Zion Lutheran Church History
First Hundred Years
Zion Lutheran Church about 1960.
Click to Enlarge.
A Year Book
Zion Lutheran Church Parsonage
Constructed in Silverhill, Alabama
The Silverhill community continued to be strongly Scandinavian. Hans G. Erickson, Victor Olson, and
John Olson were appointed Zion Lutheran Church delegates for Midsummers Fest to take place in
June. The importance of the event is demonstrated by the date of appointment, January 2, 1920.81
Pastor Jon Benson, Jr., continued as Zion's first full-time pastor, serving into 1923. The Zion Lutheran
Church parsonage was built with donated labor and materials about 1920, the church possessing a picture
of Pastor and Mrs. Benson on its front porch. Pastor Benson provided pastoral services at St. Elmo
Confirmation class of 1920.
(l to r) Back Row: Esther Hoff, Jeanette Boss, Myrtle Boxx, Agnes
Johnson, Grace Anderson, Mildred Mohe. Front Row: Finn Nitteberg,
Pastor John Benson, Sigurd Heni.
- Click to enlarge.
By 1921 the Ladies Aid had 25 members. The women were active in outreach, initiating a visitation
committee comprised of Mrs. Heni, Mrs. Carl Johnson, and Mrs. S. P. Torsen. The women began
purchasing items for the church kitchen, saw to it that the church floor had been oiled, and were involved
in discussion concerning the building a garage. In the early 2000s we are already forgetting about the
Communist Revolution in Russia, but these women of Zion Lutheran Church were actively concerned
about conditions in Russia and were concerned about the need for the gospel there in trying times. There
was a concern for foreign mission amongst these women.83
Women of the church consulted with Church Council to pursue the screening the church. $25 was
contributed to cost of construction of the garage and pump house. Thelma Hanson from the St. Elmo
Lutheran Church visited Zion to sing a solo in June, demonstrating the common ministry of a multiple-point
parish. After seven years in the church building, a new covering for altar was purchased. The church had
been involved in an auction for fund-raising for the church. There is now discussion for converting auction
activities to a bazaar so that food can be part of the fund-raising activities. Bazaars would be held many
times over subsequent years. There are oil stove problems in the church. Remember that Pastor
Benson is interested in China mission. The Ladies Aid has become aware of the Forsberg
missionaries in China being carried off by bandits. A review of the women's activities show that $182.65
was generated by them in 1922.84
Confirmation class of 1922.
(l to r) Front Row: Ruby Ledene, Pastor Benson, Ruth Johnson.
Back Row: Harry Heni, Ernest Wigstrom, Axel Rundquist, Elmer Erickson, Gustav Hoff.
- Click to enlarge.
Pastor Benson and his wife and young daughter left Silverhill in 1923 to prepare for missionary work in
China. The church again relied on theological students for parish support. After a most successful ministry at
Zion, he resigned in 1923 so that he might prepared himself for missionary work in China. Pastors D. N.
Anderson, Brown (Mobile), West, Derrick, W. Lefstedt, and Layman M. Zimmerman would serve
the church in subsequent years for various periods in mission to Zion Lutheran Church, an Augustana
Lutheran Home Mission Church.85
Confirmation class of 1923.
(l to r) Front Row: Ebba Olive Olson, Pastor John Benson,
[unidentified girl]. Back Row: Edith Olson, Evelyn Ledene, Alvin Peterson, Pearl Nordic, Vera [unidentified
- Click to enlarge.
Herman Olson, Secretary Pro Tem, reported that Zion Lutheran Church was supporting Augustana
Synod Colleges at a $1.20 rate per communicant member.86
Pastor Einar Oscar Leonard Johnson accepted Zion's call and would serve as pastor until 1930 when
Pastor J. P. Samuelson was called. Pastor E. Oscar Johnson was ordained on June 12, 1921, in
Chicago, Illinois. He had been born on January 1, 1890, in Nedertornea, Sweden. He had emigrated
to the U. S. in 1902 at age 12. Thirteen years later he graduated with a B. A. from Gustavus Adolphus
College and entered military service in 1917. He graduated from Augustana Seminary with a B. D. in
1921, then serving in Ely and Tower, Minnesota, until receiving the call to Zion Lutheran Church in
Silverhill, Alabama, in 1924. He later served in Svea City, Iowa (1929-31), in Meadowlands and
Payne, Minnesota (1933-38), in Underwood and Wilton, North Dakota (1938-44), in Clearbrook,
Minnesota (1944-48), in Isanti and Long Lake, Minnesota (1948-54), and in Attica, Indiana (1954-
58). He married Hanna A. Anderson the year before coming to Silverhill. They had 6 children. When
Hanna passed away, Pastor Johnson married Ruth A. Yeager in 1946. Pastor Johnson went to be
with the Lord on May 29, 1976.87
Ministry had continuity. The Sunday School continued its work under the leadership of Mrs. Fred Hallberg
(the former Muriel Olson). Although the Ladies Aid had no person filling the office of President, others
continued to fulfill duties of office. Mrs. Victor Olson served as Vice President, Mrs. T. O. Linder as
Secretary, Mrs. C. A. Hoff as Treasurer, and Mrs. Paul Anderson and Mrs. Harold Nitteberg as
Auditing Committee Members. Membership had contracted to 18. The women were active in the
funding of electric light needs, donating $25 for church and parsonage. Their activities were drawing guests
from St. Elmo and Mobile. Auction activities continued and were held in the schoolhouse this year.
Gustavus Adolphus Day was celebrated again indicating that Swedish roots were still remembered. The
Missionary Benson Family had sent items from China which were sold at the auction.88
A postcard sent in 1924 from Silverhill to St. Elmo, AL. pictures Zion Lutheran Church and Parsonage, circa 1924. - Click to Enlarge.
Pastor E. Oscar Johnson took on the vacant Ladies Aid Presidency in 1925 and would serve several
years in that capacity. Mrs. T. O. Linder served as Vice President, Mrs. S. P. Torsen as Secretary,
Mrs. C. A. Hoff as Treasurer, and Mrs. H. Nitteberg and Mrs. Paul Anderson served on the Auditing
Committee. Membership was at 19. This is the year that the women investigated buying a new oil stove,
ultimately purchasing a Florence Automatic Oil Stove for $21. The women hosted a Missions
Convention in August. At the December meeting of the Ladies Aid Pastor Osterberg shared a
presentation in English while Pastor Palm did the same in Swedish--their focus was on the Church in
Philadelphia, Revelation 3.89
Confirmation class of 1925.
(l to r) Frances Anderson, Norman Johnson,
Ruth Wallendorf, Rev. E. Oscar Johnson.
- Click to enlarge.
Outreach and evangelism begins to emerge in the Zion history this year. 1925 saw the transition of
Church Council records to English. Dr. G. W. Utter, Church Secretary, reported that S. P. Johnson
and Pastor E. O. Johnson would be church representatives at the Southeastern District meeting in
Piercen, Florida, with Hans Erickson serving as worship leader during the Pastor's absence. The church
decided to have Sunday School but no church services when the pastor was in St. Elmo for Sunday
services. Southeastern District Missions Meeting was held for three days in late summer. The cost for
painting the parsonage this year was $34. Zion Lutheran Church formally called Ms. Holm to work with
the Bohemian people to form a Bohemian Sunday School. A Sunday morning offering was given to the
Deaconess Institute of Omaha. The church designated Herman Olson as delegate to Miami, Florida,
for a Southeastern District Conference. Zion celebrated its 20th Anniversary. Perhaps because of
these activities, the Church Council directed Mr. Linder to construct a door of all heart wood pine. Several
services were given to St. Elmo's. An organ was purchased and an organ was donated, activities perhaps
related to the St. Elmo ministry.90
The Ladies Aid was corresponding with former Zion pastor family now China Missionaries, Pastor and
Mrs. Benson. Membership in the women's group is at 20. Church is aging already--the water pump has to
be repaired. Long-term planning commences. Hans Erickson, C. A. Hoff, and F. O. Linder were
appointed to a Church Bell Committee. A major bell-designated gift was received from David
Anderson in Svea City. Church body life is active outside the Ladies Aid. Alvin Peterson and F. O.
