Pastor Thomas Queck holds the original record book of
every birth, baptism, confirmation, wedding and funeral
ever held at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Annandale. The black book is the churchï¿½s constitution,
which is written in German. The bell in the church tower
is the Zionï¿½s original bell, which was imported from
Germany in 1908. Zion is celebrating its 125th
anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 29, and Queck is marking 25
years at the church.
The original Zion building was constructed in Corinna
Township in 1888 on County Road 39, and was later picked
up and moved into town in 1948.
Advocate Managing Editor
Starting from a handful of German-heritage families banding together to
form a place of worship in 1888, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of
Annandale's roots run deep.
The Zion congregation will be
celebrating its 125th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 29.
appreciation for the church's history are evident in the preservation of
an early pastor's Bible and other artifacts, the inclusion of pews and
benches from the first church building in the balcony and welcome area
of the current building, and the ringing of the church's original bell
from Germany each Sunday.
Most of all, however, the value placed
on that heritage is evident in the ongoing use of the church's original
record book, which has a handwritten account of every birth, baptism,
confirmation, wedding and death of congregation members from 1888 to
How has the church managed to retain its vitality over that
century and more?
"My answer is that we are faithful to the word
of God, and that's the focus," said
Pastor Thomas Queck, who is in his 25th year of leading the
"We have strong people of the faith - devoted
Linda Truenow, a member of Zion's 125th anniversary committee.
Fidelity to God's word is what has kept the church relevant despite the
many cultural shifts that have occurred since the 1880s, according to
Queck, and no pastor has served Zion for a longer stretch of time.
"We don't go off and follow the trends of the day. We stay to the
course of his word," he said.
In the beginning
first services were held in the German language, with Rev. F. H. Kolbe
of Howard Lake visiting private homes in Corinna Township.
was incorporated on Oct. 1, 1888, with charter members Andrew Kuhnley,
George Kuhnley and Albert Greisbach and their families.
Kuhnley donated two acres of land at the corner of County Road 39 and
Sugar Lake Road, now Ireland Avenue NW, and the first church building
was constructed the same year.
In the first decade a succession
of four ministers who lived in Fair Haven and served the Concordia
church also traveled out to Corinna Township for regular services.
Zion started an English and German school in 1897. The school
continued until 1949, the year after the original church building was
moved into town to Zion's present property.
The church welcomed
its first resident pastor, Gustav Waack, in 1898, and all services were
held in the German language until 1925.
While the cultural
background of Zion and other Annandale churches has been diluted over
the years, Queck said he believed that St. John's Lutheran Church
originally consisted of mostly Scandinavian members, and that St.
Ignatius, which had its beginnings in French Lake, had many early
members from a French background.
Moving to town
1948, in order to be closer to the majority of its congregation members,
the entire church building was moved into Annandale. A decade later, the
current brick building was constructed and the first services were held
Christmas Eve, 1958.
Highlights of the new building included the
large stained glass cross at the front of the sanctuary, as well as a
custom-made Hunt six-rank organ, which was added during the 1970s. In
later years the organ was upgraded to a 24-rank instrument with the aid
of electronic technology.
The narthex addition was built and
dedicated in 1989, thus adding space for offices, an entry area and a
The old church building, which occupied a site
that is now an open lot, was sold and converted into apartments. In 1999
the church repurchased the lot and the original building and used it for
housing for a short time. The building had deteriorated to such an
extent by that time, however, that it was eventually torn down in 2008.
A constant record
Through it all, the rhythms of life
were captured by the church's record book, which shows the change over
from German to English in its carefully scripted entries.
book contains records of 966 baptisms, 899 confirmands, 323 weddings and
"You can tell when the hard times were when you
look at the funerals and see some of those ages of the children who died
young in the 1880s and '90s," said
Truenow. "It was such a hard time. Life was hard."
One of the
more notable services was held for Ralph H. Gordon in 1944. He was
killed in Italy during World War II, the only member of the church to
die in action in any war.
In more recent years, Queck has seen
his share of heartache too. Of the 371 total funerals, he has conducted
125 of them.
A similar handwritten book contains the church
constitution, written in German, of course.
Members of the 125th
anniversary committee laughed about the fact that its records are still
hand-written rather than stored on a computer when interviewed last
week, and also called attention to the meticulous hand-written script of
the early years.
Pastor Queck joked about having to use white-out
if a mistake is made with the most recent entries, and noted there were
few slip-ups in the early years.
"They never made mistakes back
said. Then, by way of explanation he added, "They were Germans."
Now a congregation of about 200
traditional and new families, Zion plans on celebrating its milestone
this Sunday with a worship service at 10 a.m.
The guest speaker
will be Dean Nadasdy, president of the Minnesota South District of the
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
Following the service, a
catered dinner open to all will begin at about 11:30 a.m., but anyone
who does not regularly attend the church should contact the office so
the proper amount of food will be available.
A special service of
praise and prayer will be held at 2 p.m., and the whole community is
invited to attend and share stories of life events that have a
connection to Zion.
"The preaching of the word and the
sacraments, that's our focus," said Queck. "We serve God, we worship
him, and he has blessed us."