Although there had been some missionary work in the Crow Wing area prior to 1871, the first missionary of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod was the Rev. H. Glaess who established a preaching station in 1882.
This mission was continued by Pastors John Von Brandt, Fredrick H. Kretzschmar and A. Philip Pankow. It was through their work that a congregation of six voting members was established in 1884. They were: F. Houssmann, E. H. Schuermeyer, F. Walk, E. Engel, A. Hildebrand and A. Kosbab.
With several nearby rural parishes, this group decided to call a resident pastor. The Rev. John Prick accepted this call and was installed, Dec. 9, 1888, by the Rev. Pankow.
After adopting a constitution and electing officers, the congregation voted to erect a structure suitable for school and church purposes. With the help of a loan of $200 from the Church Extension Fund of Synod, this building was completed in 1890 on the corner of Ivy and 10th street. This church was later enlarged and a parsonage built on the same location.
When fire destroyed this church in 1912, services were held in Trinity Lutheran church for a time. Zion's second church building on the corner of Washington and Eighth was completed in 1915. For more than 30 years, this modest church served the needs of the congregation, but it soon became apparent that facilities were not large enough to accommodate a growing congregation and Sunday School.
A resolution was adopted to build a new church, rather than to rebuild or enlarge the old one, and the congregation acquired three lots on the north-west corner of Kingwood and Eighth streets. Frank A. Abrahamson was retained as architect for the new church.
Now came a period of testing and trying, because the cost of building seemed to be too much for the congregation to under-write. The decision to build was made in June 1953, when the congregation was told that Continental Oil corporation was willing to take up its option and buy the corner if the church was willing to vacate the building and remove it within 30 days. This offer was accepted and the last services were conducted in the old church on June 14, 1953.
Immediately, wheels were set in motion to start building. Ground was broken Sept. 20. 1953, and the building construction began the next day. Cornerstone-laying was observed Nov. 30, 1953, and on Nov. 14, 1954, the dedication of the new building took place.
However, the congregation continued to grow, and it was not too many years before it became apparent that there was a need for more educational facilities. On Jan. 19, 1969, plans were accepted at the annual meeting for the construction of a new educational wing, and a year later the new building was dedicated on April 12, 1970.
During the 90 years of the history of Zion Evangelical Lutheran church, 12 resident pastors (besides the four missionaries mentioned previously) have served the congregation. They are: John Prick, 1888-1891; Carl Abel, 1891-1894; Theodore Andres, 1894-1899; A. Habekost, 1899-1906; C. Kolimorgen, 1906- 1910; John H. Engel, 1910-1913; E. Joesting, 1913-1916; Paul G. Mueller, 1916-1920; Fred C. Rathert, 1920-1942; Eddie T. Hilpert, 1942-1944; Paul J. Affeldt 1944-1966; and M. H. K retzschmar 1966-
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).