Centennial Messages

Centennial Greetings and Messages to Zion will be posted here after they have been presented at worship. Click the links below for the services. Written messages are printed further below.  Check back often!

January Centennial Emphasis Sunday 1-16-22 featuring walk from Old Zion to New Zion in 1962

February – First Centennial Sermon 2-6-22 by Pastor Harvey Nelson

February Centennial Emphasis Sunday 2-20-22   (Letter read from Pastor Larry Beck is printed below)

March – Second Centennial Sermon 3-13-22 by Pastor J. David Nelson

March Centennial Emphasis Sunday 3-27-22

March presentation on Zion’s education/Dorothy Stenberg –  https://youtu.be/vLmYv1gQrPs  

April – Third Centennial Sermon 4-3-22 by Pastor Eric Natwick

April Centennial Emphasis Sunday 4-24-22  with letters from Pastors John Malm and James Carlson
Here is The complete video letter from Pastor Jim Carlson which was cut off in service due to technical difficulties

May – Fourth Centennial Sermon 5-15-22 by Pastor Dan Nordin

May Centennial Emphasis Sunday 5-22-22 with Praising and Rejoicing Presentation
Praising and Rejoicing Presentation,  Part 1 with Keith Johnson,
Part 2 – Zion Choir – Cornerstone –   https://youtu.be/0DqT4meMUSA,
Part 3 Choir – Gloria in Excelsis Deo

June Centennial Emphasis Sunday 6-12-22 with theme “Giving Thanks”
Pastor Bill Boettner’s Video Greeting in entirety
Pastor Bill’s video on Zion’s stained glass window

Pastor Bill’s tribute to Kathy Warmbier
Pastor Bill’s benediction

June – Fifth Centennial Sermon 6-26-22 by Pastor Nathan Thompson

July Centennial Emphasis Sunday  7-10-22 with theme “Using Our Gifts” 

July CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION SUNDAY, 7-31-22, Sermon by Pastor Tim Hansen – Seventh Centennial Sermon

 August 21, 2022 Centennial Emphasis Sunday with Sermon by Pr. Troy Pflibsen Eighth Centennial Sermon

September 18, 2022 Centennial Emphasis Sunday with theme “Treasuring the Children of God” and letter from Cheryl Whitchurch, AIM/Deacon (below) and video greeting from Pastor Jordan Monson – see below.

October 16, 2022 Centennial Emphasis Sunday with theme “Blessed to be a Blessing” had recording glitch. It included video messages from former members Pastor Val Veo Teppo and Pastor Michael Rueckert – see below!

October 23, 2022  Centennial Stewardship Emphasis:  Pastor Jim Bjorge’s sermon from his last visit to Zion in 1999 was presented. – Ninth Centennial Sermon

November 20, 2022 Centennial Emphasis Sunday with theme “Caring for Our Neighbor and for Our Earth” with:
Centennial Sermon #9 by Pastor Christian Muellerleile
Rosemaling Presentation by Ruth Hoien

December 11, 2022 Centennial Emphasis Clip of Pastor Christine Finsand
Pastoral Benedictions
1992 Organ and Piano Duet by Evelyn Kittelson and Jackie Dennin

Video Greetings from Sons and Daughters of Zion (Zion members who went on to become pastors):

Pastor Mindy Czycalla’s Greeting:   https://youtu.be/u1n8iFpEm6g

Pastor Jeff Gross’ Greeting:   https://youtu.be/FjGAhwbvGYs

Pastor Christina Kadelbach’s Greeting:    https://youtu.be/LwRGtDAlicY

Pastor Jordan Monson’s Greeting:   https://youtu.be/sPrE5bQlMqI

Pastor Jon Nelson’s Greeting:    https://youtu.be/XZ4Q9T8u1mE

Pastor Donna Putney’s Greeting:      https://youtu.be/0EW-_62Vo1o

Pastor Michael Rueckert’s Greeting:   https://youtu.be/x1w43gSx07A

Pastor Val Teppo’s Greetings:https://youtu.be/Ah5ChBKPE6g

Written Greetings:

Presented in February, 2022 – Letter From Pastor Larry Beck, former Zion Intern:

January 10, 2022

Zion Lutheran Church
504 N. Gilman Ave.
Litchfield, MN 55355

Dear Saints of Zion Lutheran Church:

Congratulations to you and may the Lord bless you as you celebrate your 100th Anniversary. The members of Zion have always been a welcoming and inviting church with a passion for doing the Lord’s work. I was privileged to learn about the joys of doing ministry as your intern from 1976 -1977. It was one of the best years of my life. Pastor Onnen modeled for me how a pastor should love and care for God’s people. His meaningful sermons, administrative skills, teaching, visitation of the homebound and sick, sense of humor, faith and dedication to his Lord and church prepared me well for my forty years of parish ministry. Zion was an excellent teaching church as it helped train several people for the ordained ministry.

