Church seems like family

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 22, 2002

The Zion Lutheran Church of rural Dexter is on a winding gravel road north of Dexter in a beautiful wooded area. It was established in 1891. The parishioners had a 100-year celebration in 1991 and three days later the church was burned to the ground by arson. Though this was a terrible shock to the parishioners, they were determined to rebuild.

Alice Miller, a parishioner at Zion Lutheran since 1953 said, "I recall that when we gathered to talk about rebuilding the church, one of the parishioners said, 'Remove not the ancient landmarks that your fathers have set forth,' and this is what we did."

The parishioners pulled together and began rebuilding the present Zion Lutheran Church in the fall of 1992 and the first service in the new church was on Easter Sunday 1993.

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Sharon Haarstad recalled that day: "We had no pews, but other people could not believe how well we all got on in rebuilding the church. My husband, Andy, kept track of all the hours that members put in. It was unbelievable how well we got on and worked together. We are a real family here."

Alice Miller echoed her sentiments, "When we had the terrible episode with Robyne Weis dying in a car accident, my grandson called from Iowa and asked, 'Is there anything I can do?' He came and helped park cars for the funeral. When someone is hurting, we all step into help."

The pastor of Zion Lutheran the past eight years is Lyle Aadahl. He is also the pastor of Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Kasson. He alternates services on Sunday between the two parishes with times at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. He has not gotten confused with the times of which parish to be at in the eight years he has traveled the 18 miles back and forth. Aadahl says he has it timed that he can make the trip in 22 minutes, right on the speed limit.

Zion Lutheran is mixture of all ages and Aadahl said, "The future is in good hands with the youth we have today. We have wonderful children here."

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at