Zion Works to Save bit of History
Becker, Michael. "Zion
Works to Save bit of History." Journal-Advocate,
29 July 2005.
Built to serve the community of German-speaking immigrants from
United Church of Christ is one of the few remaining monuments left
But the building is old and needs help - some $200,000 in help.
The church is
now undertaking some heavy fund-raising so it can donate $50,000
project. The other $150,000 would come from the State Historical
The congregation is small, fewer than 100 people, noted Lois Christiansen,
member of the congregation. "But a lot of them are descendants
of the original
Russian Germans," she said.
For that reason, Christiansen said the building is worth saving.
In 2001, the
church was given historic property designation by the state. And
congregation was given a $10,000 grant last year from the historical
pay for an architectural assessment.
|Zion United Church of
Christ was built by German immigrants from Russia. After receiving
designation as a state historical site, the congregation is
now seeking a grant to make needed repairs.
The findings make for somewhat grim reading.
"The building's kind of falling in on itself," she said.
Slaterpaull Architects' study found some "critical deficiencies,"
recommended they be addressed immediately. These include installing
sag rods to keep the walls from blowing out further, installing
a new furnace,
and running new electrical wiring.
Zion, described by Slaterpaull as being Romanesque Revival in style,
was built in 1926. Services and confirmation classes were held exclusively
in German until 1936, after which services were held in both English
and German. In 1945, German was dropped and only English was used.
The church was built by Germans who had migrated from the Volga
River valley in
Russia to Logan County in early part of 20th century.
That community's history dates back to 1763, when Russian Empress
Great invited them to settle what was then largely undeveloped land.
Germans started leaving in 1874 when they were no longer exempted
military service. Emigration reached its peak between 1905 and 1914,
when most of them arrived in Logan County.
After they settled here many of them worked the beet fields, and
the Sterling sugar factory, the old Logan County courthouse, and
In 1911, 24 German immigrants voted to form Der Deutsche Congregational
Gemeinde, or the German Congregational Zion Church, in Sterling.
the old Roman Catholic church on 5th and Chestnut for $2,000, and
their church there.
Early church documents indicate three columns of pews were built
so that women
could sit in the west pews, men in the east pews, and married couples
In 1960, the congregation voted to join United Church of Christ.
As late as
2001, it still had two members who had been born in Russia.
Christiansen and Lona Barber are spearheading the fund-raising
efforts as well
as the grant applications. A noodle sale is planned for Aug. 1.
church members will prepare and sell cabbage pockets. The traditional
dinner is slated for October.
Christiansen said they hope to have the $50,000 raised by then,
application for the $150,000 state grant must be in by Oct. 1.
"We're just trying to rally the congregation," she said.
And save a piece of county history as well.
Reprinted with permission of the Journal Advocate.