On Sunday, September 13 at the 8 a.m. livestream and 9 and 11 a.m. Drive-in Worship services, Zion congregation celebrated 150 years as a congregation. A special greeting from Bishop Ann Svennungsen was shared and Lead Pastor Brent Campbell delivered a sermon titled “Pioneers Wanted”.

In honor of Zion’s 150th Anniversary celebration, a musical work that was commissioned by the Zion Foundation of Peter Durow, our Youth Choir director, was premiered. Peter chose to set the text of Psalm 146 for our combined forces of choirs – Adult, Youth, Children – and instruments –  handbells, piano, and solo clarinet (reduced for this initial performance due to pandemic restrictions).  Looking back on the creative process behind his composition, Peter commented that he had enjoyed “writing for the specific ensemble members and musicians for this Psalm setting, which captures the celebratory spirit of the church’s 150th anniversary year.” As the text states at the end of the work, titled Psalm 146, “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.”

Zion’s 150th Anniversary Worship Celebration also incorporated the talents of artist and pastor Paul Oman. During the 8 a.m. livestream service, Paul painted a large mural that tells the story of the Gospel lesson (the Road to Emmaus) and Zion’s 150th Anniversary. The completed painting is on display in the church lower commons area.

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Timeline

  • 1870   Fifteen Swedish immigrants met in homes and organized a new congregation, Zion Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church.
  • 1873   The first church was built on North Fourth Avenue (now the Knights of Columbus Hall).
  • 1873   The first full-time, resident Pastor, J.D. Nelsenius was called. There were 112 baptized members.
  • 1921   The congregation began to worship in English and that year membership doubled and became “Zion Lutheran Church”.
  • 1954   The new church was built at South Fourth Avenue during the pastorate of Armour Edberg.
  • 1956   Pastor William Hyllengren was called and began his 31-year ministry at Zion, which was a time of growth and expansion.
  • 1962-1983   A number of building projects expanded the Sanctuary, classrooms, nursery, offices, and a Chapel to accommodate a growing congregation.
  • 1968   Zion’s Pre-Kindergarten was begun.
  • 1975   Zion sponsors Vietnamese Refugee re-settlement ministry.
  • 2000   The Christian Life Center, a new youth center, and expanded lower commons area were built.
  • 2005   Zion sponsored Pastor Mawien Ariik as the first indigenous ELCA Missionary, serving in his native country of South Sudan and he was instrumental in the founding of the Lutheran Church of South Sudan.
  • 2009   Zion was one of the founding congregations of Family Promise in Anoka County (for families experiencing homelessness).
  • 2012   Sanctuary Renewal Project was begun, including major re-modeling of the Sanctuary, structural improvements, and the relocation of the Chapel/Columbarium.
  • 2017   Phase II of the Sanctuary Renewal Project was completed, including the Cornerstone Café and relocated nursery and staff offices.
  • 2019   Expansion of the Chapel/Columbarium was completed.
  • 2020    Zion celebrates 150th  Anniversary!  We are now a congregation of 3,000 baptized members.

The growth in our physical building is only a hint of the spiritual growth that has taken place over 150 years.  Zion’s music program, education ministry, and our service to the community and world has continued to expand up to the present day.


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