Zion is located on the west edge of Black Hawk County on Grundy Road 2 1/2 miles south of Hwy 20 (Exit 220). It is 5 miles NW of Hudson, take Hudson Road north out of Hudson to Strayer Road and then west three miles. At the stop sign, Zion is just around the corner to the right.
The church building is accessible with no steps at the front entrance (west side). A lift is located in the front/main entryway to allow those with mobility limitations to access all levels of the building. A handicap restroom is located on the lower level.
Following is an interesting link to see the inside of the sanctuary on your computer. It is a 36* snapshot of the sanctuary interior. You can control speed & up, down, left or right w/controls
The original gift of five acres given by Frederick & Gustina (Muller) Gutknecht for the German Lutheran Church, (German Evangelical Lutheran 'Zions' Church, according to the original constitution) included 1/2 acre for a cemetery. Filed February 23, 1878.
The only burial on the original church property was that of a child of Martha Caroline Emilie Engelhardt, born May 16, 1879 and died of diphtheria and scarlet fever at the age of 1 year and 6 months in 1880. The location of that burial was south of the schoolhouse surrounded by a white picket fence not far from the location of the brick fireplace on the south side of the parsonage. Although no documentation has been located, it is believed that the child's remains were moved to another location as some point in time. Some members of the congregation remember seeing the picket fenced area in the 1940's.
On October 7, 1880, the council decided to change the location of the cemetery also known as 'God's Acre'. Charles Muller (Miller), also known as Carl or Karl was contacted regarding the purchase of one acre for $20.00.
The first burial at this location was that of August Ernst Christopf Stumpenhausen, born April 2, 1870, son of E. H. and Katherine M. Stumpenhausen. He was 10 years and 10 months old on February 21, 1881 and 'probably met death by a horse'.
There was mention of fixing the driveway to the cemetery after corn planting in 1885, but it was not until 1893 when Frederick Gutknecht and Charles, also known as Carl Muller (Miller) gave land for a lane to the cemetery at the rate of $35.00 per acre. A total of 1600 rods of land was purchased to develop a driveway or lane from Grundy Road to the cemetery, the current location of Strayer Road.
When the German immigrants came to this part of Iowa, shortly after the Civil War, they brought with them not only the qualities of thrift, ingenuity, and courage, but also an inherent devotion to their church. It was in July 1878; the “The German Lutheran Church of Hudson” was established, in a frame building, just south of the present site, 5 miles northwest of Hudson. Prior to this, families walked or took horse and buggy to church at St. John's Lutheran in Cedar Falls, where Pastor Foelsch encouraged them to build a new congregation.
Sixteen families joined together to give the land and build the combination parsonage and church; the pastor's living quarters being on the first floor, and the church sanctuary on the second. Charter members included William Gutknecht, Frederick Gutknecht, Herman Gutknecht, William Andorf, Henry Andorf, Henry Nagel, Henry Stumpenhausen, Paul Engelhardt, Karl Miller, Henry Vieregge, Carl Schroeder, Henry Steinbeck, William Miller, Reinhardt Gutknecht and John Zach. These families supported the pastor's salary the first two years with pledges ranging from $3 to $25 per family.
Their first pastor, Rev. H. Scheffelmann, served for two years, had been educated in Germany, and all services were in German. Fees were established for special church events as decided upon by Zion Congregation, July 8, 1878 as follows: baptism $1.00; confirmation $2.50; funeral $2.50; and for every child attending parochial school whose parents are members of the congregation $1.50 per month. Fee for a child of non-congregation member was fifty cents per month more, for a 6-8 month school year and every member of the congregation is duty bound to help to carry its burdens according to his financial strength and ability.
Rev. Hermann Baumbach served the congregation from 1880-86. This church served a wide area, even in the early years when the only transportation was by horse and buggy, horseback, or walking. During the summer when the horses worked hard in the fields all week, those members living only two or three miles from the church would walk to Sunday Services, letting their horses have a day of rest.
Rev. Henrich Stuers served the congregation from 1886 to 1903. One of his daughters, Marie, married Henry Gutknecht; first infant to be baptized on August 9, 1878 after the congregation was organized. Originally, the pastor served as a teacher for summer classes, and later when a one-room school was built south of the church in 1891; the pastor conducted regular school during the winter from Thanksgiving until Good Friday. Children who lived at a distance sometimes boarded and roomed at the pastor's home during these winter months. Their parents would provide food, bringing apples, potatoes, ham, crocks of lard and as well as wood, and of course, oats, hay, and straw for the pastor's horses. When compulsory nine months of schooling per year became law, the little schoolhouse was used only for confirmation classes.
Rev. E. R. Melchert was pastor 1903-1911 and it was during this time the name of the church was changed to Zion Evangelical Lutheran. In 1905, the present church was built at a cost of $6,200. The 100' spire was the pride of the congregation, and the large bell in it was especially cast in St. Louis, Mo. It was rung at 6:00 p.m. every Saturday evening to remind folks of the Sabbath. When the new church was completed, the second story of the pastor's home was converted into living quarters and the wide front steps that had led to the auditorium were removed.
Rev. J. A. Grueber was pastor in 1911-1917. He had a fine team of horses and a two-seated surrey. The church was an integral part of the lives of the congregation. Every holiday and every Holy Day was celebrated with special church services, and daily devotions were held in the homes. In the fall there were Mission Festivals, and on Christmas Eve the Sunday School children always presented a program of songs and readings. On New Year's Eve the bell would be rung at midnight, signaling a time for family devotions, with a prayer for the New Year.
