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From the Fiftieth Anniversary Directory
Minimally edited by Glen Bertholf
“REMEMBER WHAT THE LORD THY GOD DID”
In 1898, Maywood was a small town just west of Hackensack. The population numbered 350 people. Among them were quite a few with names of German origin. The Borough of Maywood had been organized in 1894 and was but a few years old.
On an October day in 1898 God sent his servant, Pastor Hugo F. R. Stechholz, to this quiet, wooded town. The territory must not have been unfamiliar to him. His father was pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Paterson. He himself had been called in 1897 to serve two young congregations, one in Hackensack, and the other in Peetzburg (now New Milford). It was part of his assignment to seek new missionary opportunities in the territory. So he began to make his rounds among the German-speaking families of Maywood arousing interest for the establishment of a Lutheran Church in their town. His visits were well received. On Sunday, November 20, 1898 the first Lutheran service was held at the Grove Avenue Public School in Maywood with 18 adults and 13 children in attendance. Further services were held in this rented building in December and January with an average attendance of 25 worshippers.
On January 23, 1899 the organization meeting of the congregation was held at the home of Mr. Charles Kraeger on Lenox Avenue. Twelve men declared their readiness to establish a congregation. They gave it the name Zion German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Maywood, New Jersey. The constitution of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Paterson was read as a model and after a few changes had been made to suit the local conditions it was adopted and signed by the following charter members: Messrs. Charles Strube, Herman Weber, Philip Heck, Gottlieb Greiner, Leonhard Herr, Andrew Jost, Charles Sattler, Fricke Johnson, Conrad Reinheimer, Frederick Walz and Henry Heck. The twelfth man was Charles Schmincker. Although his name does not appear among the signers of the constitution the minutes of the first meeting report that he was elected to the original Church Council and therefore must have been a charter member. Oddly enough no mention is made of Mr. Charles Kraeger becoming a member at this meeting although it took place in his home.
Pastor Hugo F. R. Stechholz was immediately given a call to be the pastor of the church. He accepted and served the combined Peetzburg-Maywood parish. A few weeks later the congregation agreed to raise $125 annually towards his salary.
By April of 1899 the congregation began to take steps towards acquiring church property. A building committee was appointed.
In July of the same year the name of Behnke first appears in the records of the church. Mr. John Behnke, the father of the Behnke family which has had a large part in the church’s development, was received into the voting body. At the same time Mr. H. J. William Schaefer was received. Pastor Stechholz lived with the Schaefer family in Hackensack during this year. At the July meeting the pastor announced an opportunity to buy a piece of land on the corner of Poplar Avenue and Passaic Street for $350. The estimated cost for a church building 24 by 40 feet was $980, or $1,300 with a basement. No action was taken.
On April 8, 1900 the first class of children was confirmed. The confirmands were Henry Behnke, Leonhard Greiner, Walter Schaefer and Reinhold Strube. The first infant, Emma Knochel (Mrs. E. Klein), had been baptized by Pastor Stechholz already on November 27, 1898.
At a meeting on October 7, 1900, Pastor Stechholz announced that he had decided to accept a call to the Lutheran congregation in Closter, New Jersey. He was granted a peaceful dismissal. The next few months must have been difficult ones for the young congregation. Nine months passed before a new pastor was installed. Services were still held at the Grove Avenue School but only once every two weeks and then in the evening. Pastor Stechholz, Sr., of Paterson served the congregation in this long interim.
Pastor William Schmidt was the next resident pastor to come to the Maywood-Peetzburg parish. He was installed in Zion congregation on June 23, 1901. Efforts were again made to find a suitable site for a church building. Offers of lots on Park Avenue, on Maywood Avenue, on Grove Avenue, on Pleasant Avenue near Maywood Avenue were received and considered. It was not until April 30, 1903 that a final decision was made. The congregation then resolved to buy two building lots on Pleasant Avenue from Mr. Busching the total cost being $350. These are the lots on which the first church was built.
On June 4, 1903 the congregation incorporated in the State of New Jersey.
Plans and specifications for the church were obtained from a Mr. Vail for the sum of $20. The plans were then let for bids in the early part of 1904. On May 22nd it was decided to award the work to Mr. L. Brandes of Paterson. The contract price was $1,990. Some money had been accumulated in a building fund during the first five years of the church’s existence. The Church Extension Fund of the Synod made the congregation a $620 interest-free loan. The members of the congregation loaned another $500 by buying $5 shares. Thus the financing was successfully completed.
On Sunday, September 25, 1904 the church building was dedicated to the service of the Triune God. Morning, afternoon and evening services were held (the latter in English) with the two Pastors Stechholz and Pastor Schmidt preaching.
