"You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor."
--2 Corinthians 8:7
Church History
Zion Lutheran Pastors

As early as 1879, Lutheran church services were held in the Warren are by visiting pastors who travelled by horse and buggy from as far away as Ada. In 1904, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church organized as a mission congregation, with services first conducted in the John Rue farm home in Warrenton Township by Rev. Paul Ross. He served the area until 1907, followed by Rev. F.J. Seltz of thief River Falls, who travelled to and from Warren on the Soo Line Railroad. Seltz served from 1907 to 1910 and again in 1911 and to 1912. Rev. Rhode of Radium served in 1911.

Rev. Seltz guided the organization of the congregation and on December 15, 1911, it officially became the German Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod. Charter members included Berthold Kammerer, Fred C. Hickman, Louis Giesing, J.R. Rue and Herman Hartwig. On June 23, 1912, the first call for a pastor was extended to and accepted by Rev. William Bramscher of St. Paul, who served to 1915. Space was rented for services in the Norwegian Synod Church for a fee of $1.00 a week in the summer and $1.50 a week during the winter months. The pastor received a salary of $400 a year and free housing and transportation. These expenses were shared by congregation in Warren, Radium and Tabor. On June 6, 1913, the first Mission Festival was held at Riegel’s Grove in McCrea Township.

Rev. Seltz again served as vacancy pastor from 1915 to February 1916, when Rev. M. Hauser became the next pastor. That fall, the Zion congregation incorporated and the next year the three congregations jointly purchased a parsonage in Warren. A church structure at 4th and Fletcher was constructed in 1918, with F.C. Hickman, Gust Fischer and August Prillwitz as the building committee. Building costs totaled $7,000. This includes $450 for the altar, pulpit and baptismal font built by William Newman. In 1919, the first Sunday School was organized. Frank Stuemke was instrumental in guiding its beginnings and subsequently served as Sunday School superintendent for 37 years. He was honored for his commitment to Christian education at a banquet of appreciation in 1959. The Sunday School department continues to provide a basis of Christian education for our children. The staff, under the supervision of the pastor, includes well-qualified full –time and substitute teachers providing stimulating instruction in the Word and in music. Current enrollment of 37 children ranges in age from 3 years through the eighth grade. 1985 saw the addition of a nursery, held during the Sunday School hour, to allow parents with young children to attend adult Bible class.

Zion Ladies Aid also formed in 1919. Its first officers were Mrs. Martin Hauser, president; Mrs. August Prillwitz, vice-president; Mrs. F.C. Hickman, secretary; and Mrs. Hanna Stuemke, treasurer. Meetings were held in the homes of the members and songs were sung alternately in English and German. In recent years, meetings have been held in the church facilities. In 1942, the society became a charter member of the International Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. In 1983, the society became sponsors of the Dan Finley family, support personnel for Wycliffe Bible Translators in Papua, New Guina. Mrs. Finley is the former Kay Wittman, a daughter of the congregation. Present membership is 46.

For many years, the Walther League served the newly-confirmed youth of the congregation, providing spiritual growth and fellowship. In 1959, Zion joined with Immanuel of Radium for youth activities and in 1968 the Walther League became known as Active Christian Teens-Lutheran Youth Fellowship. The group’s activities include Bible studies, hayrides, volleyball, skiing, overnights and circuit retreats and rallies. The Zion-Immanuel ACT-LYF hosted the 1985 Spring Rally. In 1924, Rev. Hauser left the Zion parish. Vacancy pastor was Rev. E Kreidt of Thief River Falls, who served one year, until Rev. M.F. Buenger accepted the call and served until 1941. He organized Zion’s first Bible class. Rev. O.A. Sylvester served as pastor until 1947. A one-year vacancy was filled by Rev. Wolfgram of East Grand Forks and in 1948 Rev. Floyd Kruger accepted the congregation’s call. Rev W.O. Sprengeler became Zion’s next pastor in 1954. At this time, the Zion-Immanuel parish jointly constructed a new parsonage just north of Zion’s church and Zion undertook the remodeling of its basement facilities.

Rev. Roger Fischer was installed as pastor in June 1958 and served until September 1962. During his pastorate, Zion celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1961. Rev. Fischer was followed by Charles Beyer, 1963 to 1966; Rev. Eugene Rall, 1966 to 1969; and Rev. Henry V. Buchholz, 1970 to 1974. In August of 1975, Rev. Paul Preisinger was installed as pastor of Zion and Immanuel congregations.

Under his guidance, the congregation undertook the construction of a new house of worship. On May 20, 1979, ground was broken for the $250,000 structure located on the southeast edge of Warren. Completed in early December of 1979, the redwood and stone building has a large nave and choir loft seating 250. Also included are 5 classrooms, pastor’s study, fellowship hall, kitchen and sacristy. A special feature is the inclusion of items from the baptismal font and pews. This gave a feeling of continuity as the congregation moved to a new home and to new opportunities.

The first service in the new sanctuary was held December 16, 1979, with the formal dedication held on February 3, 1980. Rev. Preisinger officiated at the Rite of Dedication, with Rev. Dr. August T. Mennicke, president of the Minnesota North District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, as guest speaker. Also participating were pastors of the Crookston Circuit and former pastor Rev. Roger Fischer.

In February of 1983, Rev. Preisinger acceped a call to Chico, California. In July of that same year, Rev. John E. Klieve was installed as pastor and serves to the present time.

Pastors serving the later year vacancies include the late Rev. E Borchert, Rev. E Behling and Rev. Rolf Preus, all of East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Laymen of the Zion and Immanuel parish have sometimes led services during vacation and vacancy periods. These include Gordon Sommers, Franklin Knoll and Donovan Loeslie. Organists through the years include F.J. Stuemke, Mrs. Mary Kerestes, Mrs. M.F. Buenger, Mrs. W. O. Sprengeler, Mrs. Marlene Silnes, Mrs. Judy Yutrzenka, Mrs. Jean (Potucek) Hillman and the present organist, Mrs. Corinne Nelson.

Throughout its 75 years, Zion Lutheran congregation has been showered with God’s blessings of Word and Sacrament. With His continued help and guidance, we renew our efforts in His Kingdom for the years ahead.

©2010, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.