Linder arranged for ice and ice cream for the church picnic held in Daphne. Zion Lutheran Church got
involved with community service with other churches--on the third Sunday in October they held their "Day on
the Hill." New public relations activities began when signage outside church was authorized.91
Church Bell Committee activity kicks off in earnest. A film on Martin Luther was shown to raise funds for
the bell. But not all spending is focused on just a bell. The Luther League and Sunday School funded
purchase of 24 hymnals with musical notes. The Ladies Aid pursued its Bazaar to support painting of the
church. Mrs. Linder begins service as the Ladies Aid President and will continue service into 1933. The
Church Bell Committee accomplished its fund-raising and obtained a custom bell with these words in relief
on the bell: "'Praise Him for His mighty acts. Psalm 150:2' Cast by Stuckstede & Bro., St. Louis, MO,
1927. Donated by Members and Friends of Zion Lutheran Church. Bell Committee: E. Oscar
Johnson, Pastor; Hans G. Erickson, F. O. Linder, John Peterson." The Baldwin Register two
generations later would described "Late afternoon shadows cross the crisp architectural lines of the bell tower
of Zion Lutheran Church in Silverhill. The congregation organized in 1906 and built the church structure 10
years later in 1916. Located on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street, the church is now
designated as a Baldwin County historic site. The bell tower is still functional and 'rings every Sunday,'
said church member Ernest Burnett."92
The Ladies Aid planned for a new altar cloth. The Pastor's salary was $360. The organist received a
salary of $15.93
Confirmation class of 1928.
(l to r) Front Row: Victor Aldeen, Pastor E. Oscar Johnson, Ted
Ledene. Back Row: Grace Norden, Avea Engstrom, Beatrice Anderson, Harriet Norden.
- Click to enlarge.
Zion Lutheran Church
Recognizes Its Past
John Erick Elfstrand, a shoemaker by trade as was his brother, had been instrumental to the building of the
church in 1915. He had passed away in the early 1920s with no relatives in this country, but his memory was
alive. Zion Lutheran Church, perhaps spurred on by the success of the Bell Committee, a
memorialized John Erik Elfstrand, "Born 1843 Died 1923," with a bronze tablet "in memory of his
generous gifts to the Zion Lutheran Church." The cast bronze piece cost $55 FOB, and was installed in
the wall of the church nave where it remained until renovations two generations later. Despite conversion to
English services in 1919, some Swedish services apparently were still held to this time. Again the church
shows use--a new church stove pipe was installed.94
It is apparent that donations of money and labor through the years have made it possible for Zion to have its
present facilities. A bell and a bronze plaque are not less special than some of the other donations which
might be mentioned: pulpit, altar and organ bench crafted by Frank O. Linder; $1500 provided by John
Elfstrand in whose memory was that bronze plaque; a wooden cross and candelabra gifted by Mr. and
Mrs. Carlton Carlson in memory of Arthur Anderberg; a $100 memorial by the Carl Larson family; a
cabinet for paraments, altar linens and Sunday School supplies and also a loud speaker system through
the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Swanson; an individual communion service presented by Mr. and
Mrs. Philip Armstrong; and, a painting of Christ, drawn by Sharon Lynn Prahl and painted by Fred
Big things happened in 1929 at Zion Lutheran Church. Pastor E. Oscar Johnson organized the
Alabama District Luther League for the Augustana Synod. The first Bible Conference was held at
Zion, August 9 to August 11, 1929, with Dr. E. C. Bloomquist of Rockford, Illinois, bringing the
program. Luther League officer candidates are interesting because they demonstrate the fruits of Zion's
outreach to St. Elmo: Presidential Candidates: A. J. Johnson (St. Elmo's Luther League) and
Ruby Ledene (Silverhill Luther League)--Ruby was elected on a vote of 7 to 4. A. J. was elected Vice
President, and Alvin Peterson was elected Secretary and Treasurer. A large crowd came from Mobile
and St. Elmo for Sunday's Conference's two Sunday sermons and dinner. It was at this time that the
bronze tablet in honor of Mr. J. E. Elfstrand was dedicated.96
Membership Dues were 10 cents per month. The Ladies Aid received $111.14 in offerings and collections
this year. As for the Zion Lutheran Church ledger, it was still in Swedish.97
Pastor J. P. Samuelson accepted the call to serve as pastor in 1930. He would retire in 1936 and build a
home in Silverhill, but he would continue providing preaching supply until 1940.98
P. John Samuelson
had been ordained on June 12, 1910, in Rock Island, Ill., after being recommended by the Nebraska
Conference. Born August 31, 1869, in Rydaholm, Smaland, Sweden, to Jonas D. Samuelson and
Christina (Peterson-Hartelius), he had attended the Lund Cathedral School before coming to the U.
S. in 1890. He graduated from Augustana Seminary in the 1909-10 academic year and served in
Cheyenne and Rock Springs, Wyoming (1910-13), Siloa, Nebraska (1913-16), Morris Run,
Pennsylvania (1917-20), and Patton and Hastings, Minnesota (1920-27), before coming to Silverhill.
He had married Albertina Danielson in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 18, 1894, and they had four
children. Pastor Samuelson died on January 3, 1955.99
Beginning in the 1930s and continuing into the 1950s, the Zion Lutheran Sunday School supported a
number of mission projects including Bethphage Inner Mission Orphanage, Gustavus Adolphus
Children's Home, Immanuel Deaconess Institute, Lowman Home for the Aged.100
The Zion Luther League was busy. Secretary Alvin Peterson reported attendance at 15. There were
devotional readings and a piano duet by Eleanore and Muriel Olson. They celebrated 1100th
anniversary of Ansgarius of Sweden. They were in contact with China missionaries of the Augustana
Synod, sharing letters from Pastor Vikner and Pastor Victor Swenson. The Luther League
contributed $30 to church budget.101a
Confirmation class of 1930.
(l to r) Front Row: Muriel Olson, Pastor E. Oscar Johnson, Anna
Engstrom. Back Row: Bertil Enstrom, Vida Norden, Robert Ledene, Eleanor Olson, Donald Armstrong.
- Click to enlarge.
In 1931 Luther League elections resulted in these officers: President: Ruby Ledene; Vice President:
Hans Erickson; Secretary: Alvin Peterson; Treasurer: Gustav Hoff; Program Committee: Mrs.
Paul Anderson and Miss Ruby Ledene; Auditing Committee: William Larsen, Hans Erickson.101b
1930?, Sunday School Teachers, Eleanor ?, Mr. From, Ruby Ledeen, Mrs. Paul Anderson, Evelyn Ledeen, Beatrice Anderson. - Click to enlarge.
1930? - Click to enlarge.
In 1932 the Ladies Aid Society of the Swedish Zion Lutheran Church, Silverhill, AL, elected officers:
President--Mrs. F. O. Linder, Vice President--Mrs. A. Carlson; Secretary--Mrs. P.C. Anderson;
Treasurer--Mrs. M. Hoff; Auditors--Mrs. John Olson and Mrs. H. Nitteberg. Membership was at 18.
At the August meeting it was noted that songs were sung in English and the Pastor Osterberg spoke in
The March Ladies Aid Program revealed further transition from a Swedish community to English.
Songbook selection number 222 was sung in Swedish, the remainder being in English. The program
involved reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew. There was a song, minutes, and a roll call. There was
no outstanding business. They sang Songbook selection number 138, and Pastor Samuelson taught on
the first Chapter, "Explaining the Birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ." Pastor Dahlquist and Pastor
Osterberg were present and spoke on same the same chapter. They closed with Songbook selection
number 109, a prayer, a benediction, and a doxology. Membership in the Ladies Aid was at a 17 level.
Sunday School and Church Council archives reveal participation in organ repair.103
Membership patterns are always hard to assess, but there is an indirect measure of membership in our
archives. The Augustana Synod sought funds based on an assessment of 54 confirmed members in the
With Pastor J. P. Samuelson retirement in 1936, Mr. Roland Waldemar Johnson, a theological student,
served during the summer. He went by the name "Roy Johnson" and would be ordained on June 9,
1940, in Rock Island, Illinois. He ultimately was a graduate of Augustana College, Yale Divinity
School, Augustana Seminary, and Carnegie Institute of Technology. He was most noted for
directing Bethphage Mission from 1967 to 1975, but served churches in Iowa, Illinois, and
Pennsylvania. He was an associate institutional pastor of the Lutheran Inner Mission Society in
Pittsburgh and in New York. He taught social work curricula in Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa.
