buildings were painted by W. C. Posey

 

Pastors Through the Years 
 
 Reverend John Pantz

 1826-1839
 Reverend A. S. Link
1839-1848
 Reverend A. H. Aughe
1849-1850
 Reverend J. G. Harris
1850-1854
 Reverend Jacob Schauer
1854-1861
 Reverend A. S. Link
1861-1862
 Reverend Solomon Weills
1863-1866
 Reverend J. J. Welch
1866-1873
 Reverend J. F. Hershiser
1873-1874
 Reverend N. W. Lilly
1874-1878
 Reverend D. H. Bauslin
1878-1881
 Reverend J. O. Altman
1881-1884
 Reverend D. G. Wirick
1884-1891
 Reverend J. H. Zinn
1891-1894
 Reverend Harvey M. Leech
1894-1899
 Reverend Loyal H. Larimer
1900-1902
 Reverend W. R. Rangeler
1903-1908
 Reverend B. F. Zeigler
1908-1914
 Reverend William Guard
1914-1922
 Reverend Edward R. Capewell
1922-1926
 Reverend Ralph A. Harshman
1927-1933
 Reverend Lloyd Riggle
1933-1938
 Reverend Ross R. Highberger
1939-1947
 Reverend Robert L. Meister
1947-1954
 Reverend Theodore Horner
1954-1957
 Dr. George W. Schillinger
1957-1964
 Reverend Don R. Bridinger
1964-1970
 Reverend Ernest L. Parrish
1970-1980
 Reverend Thomas Heil
1980-1990
 Reverend Steven Gellatly
1990-2014
 Reverend Jeff Glawe
2014-Present

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