Read Pastor Larry Beck’s letter in its entirety.


From Pastor James Bjorge:

Dear People of Zion on your 100th Anniversary,
I am thankful to God for being your Pastor from 1960-1964. Many great memories and relationships were formed in those few years! When I arrived, we worshipped in a small wooden church close to the railroad tracks. The building committee was already hard at work on a beautiful new church. Before I left, a new church was erected on the other side of town.
Read the entire Pr. James Bjorge letter

Presented in April – Letter from Pastor John Malm:  (video link above) 

November 7, 2021



It was a special treat to get a letter from Kathy Warmbier about your coming Centennial Celebration, remembering her so well as the long-time Parish Secretary and one who was also a good friend and helper.  In the spring of 1970, while in my second year at Luther Theological Seminary, Sharon and I learned that I would be assigned to be your first Intern at Zion.  At the time Sharon was pregnant with our first child (Sarah), and so we were glad to be assigned to a congregation in Minnesota that would keep us close to family.  We were also thankful that you agreed to have me begin internship in June, ahead of an expected birth in August.  You also later agreed to extending my time with you into August of 1971, for which we were also very thankful.  Don Brock was the Congregation President at that time, and one with whom we worked in getting settled into our apartment, which was about a block away from the church, and into a Sunday School room at the church which was converted into the “The Intern’s Office.”
Pastor John Malm’s written letter in entirety


Presented in April – Letter from Pastor James Carlson:  (video link:  https://youtu.be/-GxMMf1zrCo )

Dear Zion Lutheran Church,
“Where did that come from,” I wondered? On the floor next to my desk some weeks back,…a snippet of paper sitting on the rug…..cut from the bottom of my ordination bulletin; “We are grateful to ZLC for their kindness and generosity in hosting this ordination service and reception. On this ordination Sunday, we remember that all believers are ordained, that is, called by God and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, through baptism. May this day be an occasion for us all to renew our Christian lives in light of our ministry and service to the world. God grant us the power, the patience, and the diligence to follow our Lord.” Where did that paper come from? Stuff happens.   (The link below has the whole letter.)

Pastor Carlson’s Entire Written Letter:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/iq72phohfflmgei/Pastor%20Jim%20Carlson%2C%20former%20intern.pdf?dl=0 

Pastor Wayne Tellekson’s written greeting:

To: Zion Lutheran
From: Wayne Tellekson Pastor at Zion from 1972-1975

Happy Anniversary! I was pastor at Zion 50 years ago. My wife Sindy and I moved to Litchfield from Oak Park, Illinois in September of 1972 with our three children: Lisa, Karin and Jon. They were in 2nd , 4th and 6th grades. We moved into the parsonage at 725 S. Armstrong which we eventually bought (Pastors owning their homes was newly in vogue.) They all took piano lessons from Bea Devereaux. Lisa and Karin integrated “Boys Baseball”. They had a small strike zone and drew lots of walks — in part because of size, but also because boys were embarrassed to pitch to a girl, and because they were good players. One of Lisa’s team mates was being kidded about having a girl on his team and retorted: “Yeah! She can hit better than you!” It was a different era. They would leave home on their bikes and head out to Lake Ripley with lunch and come back when it was time for supper. We didn’t worry about their safety. Sindy taught Release Time classes each year. Almost 50 years later when I was tutoring 5th grade students at the nearby elementary school, I had the granddaughter of one of Sindy’s students! Sindy also sang in choir, played the organ when Evelyn went down for communion, and was active in Church Women.

Entire Written Greeting From Pastor Wayne Tellekson

Pastor Dan Nordin: 
Pastor Dan began his ordained ministry here at Zion Lutheran Church from 1977-1981. Most recently he served Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in East Bethel, MN for ten years. He retired August 1, 2019 after 42 years of ministry in the ELCA.   In his early retirement months Pastor Dan fulfilled a dream of building a house in beautiful Lake City.


