ca A Brief History of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria: Part II

A Brief History of Zion
Part II -- 1912-1942
The Altpeter Years

Part I -- 1882-1911 | Part III -- 1943-1968 | Part IV -- 1969-91 | Part V -- 1992-Present

[Rev. Altpeter circa 19271912 - Despite that sparsely attended first Sunday, Pastor Altpeter quickly discovers that Pastor Decker had laid a good foundation. In January the Zion-Bethel Parish becomes self-supporting, no longer requiring support from the Iowa Synod's Board of Home Missions.

1915 - Confirmation is switched from German to English. Worship services in English, previously held only in the evening, become the norm the first and fourth Sunday of each month. The Parsonage, damaged by a fire, is improved and enlarged.

[The Common Service Book]1919 - Arnold Schoenheider is hired as Zion's organist, bringing the congregation one step closer to "perfecting the liturgical service." English-language worship is done according to the Common Service. The Zion Lutheran Brotherhood, a men's club, is organized.

1920 - Zion pays off her final indebtedness. An English church seal is purchased. The main worship services are now in English. German-language worship is offered the first and third Sunday of each month, immediately following the English service. Bethel calls her own pastor and the congregations become independent of each other. Discovering that rebuilding the current church building will be impractical, Zion begins planning to build a larger new church.

1922 - The congregation votes to build a new church. More improvements are made to the Parsonage. The last services in "The Church on Sand Hill" are held July 2. The building is sold for $225 and moved. The pipe organ is sold to Bethel. The congregation worships at nearby Garfield Grade School until the Basement is completed and dedicated on November 19. A used Hinners pipe organ, surplus from the sale of a Sunday School, is purchased for $10 and accompanies Zion's worship in the Basement.

1923 - The Brotherhood, which "went peacefully to sleep" a couple years earlier, is re-organized. It will help with property improvements -- both building and redecorating -- and, as has the Ladies' Aid, assume part of Zion's financial obligations.

1926 - In April the congregation resolves to complete the church building. The original plans are revised, and construction commences in August. Heavy rains and severe cold will slow the building down.

H. E. Bruns, who had been confirmed at Zion and later attended Bethel, is ordained into the Ministry.

[The 'new' Zion with parsonage]1927 - The new pure Gothic church building is completed in the Spring at a cost of nearly $47,000. Among the new furnishings are a seven-rank, two-manual electro-pneumatic Hinners pipe organ, which cost $1555 and a tolling bell from the Peoria Fire Department. Three large stained-glass windows, along with 13 smaller ones, an Altar statue of Christ, and a Communion relief in the Altar frontal are among the many adornments that "preach a vivid sermon to all worshippers."

[The new Zion's Nave just prior to its dedication]The new church is dedicated by Pastor Altpeter at 10:00 am Sunday, April 24, beginning a five day celebration. Pastor Rausch preaches at the 10:15 Morning worship. A 3:00 pm Commununty Service features greetings from neighboring pastors. The 7:45 pm Evening Devotion Service includes a sermon by Pastor G. A. Fandrey, President of the Iowa Synod, and an address by Pastor Decker. May 1 is the first Confirmation and May 8 is the first Communion service in the new church.

1929 - A history written this year notes Holy Communion is celebrated five times per year: Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, and Reformation Day.

1930 - After 10 years of courtship, the Iowa Synod merges with the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States and the Buffalo Synod to form the American Lutheran Church.

1932 - On April 3 the church is re-dedicated after much redecoration. The Wartburg League is renamed the Luther League.

1933 - German worship services are moved to the second and fourth Sundays of the month.

1935 - The last German service is held on Good Friday.

1937 - The constitution is amended granting women the right to vote. On Reformation Day (October 31), men and women commune together for the first time.

1938 - Chimes are finally added to the organ and dedicated November 8 in the memory of Karl Altpeter, son of Pastor and Mrs. Altpeter, who had been called to his eternal rest 3 years earlier, a victim of Muscular Dystrophy. Zion agrees to particpate in the ALC's new pension plan for pastors.

1939 - Arnold Schoenheider resigns as organist after 20 years of service, though he will play at choir rehearsals and for choir anthems for many more years. Dr. E. F. Poppen, President of the American Lutheran Church, preaches at the 45th Anniversary Service on Reformation Sunday.

1940 - Herbert Jeck, a nephew of Pastor Altpeter, is the second son of Zion ordained into the Holy Ministry on June 30. Zion Senior Luther League, the young adults group, is organized. Rose Schoenheider, teen-aged daughter of Arnold, takes over as organist.

1942 - Pastor Sebastian J. Altpeter accepts a call to Zion Lutheran Church, Chicago, and resigns after thirty-one years of uninterrupted and faithful service.

Pastor Henry C. Hafermann of St. John's Lutheran Church, Peru, Illinois, accepts Zion's call and preaches the first time on December 28.

The Brief History continues with Part III -- 1943-1968: The Congregation Matures.

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Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
1534 S. Easton Avenue
Peoria, IL 61605-3407
(309) 637-9150

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Created -- 1 February 2005
Last Revised -- 17 September 2011