A Historical Sketch of ZOAR
Like many smaller churches, Zoar did not have a spectacular beginning,
nevertheless and interesting and notable one.
The "birth pains" of a new congregation were felt in the summer of the year
1862. It happened here on the romantic hillside of the "kettle moraine"
country, where so many people of German nationality had peacefully settled.
They were devout, religious people; determined not to leave God out of their
lives. Somehow they would build unto Him a "house of worship", and have a
"school" where the elemental things of the Christian faith would be taught.
The beginnings were slow, but it did not take long until here was founded a
Here are just a few examples of these humble beginnings: "By the guidance of
Jesus Christ ... a movement was begun to bring together the scattered
children of God." First there came two students from the Reformed Mission
Institute (Mission House) to organize a Sunday school. Soon arrangements
were made to have a worship service every other Sunday.
By Christmas Day, 1862, the statutes of the constitution were read, agreed
upon, and signed by 17 people; by February 6 more signed.
The newly organized congregation took the name, "The German Evangelical
Reformed ZOAR Church." For many years all its services were conducted in the
The Purpose of this church: "To supply its members with the Evangel of Jesus
Christ; to develop in them the desire for the means of grace, and for the
fulfillment of the Christian duties ... that the kingdom of our Redeemer may
The consistory was composed of two elders, two deacons and the pastor.
In those beginning years, and for many years afterwards, at all official
meetings of the church: "Every male member in good standing had the right to
"This congregation shall be subject to the order of the German Reformed
Church of the United States, and shall be fully in harmony with its
regulations. Our only guide is the Bible, and the Heidelberg Catechism for
the instruction of our children."
So ... during this century this congregation was faithfully served by a group
of ministers; among them being such great names as Dr. Heinrich Kurtz
(longtime professor at Mission House; first laid to rest in the Salem
cemetery after he had served that and this Zoar church); and Dr. Frank
Grether. These professors of the Mission House evidently served as interim
ministers; but it has been a great experience in the life of this
congregation to be served by men of such high spiritual and intellectual
In those days ... those earlier years ... it was not uncommon for many of the
members to walk to church. Originally the church stood about an eighth of a
mile south from where it now stands. There was then no basement to the
church, and of course no modern facilities; but this was all changed when the
church was forced to leave its old location a few years ago because of the
coming through of state highway 57. Now we are happy to say that the church
has been greatly remodeled and modernized in the sanctuary and downstairs.
God has been good to Zoar, and it is our earnest prayer that He will continue
to bless her, and make her a power for good and for righteousness for many
years yet to come. "Hitherto has the Lord helped."
The Rev. Klein
The Rev. Heinrich Kurtz, D.D.
The Rev. A. Korbel
The Rev. O. Muehlmeier, D.D.
The Rev. F. P. Franke 1898 - 1907
The Rev. Adolph Ruehlmann 1907 - 1913
The Rev. Otto Vriesen 1913 - 1921
The Rev. Frank Grether, D.D. 1921 - 1922
The Rev. August Hammann 1922 - 1928
The Rev. A, A. Graf 1929 - 1930
The Rev. Otto Saewert 1930 - 1946
The Rev. Otto Menke 1946 - 1961
The Rev. Ernest Gander 1961 -
If you have any question, e-mail Debie
Copyright 1997 - 2006 by Debie Blindauer
All Rights reserved