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Updates from congregations around the Church of the Lutheran Confession

Zion Lutheran Church in Ipswich, South Dakota, celebrated its one hundredth anniversary this year with a worship service and meal reception held on July 16th. The service had sixty in attendance: people who came to celebrate with us the Lord’s gracious, centennial milestone given to the congregation. The service focused on “The Power Behind One Hundred Years”; namely, the never-changing grace found in Jesus Christ and His Word, while also providing a perspective on how a congregation should view its past, present, and future. As God has blessed our group here at Zion, may He also bless you and your congregation. May He show you that your congregation’s past is a showcase of His grace and mercy; your congregation’s present is God’s time of grace given to you to use the keys of Law and Gospel, making disciples of all nations; and your congregation’s future, its objective, is to go from church militant to church triumphant, enjoying Christ’s deliverance from this toilsome world to the realm of eternal joy in Heaven.

Zion  Lutheran church sign

With the opportunity to celebrate one hundred years of existence as a congregation came a unique community outreach opportunity. Zion was blessed with the opportunity to spread the news via regional newspapers and radio service announcements, as well as word of mouth with old friends and former members. Regardless of whether these efforts were fruitful in gaining a larger attendance for the anniversary service, our congregation was at the very least putting the Gospel out in the public for many to learn about or be reacquainted with.

To be able to put our name out there in these ways is a phenomenal blessing, given our current worship venue. Our congregation does not own its house of worship. Over a decade ago, with the membership becoming smaller in number and older in age, it was becoming increasingly difficult for our congregation to adequately maintain their own church building. In 2011, the Lord presented the congregation with an opportunity to sell the church property and still have a place to worship. The congregation sold the property to Mark Gramm for his funeral home business. A joint-use agreement which allowed Zion to hold services and other functions in the remodeled facility as long as the congregation exists was established. Since then, the building has since been sold twice, and the congregation continues to be blessed with the joint-use agreement. We certainly do thank God for giving us the opportunity to worship every Sunday through this agreement, yet with this current setup come challenges. Many people in the community and the areas surrounding it are not aware of our congregation’s existence because we no longer own the building. Therefore, the unique opportunity with the anniversary to get our name out there is certainly a blessing.

With our manifold blessings come the blessings of continuous ministrations. As has been the case since 2002, Zion operates as a dual parish with Redeemer, Bowdle. This arrangement has been a tremendous blessing for everyone involved. As a result, with seasonally rotating service times, both congregations are able to have worship every Sunday along with seasonal midweek services. With zeal fueled by the sweet message of God’s Word, Sunday services are regularly attended with an average range of eight to sixteen people coming from Ipswich, Faulkton, and Aberdeen.

Along with a shared full-time pastor and regular Sunday worship, another item on the list of Gospel ministrations is the ability and desire to hold weekly Bible classes: one on Tuesday afternoons in the city of Aberdeen, and the other on Thursday afternoons in Ipswich. These Bible classes provide the opportunity to study many topics ranging from the history of the common liturgy to the articles of the Book of Concord. The latest topic for study in both Bible classes has been an overview of the books of the Old Testament. In our study time together, we have been blessed to have the opportunity to learn about the general theme, content, and origins of each of the books.

With the city of Ipswich as an ever-present prospect of Gospel outreach before us, there is also the booming city of Aberdeen to consider, located to the east of Ipswich about 30 miles away. Through a joint effort with Redeemer-Bowdle and Prince of Peace-Hecla, worship services are held there every fourth Sunday of the month in the lobby of a local tax office building. The Lord has blessed our efforts with an average attendance of ten to fifteen each Sunday we meet.

What a great opportunity we have here in Ipswich! Zion is certainly blessed. And as we strive to be our name’s sake, the great “city on a hill” that shines the Gospel for all to see, may the Lord bless us going forward as He has for the past one hundred years!

Zion Lutheran Church members
Zion Lutheran Church members
Pastors Zachary Sippert and Mark Tiefel, speakers at Zion's one-hundred-year anniversary service
Pastors Zachary Sippert and Mark Tiefel, speakers at Zion's one-hundred-year anniversary service

Zachary Sippert is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bowdle, South Dakota and Zion Lutheran Church in Ipswich, South Dakota.