Confirmation class of 1936.
Vivian Erickson, Doris Erickson, Gladys Erickson, Hariett Ledeen, Oscar Utter, Frank Anderson, Eskel Olson, Henning Olson, ? Ernst, Student Pastor Thure Johnson.
- Click to enlarge.
was responsible for a number of building programs related to his various ministries. He was survived by his
wife Alice and three sons, Ross, Lowell, and Wynn, when he died shoveling snow in Iowa in 1980. His
involvement at Zion demonstrates our church's long-time involvement with mission activity. It is interesting to
note that Zion Lutheran Church Sunday School was already supporting Bethphage Mission long
before Pastor Johnson emerged as a leader of this organization.105
Photo of congregation in 1936, all people reference to left side of photo. Anna Steeves (9th),
Agnes Utter (11th ), Hilda Olson (15th), Doris Erickson (20th), Gus Utter (23rd), Anita Olson (24th) Ina Svaboda
(28th), Ralph Utter (32nd), Eric Hallberg (38th). Eske Olson (42nd), Mrs. Tom Anderson (46th), Ruby Luddeen
(47th), Elvira Armstrong (48th), Phillip Armstrong (50th).
- Click to enlarge.
Mr. Thure Johnson, another student, served as summer pulpit supply in 1937. Pastor Thure Philip
Johnson would be ordained June 9, 1940, at the same time as Pastor Roy Johnson. Pastor Thure
Philip Johnson was born on March 24, 1903, in Allmesokra, Jonkopings Lan, Sweden, to Johan A.
Jonasson and Marie Kristina (Karlson). He came to the United States in 1926, attended Luther
College in 1934 but graduated from Bethany College in 1936. He attended Augustana Seminary. He
served in Pelican Rapids, Minn., 1940-45; Stromsburg, Neb., 1945-52; Roseau, Minn., 1952-59;
Niobe, Lignite, N.D., 1959-63; Miltona, Minn., 1963-66; Providence Valley, 1966-72. He married
Lillie Olivia Peterson of Stanton, Iowa, on June 12, 1940; they had one child. He married Selma
Alvina Bergstrom in Webster, Minnesota, on September 20, 1958. Pastor Thure Johnson died
September 26, 1989. Beyond the summer of 1937, Pastor Samuelson continued as supply pastor for
the congregation as Zion Lutheran Church had no pastor available. In 1937 the Sunday School
continued its work under the leadership of Mrs. Fred Hallberg (nee Muriel Olson).106
Luther League minutes in 1938 showed that ten responded to roll call at one meeting. Long-time church
member, Mrs. F. O. Linder passed away. In December the Ladies Aid minutes reveal that Mrs. Frank
Erickson accompanied a Swedish song with auto harp. Membership was at a 15 level. Long-time
Swedish membership was slowly dying off.107
The Ladies Aid Hostesses for 1939 were listed: Mrs. V. Olson, Mrs. J. P. Samuelson, Mrs. Carl
Johnson, Mrs. Hans Erickson, Mrs. Alfred Carlson, Mrs. John Olson, Mrs. P. Wallin, Mrs. A.M.
Ledene, Mrs. Ernst, Mrs. Heni. Financial problems for the little church brought drastic action. Pastor
Samuelson was asked to defer wages until church building repairs have been paid. The Church Council
requested that synodical assessment be reduced.108
In the 1940s the church used a piano for worship. Organ disposition is unknown. Pastor D. N. Anderson
accepted the call of the congregation in 1940 and continued to serve until 1948 when he retired from ministry.
Pastor David Natanael Anderson had been ordained five months before the formation of Swedish
Lutheran Zion Church, on June 11, 1905, in Stanton, Iowa. He was born March 19, 1876, in Neoga,
Illinois. He graduated from Augustana College with a B. A. in 1899 and from Augustana Seminary
with a B. D. in 1905. He served at Cheyenne and Rock Springs, Wyoming (1905-08), York, Nebraska
(1908-10), Albia and Buston, Iowa (1911-13), Butte, Montana (1913-20), San Jose, California
(1920-23), Hilmar, Colorado (1923-26), Leadville, Colorado (1926-1930), Marus, Iowa (1930-32),
and York, Nebraska (1932-41) before coming to Silverhill. He served on the Conference Charities
Board in California. Pastor Anderson married Louise Peterson in Omaha, Nebraska in 1905 (d.
1917) and had three children. He subsequently married Esther Sandall in York, Nebraska and had four
children. Pastor Anderson died May 14, 1959. When Pastor Anderson came, he and Pastor
Samuelson began an interaction from the beginning. For example, Pastor Samuelson spoke in
Swedish and new Pastor Anderson in English at the Ladies Aid meetings.109
Ladies Aid noted the 81st birthday of Mr. Linder, oldest member in the congregation. The attack on Pearl
Harbor and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II came at the end of 1941. At the
Ladies Aid meeting of December 18, 1941, Pastor Dahlquist "made a few remarks on the present world
conditions and God's kingdom."110
Given the financial problems in the church in 1939 and the aging of the congregation, the Annual Meeting
statistics for the January 1941 are significant: Pastor: Rev. Anderson. Secretary: Victor Olson.
President: H. G. Erickson. Secretary: Nels Olson. Treasurer: Victor Olson. By May 1941
Sunday School Attendance had shrunk to four classes. Statistics showed enrollment at 30, but average
attendance at 17. Luther League offering for the month of May: $3.59. The church continued to age.
Confirmation class of 1941.
(l to r) Clifford Utter, Elida Utter, Ella Olsen, Carl (Bud) V. Olsen,
Pastor David N. Anderson, Aina Olsen, Charles Norman.
- Click to enlarge.
The Ladies Aid again supported the Crippled Children's Fund, this year with $2. The Ladies Aid Ledger
additionally showed purchase of kerosene, repairs on the church oil stove, and other assorted entries.
Membership was at 18.111
In 1943 the average offering per member for the each week in January was 21.63 cents. Confirmed
membership in 1935 had been 54, but membership had shrunk considerably. If membership was at 37 as
it was counted in 1944, that means that the church had only $32 flowing into church coffers for all of January.
Church life was exceeding the ability of the church to support that life. Here are the expenses itemized in
1943: Pastor's salary was $315. The organist's salary was $18.75. The janitor's salary was $24. Lighting
Given the financial considerations in running this rural church, it is understandable what happened in 1944.
Zion Lutheran Church asked the Southeastern District of the Augustana Synod to subsidize a
pastoral salary to tune of $240 a year. Zion membership consisted of 16 men, 21 women, and 24 children.
Despite the financial desperation, Zion Lutheran Church took an offering for Norwegian Lutheran Relief
on a Sunday morning in September.113
Financial things were settling down. Funds came in from early members and their families in celebration of the
fortieth anniversary of the church's founding. In 1945 the church purchased a piano from Pastor Dahlquist
for $25. Insurance for church and parsonage was $11.35. Pastor Hartelius, now a member of Bethany
Lutheran Church in Seattle, WA, talked to his Church Council which sent a 40th Anniversary gift of $25.
Formal celebration took place on April 8. The church celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a dinner after the
service. There was a lot of preparation. "The Ladies Aid [obtained] ... a permit for extra sugar ... [for] the
necessary baking." The Ladies Aid was reaching out. It served refreshments at the Silverhill Farmers'
Association's Annual Meeting in October. Membership in the Ladies Aid was down to 16.114
The Ladies Aid welcomed Pastor and Mrs. Nygren as pastor and wife at the Silverhill Baptist Church.
Pastor and Mrs. Eckerholm, also of Silverhill Baptist, were also welcomed. Mrs. John Olson served as
Ladies Aid President. Mrs. V. Olson had served as Ladies Aid President for the period 1933-1946.
The Ladies Aid in 1947 elected new officers: President--Mrs. Carlton Carlson, Vice President--Mrs.
