History of Zion United Church of Christ
Jesus didn't turn people away; neither do we.
The Evangelische Zions Gemeinde zu of Marion, Illinois, was organized on October 13,1888, by a group of German pioneers who had migrated from Washington, Madison, and St. Clair Counties, Illinois. The Rev. Ed Schweizer became their leader with twenty original members. When the twentieth anniversary was celebrated in 1908, a new bell tower, steeple, and bell were dedicated and membership had increased to forty-six.
On June 18, 1918, an attempt was made to burn the church when war feeling was running high. On July 7, 1918, the congregation unanimously voted to repair the damage done by the fire and to discontinue all services in the German language as long as our land was involved in war. After the war was over, the congregation decided that services should alternate between the two languages.
On July 13, 1924, a beautiful brick church of semi-gothic architecture was dedicated. The Ministerial Alliance and various service clubs of Marion assisted in the laying of the cornerstone and dedication. Zion is committed to the work of not only its own parish, but that of the community where its pastors and members have held offices and worked in the Ministerial Alliance and other community organizations.
On August 31, 1952, the corporate name was changed to Zion Evangelical & Reformed Church and in 1975, with the merging of the Evangelical and Reformed Churches and the Congregational and Christian Churches in the United States, we became Zion United Church of Christ, Marion, Illinois.
When Rev W.E. Lynch arrived in Marion in 1949, he began hearing of a dream that some day we might have a new educational building. As the years progressed, three properties to the west were purchased and when the Education Building west of the sanctuary was dedicated on June 28, 1958, the parking lot had also been enlarged. After approximately twenty-two years, the expansion program the congregation had adopted was completed with the dedication of our enlarged and redesigned sanctuary on November 21, 1971. On September 10, 1989, the members of Zion met another milestone upon the dedication of a new wing to the east of the sanctuary, housing additional classrooms, a newly enlarged kitchen, new offices and bathrooms, and an elevator to serve the handicapped. In 1993, the congregation voted to purchase the property immediately to the east, keeping in mind future expansion.
In 1998, the congregation voted to purchase the property south of the church and a new parking area was built there. It is our aim to commit ourselves to a deeper involvement of our congregation to Christ and His way, and to open our hearts more fully to bring others to the deep concerns and love of our Lord.