Zion Lutheran Church Members to Mark 125th

Article excerpt

Byline: Jerry Turnquist

A west side Elgin church demolished decades ago made an appearance at an Elgin park this past week.

The only difference was that the new structure was a model about one-tenth the size of the original.

The replica is the first of a variety of special events planned by Zion Lutheran Church to mark its 125th anniversary, which will run November 2006 to November 2007.

"The idea for building a model of the original Zion Church was the idea of David Dorgan and Marge Matchinski of our 125th Anniversary Committee," said Parish Ministry Associate Marlene Daubert, who will have become a diaconal minister at a service Saturday.

"Dorgan saw the construction of a model ship during a European trip and thought the idea of building a replica of our original church in nearby Ryerson Park would be a great way to launch our anniversary year."

Shodeen Inc., a housing firm, stepped up to become a major sponsor of the effort, Daubert said.

Constructed in 1884 on the same west side lot where the current sanctuary stands, the original Zion Lutheran building, which measured some 50-by-120 feet and seated 150 people, was erected for $2,500 on a lot donated by Elgin philanthropist George Lord, according to church records.

The fledgling congregation secured $1,500 in pledges from its members, but had to mortgage another $1,000 to make the dream come true.

And just who was it that worshipped at this new sanctuary?

Parish records indicate the congregation began two years earlier from a group who had been meeting at the Swedish Bethlehem Lutheran Church, located at Villa and Fulton streets in the city's downtown.

Made up primarily of Norwegian and Danish immigrants and served by a visiting minister, the group eventually decided it was time to form their own church.

They named their new church the Zion Norwegian Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Elgin.

The first few years were a struggle and, for a time, the membership was served by visiting preachers who came for a Sunday or two.

For a time, the congregation also joined with an Aurora church to share the costs of ministerial services. Shortly after its formation, Zion Lutheran also saw the addition of the Ladies Aid Society, a group long credited as a major force in various efforts.

A year before a constitutional amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920, a similar privilege was extended to females of the congregation. …