Victor Olson, Secretary--Mrs. Trygve Anderson, Treasurer--Mrs. D. N. Anderson. Baptist Pastor
and Mrs. Nygren were Ladies Aid guests, giving lesson and song in February. Pastor Eckerholm was
involved in the March meeting. The women were busy seeking names of Europeans needing help after
World War II. They elected to sell Scandinavian Recipe Books. Mrs. Carlton Carlson, Ladies Aid
President, began serving in 1947 and would continue to 1950.116
Current (2005) Zion members Lillian and
Lawrence Moseley were married at Zion on December 27 at 7:00 p.m. by Pastor Anderson, who still
had a significant Swedish brogue.117
Helen Larson Mikkelsen, the bride's first cousin, Lillian Nelson, the bride, Lawrence Moseley, the groom, Stephen Moseley, best man.
Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Moselely - Click to enlarge.
In the 1948 the tenure of Pastor D. N. Anderson ended. Pastor Walter U. Brown of Mobile began
serving as pulpit supply pastor in 1948, continuing to 1951. Sunday School received offerings amounting
to $98.87 for the year, but an additional $9.10 was received for the Sunday School Picnic. Fund
expenditures included purchase of Sunday School materials, support of a children's home, and support for
church upkeep and improvements. The Ladies Aid received $102.33 in dues and donations, $12.50 for
cook books, and $65.80 for its Bazaar. Some of the Ladies Aid disbursements related to purchase of
kerosene, flowers, and CARE packages, and "stoves for the parsonage." The women were able to send a
CARE package to a Czech widow with children. Ladies Aid membership was up to 19. Pastor Brown
to received a small stipend of $5 each time he was present at the Ladies Aid to defray expenses of
traveling from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Mobile.118
Zion Lutheran Church began deliberating its affiliation with the Augustana Synod versus joining the
United Lutheran Synod. The parsonage was empty so Frank Zalata was allowed to rent the
parsonage and install a hot water heater. Membership continued to shrink. The church roster show-ed 23
contributing members (and three additional members residing in Chicago). The church infrastructure
continued to deteriorate, e.g., the well not giving clear water so that the well point had to be pulled. More
expense! Meanwhile, over in Mobile Charley Sharp was building a baptismal font for his son Rusty's
baptism at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. That font was given to Zion Lutheran Church when St. Paul's
completed its building program which included another baptismal font.119
Zion Lutheran Church began its practice of tithing to its Synod on funds coming in. The Ladies Aid
reported these activities: Mrs. Vera Armstrong, President. Mrs. Emma Norman, Secretary Pro
Tem. Pastor Engstrom from the Silverhill Mission Covenant Church participated in the September
Mrs. Emma Norman had the mail route during the week. She used to pick up folks for church
Pastor Walter U. Brown of Mobile concluded his work as pulpit supply pastor at Zion Lutheran Church
in 1951. Pastor Waldemar H. Lefstead of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Mobile became involved
with Zion when he began serving St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Mobile in the 1950s. It was at Pastor
Lefstead's suggestion that Zion Lutheran Church received that baptismal font, built by Charlie Sharp
in Mobile at St. Paul's Lutheran Church for his son Rusty's baptism. Pastor Lefstead utilized charter
members from St. Paul's in his ministry in Silverhill. Lay Pastors Martin Luther Zimmerman and
Radar Torguson began irregular preaching at Zion. Pastor Waldemar H. Lefstead would serve in a
pulpit supply capacity from 1952 to 1956.122
The original Home Mission work of the Augustana Synod in Silverhill for Zion Lutheran Church came
from Thorsby beginning in 1896. Pastor Lefstead was a connection with those early days, because he
was a child of the Thorsby, Alabama, parish." During Pastor Lefstead's tenure with Zion, the church
continued to negotiate leaving the Augustana Synod to affiliate with the Georgia-Alabama Synod of the
United Lutheran Church of America.123
The Zion Lutheran Church Sunday School continued to contribute offerings to the work of the national
church. Church infrastructure continued to deteriorate. The Ladies Aid discussed replacing the water pipes
from the broken pump to the kitchen. Its membership was now at 17. Tenants were obtained for the empty
parsonage. Matilda Hoff Linden passed away on January 24, 1951, "a loyal worker in the Ladies Aid,
Luther League and Sunday School."124
The congregation was obviously aging as original members and their children slowly yielded to subsequent
generations. The Zion Ladies Aid joined with others to help Otto Johnson, an old resident hospitalized
without resources. Hostesses for this year included: Mrs. R. Norman, Mrs. Nels Olson, Mrs. Vera
Armstrong, Mrs. Anna Rogers, Mrs. Lena Heni, Mrs. Victor Olson, Mrs. Anna Nitteberg, Mrs.
Lena Olson, Mrs. Anna Linder Anderson, and Mrs. H. Wallin. 92 year old visitor Grandma Anna
Louisa Miller, connected to current members Margaret Stephens (her grandmother) and Shirley
Stephens (great grandmother), shared at a number of meetings. She would also be the great grandmother
of Zionís current ALFA insurance agent, Phil Owen, husband of Zionís Webmaster, Debbie Owen.
Anna Miller was a devout Presbyterian with one of her sons ordained a minister and missionary. Her only
daughter Grace was a missionary nurse to the Congo where she met and married a Swedish Baptist
missionary, Nils Sixten Edhegard (aka Johnson or Jonsson). Grace Edhegard was Margaret
Stephens' mother. Mrs. Solveig Nitteberg regularly supplied special music. Pastor Brown gave solos.125
During the other months in the years 1952-1956, Pastor Lefstead conducted services with communion
twice a month.126
That affiliation would be rendered moot when both the Augustana and the Georgia-
Alabama Synods would become part of the Lutheran Church in America in just a few short years.
There are archival data concerning the physical church. Zion Lutheran Church was now utilizing three big
heaters and one small one for the back room with a brand new 250 gallon oil tank. The tank with pipes was
installed for $348.27.129
This replaced the central pot-belly stove in the church.130
Recognize that this
renovation occurred several years before bathrooms were installed in the church and almost a decade
before the kitchen addition to the back of the church was constructed, the "major" construction projects
before the fellowship addition of 2003.
Ladies Aid membership was now at 18 members. Vocal solos during meetings continued.127
Armstrong and Mrs. Anna Linder Anderson would serve as delegates in April, 1953, when Zion
Lutheran Church formally would leave the Augustana Synod to affiliate with the Georgia-Alabama
Synod of the United Lutheran Church of America at the Synodical Convention in Atlanta,
Confirmation class of 1953.
(l to r) Front Row: Judith Hallberg, Elizabeth Kinard, Arlene Kinard,
Bill Blair, Ronald Hallberg, Christine Blair, Freddie Kinard, Pastor Walter M. Brown. Back Row: Caroline
Hauge, Oscar Hauge, Eric Hallberg, Jr., Walter Brown, Jr.
- Click to enlarge.
1954 brought more new projects. There is some sense that affiliation with the new Georgia-Alabama
Synod brought freshness to the church, now almost 50 years old. A new well pump was obtained for the
Seminarian George West from Southern Seminary began providing summer pulpit
Beyond summer months, Pastor Lefstead conducted services twice monthly, actually serving
the congregation throughout the years 1952-1956.133
An interesting problem emerged in 1955. The Zion Ladies Aid became concerned about disposing of
bees in the church and was ultimately responsible for obtaining an exterminator. St. Paul's Lutheran
Church in Mobile donated altar linens to Zion this year.134
Other upgrades besides paraments occurred
in 1955 when lighting was improved in the church.135
A new summer intern began helping out at Zion.
Seminarian Clarence K. Derrick, Jr., from Southern Seminary supplemented Pastor Lefstead's
services as he served as summer pulpit supply.136
May Sunday School Attendance for six classes
revealed that 42 were enrolled, but average attendance was at an attendance level of 32. Luther League
was active with offerings for the month of May: $20.79.137
Zion Lutheran Church
Modernizes and Does First
Construction Since 1920
In 1956 the Rev. Fulton B. Counts of Knoxville, Tennessee, accepted the call of the congregation. He
resigned in 1958 to accept a call to Burkes Garden, VA. During his pastorate, gas heaters were installed
in both church and parsonage.138
This would have been a conversion from oil which was in place from at
least 1953. Rest rooms were completed two years later. Pastor Lefstead conducted services twice a
month in 1956 until Pastor Counts arrived.139
Confirmation class of 1956.
