History of Zion UCC
Zion is often referred to as the “German Church,” and indeed, the great majority of our ancestors who founded Zion migrated from Germany. The Germany of the early 19th century was a diverse and divided reality of 39 loosely confederated states, not a unified nation. Differences of dialect, religion and cultural orientation separated the north from the south, the east from the west.
Zion was officially formed on February 20, 1885, with 46 charter members. The name “Zion” was unanimously adopted, and Zion Reformed Church of Waukon, Iowa, came into being.
The beginnings of Zion in Waukon was formed from two other area congregations: Zalmona Presbyterian Church, seven miles to the west, and Ebenezer Church, three miles to the east. The early historical records from Ebenezer Church note: “This group of people , combined with the group west of Waukon was organized into a congregation on August 11, 1856, and was given the name: German Presbyterian Church.” When their pastor left in 1864, without a successor, some of the members east of Waukon decided to form another congregation and to seek a pastor from the German Reformed Church. They took these steps because most had been raised in the Reformed Church in Germany, and wanted to remain faithful to their parent’s tradition. Also, the distance to church, the conditions of the roads and frequent snowstorms prevented regular attendance. Finally, they wanted their children to have more religious training in a parochial school. Thus, in December of 1864, Ebenezer Church was formed. Those not interested in this change moved to their present site west of town, and assumed the name Zalmona Presbyterian Church. However, continued difficulty in attending worship moved a number of families to petition Ebenezer Church to release them to organize a Reformed Church in Waukon. The petition was granted with the understanding that the new church would be yoked with Ebenezer. The two congregations would be served by one pastor, and both would have the same rights. They agreed to alternate morning and afternoon services.
Thus, on February 20, 1885, Zion congregation was formed. Six months later, in August of 1885, a new red brick church on our present site was dedicated. During the summer of 1895, a parsonage was built next to Zion Church so the new pastor now resided in town. Prior to this, the pastor had lived in the Ebenezer parsonage.
On October 7, 1902, the last recorded minutes of Ebenezer Church note that the members of Ebenezer were asked whether they wanted to become a self-supporting congregation or to become members of Zion. Almost all chose to become members at Zion, so services at Ebenezer were discontinued.
First Zion Church Edifice, Erected 1885
Zalona/Salona Pres. Church - Ludlow
Ebenezer church, undated