Rev. E. Gross, pastor from 1917-1924. He lived in the one-room schoolhouse during the year 1920-21, when the present parsonage was built on the site of the original church. The old parsonage was torn down and lumber used to construct the present parsonage, just 10 feet from the original church and parsonage combination.
Rev. F. Braun, was pastor from 1924-1929. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hudson celebrated is 50th Anniversary in 1928. Church, steeple and cross were painted. Electricity was installed in church.
Rev. F. Voss was during the next decade, 1929-1939. Pastor Ernest Engel, a son Rebecca and August Engel was ordained into the ministry in June 1936. Discussion began on adopting the English language for all services. But it was not until 1940, after 62 years as a church that German was no longer the principal language. Rev. H. Wilke was pastor from 1940-1945 and the first pastor to use the English language for all worship services. A used Kimball pipe organ was installed and dedicated. During the pastorate of Rev. L. W. Reuther from 1945-1951, the church was incorporated and a constitution adopted. In 1948, a full basement was made under the church, with a kitchen, fellowship hall, and restrooms. While Rev. F. E. Pietz was pastor from 1951-1958 the church was extensively redecorated in 1952, tin lining of the sanctuary was removed and replaced with plaster. New lighting fixtures were installed. On June 14, 1953, the congregation celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Baptized membership totaled 336 persons during the period of 1958-1961 while Rev. Erhard Bunge was pastor. A new Hasse pipe organ was dedicated in 1962 during the pastoral leadership of Rev. Herman Cronrath from 1961-1964. Then while Rev. John Sime was pastor from 1965 -1971 organ chimes were installed in 1967 and a new narthex and education wing were dedicated on July 13, 1969.
During the next years, Rev. Robert Pindell served as pastor from 1971-1973 and parsonage improvements and were made including painting as well as altar and statue repair and painting. While Rev, Calvin Fick pastor from 1973-1977 the whole church was painted inside and out and Curtis Schneider was ordained into the ministry in 1977.
In 1978 while 1978-1981 Rev. John Gartley served as pastor between 1978 and 1981, the congregation celebrated its 100th Anniversary. Bethel Bible Study series was begun and new green hymnals were put into use and the church was sided. Then with Rev. Jerome Godson was pastor from 1982-1990, exterior improvements were completed including addition of a west entryway with enclosed glass entry from west and south of the church. Steeple repair was also completed in 1983. In 1995 Zion sponsored the Jerzy Hofman refugee family. In 1986 the addition of a platform was added to the front of the church as well as new stained glass on lower portions of two windows. These as well as new carpeting in the entryway were dedicated in 1987. Continuous communion was begun. In 1988 the congregation celebrated its 110th Anniversary. New parsonage windows were installed as well as new shingles. In 1990 parsonage porch was replaced with a new west entry. From 1991-1997, when Rev. T. Edward Breed was pastor, new pictorial stained glass windows replaced seven original windows. The parsonage was sided as well as kitchen repairs were completed. The garage was resided. The church entry roof was replaced. The congregation constitution was updated. Wind damaged the steeple and the cross was removed temporarily.
In 1998 Zion entered into a one-year agreement with St Timothy Lutheran Church in Hudson to share a pastor and intern. Beginning June 1998 Rev. Myron Albertson held services at Zion at 8 a.m. and at St Timothy at 9:30 a.m. Intern pastor, Joann Kramer came in July and resided part-time in Zion's parsonage. In October 25, 1998 Rev. Albertson retired from the ministry. Rev. Joann Kramer continued through June 1999. In October 1998, Rev. Don Feuerhak became the interim pastor for both congregations to continue the agreement with St. Timothy. In 1999, Rev. Gary Olson was called as half time pastor beginning August 16, 1999. A new permanent steel roof was installed on the church in 1999. New carpeting was installed in the Education Wing and new steel roof to match the other roof was installed on the Education Wing and all entryway roofs, concrete driveways were installed at the cemetery and a platform lift was installed making the church handicap accessible. The 125th anniversary of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, formerly the German Lutheran Church, was celebrated in 2003 and 130th anniversary in 2008.
From January 2000 through mid-August 2011 Rev. Claudia Tessmer served as 3/4 time pastor at Zion. Her husband Rev. Fred Tessmer was pastor at St. Timothy in Hudson until February 2010. Both Zion and St. Timothy congregations shared some aspects of ministry through early 2010. Confirmation Classes and Adult Bible Study as well as Senior Luther League were some of these shared ministry efforts.
An initial vote to leave the ELCA was taken in 2009 and after a period of discernment a second vote was taken and passed on June 2, 2010. At that time Zion joined Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). The once declining membership blossomed and Zion continues to attract new members, welcoming them as coworkers for Christ. The congregation has drawn new members from Hudson, Reinbeck, Dike and Cedar Falls.
When Pastor Claudia Tessmer announced her plans to retire in August 2010, the congregation elected a call committee and they immediately began the search for a new pastor. After a little more than only 4 months, the Reverend Dr. Mark G. Decker accepted a call to Zion and was officially installed on Januray 1, 2011 as a fulltime pastor. As of December 2012 the baptized membership was 162 and comfirmed membership 146.
Over the years Zion has been in existence, many retired pastors and college professors have served Zion on an interim basis: Rev. Oscar Smith, Dr. Ray Harms, Rev. Paul Bauer, Rev. Mary Kenosian and Rev. Robert Langholz to name a few.