(l to r) Front Row: Joey Frolik, Thomas Kinard, Nancy Kinard.
Middle Row: Jerry Frolik, Kenneth Kuck [?], Ralph Utter. Back Row: Pastor F. Counts, Lawrence Moseley.
- Click to enlarge.
From the group that met in those first years of Silverhill in the Land Office, three churches sprang. First to
leave the group and establish a church were the Swedish Baptists. Second were the Covenanters.
Third were the Lutherans. Zion Lutheran Church joined the second, historic Silverhill Mission
Covenant Church, for the groundbreaking for its new building in 1957. The church took on its first mission
focus since the late 1920s. A full week of missions and evangelism was set. An Evangelism Committee
The Zion Ladies Aid caught the excitement and discussed the building of an addition
to the Sunday School room. But they were concerned about some comfort issues as well, asking Ralph
Utter, Oscar Swanson, and Gary Cook to look into getting an electric fan for the sanctuary. Looking into
the county's needs, the Zion Ladies Aid contributed $10 to support a TB Xray Unit from Mobile County
at the Baldwin County Fair at Robertsdale. St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Mobile continued to have
an indirect connection with Silverhill, donating six subscriptions to The Lutheran for Zion members.
Up to 1958 the church continued to use the outhouses located on the corner of the church site, but finally
restrooms were added to church in the narthex area. They now comprise our "vintage restrooms" with the
restroom facilities in the Fellowship Hall constructed in 2003 serving most restroom needs in the 21st
Century. Water for these church restrooms was run from a parsonage well located near the parsonage
The Rev. William Eubanks, pastor of St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Mobile, served as
supply pastor from July to October 1958. He would conduct services on the second, fourth, and fifth
Sundays for the late summer and early fall months of 1958.143
There were several updates of significance besides plumbing. The old church organ was sold. A large
fan was obtained for the round window over the altar. As an aside, it was the responsibility of the young
men of the Luther League to close up the windows for winter and put that fan away.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tutas joined the church in 1958 and would become involved in Luther League.
Robert Tutas had been born in Wisconsin near Iron Mountain, MI, and joined the Navy, met his wife,
and lived in Pensacola, at some point relocating to Foley. The couple became involved with Luther
League at that time. Robert Tutas felt called to the ministry, resigned from the Zion Church Council, and
entered Newberry College in 1960. He entered Southern Seminary after college, and he was ordained
in 1968. Zion Church recognized his achievement at ordination. He served in the ministry for 10 years, first
in Saluta, SC, for 4 years, then Orangeberg, SC, and finally at Surfside Beach, SC, where he was
involved in founding of Shepherd of the Sea Lutheran Church. Pastor Tutas retired from the ministry in
1978 and entered the banking world in Clearwater, FL. In later years he suffered from Alzheimer's and
resided with his sister Judy in Kingsford, MI, and was intellectually intact up until 1999, the year he made his
last donation to alma mater Newberry College. He went to be with the Lord June 1, 2003.144
The Augustana Synod was merging with the Georgia-Alabama Synod of the United Lutheran
Now, back to 1958 events! The women of the church assisted in renovations, donating accessories to the
two new restrooms in the church. They began to work with the Zion Choir and the Zion Luther League
to develop an Organ Fund. Donations were sent to the Old People's Home at White Rock, SC, and
were used to prepare Christmas baskets for the needy.
The Augustana Synod was merging with the Georgia-Alabama Synod of the United Lutheran
Church, so there is specific information concerning the small Synod to which Zion Lutheran Church had
come in 1953: There were 40 congregations in Georgia; 16 in Alabama; 16 in Mississippi, and 26 in
Tennessee at the time of the merger.145
Mrs. Agnes Utter's secretarial reports from 1959 showed Mrs. Vera Armstrong was still serving as
President of the Ladies Aid. Mrs. Lena Olson was supervising care of the linens for the church.
Membership in the Ladies Aid of Zion Lutheran Church was at 20. Mrs. Counts was visiting the sick.
Mrs. Emma Norman was involved with special Lenten giving. The little white church now used for door
offerings was made by Oscar Swanson for generating Organ Funds in 1959. Worship participation was
encouraged, with choir members, Luther Leaguers, and Ladies Aid members being polled as to Good
Friday Service participation.146
The Zion Ladies Aid supported the Lutheran Children's Home of the South, Salem, VA. Minutes
from the Zion Ladies Aid reveal many visitors to the Ladies Aid programs. The women continued activities
to fund more bathroom facilities, but now in the parsonage. Hostesses for 1959 included: Mrs. Lena
Olson, Mrs. Anna Nitteberg, Mrs. Victor Olsson, Mrs. Adele Wigstrom, Mrs. Lena Heni, Mrs.
Olga Johnson, Mrs. Emma Norman, Mrs. Gudrun Swanson, Mrs. Anna Rogers, Mrs. Hannah
Wallen, Mrs. Norman Olsson, and Mrs. Anna Linder Anderson. Officers elected for 1960 included
Mrs. Vera Armstrong--President; Mrs. Gudrun Swanson--Vice President and Treasurer; and Mrs.
The Organ Fund was successful with Zion Lutheran Church purchasing an organ. A piano donation was
received this year as well, believed to be the current (2005) upright in our Church Museum. Zion was involved
with Home Missions and an Alabama Convention.148
Lay Pastor Robert Tutas (Zion Lutheran Church involvement spanning the years 1959-1961) began
preaching, teaching, visiting, and conducting confirmation and Sunday School classes under Pastor
Lefstead's guidance. As noted above, he later left Zion (1961) for Newberry College to prepare for
The 1960s were the decade of the big Lutheran Church mergers in the United States. The structure and
the organization in place for the last 55 years begin to change. In the reorganization the Zion Lutheran
Church Ladies Aid becomes Circle 1 and the younger women of the church are incorporated into Circle
2.150 The church begins to collect contributions for new hymnals.151 In May Sunday School attendance
for six classes reveal 39 enrolled with 32 attending on average. The Luther League offering for the month of
May was $29.01.152
In February the Church Council sent a letter to Dr. Wood advising the Synod of improvements made to
Zion in 1959. Mr. Tutas was demonstrating emerging pastoral skills, reporting for the pastor. He would be
going to the seminary in Columbia in March for a meeting and by December would resign to go to seminary.
Mrs. Florence Prahl who managed the Organ Fund would turn the balance over to the treasurer. The
parsonage was ready in February to be rented out. Mrs. Muriel Hallberg served as organist and was
paid $25 for her services in 1959. Long-time members of Zion will recognize members serving on
committees for the congregation: Property--Mr. Fred Hallberg; Finance--Mr. Ralph Utter and Mr.
Lawrence Moseley; Worship and Music--Mrs. Netta Frolik, Mrs. Florence Prahl, Mrs. Muriel
Hallberg, and Mrs. Tutas; Evangelism--Mr. George and Mrs. Louise Lundberg and Mrs. Gudrun
The Building Committee arranged for the parsonage kitchen to be done over, but rental of the house
was difficult and there were other cash-flow issues. The Council was regularly looking at ideas to raise
money. Paper drives and other things were investigated and tried. It was in March that Mr. Fred Hallberg
presented the painting of the "Risen Christ" done by him and Florence's daughter, Sharon Prahl; it was
placed over altar where it resided until 1979. It was then placed on the east wall until it was stored and then
placed in our Church Museum.
The church was only able to send in a partial synod apportionment. Long-time member Victor Olson left
for California. Mr. Tutas was receiving a salary of $15 a Sunday. The congregation was able to have
new service books by a donation. Zion received some services gratis, e.g., the building was sprayed for
free. In mid-1960 Dr. Lefstead was given an invitation to bring communion. And of course, there was
correspondence from the United Lutheran Church, Georgia-Alabama Synod.154
The Luther League was busy, painting the Sunday School rooms in back of the church with Mr. Tutas.
