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History of Zion United Methodist Church
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
October, 2001
Trula Kersten & Pastor Lynn Kriz

church cemetery

History of Zion United Methodist Church 
        -written by Trula Kersten

Zion Evangelical started holding services in 1873 in the home of Henreich Bretzke, southeast of the present town site of Kimball.  Some families that became a part of our community settled in this region as early as 1869.  The work of the church was originally carried on in the homes of members and in schoolhouses of the community.  Our parent congregations were located in Paynesville and St. Cloud.  The first families of Zion were the Ecker, Hinz, Mielke, Kersten, Miller, Marquardt, Kiehn, and Schmidt.

Gethsemane Evangelical church began when the early immigrants gathered in the homes of the Block and Pramanns for worship.  In 1861 pastors from the Paynesville Mission served this congregation.  In 1873, a St. Cloud Mission was established, it consisted of four appointments:  St. Cloud (Grace), Bretzkes (Zion), Blocks (Gethsemane), and Stangers.  It was served by pastors from St. Cloud until 1911 when it was joined to the South Haven Mission.

In 1873 Heinrich and Johanna Pramann donated land for a church and cemetery to the Evangelical Association in St. Augusta Township in Stearns County.  A church was built in 1880 during the pastorate of F.C. Schmidt.  The first families of Gethsemane were the Block, Pramann, Schultz, and Werner.  This mission closed and joined with Zion of South Haven in 1917 or 1918.  Many of Zion's members are descendents of Gethsemane.

The first local conference of Zion was held July 13, 1889, at the home of August Kersten, with Rev. F. Ende presiding.  The church was officially incorporated November 26, 1891, filed with Register of Deeds of Wright County as Zion Evangelical Church of South Haven.  A church was built in 1899 during the pastorate of F.G. Sahr, at the present cemetery site.  The land was donated by Gottlieb Kersten for the church and cemetery.  The church structure was moved into the village of South Haven in 1916.  As the church prospered an addition was built in 1924 costing about $900.  We had Sunday school, youth groups, and a missionary society as our membership grew.

In 1953 the conference of the Evangelical and the United Brethren decided to merge, forming the Evangelical United Brethren church.  We amended our Articles of Incorporation and became known as Zion Evangelical United Brethren Church of South Haven.

In 1956, in connection with the observance of our 65th Anniversary, a remodeling fund was established.  It was the hope that the present building could be remodeled to meet the needs of this active congregation.

As our growth continued and after much study, it was decided to erect a new church structure in November 1960.  The building committee was appointed by the local conference in January 1961, and four acres along Highway 55 were purchased that fall.  The groundbreaking ceremonies were held on our new site April 21, 1963, and the cornerstone laying service was held July 7, 1963.

On our 72nd Anniversary, with grateful hearts, we held our service of dedication on November 24, 1963.  Our new church building completed a dream realized! Pastor Abdella lead us in planning, coordinating, and completing one of the greatest undertakings in the history of Zion.  The cost of this 6500 sq. ft. building, $75,300 exclusive of fees, well, furnishing, and landscaping.

In the spring of 1966 Zion became part of the Tri-Community Parish arrangement with Pastor Abdella also serving Kimball and Annandale Methodist churches in addition to Zion EUB.

In 1968 the conferences of Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Churches merged, and we here at Zion became Zion United Methodist Church of South Haven.  During the years of the Tri-Parish arrangement, 1966-1974, Robert McClelland and Roy Lockhart served our churches and lived in the Annandaleparsonage.  It was sold with one of our congregation buying it.  In 1974, Annandale United Methodist split off from the Tri-Parish and Patricia Toschak was appointed to serve our new Bi-Parish arrangement with Kimball UMC and Zion UMC congregations.

We celebrated our Mortgage Burning on April 27, 1980, with our theme being "Celebrating With Thanksgiving in Gods Constant Love."  It was truly a time of joy for our congregation.

Our 90th Anniversary in 1981 was "Celebration of Joy in the Lord."  The year 1980 brought a new challenge to our Bi-Parish. With the change of pastors we were in need of a parsonage for our pastor and family.  After many joint meetings with Kimball, land was purchased between the two churches on Highway 55 in 1981.  We had a ground breaking in the spring and construction began the summer of 1982 with both churches donating many hours of volunteer labor.  We had a dedication of our new parsonage in the fall of 1982; due to the generous donations from both churches we were able to build the parsonage without a mortgage.

We celebrated our Centennial in 1991, 100 years of our congregation surviving, growing, and serving the community.  We have dedicated our rich heritage and our purpose of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pastors who have served us:

H. Hensel  1873-75
A.C. Schmidt  1875-78
J. Congoil                    1878-80
F.C. Schimdt 1880-83
H.G. Schmidt 1883-86
F. Emde  1886-91
E.H. Bollenbach  1891-92
J. Kienholz  1892-93
H.C. Schmidt  1893-94
Thomas Koch  1894-95
E.J. Heilsher  1895-96
G.H. Seibold  1896
F.G. Sahr 1896-1900
A.H. Untzinger  1900-02
G. Britzius 1902-04
F. Moede  1904-08
F.J. Knuth  1908-12
W. Walter  1912-17
A.T. Nelson  1917-20
O. Brose  1920-21
Edwin M. Miller  1921-23
C.M Shaefer  1923-25
Theo Meckle  1925-30
A.C. Lippert   1930
H.G. Samuelson  1930
Paul Kiefer  1930-34
H.L. Rollert   1934-39
Wesley Miller  1939-41
A.H Naumann  1941-43
James Rutgers  1943-53
William H. Buller  1953-60
Wayne Abdella  1960-67
Robert McCelland 1967-72
Roy Lockhart  1972-74
Patricia M. Toschak  1974-80
Robert Shaffer  1980-86
Judith Westendort  1986-88
Dennis Nyberg  1989
Patricia Hinker  1989-93
Daniel Schnieder-Bryan  1993-99
Toby Horst  1999
Lynn Kriz  1999-2001
Heather E. Mckee-Klason  2001-2009
Luke C. Nelson 2009-2012
Ruth Hograbe 2012-