Celebration time is near

TOWNER Members of Zion Lutheran Church in Towner have been anticipating the 125th anniversary celebration of their church for more than a year. Each month since September 2012 the members have been invited to participate in the specific goals.

The time has now arrived to celebrate.

The church, which was organized on May 15, 1886, had humble beginnings. Worship services were held in sod huts, a carpentry shop and in other churches. It was a joyful day on Nov. 12, 1908, when a cornerstone was laid for a white wooden structure which cost $5,000 to build.

Eventually the wooden structure became too small for the congregation and on July 26, 1970, groundbreaking began for a brick church which is currently used by the active congregation.

Pastors came and went; services were intermittent until 1919 when the Rev. Richard Wanberg and his wife, Olga, arrived. Wanberg continued as pastor of the congregation until 1960.

The full-time pastor at Zion is the Rev. Linda Wimmer. She is assisted by Wally Fretland, a Tioga native, who was installed at Zion as a synodically authorized minister by Sherie Heine of the Western North Dakota Bishop’s office in May.

The love of members for their church is evident.

Three church members, June Anderson, Monna May Dokken and Marie Smith, designed and created the colorful stained glass windows. Each Christmas, the tree is decorated with Chrismons made by the congregation.

An ecumenical quilting group, which meets once a week from September through May, makes quilts each year to ship to Lutheran World Relief as well as for local needs. This year, 308 quilts were delivered to Midwest Motor Express in Minot for shipment to Minneapolis. The quilts will be distributed to countries throughout the world. Another beautiful quilt was completed by Dorothy Keyes for the Metigoshe Quilt Auction. The proceeds from the quilt auction support the Bible camp.

Zion Lutheran is currently part of the Tri-Parish which includes New Hope in Upham and First Lutheran in Willow City. As populations have shifted, churches have closed. Former members of Norway Lutheran Church and Berwick Lutheran Church have become an important part of Zion. More information about those two churches will be published in a book of history which will be sold in July.

Despite a loss of members in 1987 when Zion changed from an American Lutheran Church to affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the current membership is growing.

The goals of the 125th anniversary have been to reflect, renew and rejoice as members have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread the Good News. Each month the members have been invited to participate in these goals.

The monthly occasions were:

September 2012: Rally Sunday and planting of a crimson king maple tree by the youth.

October 2012: Power point presentation by Anna Thorson on the history of Zion Lutheran.

November 2012: Community Thanksgiving meal and a pizza party for the youth.

December 2012: Decorations included a “giving tree.” Social Services provided gift tag ideas for county youth. Tags were taken by members of the church, gifts were purchased and delivered to the agency for delivery by the agency.

January: The Rev. Linda Wimmer conducted a four-part Bible study on the many gifts or functions of the members of the congregation.

February and March: The congregation focused on the completing of various projects including the framing of confirmation pictures, cleaning the church and promotion of a new carpet for the sanctuary.

April: Golden Members received a personal handwritten letter of thanks for their faithfulness. Golden Members are church members who are 80 years of age or older. Anna Thorson wrote four prayers which were prayed during Sunday worship services. Currently the oldest member of Zion is Regarda Brandon, who is 99. Vera Nelson and Evelyn Wandke are each 96 years of age and living in their own homes. Orrin Iverson, 95, is also a member. One of the younger Golden members, Virginia Hill Fairbrother, who is 89, is a living history book. She has been instrumental in capturing the activities and personalities of the church in the 125th Anniversary History Book. The large-print book also includes photos taken by Corinne Frey.

May: The Women of Zion Lutheran introduced Rachel’s Day, a day in which the congregation was alerted to the need to welcome children whose parent(s) are incarcerated, absent from the home or struggling with addiction. May also was celebrated as Women’s Month.

June: This month was designated as Men’s Month. Each Sunday a Bible story about a man from the Bible was read. On Father’s Day the men were served caramel rolls.

July: Zion Lutheran will sponsor a float in the 4th of July parade in Towner. A few days later, on July 7 at 11 a.m. a festival worship service will be held to close the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the church.