Price Broadcasting Corporation in Fairhope would offer free broadcast time to the church. Pastor
Faddis of Christ Lutheran Church offered to assist the congregation in thinking about evangelism.155
At the end of 1960 Zion was still celebrating Julata at 6:00 a.m. Christmas morning. Zion was a church
plagued with things that were wearing out. The organ needed repair in 1960 and the outside of the church
needed paint again, but it was deferred. Needs, though small, added up. The Choir desired $10 for music
for its Christmas cantata. The choir sat where the organ is situated in 2005, on the right part of the chancel.
Lillian Moseley, Neysa Utter, Netta Frolik, Florence Prahl, Ralph Utter, Oscar Hauge, Mr. Tutas, and others
comprised the choir.156 And the congregation could not keep lodgers in the parsonage to help with its
costs. The congregation was looking beyond its walls, though, a Church Council annotation noting that old
clothes were being shipped by Mr. Fred Hallberg.157
The Rev. Richard Achgill of Houston, Texas, began his service as pastor in August 1961 and would
serve to August 1962.158 In 1961 Oscar Swanson became congregational President; Lawrence
Moseley, the Vice President; Ralph Utter, the Treasurer; and Harriet Blair the Secretary. George
Lundberg would become a Council member at some point in the first half of the year. Mrs. Emma
Norman and Mr. Ralph Utter served as the Finance Committee. Financial problems continued. There
were no funds to the pay the synod assessment and the congregation decided to reuse its Lenten cards to
In January a letter of thanks was directed to Mr. Tutas for his work as Lay Pastor to the congregation. By
February Mr. Tutas would accompany Dr. Lefstead to the Church Council meeting and Dr. Lefstead
would commit to doing confirmation and communion while the Synod set in motion the process of finding a
pastor for Zion.159
The Council set plans for church painting and the purchase of materials for Mr. Oscar Swanson to build
cabinets in the rear of the church for robes. Lonnie Swoboda, Ted Prahl, Elaine Rezek, Sylvia Clark,
Paulette Lindell, and Judy Prahl were confirmed this year. The Evangelism Committee reported that
the Junior Luther League was being developed. Mr. Lawrence Moseley donated a light for organ. The
exterior of the church was ultimately painted by Mr. Hany of Daphne for $225; the total cost for painting,
inside and outside, was $350. A termite and bee exterminator charged $150 this year. Church
Council meetings moved to a quarterly schedule that summer.160
Pastor Richard Achgill was invited to pastor Zion in midsummer. George Lundberg passed away and
Mr. Lewis Lueders replaced his position on the Church Council. The church discussed fans: it was an
issue of window fans versus oscillating fans. The window fans were removed and two oscillating
fans with cords were installed at the same time as a new guest book stand was added to the sanctuary.
What about the parsonage? New gutters and a new lavatory were installed there. The congregation
moved to new offering envelopes which combined offerings and Building Fund dollars in a common
Pledge cards were obtained in 1961, the first year any pledge system is mentioned in church records.
Pledge cards would be used inconsistently to the end of the century, an innovation apparently introduced
from St. Peter's Lutheran Church of Mobile.162 Pastor Achgill's effects on the congregation began to
emerge: An Altar Committee was inaugurated under the auspices of the ULCW, and Pastor Achgill
began to select and train altar boys. Active membership was defined by who registered on communion
cards. A partial payment to the Synod was made at the end of the year.163
A review of 1962 women's ministry and youth ministry data reveals a continuing interest in missions.
Financial concerns stretched from concern for kitchen curtains to pastoral salary to purchase of tables.164
By early 1962 materials needed for the coming church addition was estimated to cost $1400. Church
services were adjusted so that morning worship was set for 9:00 followed by Sunday School at 10:00.
The church sign was resituated. The new church officers, Mr. Lewis Lueders (Vice President); Mr.
Ralph Utter (Treasurer); and Mr. Fred Langenbach (Secretary) would oversee the addition of city
water and gas to parsonage and repairs to the church porch.165
Unfortunately, Pastor Achgill resigned in mid-year so a Pulpit Committee was commissioned. Council
minutes in August revealed that 15 voting members were present to accept his resignation with regrets, a
small congregation indeed. Financial problems continued and were real. Here was the situation by
September: $78 on hand and bills due of $127. $447.83 in the Building Fund. Dr. Wood from Synod
noted that the Synod was supporting the Zion's pastor to the tune of $1200 a year plus a car expense of
$300 a year and a parsonage expense of $300 a year plus hospital insurance. Zion Lutheran Church could
only raise $1200 a year! Yes, Synod was aware of funding problems for a pastor. Services were moved
to 8:15 Sunday and Pastors Cammeron, Zimmeron, and Cliant supervised worship. At the end of this
depressing year, Zion Lutheran Church looked forward to Pastor Suechting coming to Silverhill.166
Zion Lutheran Church affiliated with the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), the successor of the
Georgia-Alabama Synod of the ULCA and of the Augustana Synod and officially was amalgamated
into the South Eastern Synod of the LCA at a Conference Meeting in Atlanta, GA.167
The young people of the church continued with the name, the "Luther League," with President, Miss Diane
Swoboda. The Luther League was active in manning Zion's County Fair booth in 1963. The President
of the Church Council was Lawrence Moseley. The President of the Ladies Aid, now the "Lutheran
Church Women," was Mrs. Vera Armstrong. The Sunday School Superintendent was Mrs. Lillian
Moseley. A new activity is noted in 1963 when a Quarterly Birthday Dinner and Program Chairman of
the entire church was appointed, Mrs. Louise Lundberg. Vacation Bible Schools were ongoing.168
Pastor August G. Suechting (1963-1966) began a Vice-Pastor relationship with church becoming
Zion's regular pulpit supply pastor.169 We believe that the Rev. Martin from St. Paul's also served the
church, perhaps as an intern or seminarian. Beginning in 1963 through to 1971 the church was served by a
number of lay pastors on a rotation basis. These included Mr. Radar Torgensen, Mr. Smyth, and Mr.
Zimmerman. The Rev. Clarence Daniels also participated in this rotation.170
Organists who served the congregation up to 1963 included Mr. P. W. Paulson, Anna Linder (Mrs.
Trygve Anderson), Mrs. Harry Norden, Mrs. Louise Lundberg, and the 1963 organist, Mrs. Muriel
Hallberg. Sunday School Superintendents who had served up to 1963 included P. W. Paulson, Mr.
Vallin, Victor Olson, Ruby Ledene (Mrs. C. Gaye), and the Mesdames Gudrun Swanson, Grace
Kinard, and Lillian Moseley.171
In reviewing the history in 1963, it was concluded that 15 or 16 classes had been confirmed since 1918
numbering about 116 confirmands. Records prior to 1918 were apparently unavailable in 1963. Many
children and adults had been baptized and marriages performed, with the most recent being that of Mr. and
Mrs. Eric Hallberg Jr. Mrs. Hallberg was the former Sylvia Clark.172
It was 1963 when Mrs. Peter Christopher (Sharon Prahl) sketched and Mr. Eric Hallberg painted the
"Risen Christ" picture that remained in the nave until sanctuary renovations in 1989.173
One of the major problems the church was experiencing related to things just wearing out. The church
continued to have to shuffle finances. The church moved back to simple offering envelopes in 1963. The
bulletin service was canceled until the church had money. Organ repair and lighting repair was needed.
The parsonage shingles were bad. The Church Council moved to meetings every other month instead
of quarterly. The minutes of the Annual Meeting confirmed that the church was in the red. Pastor August
Suechting was able to convince the congregation of the need for devotional books for every family to be
paid for with a donations box to be put in church. By the August Council meeting all bills were paid up to
date and there was $106 in bank, but the congregation still filed with the Synod for salary aid of $600 for the
Click to enlarge.
Have you gotten the sense that there were chronic funding problems with Zion in mid-century? There were
bookkeeping issues. The Ladies Aid, Luther League, and Sunday School books balanced just fine at
the congregational Annual Meeting, but the church books did not. $1825.76 was pledged for 1964 with
$300 being allocated to Synod. Zion still had connections with St. Paul's Lutheran in Mobile and the
District meeting was held there.175
Youth involvement in the congregation was deteriorating. Luther League attendance was going down. The
Council appointed Mr. and Mrs. Bill Blair as youth advisors. Was the church in hot water? Well, the
pastor's hot water heater went out and a new one was donated by Lawrence Moseley and installed by
Fred Langenbach. Shingles for the church were purchased and installed by Fred Langenbach and his son
Frederick. Mr. Billy Blair rented a sander to use on the church floors. When the church decided it needed a
nursery, the Council decided the back porch of the parsonage could be used for this. By September
things were looking up and the church decided to procure bulletins again.176
Click to enlarge.
