The history of Zion Lutheran Church began in Hinsdale, Illinois on November 14, 1886, when the first service was held in the old Fullersberg schoolhouse. Dr. E. A. Kraus, president of Concordia Teachers College, presided over the service. In January of 1887, Rev. John Strieter of Immanuel, Hillside, began conducting bi-monthly services for the Hinsdale community. The community responded with much enthusiasm to these services and on April 15, 1888, a congregation was officially formed, with 21 members signing the charter. ZION was the name given to the new, and proud congregation.
In April, 1888, a vacant lot at Vine and Second Streets was purchased for the purpose of building a house of worship. The church, complete with tower and bell, was completed for the cost of $2,515, $1,000 of which was raised by the small congregation. The building was dedicated on October 14, 1888. 1889 also the purchase of land, as five acres north of Hinsdale were purchased as a cemetery plot for the Hinsdale congregation.
The congregation celebrated its 25th anniversary on April 20, 1913. It was at that time that a resolution was passed to erect a new house of worship on the plot of land at the southwest corner of Grant and Second Streets, purchased in 1911. The new church was completed for the cost of $23,481. Dedication for the church was on March 14, 1915. The increased facilities brought a spiritual reawakening. One of the first meetings saw 22 new members joining the voters Assembly.
In 1888, Zion celebrated its centennial which began on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1987, when Dr. Ralph Bohlmann, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, delivered a sermon to the people of Zion. The sanctuary was also refurbished in 1988.
In 2005 a new addition was added to Zion. An expanded narthex strengthened fellowship within the congregation and provided a more welcoming area for visitors. New entrances, accessible restrooms on the main level and an elevator provide ease of access for everyone. Enlarged offices make serving members easier. The Early Education Childhood Center provides a cheery, welcoming atmosphere for 2 to 5 year old children.
Zion congregation is wonderfully diverse. As we learn to live our lives building and strengthening relationships with Jesus Christ and each other, we desire to be a source of comfort and spiritual renewal to others.
Zion Lutheran School
In September of 1890, Zion’s Christian Day School was opened, with 17 pupils enrolled. Pastor J. Molthan, who was very instrumental in the creation of the school, was the sole teacher.
The school enrollment continued to increase in numbers and in 1894, Zion’s first teacher, Mr. Nicholas Roemer was called to assist the pastor. Sixty-five children were enrolled in the school that year. Mr. Roemer taught at Zion for two years and was then succeeded by Mr. Herman Lembke, Mr. Adolph Kastner and Mr. Theo A. Meyer, respectively.
By 1908, the school enrollment had grown to 90 pupils, taught by Pastor Guebert, Mr. Paul Streufert and Miss Minnie Kohn. Many staff changes took place over the years. Miss Clara Lebert took the place of Miss Kohn, Mr. L. T. Knief succeeded Mr. Streufert and Miss L Pfotenhauer took the place of Miss Elbert.
In 1916, Mr. Knief resigned as teacher and Mr. R.J. Schultz was his successor. Eighth grade was added to the curriculum and in 1917 Miss Pfotenhauer resigned and was succeeded by Miss Matha Frank and then Miss Martha Bueger in 1918. At this time, more English was placed into the curriculum while German writing and grammar were gradually phased out.
In 1922 the old church building was remodeled into two classrooms to house 120 pupils. It was at this time all German language was terminated in the school program.
After several more changes in the school’s teaching staff, the congregation called Mr. H. J. Heyne as principal. He served with Mr. A. W. Ladwig and Miss Mildred Boger until 1937 when Miss Paula Schmidt was added to the staff. By 1929, the school enrollment had reached 133 and a resolution was passed in 1930 to erect a new school building. It was dedicated on September 13, 1931.
The school continued to thrive and by 1960 an addition was begun. It was dedicated on September 30, 1962. By 1964, 180 children were enrolled in the school and by 1973, enrollment was 230, the highest yet.
In 2005, Zion’s new Early Childhood Education Center was dedicated. While enrollment of 2/1/2 year old through 5 years old increased, a steady decline in enrollment of Kindergarten through 8th grade over the years forced the Day School to close in 2008.