Zion United Church of Christ
Lowden, Iowa

A Brief History

Zion’s congregation dedicated its first building in a grove of trees about three miles south of Lowden, where it was known as “Die Kirche im Bush” (The Church in the Woods).  Built on a 5 acre plot of ground, the plot included a burial site.  In 1876, the congregation moved to its present site on the corner of Main and Jefferson.  Ever in provision of educational opportunities for the community, the congregation established a parochial school in 1883 which continued for 36 years. 

In 1916 fire destroyed the second church building. The present church building was erected and dedicated in 1917.  Salvaged from the fire were the present Baptismal Font (still in use today), and a German Bible that was being used by the German-speaking congregation. 

During the years of the Great War (WWI) Zion’s German speaking congregation experienced discrimination in a variety of ways, even to the point of the prohibition of the use of the German language.  Courageous pastors would often ignore that law in order to bring the sacraments to their parishioners who only spoke German.  But in 1919, English was introduced into the worship and Sunday School which coincided with a marked increase in attendance.

In the 30s, 40s, and 50s Zion began the tradition of mid-week Lenten Services, commenced publication of the Zion Herald, formed a “Young People’s League,” began Womens’ and Mens'  social-service organizations, started a Vacation Bible School program, and began its annual fundraising dinners.  But 1955 also brought an end to a long-time asset when the old parochial school was torn down to be replaced by the current educational wing on the west side of the sanctuary.  In 1963, the congregation celebrated its Centennial with a year-long observance.

Zion’s commitment to mission was evident during the next several decades.  In 1965 the church exceeded its giving to the wider missions of the denomination by more than 20%, the Herald was a weekly publication, and the old parsonage was replaced.  In the 1970s the church’s governing structure was revamped, several musical organizations were formed (including a hand bell choir),  and youth ministry continued to be an active outreach program.  The 1980s found the church engaged in major remodeling of the sanctuary including renovation of the stained glass windows, including 10 medallions depicting Biblical scenes and two of the original “Die Kirche im Bush” and the old parochial school building.  By the end of the decade, the church had been air conditioned, and been made accessible to persons with physical challenges through the addition of a ramp on the East side of the building.

More recently Zion has continued ministries to the Lowden community in a variety of ways: Ministries to children and youth have continued with an active religious education program; an emergency food pantry has been established, and has recently moved to a more accessible area of the church.  Zion Youth Club and Worshipping Warriors continue after school ministries to elementary and middle school children, and an active youth group continues to serve adolescents.  The church school is currently in the midst of a program of redecorating the church’s classroom spaces, with the nursery area and a classroom being redecorated around a Noah’s Ark and Daniel & Lions theme.

All-church activities include programming around the holidays of Christmas and Easter, an annual Vacation Bible School for the entire community featuring educational programming, recreation, crafts, and an over-night based on the theme of the event.  There is an annual beef and ham dinner served on the Sunday following Easter, and our youth offers an Advent dinner for the church’s senior citizens on the first Sunday in December.

The United Church of Christ 

Zion is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a denomination whose roots in the Christian faith are founded in the ministry of Jesus Christ, and restated in the Protestant Reformation in both Germany and England. Our faith-parents were among the first settlers in America, and we now include congregations as varied as New England Congregationalists (descendents of the Pilgrim settlers of the region), German immigrants who found religious freedom in Pennsylvania, the Ohio and Mississippi/Missouri River Valleys, and Christians who banded together on the American Frontier who believed that the only title for followers of Christ should be “Christian.”  As the years progressed, our denomination has become more diverse: we have congregations with Hispanic backgrounds, Pacific basin backgrounds, Native American heritage, Afro-American lineages, and others.

We like to say that “Our Faith is 2000 years old, but our thinking is not.”

We believe in God’s continuing testament.  This is why we are committed to hearing God’s ancient story anew and afresh in our lives and in the world today.  We try to remain attentive to God’s creative movement in the world.  Religion and science are not mutually exclusive and your head and heart are both welcomed into our places of worship.  We prepare our members and leaders to be engaged in ministry in the present and future church, and we embrace all kinds of communities and new modes of thinking.  Why?  Because God is still speaking.

You may learn more about us by visiting ucc.org and clicking on the link “about us” in the menu bar, or just click on the link on this page, and we’ll send you there.

Iowa Conference

The Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ is a covenantal body through which local UCC congregations in Iowa experience relationships with the wider expressions of our denomination’s faith and mission.  The Conference assists churches by providing resources for educational and mission opportunities both within Iowa, nationally, and across the world through our connections to denominational resources.  Local churches use the resources of the Iowa Conference in the Search and Call process of pastoral placement, stewardship education, public pronouncement on issues facing church and society, outdoor ministries, and enabling congregations to carry out their individual ministries.