At first glance, Zion Lutheran might seem like any other Lutheran church; only after spending some time there, can one see the exceptional qualities of Zion. Founded in 1859 as a German-speaking church, Zion has been in the Des Moines area for more than 150 years. Several years ago, the Church leadership decided to change the focus of their ministry to better reflect the surrounding community. To do this, the Church began offering opportunities to refugees and immigrants like English-language classes, transportation to and from church and school, clothing and food, and many other opportunities. The Church also began offering services in multiple languages so that people from the surrounding community could come to a church where they could worship in their own languages. The Zion community wanted their Church to be a safe and welcoming place for people of all races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic standings.
Speaking to members of the Church shows how passionate each is about making Zion a center for embracing cultural differences and promoting unity. Since it is located in a prominently immigrant, non-English speaking, and lower-socioeconomic area, Zion felt the need to be a welcoming space for all to worship. Developing ways to understand diversity and to promote unity despite differences is a key point in the Zion way of thinking. From the way services are held to the content in the messages, Zion is a place where anyone can go to receive kindness, community, and a worship experience.
Some of the many ethnic groups within Zion include the Congolese and Mizo, each led by pastors from these communities. Both communities have specific services most Sunday mornings. But every second Sunday of the month, all the communities at Zion worship together, giving testimony to their core principle of unity-in-difference.
Since the Church offers so many different forms of worship, service, and community, the staff reflects the diversity and needs of the church. The lead pastor is Pastor John Kline, who is oversees the Church as a whole, leads the English-language services, and performs other pastoral duties. The rest of the staff consists of the Mizo and Congolese pastors, an associate pastor, a teaching pastor, a parish nurse, a director of children’s ministries, an events director, and several other positions. Even with such a large staff, the Church couldn’t run as smoothly as it does without relying on the help of its lay members, who volunteer their time and efforts to keep Zion’s mission alive. The passion of the community shows in its continual efforts to make Zion Lutheran a place where differences and diversity are embraced and everyone is welcomed into fellowship.
By Haley Martin
Address and Contact Info
- 4300 Beaver Ave, Des Moines
- English-speaking services on Sundays at 9:00 and 10:30 am
- Arabic and Swahili services on Sundays at 10:30 am
- Mizo service on Sundays at 1:00 pm