The History of Zion Interactive Timeline The Old Zion Church
The first known religious pioneering in the Ohio Territory was done by Jesuit missionaries as early as 1749. They followed the great Lakes waterways and established missions among the Huron Indians in and around Toledo and Sandusky. The first white Catholic parish was set up at Gallipolis in 1790. These founders had used the Ohio River as their means of access into the wilderness.
As early as 1750, the German Baptists organized in the territory and were firmly established near Cincinnati by 1790, as were the Congregational Christians at Marietta. During the late 1700's Lutherans were also coming down the Ohio River and following its tributary, the Miami, into the interior where they established parishes in the southwest section of Ohio.
These pioneers of the faith came to their new homes with the Bible in their hands and a dynamic faith in their hearts. They were men and women who had suffered hardships, privation and pain, but who never retreated until they had molded strong character and exemplary ideals.
The church was the stabilizing influence for these rough and turbulent times. In the tiny, carved out squares amid the forest, the church was brought to the pioneers by itinerant pastors, and they knew they were never alone.
Johannes Stauch (John Stough) 1806 - 1814
Pastor Stauch was an itinerant pastor licensed to preach in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and further west. This order took him into Ohio, first to Columbiana County and then to Stark County. As early as 1806, Stauch was conducting services at the home of Peter Loutzenheiser in Plain Township, which led to the establishment of the "Warstler" or Holy Trinity congregation. Since the first constitution of Zion bears the signature of Stauch, we have every reason to believe that preparatory work was done by him here prior to 1814.
The first little log church for both Lutheran and Reformed congregations was erected in 1814 in the old section of the present North Canton Cemetery. The one man who appears to have had the greatest responsibility for its actual construction was Whilhelm Kreichbaum. All services held in this church were spoken in German.
After a fire in 1838, which destroyed the log church, a much larger and more imposing building was constructed. The cornerstone used in the log church was transferred to the second church. Two separate doors located at the front of the building and large white pillars gave this church building the appearance of many New England churches of the time. Services in this church were held in German until the 1890's.
Samuel Baechler 1857 - 1869
One of Pastor Baechler's most important accomplishments while at Zion was the establishment of the Sunday School. The Sunday School was a joint venture with the Reformed congregation. Each congregation supplied its own teachers and shared the administrative staff.
B. F. Schillinger 1887 - 1895
During his years of service to Zion, the congregation changed the hymns and sermons from the German language to English. A German sermon was still preached every third Sunday.
William Oelschlager 1900 - 1905
During the years of Pastor Oelschlager's service to Zion, it was decided to relocate the church in the Village of New Berlin, now North Canton.
In 1904, the congregation started construction of the church on West Maple Street. It was completed and dedicated on February 12, 1905. The estimated cost of the building was $2500.00. The actual cost of the completed facility would have been higher than the estimate except that people donated much of the cost of labor and materials. Forty-five years after the West Maple Street church was completed, the congregation, in an attempt to improve ventilation and lighting to the basement level, raised the foundation of the building. The cornerstone, when removed from this church building, was found to contain items from both construction dates. The articles found in the cornerstone were a small black hymnal and service book, a small Bible, a 1949 September bulletin, five Lincoln head pennies and three Indian head pennies, two copies of the Canton Repository dated 1904 and 1949, two year books with the same dates. This cornerstone is still in Zion's possession and can be seen in our present building.
Harvey Simon 1913 - 1915
Pastor Simon helped with the planning of the parsonage located west of the church. This house is now a part of Northminster Presbyterian Church on West Maple.
Frederick R. Sutter 1918 - 1928
Electric lights and "indoor comfort rooms" were just a few of the many church building improvements made during Pastor Sutter's years of service to Zion.
Paul R. Daneker 1945 - 1952
The parsonage was completely reconditioned for Pastor Daneker and his wife. Pastor Daneker established the first Vacation bible School in 1945 as a community service. The church constitution was revised during this pastorate.
In 1954, a nine-acre site facing Lindy Lane and Portage Street was purchased for $30,000.00. The present church building with educational units was dedicated on March 20, 1960. The Chapel and Luther Hall were filled with members and friends of the congregation. A former pastor, Paul Daneker, preached the dedication sermon. Twenty years later, on November 23, 1980, dedication services were held for Memorial Hall, which was planned as a multi-purpose room and gymnasium.
Walter H. Ruth 1957 - 1968
Pastor Ruth and his wife were the first occupants of our present parsonage, moving into the house in December 1957. Circles were organized for the women and the Junior Mission Band was begun for the youth of the congregation during Pastor Ruth's years of service to Zion. In 1960, Pastor Ruth helped Zion dedicate our present church homes. Parish roles nearly doubled during the ten years Pastor Ruth served Zion.
Kurt H. Meuschke 1968 - 1984
Zion grew both spiritually and physically during Pastor Meuschke's pastorate. The congregation increased by several hundred and both the church facility and the parsonage were renovated and enlarged.
James. R. Lutz 1985 - 1997
Much of Pastor Lutz's first years were spent restructuring the organization of the congregation, putting an emphasis on lay input and lay involvement. During his pastorate, Zion for the first time increased the pastoral staff to three ministers.