A Brief Church History
The history of Zion Lutheran Church dates back to the year 1830 when German immigrants from various parts of the Old Country formed a settlement in Liverpool Township, Medina County, Ohio. Sectarian ministers would from time to time visit the German settlement in Liverpool, preach, and conduct divine services. However, this did not satisfy the spiritual needs of the settlers. Being God fearing and God loving people, they longed to have a pastor of their own. Finally in September of 1834, by the gracious direction of God, the first Lutheran pastor, Rev. Emmanuel Metzger, a native of Wurttemburg, arrived in Liverpool. Their prayer had been heard, their wishes granted, and they were happy and thankful people.
In 1835, just one year after his arrival, Pastor Metzger, the vestry, and a number of the members took steps to have the congregation legally incorporated. In December of that year, a duly drawn up petition was presented before the legislative body of the State of Ohio by Senator John Whittlen. The petition was granted and the bill of incorporation was passed on December 29, 1835, under the title, “A Bill to Incorporate the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liverpool, in the County of Medina.” The original document was signed by Governor John W. Allen.
At first, only a temporary organization was formed by adopting a provisional constitution. The congregation finally agreed to formulate and adopt a more complete constitution and by-laws. This was done October 26, 1836. A fully completed constitution was not adopted until at the dedication of the “frame church” on May 13, 1838. On this occasion, the completed constitution was publically read and adopted. Prior to Pastor Metzger’s arrival, these German immigrants first worshipped in a log school house on State Road. Later a log church was built about one and one-half miles south of Liverpool Center. This log church was still in existence when Pastor Metzger arrived in their midst. The congregation made efforts toward a building program, but these efforts were curtailed by lack of finances. Two reasons for a new house of worship were manifest. Firstly, the congregation needed larger quarters, and secondly, the need was felt to have the church more centrally located.
The congregation received $200 and twenty acres of land from the estate of C.L. Coit. Mr. Nathan Carr donated an acre of land with the stipulation that a frame church 30 x 40 feet be erected on it within three years time. The $200 plus the proceeds from the sale of the twenty acres of land, together with other gifts, in part from German friends in Liverpool and part from friends outside, were used to finance the building program. The frame church was apparently built on the one acre of land donated by Mr. Carr. The church was dedicated on May 13, 1838.
The frame church served its purpose well for a period of 58 years. Records show that in February, 1893, a resolution to build an addition to this church was unanimously voted down, and a motion to build a new church carried by majority vote. A new location was procured a short distance to the southeast of the frame church. The cornerstone of our present church was laid in 1894. The new church was completed for dedication in May, 1896. The main building is 72 feet long by 40 feet wide; the altar niche is 16 feet by 12 feet; the tower is 12 feet by 12 feet and 107 feet high with a cross and three bells to call the members to worship. The cost was between $13,000 and $15,000.
On June 21, 1908, a new two-manual pipe organ was dedicated at a cost of $1,500. In 1924, during the pastorate of Rev. Albert Lamprecht, the congregation filled a long standing need, when a new modern parsonage was built at a cost of $7,000.
During the pastorate of Rev. C.W. Kemrite, the possibility of building an addition to the church to more adequately accommodate the Sunday School and the organizations in the church was discussed on several occasions. At a special congregational meeting held on January 20, 1963, the members of Zion voted to proceed with a building program to provide Zion’s congregation with an educational unit. Ground was broken on July 15, 1963. Our educational unit was dedicated on July 12, 1964. It was constructed at a cost of $70,000, plus many man-hours of labor donated by the members. Zion celebrated the payment of the final amount due at a mortgage burning ceremony on June 25, 1972.
During the short time between the retirement of Rev. C.W. Kemrite and the arrival of Rev. William R. Kulju, the congregation took advantage of the vacancy of the parsonage. This project was completed in August, 1975, the month that the pastorate of Rev. Kulju began. Zion transitioned from the American Lutheran Church to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at the time of its formation.
Rev. Michael D. Oakley was installed as the 16th pastor of Zion on June 5, 1994. In 1996, an elevator was installed so that members and guests who are unable to climb stairs can easily gain entrance to all floors of the church. During the pastorate of Pastor Oakley, the congregation moved to expand our ministry when a Youth and Family Ministry was started and Carolyn Penvose was named as the Director of that Ministry in 2001.
Rev. Ted Pelikan was the interim before Pastor Michael E. Koch was installed as the 17th pastor of Zion on August 1, 2003. Since the majority of ministers interviewed by the call committee preferred to own their own home rather than live in a parsonage, and Pastor Koch purchased a new house in Medina, the congregation decided to sell the parsonage. The congregation voted to tithe 10% of this to charities, and the balance was placed in our building expansion fund. Julie Pressnell was named as the director of Youth and Family Ministry from 2007 to 2010.
Zion planned and broke ground on an expansion to the building only after enough funds were pledged by the members to cover the 2 million dollar project. The new facility, designed and built by Simons Brothers, has been a beautiful blessing to the ministries of Zion since its dedication in May of 2010. Zion celebrated the mortgage burning on Pentecost of 2011.
Zion’s constitution has been amended on several occasions, but a significant revision occurred in 2014 when our leadership was improved to include on council the leaders of six core teams responsible for the ministries of Zion: Worship, Spiritual Growth, Outreach and Ministries, Congregational Life, Facilities, and Finances. This revision makes it possible for the expanded leadership to respond more efficiently to ministry needs in the church and community. We are currently under the leadership of Pastor Jim Watson who has been the pastor of Zion since August of 2015.
Zion has sent seven of its sons and one daughter into the ministry: Rev. Emil C. Krause, Rev. Albert A. Bauman, Rev. Reuben E. Bauman, Rev. Jonathan M. Steingass, Dr. Nathan C. Frambach, Rev. Douglas S. Gunkelman, Rev. Kari E. Lankford, and Rev. James E. Steingass.