Zion Lutheran church in Snohomish celebrating 125 years
A special service is being planned for Sunday, May 7
Pastor Gary Jensen speaks to his congregation during the late Sunday morning service April 30 at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Snohomish. The church will be hosting a special service Sunday, May 7 and an open house later that day from 3 to 5 p.m. for its 125th anniversary.
SNOHOMISH — One hundred twenty-five years of congregation, baptisms, confirmations, song, praise and, most of all, community — Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church’s history is as rich as its devotion of its members and they want to keep it up for future generations.
The congregation of around 80 members has been working to promote the church in the community, keep up the old building and stay active in their pursuit of the church’s various missions.
The 125th Anniversary marks a special occasion on the church’s calendar. The church will host an open house and ice cream social on Sunday, May 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. along with a special worship service at 2 p.m. The president of the LCMS Northwest District President Paul Linnemann will be preaching.
Last week, the Tribune caught up with “Pastor Gary” Gary Jensen, Congregation President Dean Randall and longtime member Carolyn Jensen (who is not related to Pastor Gary). The group was happy to chat about the church at 329 Ave. A, which they call “Zion,” even with the repairs and maintenance going on in the midst. The organ repairmen were tuning the instrument in the main sanctuary, which boasts high white ceilings and huge
stained glass windows, while others were dusting and preparing the sanctuary for the anniversary service and open house.
It was a busy, partly-sunny Thursday morning.
“We were the second church in the state, for our denomination, so it’s been around a long time and active in the community for 125 years,”said Randall. “I guess it’s important to reflect back on what has happened with our church, how we’ve impacted the community, and we’re also looking ahead to see how in the future we will be interfacing with the community.”
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of the oldest landmarks in town, with its nearly 100-year-old sanctuary and soaring white bell tower with a still-working bell that echoes off the white walls and historic homes surrounding the site. The original church from 1892 was demolished a century ago, but some of the original ornate wooden pews still seat church-goers in the sanctuary’s balcony.
The acoustics in the sanctuary are lively and sometimes eerie with the echoes of different sounds — from Pastor Gary’s booming, friendly voice or Karen Berner’s passionate organ playing, to the old radiator heaters in the back that bang and grunt to the creaks of the wooden pews — all the sounds that tell the story of the old church; a story the congregation wants to share with many others and
Pastor Gary said he came to the Snohomish Zion Lutheran Church nine years ago as an interim pastor, but remained.
“I think we have close relations here, everyone is very friendly,” Pastor Gary said with a knowing smile. “I’m trying to be as straightforward and ‘serious’ as I can… but the humor comes out, it has to sometimes, even in church.”
Jensen said she enjoyed Pastor Gary’s humor and described how he often will imitate the different characters from the Bible when preaching a sermon, or has dressed up as a certain character before to make the sermon fun for members. He also sings in the choir.
Pastor Gary loves to laugh, but most importantly, he said he loves that the church is a type of community center for people to come.
The congregation leadership likes the idea of the church being a community center.
A big part of the church’s openness and acoustics is that it compliments the music.
“Music has been a part of the Lutheran faith for a long, long time, we like to sing in the Lutheran church and Martin Luther wrote songs and hymns for worship,” said organist Karen Berner. “It’s a really important part of worship. It’s a very unifying thing, to play and to sing. The pastor uses the hymns to unearth
the gospel. People love to sing, the repairman said many churches don’t use organs anymore, it’s kind of a fading thing and he was saying how wonderful our instrument is and how lucky we are to have it. Maybe we take it for granted because we’ve had it so long!”
The old pipe organ from 1923 finally gave out and a new one, a three-manual Rogers organ, replaced it in the year 2000.
The tuning and repairs for the big service on Sunday, May 7 were a priority.
“Each fall, on Halloween, we have our Fall Festival that is just so fun and really lets people come in to warm up and see the church,sometimes close to 300 people,” said Jensen, who has been a member since 1972. “What we don’t do anymore that I really enjoyed was letting the bell ring on New Year’s at midnight and we’d have such a good time.”
Talk floated to the bell,
which was installed into the 105-foot tower with horses, pulleys, block and tackle.
Jensen said she’d always wanted to ring the bell and never had in her 44 years of membership. Last week, she got her wish.
Randall and Jensen, after Pastor Gary had to leave for a communion, climbed up the stairs to the foyer hosting long, thick ropes connected to the bell. Jensen had to tug
with all her might to ring the bell, which was installed decades ago but still sends a powerful message.
“We ring the bell for beginning of service, funerals, baptisms, communions, during the Lord’s Prayer. People like it,” Randall said.
Jensen’s excitement was contagious.
“I’ve always wanted to do that!”
The bells will also ring for the 125th Anniversary on May 7. Church service hours are 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., with a special service with District President Paul Linnemann preaching at 2 p.m.
All are invited to join in an anniversary celebration with an open house and ice cream social from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. The church’s address is 329 Ave. A.
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