History of Zion
Zion Lutheran Church was organized in 1883 with the official name “Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession of Avilla Arkansas” which remains its official name today in its Constitution and Bylaws. The name given to the church reflects the founder’s deep appreciation and value of confessional Biblical doctrine and practice. The members of Zion have been blessed with a spiritual heritage that we dare not take for granted.
For decades Zion shared a pastor with Immanuel Lutheran Church of Alexander, and at times has also shared a pastor with First Lutheran Church of Benton.
A Parochial school was first started at Zion in October 1913 but was discontinued three years later in 1916.
In 1990 a preschool was started and served as an outreach to the community as well as a good way to take care of some of the children in the congregation.
In August 1998 Zion had an instrumental role in planting our sister congregation - Friends in Christ Lutheran Church, in Bryant Arkansas.
In 2002 the members of Zion again started a parochial school on the church grounds and named the school Avilla Christian Academy (ACA). Only lower primary grades were taught at first.
In April 2005 The Eve Circle LWML Group at Zion started a food pantry ministry to help the poor. Although it started very small, this ministry has grown to be a blessing to hundreds and hundreds of people each year.
In 2009 Zion called our first synodically trained and rostered principal to serve at our school.
In January 2011 a Monday night Service of the Word was started in an effort to feed the recipients of our growing food pantry ministry with spiritual nourishment also. The Monday service also enabled a few healthcare workers and shift workers to attend services that could not attend otherwise.
From June 2011 through July of 2014 Zion served as a “vicarage congregation” where future pastors were sent to serve as vicars (interns) for one year before returning to seminary to complete their final year of seminary education. Zion was selected for this important work over several other congregations that applied for a vicar and were turned down.
In 2011 the congregation voted to start educating High School students at ACA if financially viable.
In the winter of 2011/2012, the congregation voted to use the dormant property across from the church (which had previously been donated to the church by the Hoffman family to be used for a parsonage) to instead be used as a community garden. That spring numerous raised beds were added and the garden has continued to add beds along with two greenhouses and aquaponics equipment. The garden is currently utilized by many folks in the community and one of many ways for members of Zion to reach out to their unchurched neighbors and get to know them and invite them to church.
In 2015 Zion’s school celebrated their first graduating high school class with two graduates receiving diplomas.
In May 2017 Zion's old white sanctuary (pictured above) was tragically lost to a fire.