Rochelle Park was also brought into the sphere of the congregation. Already in 1899 Mr. Herman Niclas and his family of that town joined the Maywood congregation. They had previously attended the services which Pastor Stechholz held in Hackensack. In 1904 Pastor Schmidt conducted a Lutheran Sunday School in Rochelle Park. However, in 1905 this School was absorbed in the Maywood Sunday School. Many years later, between 1926 and 1935 a Sunday School was again conducted in Rochelle Park and led by Miss Lillian Adickes (Mrs. Ackermann) and Mr. John Adickes. Their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Eibe Adickes, united with Zion in 1905. A good number of Rochelle Park families were drawn to Zion in Maywood.
Pastor Schmidt was an energetic missionary. In 1905 he conducted a canvass in Westwood, New Jersey and in October of that year opened a Lutheran Church in that town. The parish now had become the Maywood-Peetzburg-Westwood circuit, with one pastor serving the three churches. This arrangement continued until 1908 when Zion, Westwood called her own pastor.
In August 1906, Pastor Schmidt followed a call to St. Matthew’s congregation in Newark, N.J.
In the fall of 1906 Pastor John F. Boehling was called from Galeton, Pennsylvania, to serve the parish of three congregations. This he did faithfully for the next 16 years, serving in Maywood and New Milford until 1922.
One of the first steps that Zion took under Pastor Boehling’s ministry was to unite itself with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The congregation had been first served by a missionary of this Synod, Pastor Stechholz. The work was supported by subsidies from the Eastern District of Synod. In 1907 the congregation applied for membership in the newly formed Atlantic District of Synod and was received when its delegate attended the District Convention and signed the Synodical Constitution.
In January 1910 the congregation took the next step in its building program when the two lots on the west side of the church were purchased as a parsonage site. The lots were bought from Mr. Strube at a cost of $525. Later in the same year a committee was appointed to have plans and specifications for the parsonage drawn. In April 1911 bids were received and the work was awarded to William and Richard Braack of Warren Point, the contract price being $2,683. The house was completed in the next summer.
The congregation had a steady growth during the pastorate of Pastor Boehling. The communicant membership grew from 75 in 1906 to 175 in 1921. In 1921 a class of 11 was confirmed.
Plans were also made and carried out for an addition to the church building. A classroom, kitchen, boiler room, lavatories and a new narthex and belfry were added to the church in 1921.
A typical budget of the congregation in this period (1920) totaled $1,500 and included such items as $480 towards the pastor’s salary, $20 for the repair of the wagon shed, $75 for coal and $18 for light.
In the middle of 1922 Pastor Boehling brought his pastorate in Maywood to an end when he followed a call to St. John’s Church in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Pastor Daniel A. Reichelt, then serving St. John’s congregation in Harrison, New Jersey, was next called and installed on November 19, 1922. He stayed with the congregation for three years until 1925. During his pastorate the congregation celebrated its 25th anniversary. A newspaper report of the day speaks of the Zion Church which was familiar to everyone who rode on the Hudson River trolley line through Maywood. The congregation numbered 260 souls. It had a Sunday School of 141, 50 members in its Ladies Aid and over 60 members in its two Young People societies The church had also added to its property by purchasing the two lots on its east side for $700.
Pastor Reichelt felt that the time had come for the Maywood and New Milford congregations to have their own pastors. In 1925 when he received a call to serve the New Milford Church alone he decided to accept it. Zion in Maywood then became an independent congregation and no longer shared its pastor with another parish.
Pastor Edward Miller was the next man to serve the Lord in Zion, Maywood. At the time that the call went to him he was a post-graduate student at Columbia University in New York City. His installation took place on November 15, 1925. His pastorate was the longest in the first fifty years of the congregation. He brought the Word of God and the Sacraments to Zion’s people until 1948.
Shortly after Pastor Miller arrived the congregation successfully wiped out the remaining indebtedness of $2,400 upon its property. It then began to raise a fund for future expansion.
In the following years several notable improvements were made to the church property. Eight memorial windows were installed in the nave. A beautiful leaded glass window of the Ascension of the Lord was given and placed in the chancel. Altar brasses, vases, paraments and an alms basin were presented. Bronze lanterns for the illumination of the nave of the church were given as a memorial. Another member gave the oak chancel furnishings including the altar, pulpit and lectern.
On Sunday, November 28, 1937 a two manual Reuter pipe organ was dedicated.
Improvements were also made in the basement of the church where the walls were paneled with peckey cyprus, and an oil-fired heating system was installed.
In the early summer of 1948 Pastor Miller after 23 years of service in Maywood accepted a call to St. Peter’s congregation in Pine Island, New York.
