Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church History

1820 was neither the best nor the worst year in American History.  With government free land policies encouraging homesteading, the frontier was alive with action.

In the Miami Valley, packed with game, was a forested wilderness.  In this land was indeed a landscape evident of God's country.

The spirit of the "High German Reformed" is our heritage.  Thus we relate the beginnings of "Zion Church".

In those days, when people came to church, they came for the whole day.  In summer, with heavily packed lunch baskets, they climbed into wagons.  When winter came and the wind roared, families bundled into large sleighs and made their way to church to hear the word of God and savor the Christian fellowship of their distant neighbors.

As was custom at the time, the men sat on one side of the church and the women on the other.  There were a few exceptions of families who wanted to remain together.

It is hard to tell just when the country church ended and the city church began as it was a gradual transition.

The ministers who served Zion were circuit riders who rode on horseback through wooded trails, stopping at each congregation they served.  When they arrived, they were usually disarrayed, filthy, and unkempt.  They wore black, hip length coats, wide brimmed hats, dirty shirts, and black strings for ties.  They wore their pant cuffs stuffed in their boots and were always ready to preach.

In 1820, the first congregation was composed of twelve people.  They were known as the "Zion Society".  They united their church with the German Evangelical Lutheran Church, known as the "Hetzel Congregation".  They held worship services in the home of Peter Hetzel, his wife, and their seven children.  Theirs was a 12 x 14 foot log house, at the corner of Dogwood Lane and Stroop Road.  Using the "Palatinate Liturgy", the member of the "Zion Society Church" held their first communion at the Hetzel home on December 3, 1820.  The Reverend Father Heinicke came into their midst in 1820.  In 1843, members of the Zion Society somewhat improved the log church building, covering the exterior with weather boards.  This church for many years was known as the Hetzel Church.

A substantial two story brick building was built on the grounds of a cemetery.  Owned jointly by the Lutheran and Reformed congregations, the building cost about $3500, including furniture.  Members completed construction in 1857 and dedicated the new structure on May 13, 1860.




On May 12, 1886, a tornado partially destroyed the church, tearing away the steeple and the east wall.  Soon after, the Lutheran congregation resolved to build separately.

Having purchased an acre of ground from the John Emert farm, the Evangelical Lutheran Church proceeded to build a new church at the cost of $5000.  On July 10, 1887 members dedicated this new Lutheran Church. 


In 1959 four acres of land at West Alexandersville-Bellbrook and Munger Roads in Miami Township was purchased for a new building site.  On August 30, 1960 the groundbreaking was held for the education wings at the new site.

In 1960, the parsonage and 2 acres of land adjoining the church were purchased for $26,000.  The last services in the old building were held on May 20, 1961.  The first worship service in the new facility was held June 16, 1961.

Click Here for a Zion Timeline

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church 2001 
Last Updated February 16, 2001