May 5, 1963, was a special day to members of Zion United Methodist Church in Grand Forks.
As is May 5, 2013
The congregation will celebrate its 50th anniversary of worshipping in its current building this Sunday, exactly 50 years to the day the building was dedicated.
Former pastors have been invited back and the Rev. Bill Bates, who served God and His people in this place from 1976 to 1986, is guest speaker at the 10:30 a.m. worship service.
Other pastors who have served Zion since 1962 are: Clarence Schaeffer (1959-65); Walter Elmer (1965-68); Bob Worner (1968 – 76); David Mack (1986 – 91 ); Doug Diehl (1991 – 1998); Roy Caudill (1998 – 2003); Cliff Nelson (2004 – 2009); Russell Whaley (20010 – 2012). Current pastor Chang Yi.
Sunday’s festivities (May 5) begin with coffee and fellowship at 9 a.m., followed by a DVD viewing of the church’s construction process. After the worship service a catered meal will be served at 11:45 a.m.
Zion has a rather storied history.
It began as a mission church, part of the Holmes circuit, in 1882, and had its first pastor, Rev. William Fritz, in 1886. It was known at that time as the Grand Forks Evangelical Congregation.
In 1944 the church became self-supporting after 62 years as a missions church. It became Zion Evangelical Brethren in 1946 and, in 1968, became Zion United Methodist Church.
In 1958 a city block of land at 1001 24th Avenue South was purchased for $6,000. On June 3, 1962 ground breaking ceremonies were held at the new site and on May 5, 1963 a dedication ceremony was held for the new church.
Here are a couple of ground breaking photos:
Top Photo left to right: Ed Sheets, building contractor; Dr. A.G. Martin, District Superintendent, and Ray Redmer
Bottom Photo left to right: Cliff Matthews, Edith Kaufman, Don Ollman, Ray Redmer, Arlene Krueger, Reuben Lehr and the Rev. Clarence Schaeffer
A new building project, the addition of a narthex, began in 1996 and was completed and consecrated on May 23, 1998.
Then came the major Grand Forks Flood of 1997 and Zion was not spared. Water flooded the entire lower level and with help from UMCOR and other Methodist congregations around the country, it was completely renovated.
In 2012 gifts of a new organ and grand piano were given to the church by Zion families.
I know the faithful current and former members of Zion United Methodist will have a grand time marking this milestone, reminiscing and worshipping together on Sunday.
God bless them and their celebration.