Zion Lutheran Church - 100 Year History 1920-1969

Zion Lutheran Church History

First Hundred Years

Picture of Zion Lutheran Church about 1960.

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 and Thorsby.
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 last name].
- 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.


         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.
Picture of Zion Lutheran Church about 1924.
A postcard sent in 1924 from Silverhill to St. Elmo, AL. pictures Zion Lutheran Church and Parsonage, circa 1924. - Click to Enlarge.
         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


         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.


         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


Picture of bronze tablet.          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 Hallberg, Sr.

         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.

         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.


         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.

         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 English.102


         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 church.104


         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.

         He 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).


         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.


         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 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."


         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 cost $18.112


         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. 115


         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 meeting.120 Mrs. Emma Norman had the mail route during the week. She used to pick up folks for church events.121


         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.

         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."


         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


         Ladies Aid membership was now at 18 members. Vocal solos during meetings continued.127 Mrs. Vera 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, Georgia. 128
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.
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.


         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 parsonage.131 Seminarian George West from Southern Seminary began providing summer pulpit services.132 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
Major 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 was established.140 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. 141


         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 garage.142 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.

        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.


         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. Agnes Utter--Secretary.

         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.

         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 formal ministry.


         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 Swanson.

         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.

         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.

         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 raise funds.

         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.

         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.

         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 envelope.

         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.

         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.


         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.

Picture of Pastor August G. Suechting in 1930.          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.

         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.

         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.

         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 coming year!


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         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

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         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 parsonage.

         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.

         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 program.


         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, Johnny 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

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         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.


         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 church.

         One other event was significant for Zion Lutheran Church. 1966 saw the purchase of another church organ.

         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.
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         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.

         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.


         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.

         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.

         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.

         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.


         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.

         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.

         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.

         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 Christmas gifts.

Picture of Pastor Clarence Daniels.
         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:

Silverhill, Alabama
December 20, 1969

President, Southeastern Synod,
Lutheran Church in America

Harvey L. Huntley, President,

Dear Sir:

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, Council

Continue on to Zion Lutheran History Page 3, Years 1970-1984.