“On August 12, 1843, a few Lutherans, who with their pastor, A. Hordorf, had withdrawn from the Free Protestant St. John’s Church, for the sake of their faith and conscience, organized the Evangelical Lutheran Zion Congregation at Hamilton and Rossville, Ohio.” (History written in 1918). With definite convictions, based upon the articles of the Augsburg Confession, the congregation desired to be known as a Lutheran congregation and soon joined with others of its kind, in the joint Synod of Ohio, and received its pastors from that body.
The cornerstone of the first church, on the southwest corner of Front and Ludlow streets, was laid in 1844. By 1863, the church membership had grown considerably to 675 and it was necessary to provide more room. After much consideration it was decided to sell the old church and lot and build a new church on the opposite corner. In due time a new church, with school and parsonage on the first floor and the sanctuary on the second, costing $27,000, was the splendid property of the congregation. In mid-summer of 1866 this building was dedicated to the service and glory of God.
The instruction of the young was always in the forefront of the planning and thinking of the members and pastor. Therefore, from the very beginning a parochial school played a very interesting and important part in the life of Zion. In 1918, however the school was closed due to declining attendance.
In 1893 the church was rededicated, and the congregation had the joy of celebrating the 50th anniversary with a splendid and worshipful church building. The church property was enlarged and enhanced through a building and renovation program, which included an addition to the church, 20 feet in length, to make room for a chancel recess and the installation of an imported art-glass window of the resurrection of Christ. At this time, also, a new altar, pulpit and pews of cherry wood were made a part of the sanctuary.
The church, which had been a German church from the beginning, holding all its meetings and services in the German language, now realized that, as the children grew up they would need English instruction and preaching. Therefore, English services in the evening were soon introduced. In January, 1909, a resolution was adopted that the last Sunday of each month an English service was to be held in the morning. Four years later the arrangement was made effective that there be German and English services on alternate Sunday mornings. This prevailed for several years, until the plan that there be both German and English services in the morning with the English service occupying the time for the main worship hour, was carried out. During this time, of course, all other meetings, as well as the Sunday School and classes of religious education, were conducted in the English language.
In 1910 electric lights, hardwood floors, new art-glass windows, refrescoing, a complete rebuilding of the entrance and a recovering of the brick exterior of the church with stucco were included in the renovation. This meant quite an outlay of money, but the congregation saw it through and was permitted to rededicate its house of worship again in November of that year. In 1934 our fine three manual Moeller organ was installed. In 1937, work began on a new auditorium and gymnasium. The structure was completed in 1938 for $35,000.
By 1958, more space was needed to carry out Christian education. Planning and donation programs were started. In July, 1962 a modern three floor parish education wing with 20 classrooms, a fellowship hall, offices, a library, and a new kitchen was dedicated. For the celebration of the 125th anniversary in 1968, a complete remodeling was done on the Sanctuary adding a narthex, relocating the organ to a new balcony, enlarging the communion area, and constructing new front steps. New pews and woodwork updated the interior of the Sanctuary.
Planning began in 1982 for an elevator. Through many generous donations a new Otis elevator was installed in 1988 with access in the lounge, great hall, and street level. Also in 1988, the American Lutheran Church merged with two other Lutheran synods, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in American, to create the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America of which Zion is affiliated. On Easter Sunday in 1999, the Sanctuary was rededicated after a lengthy redecorating.
Zion celebrated its 165th anniversary in 2008 and it’s 170th anniversary in August of 2013. Zion is firmly rooted in the past, yet continues to grow into the future.