The change in Synod brought changes in the kinds of requests being made of the church. Zion received a
questionnaire on discrimination in church. The church began to think addition again and decided to ask
the congregation if it were willing to take a loan for a building addition. And that gets us to the bottom line
again. Here steps in the Pledge Committee for 1965: Mrs. Joan, Mrs. Grace Kinnard, Mrs. Neysa
Utter, Mrs. Carol Blair, Mrs. Vera Armstrong, and Mrs. Emma Norman. By the Annual Meeting of
1965, they determine there are 41 members who had responded to the pledge drive. The church again
applies to Synod for pastor salary support. New water shut-off valves were installed for church and
It was the year of 1964 that the congregation began planning for an addition at the rear of the church for
Sunday School expansion, meeting space, and kitchen facilities. The work was begun in November
1964, with Oscar Swanson as the supervisor of the plans and its construction with additional coordination
by Rueben Norman and Victor Kubina. A $500 loan was obtained from the Oscar Swansons with the
congregation to repay it over a five year period. Mr. Swanson was assisted by fellow members of the
Church Council and also by Rueben Norman and Victor Kubina, who contributed much of the labor
necessary to erect the building, thus limiting building costs to labor and materials. Materials were obtained
from a variety of sources, even Pensacola. The front doors of the church were replaced at the same time
as the construction at the rear of the church. The members of the Church Council at the time of construction
included the Rev. A. G. Suechting, Lawrence O. Moseley, Fred Langenbach, Mrs. Emma Norman,
William Blair, and Oscar Swanson.178
It wasn't all building in 1964. We get some insight into the involvement of youth in the community. The
Luther League was involved in one of many paper drives and participated in a grasshopper control
With the completion of the combination Sunday School-Meeting Space-Kitchen Addition, fellowship
and dedication day was set for Sunday, July 18, 1965. At the morning service the Rev. Waldemar H.
Lefstead, now Assistant to the President, Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, GA, brought an
appropriate message and officiated at the dedication of the new parish unit. A fellowship dinner followed in
the new addition. The afternoon was capped with a musical program by members of the congregation, a
reading of the history of the congregation prepared by Mrs. Anna Anderson, and greetings brought by the
Rev. Virgil A. Carlson, dean of the Alabama-Mississippi District of the Southeastern Synod.180
Confirmation class of 1965.
(l to r) Freddy Langenbach, Reuben Norman, Carolyn Moseley,
Jimmy Kubina, Judy Comstock, Pastor A. Suechting, Floyd Hallberg, Toni Langenbach,
- Click to enlarge.
Outfitting the new space would soon follow. The Sunday School would purchase chairs and tables.181
And the congregation would again support a new Organ Fund.182
Click to enlarge.
There was leadership continuity as the mid-60s came. Lawrence Moseley and Fred Langenbach were
re-elected to the Church Council in 1965. Mr. Bill Blair was re-elected Secretary and Mr. Oscar
Swanson was re-elected Treasurer. Mr. Reuben Norman was spending much time in the new building
addition. The first mention of the "Southeastern Synod" is made in the Council minutes. It was to meet
in Jackson, MS. The church organ failed again.183
Here's what it cost for the addition at the rear of the church, the section that had the kitchen and fellowship
area that was used from the mid-60s until Zion moved into its new Fellowship Hall in 2003: Costs for
"New Annex": Material--$1530.75; labor--$257.50; total--$1788.25. But other things were going on
besides the Annex. There were funds spent to redecorate Sunday School Rooms: material--$361.75;
labor--$50.00; total cost $411.75. The bathtub in the parsonage needed replacement. Funds were
coming in. There was money available to pay off some of building notes early and to buy a heater
needed for addition.184
Research into the history of the Zion Lutheran Church congregation reveals the church actually began in
1905 and probably had roots eight or nine years earlier. The year discrepancy of anniversary reference
shows up in 1966 when the congregation chose to celebrate the sixty year anniversary of the
congregation. Mrs. Louise Lundberg observed the anniversary in some detail: "The Sixtieth
Anniversary of Zion Lutheran Church was beautiful, and enjoyed throughout the day by a good
attendance. Dr. R. Wood, President of the Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, brought the message at the
morning worship. The choir sang a beautiful anthem. The fellowship dinner was served on linen covered
tables with beautiful roses at table center. President of the L. C. W., Mrs. Phil Armstrong, was 'welcome
hostess' throughout the day. The afternoon service was led by [the] Rev. Cameron of the Alabama-
Mississippi Synod, Mobile, St. Paul's Lutheran Church. The choir of St. Paul's sang two anthems,
and two Swedish solos 'Trygare Kan Ongen Vara' and 'Han Skall Apna Perle Porten' were sung by Mr.
Sharp of Mobile and Minnesota (an Irishman). Pastors from Mobile St. Peter's Lutheran, [and] Rev. B.
Burke and Rev. C. A. Simmons, the Silverhill Baptist and the Mission Covenant [Churches,
respectively,] brought greetings from their congregations. Rev. A. Seuchting read letters from former
pastors and church members. Refreshments of coffee, Swedish coffee breads, and the decorated
anniversary cake topped with '60' and silver bells, were served at the close of the meeting. Mrs. L. [Lillian]
Moseley baked the anniversary cake."185
Mrs. Lundberg continued: "Worthy recognition at this time are Mesdames Phil Armstrong and G. W.
[Agnes] Utter, daughter of the founder of Silverhill, Mr. Oscar Johnson and Mrs. Johnson; present
members holding the longest membership in the church are the Mesdames Trygve Andersen and Oscar
Swanson; first child of the first family in Silverhill is Mrs. George Lundberg. Two of the early pioneer
members of Zion Lutheran Church are the Mesdames Anna Rogers and Harry Peterson [i.e.,
Agnes]." She concluded her note by looking at the ongoing life of the congregation, for Mrs. Lundberg
states that "Mrs. Reuben Norman will be hostess to the Lutheran Church Women (LCW) on this
Thursday afternoon, May 12 at 2 p.m. at the church." That meeting, no doubt, met in the new addition to the
One other event was significant for Zion Lutheran Church. 1966 saw the purchase of another church
1966 saw long-time church Treasurer Mr. Victor Kubina elected to Council along with Mr. Oscar
Swanson. Two more "notes were burned." Remember, the congregation was having pastor funding
issues for decades. It establishes a pastor "Moving Fund" in early 1966. For perspective, church
insurance cost $80 a year for $10,000 of coverage. Zion was able to generate almost enough money for
its Synod assessment. But it costs money to run a church! Water bills were "high" so the Council
recognized a need to check water lines, and a new refrigerator was needed.188
Oscar and Gudrun Swanson celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in 1972 at Zion.
Click to enlarge.
The church decided, as noted above, to celebrate its 60th Anniversary on May 1, 1966, close to the date
of official incorporation. There is no indication that the Council was aware of the actual beginning of Swedish
Lutheran Zion Church in 1905. Celebration required getting ready for events. Lawrence Moseley got
the PA mic fixed! By the fall of this successful year, the Council was discussing refinishing the parsonage.
The Brownies had discovered Zion's new facilities and had asked to use the new Annex. The Council
referred them elsewhere because of supervision concerns.189
Unbeknownst to Zion Lutheran Church future Lay Pastor Charles Jolliff was moving his family from
South Carolina where he worked for International Paper Company to Mobile where his family would
attend St. Peter's Lutheran Church. He had been playing church organ since his teenage years and
would eventually add preaching when no pastor was available to the small church. Pastor Carl Almer was
at St. Peter's at the time and later became Vice Pastor at Zion.190
The Luther League began talking about providing altar railing kneeling pads and an altar covering.191
The church continued to be served by primarily lay pastors on a rotating basis, Mr. Torgensen, Mr.
