Over the years, Zion Lutheran Church has been blessed with the gifts of many Pastors over the years.  The following is the history of our Pastors.


1887-1892 Rev. Otto von Gemmingen

In 1887 a graduate of Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Illinois, Otto von Gemmingen was ordained and installed as the first resident pastor of Zion Congregation. That same year the first church was completed and dedicated to the glory and service of the Triune God.


1892 - 1897 Rev. Christian Merkel

After five years of faithful service Pastor von Gemmingen was succeeded by Rev. Christian Merkel who in September of 1897 accepted a call to Illinois.


1897 - 1908 Rev. Emil Gehrke

The congregation then called Pastor Emil Gehrke, during whose ministry a separate parochial school was built, a tower with bell, a new organ and new pews were installed. On June 28, 1908 Pastor Gehrke was released.




1908 - 1921 Rev. H. Rottmann

Rev. H. Rottman was installed on Sept. 20, 1908.  After thirteen years of faithful service during difficult times Pastor Rottmann was succeeded by Rev. H. F. Brauer who was installed on August 20, 1921.


1921 - 1925 Rev. H.F. Brauer

Rev. H. F. Brauer who was installed on August 20, 1921.  In 1924 the parochial school was closed and the Sunday School was organized.


1925 - 1927 Rev. J.H. Schaefer

From about July, 1925 until October of 1927 Zion was served by Pastor J. H. Schaefer whose efforts to re-open the parochial school met with failure.  On his release Pastor Schaefer became supervisor of a program to solicit funds for a Lutheran Hospital in Fremont. Nebraska.


1927 - 1932 REV. H. WERNING

Pastor Werning was installed at Zion on November 6, 1927. When the resolution to open a Christian day school failed, he was asked to teach Saturday school and summer school. During the five years Pastor Werning was at Zion, twenty adults were confirmed. He was released on November 6, 1932.



Pastor Polster of Gurley, NE was installed on January 15, 1933. During his service, the old church was remodeled, increasing the size of Zion, including an organ room and basement. A new altar, pulpit and stained-glass windows finished the project. The church building was rededicated. Pastor was forced to resign due to illness after only one-and-a-half years.

1934 - 1948 REV. F.J. SCHLEEF

Pastor Schleef was installed on August 12, 1934. During his pastorate, Zion made various improvements, including equipping the church and parsonage with electricity. At this time, English became the accepted language. The church continued to offer German services. Zion voted to become official members of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at this time and membership reached 350. Pastor left Zion on August 15, 1948 after receiving a call to Scribner, NE.



Pastor Schroeder of Venedy, IL was installed on December 12, 1948. During this time, Zion showed renewed growth.  The matter of a parochial school again was discussed but no decisions were reached. In August of 1950, the school building was sold.  Pastor received a call to Peace Lutheran in Waco, NE and left on April 8, 1951.

1951 - 1960 REV. HERBERT R. BRASE

Rev. Brase was born in Worms, NE on May 29, 1904. He was baptized, confirmed and married at Zion Lutheran in Worms, NE. He attended high school in Deshler, NE and went to St. Paul’s College in Concordia, MO. After college, he attended Concordia Lutheran Seminary, St. Louis, graduating in 1930. He married Hildegard Dammann on July 30, 1930 and was called to Western Canada where he was ordained and installed in Rockhaven, Saskatchewan on August 30. After one year, he was transferred to Rosetown, Saskatchewan.
In 1936, he was sent to Lloydminster, Saskatchewan and successfully began a congregation there. After 20 years in Canada and raising five daughters, he accepted a call to Zion in 1951. He served Greater Omaha Missions Committee for seven years. He relocated to Wisner, NE in 1960 and to Wilbert, MN in 1963. He retired to Estherville, IA in 1969. Pastor Brase passed away December 31, 1982 in McAllen, TX where he and Hildegard liked to spend the winters. Services were held January 5, 1983 at Zion


