Congregation to celebrate 60 years this weekend


Sixty years ago, a group of people founded a small congregation south of Seymour.

While the church has grown since 1959, Zion Lutheran Church has kept its friendly, family-oriented atmosphere during worship and church events throughout its history.

On Sunday, the congregation will reflect on that time and celebrate during and following its 10:30 a.m. service.

The service will feature a sermon from the Rev. Mark Press, who served as pastor from 1991 to 2002.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

The Rev. Darrel Geitz, who served from 1967 to 2002, also will participate in the service, along with the choir and bell choir and the preschool and kindergarten classes. After the service‍, the public is invited to attend a pitch-in meal and various activities to celebrate.

The Rev. Jeffery Stuckwisch, who has led the congregation for 16 years, said the moment is a significant part of their history as the congregation continues to serve people throughout their life.

"The church is one of the few places that’s with you each step of your life," he said. "It’s just good to be part of a ministry that has something available for everyone no matter the stage of their life to give them an opportunity to grow in their faith in Christ."

Throughout the years, the church has become known for its school, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary, outreach efforts and apple dumplings at the Seymour Oktoberfest. Some of the proceeds from the famous dumplings go to local agencies, such as food pantries, missionaries, Trinity Lutheran High School and Clarity Pregnancy Services.

The pastor said one of his favorite things about the congregation is seeing different age groups interact between services or during Bible studies.

"You see older folks congratulate youth on a win their team had or see them check in on how the school year is going," he said. "We have a congregation that is genuinely concerned about one another, and they take the time to encourage each other."

Angela Overgaard has been a member for the last several years and has children in junior high, elementary and kindergarten.

Unlike her husband, Overgaard was not raised in the Lutheran church. She became a member several years ago and said she felt welcomed.

"I feel like sometimes my children are trouble in the pews, but no one ever makes us feel out of place," she said.

Brad Stuckwisch, the congregation’s president, can relate to that notion. He has attended the church his whole life and said he remembers times when maybe he wasn’t the most behaved child in church.

"There were probably members when I was younger who wanted to spank me as I ran around here," he laughed, adding those people helped shape him into the person he is today.

It’s also important to him because his children represent the fourth generation in his family to be members of the church.

"This institution means a lot to me," he said. "As it grows in years, it means it has been successful and we’re doing things right and that I have a home for the next generation of my family."

That success, he said, was built on the family-like atmosphere created by church leaders.

Roy Stuckwisch, who is principal of the school, was in seventh grade when his family joined Zion. He was part of the third confirmation class to go through the church. He has been a member for all but 10 years when he lived in Indianapolis.

"It feels good," he said of the anniversary. "Through those years, we have done so much outreach, mission efforts and the family-friendly things we do. It seems we come up with a new outreach each year and are there for others."

Now, he spends time leading the school, which focuses on "nurturing and educating children to become lifelong followers of Jesus."

As a Lutheran school, they feel strongly about their faith, including religious studies and chapel time. They now serve more and more non-Lutherans at the school.

"We’ve reached out to a lot of families from other denominations," he said. "Some of them even have gone on to join our church or another Lutheran church. That’s not the reason we have the school, but it feels good that we reach people in that way."

While the church does a lot of outreach outside its walls, Michael Schult, chairman of the board of lay ministry, said the church provides a lot of opportunities for its members to serve. They usually do not have trouble finding people to help because everyone is so dedicated, he said.

"I think when the founding members founded the church, they had the foresight to see that if people are involved on a board, they have a vested interest in the church," Schult said. "I think they feel like they have an important part of the ministry and that there will be more people active in the church."

The Rev. Stuckwisch said he also is amazed with how many members jump in to complete work for the church. He said the congregation approaches big and small tasks the same way— with a servant’s heart.

"They take their area of ministry seriously and carry it out," he said. "I’ve said it many times, but there is stuff around here that happens and it just does, and sometimes, I don’t even know how because we have such a dedicated congregation."

Brad Stuckwisch said the calendar may move, but some things will never change at the church.

"This is one big happy family united and working together," he said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: Zion Lutheran Church’s 60th anniversary service and celebration

When: 10:30 a.m. Sunday service and after

Where: 1501 Gaiser Drive, Seymour

Details: Two former pastors will participate in the service, and a celebration will follow afterward with a pitch-in meal and activities for the family.

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Pull Quote” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

"Servants of Jesus Building Relationships for Eternity"

Zion Lutheran Church’s mission statement


No posts to display