History of Zion

19th Century: The Early Years

Zion is one of the earliest churches in the Cohocton Valley.  Our founding members had just recently survived the Civil War and knew the importance of faith.  The first meeting of the new church group was held in 1869 in the home of Frank Larrowe.  They decided to call their new church “Zion Lutheran Church.”  The 50′ x 30′ church was built on land donated by George Bolster, with members volunteering most of the labor and materials.   Zion was officially dedicated on October 31, 1870.  The cemetery was begun the same year.  In 1880, the church purchased a parsonage.  The belfry was added in 1896 with the new bell being installed in 1898.

Zion Lutheran Church and Cemetery

20th Century: Growth and Adaptation

In 1914, Zion was remodeled with the addition of new stained glass windows.  In 1919, the church’s constitution was translated from German into English and finally, in 1928, Zion began using English during worship services. In 1941, the altar, which still serves the church to this day, was donated by St. Luke’s Church of Rochester, NY.

Zion Alter

In 1953, the old 18′ x 30′ Sunday school room from the back of the church was replaced with a larger structure, to serve as both class rooms and a social hall.

Zion Lutheran

The closing decades of the 20th century saw widespread economic decline in Western New York.  This affected most churches in the area, including Zion, with declining membership rolls.

Historical note

The Rev. Luther B. Scheehl was Zion’s longest serving pastor. He first served for ten years (1930 – 1940) and returned for an additional fourteen years (1948 – 1962).  Click on the following link to You Tube to view a brief video tribute to Pastor Scheehl, dedicated to his late daughter, Adah Scheehl Vosburgh.

Zion Today

Since 2006, Zion has had a partnership with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (http://www.spdans.org/index.html) in Dansville, NY, with whom we share a pastor.  This has benefited both congregations, which are growing and renewing.  A recent grant from the Clark Foundation through the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has allowed Zion to purchase a wide range of computer, audio and projection equipment, enabling us to have an up-to-date audio-visual ministry, including our Veggie Tales events for young children. Our Website made its debut in 2007, along with a new street sign on Maple St. to welcome visitors to our door.

Lighting of the candles during our annual Candlelight Vespers Service to celebrate our departed loved ones. This service is held the first Sunday in November in conjunction with All Saints Sunday.

The present parsonage was completed and dedicated in 1966.  In 1992, the church bought land across the road for additional parking, etc.   Since then Zion built two more additions: one for the heating system and storage room; and another for the Pastor’s office and  photocopier.  We now have new front steps with handrails, a wheelchair ramp, and concrete parking area for the handicapped.  Also, the audio is amplified during worship, to assist the hearing impaired.


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