1961 - 1965 REV. MARVIN F. MUELLER

Pastor Mueller served at Zion for four years.  In 1965, he accepted a call to Our Savior Lutheran in Chicago and was there until 1981. He then took a call to St. Paul Lutheran of Apopka, Florida for another nine years. In 1991, he became Pastor of St. John Lutheran in Niles, IL and stayed until retirement in 2004. He and his wife had five children: David, Timothy, Christina, Joel and Joanna.  He was married for 48 years and the couple retired in Mobile, AL in 2004, where his wife died suddenly on December 21,2009.
Rev. James Gast
1966 — 1969 REV. JAMES GAST
Pastor Gast grew up in Dallas. He attended Concordia College in Ft. Wayne, IN and then to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. He was ordained and Zion was his first congregation as Pastor. After leaving Zion in 1969, he served churches in Chanute, KS and Olathe, KS. In 1981, he became chaplain at Memorial Hospital in Sheboygan, WI where ill health forced his retirement. Pastor is a talented musician, vocally and instrumentally. He and his wife Jeanette were married June 1O, 1966 and have three grown children and ten grandchildren. They enjoy traveling as health permits.
Rev. Albert Engler
1970 - 1984 REV. ALBERT ENGLER
Pastor Engler was born in 1935 and married Charlotte (Nicely) in 1958 in Missouri. He graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in 1960 and was called to Bethany/ St. Matthew's in Charlevoix and Mancelona, MI. They have four sons: Garlin and Jonathan live in Kansas City; David is the head of a Bio/ Med lab at Methodist Hospital in Houston; and Thomas is a Pastor and missionary for LCMS and now Executive Director of Philadelphia Lutheran Mission. Pastor Engler now has 12 grandchildren. Since leaving Zion, he has served in Millington, MI and back to Kansas City, MO as Senior Pastor of Calvary Lutheran (Pastor Schmitt's home congregation). He retired in 2007.
Rev. Vincent Larson
Since leaving Zion, Pastor Larson served at Resurrection in Colorado Springs, CO until ZOOZ. From there he served a tri-parish in Washington State, inclusive of lmmanuel-Havillah, Hope-Tonasket and Faith-Oroville.  He retired in 2006 but has served as vacancy pastor at Redeemer, Cisco, TX and Trinity, Albany, TX until Z011. Beginning in September ZOI l, he will be serving as an interim pastor at Faith, Graham, TX. While in Colorado Springs, Pastor completed a Master of Science degree in Family Life Education & Ministry at Concordia Seward, NE in ZOOO. He and his wife Grace have one daughter, Christine (married to Scott Morris) and two sons, David and Joel (married to Jessica). Pastor and Grace have five grandchildren and he had the privilege of baptizing all of them.
Rev. Meril Reith
1989 - 1996 REV. MERLIN L. REITH
Rev. Reith graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Masters of Theology degree. His first parish was as an Associate Pastor at Messiah, St. Louis, MO from 1964~ 1967. He then served at Trinity Lutheran, Port Edwards, WI until I973. In I974, he took a call to Trinity Lutheran, Garden City, KS. At this time, he also served as Chairman of Circuit Counselors, Kansas District, and in I980 was the summer speaker on the Lutheran Hour. In 1982, Pastor took a call to Faith Lutheran, Lincoln, NE where he stayed until accepting the call to Zion in I989. Since leaving Zion in 1996, he served St. Paul Lutheran in Phoenix, AZ and retired in Z004. He moved back to Omaha, NE from 2005 until 2010, and served a vacancy at Redeemer, Corning, IA. He and his wife Margie have six children and five grandchildren. They are enjoying their retirement with family and friends.
Rev. Thomas Schmitt
1997 – 2013  REV. THOMAS SCHMITT
Rev. Schmitt was born and raised in Kansas City, MO, the son of Paul and Joan Schmitt. He attended Calvary Lutheran Church and School where he was baptized and confirmed by Rev. Howard Barth (formerly of Mt. Calvary, Omaha) While in high school, Pastor was president of the youth group He attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis where he served Calvary as a student under the supervision of
Rev. Albert Engler (former Pastor of Zion).  It came as a surprise that he, too, was called to enter the Calvary-Kansas City/ Nebraska vortex receiving a call from his first parish in Rugby and Willow City, ND to Zion in I997 Pastor was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry on June 23, I991 at St Paul, Willow City While in ND, he served as Zone LWML Pastoral Counselor, Circuit Counselor and District LLL Pastoral Advisor. It was in this role with the LLL that his travels took him to Grand Rapids, MI where he met his wife Mary Bauman, then teacher at Immanuel-Marshfield, WI. Pastor Schmitt was installed at Zion on June I5, I997. He was married on July 19, 1997 in Mary's hometown of Merrill, WI.