Months of observances culminate with a weekend of celebration Saturday and Sunday at Zion Lutheran Church in Litchfield, as the congregation celebrates the church’s 100th anniversary.
“The big culmination celebration is July 30 and 31,” said Kristi Quitney, who has chaired the centennial planning committee.
Historical displays and music, a children’s carnival, “which we are excited about,” will begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Church members and other community members can tour the church building and view history displays, including a portrait of Zion’s ministerial staff. Visitors also will be able to view videos of stories through the years and listen to organ music while enjoying a cup of coffee.
Zion Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation, began in 1917 as an offshoot of Ness Lutheran Church in rural Litchfield Township, and it was incorporated in 1922. The congregation’s first gatherings were in people’s homes and often spoken in Norwegian.
After renting various worship spaces in Litchfield, Zion purchased a church building in 1931. The current building was built in 1963. Various additions and remodels have occurred during the years to accommodate the church’s congregational ministries and community partnerships. Faith formation, music ministries, Bible studies, mission sewing, and food outreach have been vital activities for the Zion congregation, the centennial committee said.
“Zion is grateful for the ways in which it can interact and connect with the larger Litchfield community,” the committee said in a news release.
Among those interactions for more than 30 years has been Kids of the Kingdom, an on-site childcare, that currently serves more than 100 area children.
And just last year, church members made another significant investment in community ministry, renovating the former kitchen into a commercial kitchen that serves as a meal preparation site for the Lutheran Social Service’s senior dining program. Hundreds of meals are created daily in the kitchen and delivered to or picked up by LSS program participants
Zion Lutheran has seen many changes since its founding, to be sure.
“A lot of things changed,” said Carlson Urdahl, 81, who was baptized at Zion’s earlier church in 1941. “I was confirmed in 1955 … ’56, I think. It was something like 1959 that we put a basement (into the old building) and had a place for Sunday school, Lutheran League, and other things like that. That’s how I remember the old church.”
Urdahl has been a member of the congregation almost since his baptism, except for a couple decades spent teaching in Granite Falls and Buffalo after attending Concordia College where he got his teaching degree. Urdahl returned to Litchfield in 1963 to buy the family farm where he grew up in rural Litchfield.
“It’s been my home place,” he said. “It’s just fun being here.”
And the congregation plans to keep it fun this weekend as it celebrates 100 years.
Former pastor, the Rev. Tim Hansen, will perform music in the church’s “Worship Café” in the evening, and ice cream sundaes will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, ELCA Bishop Dee Peterson will attend 10 a.m. service, with Hansen preaching, along with a reaffirmation of baptism and music by a mass choir.
Final bids for the anniversary silent auction will end at 1 p.m. after a time of fellowship, music and lunch.
But while this weekend might be the headline celebration of the church centennial, the historical reminiscing will continue throughout the rest of the year. Coming months will highlight Kids of the Kingdom Daycare on its 34th anniversary and the community food programs, including the commercial kitchen remodel and Bistro café seating area update project.
“Zion Lutheran looks forward to worshiping, gathering and serving together for the coming 100 years,” the centennial committee’s news release said.