Shortly thereafter Pastor Gilbert Pfeiffer of Trinity Church, Penns Grove, New Jersey was called to Maywood. He was installed on September 19, 1948 just prior to the congregation’s fiftieth anniversary.
As Zion celebrated her Jubilee none of her organizers remain on this earth, Mr. Henry Heck, for many years president of the congregation, and the last charter member to die, entered his eternal rest on October 1945. His sister, Miss Marie Heck, was the only charter communicant member still active in the congregation.
In the first fifty years many came to know and love, to serve and worship
God in Zion. 505 had been baptized at her font, 502 made their vows of
Confirmation at her altar. 254 were united in wedlock, and 242 were laid
to rest by her ministers. God has let his blessings flow out of Zion.
----- The Second Fifty Years -----
Prepared for the 100th Anniversary Directory
In 1954, five years after the fiftieth anniversary, a new church site was purchased at 120 East Pleasant Avenue. A ground breaking ceremony was held in June of 1955 with construction being completed in March of 1956. During construction, all 8 stained glass windows and the Ascension Window were moved from the original building.
April 1956 marked the building dedication with the original church building named Parish Hall designated as the site for Sunday School classes.
As congregational demands expanded, Pastor Louis C. Meyer, who served as Executive Secretary of Stewardship and Evangelism for the Atlantic District of the Missouri Synod, was installed as Zion’s Assistant Pastor. He would serve in this capacity until 1973.
In February, 1960, a new parsonage was purchased at 692 Oak Street for $25,000 followed by the sale of the original parsonage for $13,160 in June.
Three years later, in January of 1963, a mortgage burning celebration dinner was held as the new church was paid off, nine years after construction was completed.
A sixty-seven consecutive year tradition of Sunday and holiday services conducted in German came to an end in June of 1966 as Pastor Pfeiffer preached Zion’s last German service with seven people in attendance. During the fall of 1966, Pastor Pfeiffer moved on to answer a call in Yonkers, New York.
Daniel D. Reinheimer took Zion’s helm as he was installed in November of
1966. Shortly thereafter, Pastor Reinheimer and his family moved from the
current, too-small parsonage at 692 Oak into a new parsonage immediately
next door at 696 Oak which was purchased for $32,000.
1968 started out with the purchase in January of a 100’ x 150’ parcel of land along Passaic Street at the rear of the church. The property, purchased for $47,000, would be used for additional auto parking.
Major expansion became the issue in June of 1978. The Voters authorized an expansion program study for additional space for Sunday School classrooms, a fellowship hall, narthex/lounge, and administrative offices.
Almost a year later, in May of 1979, a congregational fund-raising dinner was held during which the expansion plans were presented and Kirby-Smith fundraising callers were introduced.
It took until November of 1980 for Maywood’s planning board to grant site plan approval with requested modifications. Unfortunately, this delay, plus inflation, added significantly to the construction cost.
Another six months passed until a $132,325 mortgage and construction loan commitment was received in May, 1981, from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, Missouri Synod.
Zion’s Mission Possible program was finally underway when groundbreaking ceremonies were held on May 31st, 1981, and construction commenced in August. August also saw the sale of the Parish Hall (original church building) for $65,000. In September, the Sunday School began using classrooms constructed beneath the Nave in the area originally occupied by the offices, kitchen and meeting hall.
The cornerstone laying ceremony for the extension was held in March of 1982. Documents including a church history were enclosed.
Since expansion costs had increased to an estimated $396,000 (furnishings extra) due to delays, a fundraising dinner was held for Mission Possible - Phase II to help reduce mortgage payments.
September 1982 saw two celebrations: the dedication of the new extension as well as the 25th anniversary of the ordination of Pastor D. Reinheimer.
As 1982 came to a close, a new church tradition started. Zion’s Craft Club was organized and the first annual Christmas Fair was held in the new fellowship hall.
Reformation Day, October 1984, was the occasion of the unveiling of a 3-dimensional copper relief at Zion’s front entrance by Charles Vukovich of Maywood entitled Christ, the Word of Life. This work was commissioned in honor of the 400th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther.
In 1985, our bell tower (solid redwood hands clasping a church bell) was constructed by John Behnke Sr., John Behnke Jr., and Allan Koenig in accordance with the design by Fred Nilsson. The bell had been in storage for years after being removed from the bell tower of the original church.
Another mortgage-burning celebration in January started off 1988. Two months later in March, the Japanese ministry began at Zion with weekly Japanese services and Sunday School held by Dr. Shigeru Masaki. March also saw the award of a $171,000 contract for a new Moeller pipe organ. In September, the congregation approved renovations to the chancel area in preparation for the organ and to convert the arrangement from a front-wall altar to a free-standing central altar.