Zimmerman, and the Rev. Clarence Daniels.192
At the 1967 Annual Meeting, William Schinert and Ralph Utter were elected to the Church Council.
Paulette Lindell and Carolyn Moseley were elected church pianists. And, Mrs. Grace Kinard was
elected Sunday School Superintendent with Lillian Moseley Assistant Superintendent. Mr.
Moseley was assigned responsibility to contact pastors in Mobile and Pensacola for needed services as
Pastor Suechting moved on from Zion. The congregation sought out Dr. Wood concerning obtaining a
summer seminarian for services.193
The building which was removed to make room for the "Fellowship Hall" in 2003 was long on the minds of
the parish. The congregation considered tearing down the parsonage garage this year. Also it looked at
repairing parsonage windows with putty and paint.194
A decision was made to renovate the garage and rent out the parsonage. Mr. Norman completed the
project and began work on the porch floor. The congregation elected to fill holes in the church yard and
brought in dirt for the purpose. No formal data is available on pastoral support during 1967, but we do know
that Christmas gifts were given to Lay Pastors Torgerson and Tracezwitz.195
1967 brought re-emerging concerns about attendance. It was December of 1967 when Pastor Lefstead
chaired a Special Meeting to invite Pastor Brade to come to church for $25 a sermon and mileage. The
Church Council rejected this and discussed calling Pastor William Niebling.196
The Luther League continued with Dr. Keith Cooper serving as advisor. They asked the church to install
an outside light by the church door.197 The Lutheran Church Women were involved with a "Bazaar," one
of many held over the years.198 The church again continued to be served by the rotation of Lay Pastors
Torgensen and Zimmerman, and now Pastor Clarence Daniels."199
The church floor needed to be refurbished. Pastor Lefstead celebrated Easter at Zion on a freshly
painted floor. Infrastructure problems again emerged: there was a major water leak in the church line! But
there was some good news: It is eight years into the 1960s and former Council member Robert L. Tutas
graduates and receives a gift from Zion. There was no carpet in the church yet. It is 1968 when Zion first
gets a carpet runner for the sanctuary.200
Robert L. Tutas graduated from Newberry College in 1964 and Lutheran Theological Southern
Seminary in 1968. He served as Pastor of the following Lutheran churches: Mt. Pleasant, Saluda,
SC, 1968-72; Orangeburg, Orangeburg, SC, 1972-74; Shepherd of the Sea, Garden City, SC,
1974-78 (where he was the mission developer 1974-75). According to the book, A History of the
Lutheran Church in SC 1971-1987, he resigned from ministry in 1978. He retired in Florida in the 1970s
and moved back to Iron Mountain in 1998. "He was always there to lend a helping hand." He was member
of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Niagara when he passed away.201
At the time of this history, 2005, air conditioning is pretty standard in the South, yet it is 1968 when we first
see air conditioners discussed for church. Pastor Martin from St. Paul's was brought on to do
communion for Zion, and a letter to encourage attendance is sent.
Remember the church bell from the late 20s? It is now 40 years later. The church bell base needs repair.
The organ needs tuning. The front doors of the church do not lock well and items are disappearing from
church. The Ladies Aid steps in to buy new front doors which are obtained by Mr. Lawrence Moseley
and Mr. Oscar Swanson in Pensacola.202
The church has been using a variety of literature in its tracts and handouts and it has literature from other
churches. The Council discovers that the Synod (the Lutheran Church in America) has a statement
which does not permit literature from other churches. The Council recognizes a need for pastoral leadership
and again asks President Huntley to find a retired pastor suitable for Zion Lutheran Church. By the end
of the year, the Council is again thanking Lay Pastors Torgerson and Tracezwitz for their services with
Now, a word about Pastor Clarence Daniels. He was from the Pittsburgh Synod of the Lutheran
Church in America and relocated to Alabama about 1968 or 1969. Pastor Huntley, the Bishop in
Atlanta, sent him to Silverhill as a pastor who was near retirement. Pastor Daniels and his wife, however,
were unable to accept a call to Zion because of parsonage problems. They instead went to St. Peter's
Lutheran Church in Mobile which had a functioning parsonage. Pastor Clarence Daniels began doing
Sunday services at 9:00 at Zion in Silverhill and 11:00 at St. Peter's Lutheran in Mobile. Charles
Jolliff was organist at St. Peter's while Shirley Stephens was organist at Zion.204
The Luther League manned the fair booth.205 The rotation of Lay Pastors continued with the addition of
Pastor Clarence Daniels.206
Council and church records for much of the first half of 1969 reveal routine activities. Long-term
Treasurer Kubina gets an adding machine, the congregation sets aside a Newberry College donation,
and the garage and Sunday School rooms get painting.
The adding machine bought in the 1960s resides on the church desk that sat in
the narthex of the church, now placed in the Church Museum.
- Click to enlarge.
There is limited encouragement as some transfers into the congregation are noted. Another Lay Pastor,
Richard Thomas Smyth, now joins Mr. Torgerson on the service schedule in mid-year. Air
conditioners? Remember these were discussed in 1968. Another air conditioner (three total) is added
to the Sunday School room and a contract for service is implemented in July. A letter is ultimately sent to
President Harvey Huntley at Synod and to the Rev. Martin about pastoral needs. From a historic
perspective, this letter is very interesting, because it documents the drift of the Lutheran Church in
America away from its rural roots to a focus on urban centers:207
December 20, 1969
President, Southeastern Synod,
Lutheran Church in America
Harvey L. Huntley, President,
Complacency is agreeable and pleasing, but non-productive. We, of ZION, feel that we have been
quiet too long thereby introducing the erroneous impression that all is well and good.
Conversely, we have reached the outskirts of period and if ZION is to avoid an inevitable demise thus
ending the influence of L.C.A. in this south easternmost area of Alabama, the current Advent season
must be one of "Stirring up".
ZION cannot, of itself under existent circumstances, evade a creeping paralysis without immediate aid
and assistance from Synod in the field of pastoral care and attentions.
The history of ZION is a matter of record. Our present condition pursuant to plant equipment and
properties free of debt, offerings, etc. is also well known to Synod.
As a concerned and disturbed, not confused, congregation composed essentially of the aged with a
smattering of middle-aged families and dearth of juveniles, we feel that some action can be taken in our
behalf at a time when L.C.A. sees fit to emphasize activity in ghettos and missions catering to our
modern transient society while seemingly neglecting established cadres of L.C.A. Lutherans who are in
danger of being unchurched. It must be remembered that these latter groups are those which have
given stability to our organization.
Our particular geographical area has lingering promise of growth providing that some pastoral care is
furnished, even part time, for visitation, education and worship, more especially for youth.
Momentarily, we receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper on an average of once per quarter.
Laymen lead our worship on other Sundays. Sunday School is taught by our own devoted teachers.
We have also managed to maintain our women's activities, participated in community affairs and
encouraged commensurate youth programs. But this has not been enough. Because of our lack of
pastoral care we have lost members to other denominations whose churches have been better able to
provide the regular and emergency functions normally associated with a church congregation. Although
we are under the jurisdiction of Pastor Martin in Mobile, his responsibilities to his own congregation, the
traveling distances involved and other facets which are well understood by us, preclude his ability for
intimate support to us as a congregation.
We feel that the services of a retired Pastor physically able to carry a minimum of responsibilities and
instructions would be of immeasurable assistance during this crucial period. To start, we are in a
position to furnish a comfortable parsonage and salary of approximately $1200.00 per annum to
augment any income and benevolence from Synod. This naturally could be augmented with any
increased growth of the congregation and accompanying offering. Alternately, we could help support a
Vicar in the Mobile area who could provide our optional services on a weekly time available status.
Our contribution would be proportional to the services rendered.
Irrespective of any current decision and action in our behalf, we request a visitation by you or your
representative for purposes of more detailed discussion and inspection of our conditions and facilities.
We urge this step at the earliest possible date and certainly before the point of no return is reached.
Yours, in Christ,
Lawrence O. Moseley, President
Ralph V. Utter, Council
Victor P. Kubina, Council
Emma Norman, Council
Mrs. Camil [Della] Sandell, Council208
Continue on to Zion Lutheran History Page 3, Years 1970-1984.