The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Luckey will celebrate 125 years of ministering to the community on Sunday, Nov. 2.

The community is invited to come and help celebrate the church’s rich history, which began back in 1883 during the Black Swamp era. At the time, some members of Salem Lutheran Church on Bradner Road were having a difficult time traveling the dirt roads every Sunday to attend church. They felt there was a need to build a church in Luckey.
Seventy members were released from Salem, and plans were started to form a new church. On May 19, 1883, land was purchased at the corner of Eddy Street and Park Drive. A constitution was drawn up and in January 1884, a building committee was formed.

Work began in March 1884 to build a white-frame church, which was completed in September. In 1887, a parochial schoolhouse was built across the street. It was active until 1927.

Sixty-seven years later, the growing congregation thought a larger church was needed. After many discussions, plans for a new church were approved Jan. 7, 1951. A new church would be built across the street west of where the Parochial School House once stood.

On Sept. 11, 1955, a groundbreaking ceremony was held and the cornerstone was laid in February the next year. A gold altar crucifix and gold pendulum clock, now in the sacristy, a brass altar cross and the bell were brought over from the old church.

The new brick church was dedicated Nov. 18, 1956. It featured an 18-rank Tellers Pipe Organ containing 1205 pipes, along with refurbished Vox Humana Pipes from the organ in the old church. Double front doors are dedicated to the pastors of the parish--past, present and future.

Over the past 125 years, the church has had 13 pastors: August Cordes (1884-1891), William Lembke (1891-1901), Emil Richter (1901-1906), Martin L. Fredrick (1906-1919), William E. Kaeding (1920-1945), Otto Weis (1945-1950), Leo P. Heintz (1950-1966), Karl L. Oelschlager (1966-1970), Earl A. Key (1971-1984), Paul Grothe (1984-1987), Keith Koppenhofer (1987-2001), Astrid Schlueter (2003-2004) and Jeanne English (2004-present).

A granddaughter of one of the founding members of the church, Ada (Freyer) Rothenbuhler, holds the distinction of being Zion’s oldest living member. Ada celebrated her 103rd birthday in April.

She was born April 25, 1905 on a farm three miles northwest of Luckey and shortly after, she was baptized in Zion Lutheran Church.

Though she first attended school in the brick one-room Walker Public School on SR 582, which is still there, she started Zion Lutheran Parochial School in 1915 at age 10 - the standard starting age of the students in the parochial school.  

Like her mother before her, she was confirmed at Zion in 1919.    

In 1928, she was married to Ernest Rothenbuhler in the church parsonage. Before they started a family, Ada would take her mother, Louise (Asmus) Freyer, to Zion’s Tabitha Society, a ladies’ organization, to spend the day at church quilting and attending Bible study. Ada and Ernie raised two daughters. He passed away in 1964 after 36 years of marriage.

Over the years, Ada has visited the sick and shut-ins from the church. She lived and worked on a farm for 26 years until she moved into Luckey and lived in the home of her grandparents, Frank and Caroline Fahle. Frank was one of the founding vestrymen who helped organize the establishment of Zion Lutheran Church in 1883. She continues to live in her grandparents’ home with her daughter Ruth.

Pastor Jeanne English, Zion’s current pastor, was installed on Feb. 27, 2005, after having served as Zion’s interim pastor for a year.

Many changes have taken place since she was installed, she noted. In December 2005, the “Loft Teen Center” was established behind Luckey’s post office to serve as a gathering place for the youth of the community and local churches.

In 2006, a contemporary “Son Fire” Service including upbeat music with singers and instruments was started. The service is held the second Sunday of every month during the winter, and the second and fourth Sundays during the summer. Also in 2006, a projection screen was installed in 2006 to update members of upcoming events through the use of PowerPoint presentations that enhance the service.

The Nov. 2 anniversary celebration service will begin with special music at 10:15 a.m., followed by a Service of Praise and Holy Communion at 10:30 a.m.

Preaching the sermon will be Pastor Bill Heber, Jr., a former member of Zion and Eastwood graduate, who is currently is the pastor of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at St. John Lutheran in Winter Park, Fla. Guest organist will be Keith Hamen, also a former member of Zion and Eastwood graduate.

For more information, call the church at 419-833-5511 or visit




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