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Zion Lutheran Church History


August 10, 2017

Courtesy Zion Lutheran Church

This is the original Zion Lutheran Church, the building of which was completed on October 21, 1917.

The Zion Lutheran Church of Grover will be celebrating its one-hundredth year on the plains of Colorado on August 20, 2017. There will be two Divine services at 10:00 am with the second service at 2:00 pm.

What follows is a brief history of the Church and its congregation as compiled by various ladies of the congregation over the years:

"The beginning of Zion Lutheran congregation can be dated from the Spring of 1913 when Rev. M.E. Mayer of Burns, Wyoming, was asked to come to the home of Henry D. Hillman to perform a baptism. Investigation showed that there were other Lutheran families in the community, and Rev. Mayer conducted four services in the Kraugh schoolhouse during that summer. In September of 1913, a teacher, E. Hauer came to the community, serving the Lutherans in the Grover area and started services at Stoneham, Colorado. In September 1914, Rev. W.C. Bekemeyer was called to Stoneham, and continued to serve the Grover area, conducting services in the Kraugh schoolhouse, and later in the house of H.D. Hillman.

The first official recorded meeting was held August 13, 1916 with Rev. Bekemeyer of Stoneham serving as chairman and Henry Hillman as secretary. It was decided to organize a congregation, draw up a constitution under the name of Evangelical Lutheran Zion Congregation U.A.C. (Unaltered Augsburg Confession) of Grover, Colorado.

Charter members were Mortiz Hopka, Herman Hahn, Fred Ehmke, Henry D. Hillman, Fred Hillman, and John Bienz. At the same meeting, it was decided to build a church that would also serve as a meeting place for a Christian Day School. This white frame building (30x20x10) was begun in the summer of 1917 and dedicated to the service of the triune God on October 21, 1917. The speakers were Rev. Bekemeyer of Stoneham and Rev. Paul Heitfeld of Ft. Morgan, Colorado.

The cost of the church was $2000 excluding donated labor and was made possible by a loan from Lutheran Extension fund of Colorado. The hard years of the depression made it difficult to repay the loan, but it was accomplished by the 25th Anniversary in 1942.

Teacher E. Frenk came to Zion in the fall of 1917 and opened a Christian day school with 11 children in attendance. Pastors and students served the school until it was closed in 1923. During the next 15 years Zion was served by pastors from Stoneham and pastors from Burns, Wyoming.

In March of 1937, Rev. Paul Heitman was ordained and installed as Pastor of Zion. He also conducted services at Pine Bluffs, Wyoming and a schoolhouse in Kimball County Nebraska.

Zion observed its 25th Anniversary on June 28, 1942 with Pastor Bekemeyer as speaker. Membership numbered 40 congregation members at this time.

Zion dedicated its second and present church building east of Grover on April 29, 1951. Rev. H.G. Hartner former pastor of Zion spoke at the dedication services.

After the new church was dedicated, the old was sold to a farmer who moved it to his land as used it for a granary. In 1976, according to Lynette Jacobson of the City of Greeley Museums, it was purchased and moved to Centennial Village in Greeley.

In 1959, Zion and Grace Lutheran of Pine Bluffs, Wyoming formed a dual perish with a call to Rev. H.R. Miller serving as pastor of both churches.

Zion celebrated its 50th Anniversary on September 24, 1967 with E.J. Riske and Rev. W.M. Naatz as speakers.

Zion celebrated its 75th Anniversary on September 20, 1992 with Rev. H.W. Niermann as the speaker.

In 1993 Zion, Grace, and Immanuel of Burns, Wyoming formed a tri-point parish with Rev. Brad Heineke servicing the three churches. The tri-point was dissolved in 1995 and now is a dual parish with Grace and Zion. Zion started out small but in 1954 the membership reached 150. The present trend with larger farms and few people living out in the area has caused Zion's membership to decline to under 30 members.

Zion and Grace are currently being served by retired Pastor Daniel Paeuner.

The original Lutheran church building is now at Centennial Village in Greeley, Colorado."


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