On Sept. 16, members of Zion United Church of Christ traveled to Anderson Hill Chapel, just south of Moscow Mills, to worship where their forbearers once worshipped. This was an event for their observance of the church’s 125th anniversary. The service was led by Rev. Laura Mignerone, Zion UCC pastor; Rev. Michael Kasevich, pastor of St. Paul’s UCC at Old Monroe and Eugene Rahmeier, pastor of Friedens UCC at Moscow Mills.
During the service, Pastor Laura spoke to the children about the changes that have occurred over the years and described some things that have not changed. She explained, “There were people who worshipped God in this church and spoke German. Those people didn’t look exactly like our congregation today. The clothes we wear are quite different from the clothes our forbearers wore such as women wearing long pants instead of a long dress, or the men today have on red polo shirts instead of suits.
“Do you think they drove cars like we did? They could have walked, or rode horses but they didn’t have cars. They didn’t have a GPS on their phones to get them here. They had to find their way on their own, either walk together or ride together. But do you think they sang hymns like us and prayed like us? Do you think they worshipped God the same way we do? Pretty close! So, some things have changed but some things are still very much the same after almost 150 years.”
Pastor Eugene Rahmier
This was most appropriate because Zion UCC shares a long history of a very special ministry with Friedens UCC in Moscow Mills and St. Paul in Old Monroe. These are three United Church of Christ churches in Lincoln County. St. Paul was founded in 1859, Friedens in 1871 and Zion in 1887.
Here we are, this is where it all began. German immigrants began to flood this area in the 1840s because of war and pestilence in their homeland of Germany. They first began to settle around the Missouri River because it reminded them of their dear Rhine River back in Germany. That is why we have the oldest churches down along the river around Femme Osage, St. Charles and other places because the German immigrants wanted to be near the river.
Then in the 1860s some of the immigrants started to come up north into what is now Lincoln County and crossed the creek out here that used to be Eagle Forge. Back then, our four lane Highway 61, would have been nothing but a dirt road or a trail. They stopped in Moscow Mills and began a church. This is actually the second church of our congregations.
The first was a log cabin standing where the Moscow school now stands, probably around the ball diamond. German families started meeting there as early as 1864. This all happened in the middle of the Civil War and other great hardships.
Our ancestors worshiped and prayed to our Lord without many of the comforts we have today. Times were difficult but in 1887 a pastor came from Germany, Rev. Matthew Schroeder, to minister to these two new congregations. He served the congregations for six years. He had a summer school in this very building that taught both German and English for those in the community,
Traveling was much more difficult in those days, no heated automobiles, many had to walk. Friedens and Zion would remain yoked together for the next 91 years. Sharing ministers until 1978 initiated a close bond between the two congregations, even as it continues today. Through all the years our congregations have been faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and for that we give thanks.
Our ministries have been yoked together not only by the ministers who served us but also by families and neighbors and we are thankful to our Lord for this ministry. We also want to remember those who have been such an important influence on our congregations and have gone on to be with our Lord. As I end my part of the story, let us remember all those who have gone before us and had a great impact on our story. Many of those still reside in our memory today both at Zion, Friedens and St. Paul.
In closing, I’m reminded of a story about a turtle. We are like turtles and in this story a man from the city comes to the country, to a farm, and the farmer had these old wooden fence posts. On one of the fence posts, the man found a turtle. The city man asked the farmer, “How did that turtle get up on that fence post? The farmer stopped to think and said, ‘well, I don’t really know but I know one thing, he didn’t get there by himself.’
And that’s our story, today. Zion, Friedens and St. Paul, we didn’t get here by ourselves. The same Lord and God our ancestors worshipped so many years ago is still our same Lord and God today. That God has given us our ministries and is the reason for our ministry today. That is the reason we have been called as congregations and individuals to spread the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This indeed was a great opportunity to honor the past…celebrate the present and look forward to the future. While we were there we presented the idea for our125th anniversary time capsule. The capsule will be sealed on Celebration Sunday Nov. 18 and opened 25 years later on the Sunday before Thanksgiving 2037 which will be Zion’s 150th anniversary. We have faith that our Still Speaking God will sustain our mission and ministry for many more anniversaries to come.
Article by Velma Dunard