Chancel renovations commenced in April 1989 as the existing Reuter organ was removed. During the next 7 months, services were held in a church nave which was frequently shortened at its front by plastic sheeting or false walls. At other times, services were moved to the fellowship hall. Finally, in November 1989, renovations were completed at a cost of $104,000.
Six delivery postponements delayed the installation of the new organ. It, would not arrive until May of 1990. A dedication ceremony was held and the organ was used for the first time in June, 1990.
1990 also introduced the congregation to a new music ministry – Zion’s Bell Choir, appropriately named “Make a Joyful Noise.”
In January, 1991, Bertha O’Brien was honored as the originator and leader of the annual Christmas visit to patients at Bergen Pines County Hospital. The following December, 1992, marked the 50th year of this tradition.
Pastor Reinheimer was honored in September of 1993 for having served 35 years in the ministry.
Music, which had always played a significant role in the Luther Liturgy, continued to broaden in 1994. Deagan Chimes were installed, providing daily concerts to Zion’s surrounding neighborhood.
February 1995 saw the organization of “Needle Little Comfort,” Zion’s Quilter’s Group, which sends quilts to Lutheran World Relief for distribution throughout the world. And in October of the same year, the elevator was installed and dedicated to make Zion a “barrier-free” facility.
Zion’s Fellowship Society celebrated its 50th year in May of 1996.
Children, community service, and outreach were driving forces in 1997 as a committee of members set out to establish Noah’s Ark Nursery School. Following a summer of renovations, playground construction, certification acquisition, and staff hiring, Noah’s Ark became reality as it opened its doors in October of 1997, perhaps one of the most important means of assuring our continued presence as we move into the 21st century.
In September of 1997, Karen Koromhas accepted Zion’s call as Minister of Education. Her mission was to work with Zion’s youth and conduct Confirmation and Adult Bible Classes.
Our second fifty years have seen the congregation move from one building into a new facility, then expand upon that. We see a membership of 230 communicant members supporting a budget of $171,839.00 for 1998. We have much to be thankful for, and look forward to the challenges and successes of the future.
Praise the Lord!
----- And Now We Continue to Serve Our Lord! -----
Written by Glen Bertholf as our history continues!
In November of 1998, the congregation came together at a dinner to mark the beginning of our year-long 100th anniversary celebration. Each month of that period one or two special events took place to draw our congregation and our community to the church. An organ concert took place nearly every month with performances given by our current Minister of Music, former Ministers of Music, and even the factory representative most intimately involved in the installation of the organ back in 1990. On July 4th, the congregation of Zion rode or walked behind a float which proclaimed our 100 years in the community. Finally, in November of 1999, the congregation held a celebration ending dinner.
But our anniversary year also marked the beginning of another change for the congregation. Paster Reinheimer announced that he would end his 33 year tenure at Zion at the end of 1999.
And so Zion started the new year, new millenium, with an empty pulpit - well, only officially empty that is. Zion was blessed to have a congregational president, Dennis Rockett, who stepped forward and wowed us all with his abilities to find substitute pastors, or to personally and very capably lead the services when substitute pastors were not available. A number of retired (we kept them busy) pastors graced our pulpit on a regular basis. And during this period, the search for a new pastor was undertaken.
On July 28, 2000, Zion's web site became active in an "under construction" state with much work still to be done, but we were in the electronic age at last.
August 5, 2000, word was received that pastor David Hill of St. John's
in Bloomfield, NJ, had accepted our call. Pastor Hill joined Zion commencing
with the September 16th evening service and September 17th morning service.
He was officially installed at a service on Sunday, November 12, 2000 attended
by 195 members, visitors and fellow clergy. Following the installation
service, a celebratory dinner was held in the fellowship hall.
Pastor Hill served Zion until February 18th, 2007.
In late May of 2007, Pastor Ed Lazarchak joined Zion as our Vacancy Pastor. He was a retired pastor from Bethlehem Pennsylvania who was not ready to give up the pursuit of souls, or a church for that matter, that needed to be saved.
Before college and the ordained ministry, Mr. Lazarchak served his country for eleven years in the United States Marine Corps. The ministry was his second career, but one to which he is obviously intensely dedicated.
Pastor Lazarchak was quick to reinvigorate the spirit at Zion with his
many ideas and his tireless outreach to active, inactive, and potentially
new members. Sermons were captivating stories of how the Lord could be
found to be at work in our daily lives and the difference He could make
if we accepted the Lord into our lives. Pastor’s energy and enthusiasm
were contagious and we found ourselves believing that we could reverse
the downward trend in attendance and membership which had prevailed for
the previous few years.