Zion Lutheran Church in Superior this year is celebrating a milestone: 125 years of faith and fellowship.
The church got its start when a group of East End Lutherans set out to form a church congregation. Following a year of planning, the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Zion Congregation was formally organized March 9, 1894.
The newly formed congregation of 49 confirmed members and 48 children gathered in faith at the Swedish Lutheran Church at East Third Street and Walker Avenue, today known as 27th Avenue East. Members paid quarterly dues of 75 cents for single members and $1.25 for families to attend Sunday school at 1:30 p.m. and services at 3 p.m.
“It cost $5 for a year for a family,” said Linda Moe, a 46-year member of Zion Lutheran Church. “Can you imagine? That wouldn’t be something you would hear about these days.”
Originally owned by Pilgrim Lutheran Church, the Rev. A.P. Monten, Zion’s first pastor, paid Pilgrim $36 for a quit claim deed and paid fire insurance for the building at a tax auction in the spring of 1894. That year, the Superior City Council determine church property would be tax free, according to church documents.
“Pilgrim actually helped this church begin,” Moe said.
Today, Zion Lutheran Church is a prominent fixture on East Second Street and 21st Avenue East that serves about 120 members.
“Zion has been in three different places,” Moe said.
A building committee organized in 1915 to make plans for a new church. By 1916, construction of the new church was completed at East Sixth Street and 21st Avenue East, four blocks from the current church building constructed in 1962.
By 1947, the congregation purchased a parsonage, but a new garage had to be constructed after a small tornado hit the area in 1950. The Zion Men’s Group raised the money and had the garage built.
By the late 1950s, the congregation grew by more than 100 members, making it apparent that the church was no longer adequate to serve the needs of East End Lutherans, according to church documents. A vote taken at the 61st annual meeting authorized the board of trustees in April 1959 to buy lots for a new church to be built.
A vigorous fundraising campaign was launched and by January 1960, the first sketch of the current building was seen. By June, the congregation learned the fundraising goal had exceeded its goal.
A deconsecration service was held at Zion’s second church in January 1962, followed by a processional to its new building led by the processional cross and Pastor C. K. Towley, the congregation’s seventh minister.
“They had a processional from that church to this one, I imagine, carrying the crucifix,” said Pastor Victor St. George, who joined the church in 2015 as Zion’s 16th minister.
It was a place where members could worship together and serve the community, a mission that continues today.
“I think there’s always been a sense of mission here,” St. George said.
He said currently, Zion is involved in the community dinner held at Faith United Methodist Church in Superior; offers a food shelf to the community; and its missions group provides hundreds of pairs of mittens each year to schools, the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse and CHUM in Duluth.
Moe said one member of the congregation has also gone under the viaducts in Superior to pass out mittens to the homeless people who congregate there.
“They go everywhere,” St. George said.
“There’s a sense that the members of this congregation have a purpose for being here,” St. George said. “Gathering in worship is a good purpose, but it’s also a purpose of servanthood. We serve the neighborhood. We serve our neighbors. We love our neighbors like we were commanded to.”
The celebration continues later this month, when the Pastie Bake that Zion is famous for takes place Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, St. George said.
To order ahead for pickup Saturday, Oct. 26, call 715-398-3663.