Hampton area church marks 150 years

Zion Evangelical Lutheran church is marking a milestone in 2023.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 10:41 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2023 at 11:02 AM CDT
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HAMPTON, Neb. (KOLN) - Zion Evangelical Lutheran church is marking a milestone in 2023. It continues to serve the community after being established in 1873.

We caught up with Pastor David Feddern to talk about the history of the church. “It all starts in the year 1869, as that is the first arrival point of congregation members,” Feddern said. “In 1870, they began formal discussions on forming a church, and then they were formally recognized by our Synod in 1873. At the time, there was just prairie here and no real settlements. The first German Lutheran settlers who arrived here were initially meeting in their homes, and using the same hymnals and German Bibles they brought with them from Europe.”

“This is actually the third building on this site,” Feddern said. “The first structure that was used as a church, also served as a school building.” As the congregation grew, they decided to build a new church, but the bell tower was struck by lighting, and that second structure burned down. The pastor at the time was able to save the altar, the pulpit, the lectern, the baptismal font, and some pews that can still be in the church today. The third church was built, and that’s the one that stands today. “This building has been in continuous use since 1897.”

There several unique features of the church, including the fact that an ice storm 50 years ago knocked down the bell tower. The tower was recovered and put back into place. “This wrap-around balcony that we have is a unique feature,” Feddern said. “I only know of about 4 or 5 other churches in the state that have this kind of architectural structure.”

Feddern says the future of the church is bright the congregation celebrates 150 years. “We have a number of young families attending, with a median age of 43,” Feddern said. “There are nearly 120 children between the ages of 0 to 18 coming here, and it’s unique in that we have people coming from 10 different communities and four different counties. They drive here to worship, and call this their church home.”