From Pastor Nathan Thompson: Kim and I are excited to be with you to celebrate Zion’s 100th Anniversary!  We came to Zion 40 years ago in 1982 and had the privilege of serving with Pastor Ron Onnen, Dorothy Stenberg, Kathy Warmbier, and many other faithful staff and volunteers.  Zion and the Litchfield community will always hold a very special place in our hearts and lives.
Our family update includes our oldest Son Zachary, his wife Lexi, and our grandchildren Soren (age 18) & Elise (age 15).  Zachary is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Lutheran in Golden Valley and Lexi is a Reading Specialist at Minnetonka High School. Soren graduated in June from Wayzata HS and will be attending Concordia in Moorhead; and Elise will be a Sophomore at Wayzata and is on the swim team and drama club.
Our daughter Karis and her husband Matt live in Fargo where Matt is a Pediatric Cardiologist at Sanford and Karis works with community development projects in both the Fargo and Twin Cities areas.  And our youngest son, Isaac and his wife Tonya, live in New York City where Isaac is the Managing Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Tonya is a partner attorney in a law firm based in Indianapolis, IN.
Kim and I are enjoying retirement and are still living in our same house in the suburb of Shoreview.  They recruited me to help lead some worship and preach once in a while at the traditional services in the chapel at Calvary.  It is fun to worship and to be involved in this vibrant congregation (and to listen to Zachary preach most Sundays).  Kim and I are really looking forward to seeing all of you on the weekend of June 25 & 26!

From Pastor Tim Hansen: Greetings friends at Zion Lutheran!  We are excited about coming to be with at the end of July!  It has been a long time and yet it doesn’t seem that long.  We are all doing well and look forward to being a part of your celebration.
Lisa continues to work as a Lactation consultant for Group Health in downtown Madison.  I continue to serve at Our Savior’s in Sun Prairie, WI and enjoy being a part of this community of faith.
Our children are spread across the country and so many of our vacations are made up of travel.  Kai and Kathryn live and work in San Francisco.  They love the Bay area!  Karin and Mubzy were finally able to get married last summer and live in Des Moines, Iowa where Karin teaches high school English at Urbandale High School.  Mubzy is still waiting for his visa to begin working in this country.  Anders and Hoda live in Washington D.C.  Hoda just completed her Master’s Degree from Georgetown University.  Anders works in the Financial Aid Department at Georgetown.  They, too, love where they live and work.
The pandemic has put a damper on my music stuff, although I am excited to play with Scott Kargas and Terry Dvorak and maybe some others at a special Worship Café on the Saturday night celebration on July 30th.  Zion was a special place for our family to grow and you remain a part of our thoughts and prayers as you celebrate this year.  See you soon!
Pastor Tim

From Pastor Harvey Nelson:   
Fellow saints and sinners at Zion:
Grace and peace in Christ our gracious Lord:
One hundred years ago the Norwegians in Litchfield faced the challenge of coming out of their provincial Norske community and joining the larger English speaking world while remaining loyal to their Lutheran convictions. They did so very well. Their descendents and present day members of Zion have a decades long history of looking for new ways of working out God’s mission in Meeker County and in the world. As you gather and celebrate those hundred years of mission outreach may you be open to the Spirit’s working and collaborate together to care for the present and next generations by proclaiming and living out God’s amazing grace in Christ. Care for each other, reach out to the lowly and rejected in your area. Care for them in body and soul and keep asking how can we change so God’s news is heard and lived. Have a blessed celebration and enjoy God’s mission of love, grace and mercy.  Marie and I wish you all Shalom in Christ.
Harvey and Marie Nelson

Pastor Troy Pflibsen:  Pastor Troy served at Zion from   2013-2021.  He shares an update on his family:
      It seems a bit odd to offer news when it feels like I just left Zion! But the reality is it has been a year if you count my time away for sabbatical. Below is the latest from our family.
     John was married in November at a small service at Zion. Because of the Covid travel restrictions at the time, many of our family were unable to attend so we had the second installment of the celebration at the North Shore the end of June. My siblings were able to attend and John’s European siblings could participate as well. It was a great time of family!
     John and Melissa will soon be moving into their first house in the Como Park area of St. Paul. John works for a social service agency that locates housing for folks at risk. Melissa works for LSS using her gifts for graphic design and marketing.
      Elizabeth lives with her husband Luke in Eugene, Oregon. Elizabeth was diagnosed with long-Covid in early 2021, and is just now emerging from this devastating illness. Hopefully her improvement will continue, and she hopes to begin graduate school in the fall of 2023. She plans to work with teens and families who are at risk. Luke is doing software development for a small company that is focused on non-profits.
     Carolyn continues to serve as a chaplain at the St. Cloud hospital. She loves supporting the patients and their families. She doesn’t like the commute, especially in the winter! We have looked at some houses closer to St. Cloud, but so far none have been a good fit.
     I continue to serve as the Director of Evangelical Mission for the SWMN Synod. The details of this position vary from synod to synod. In SWMN the priorities are Faithful Innovation, an initiative Zion participated in pre-Covid and in the early days of Covid. Coaching, is a ministry of accompaniment, will be offered to congregations and rostered leaders. Congregational partnerships are growing in the synod and I support these conversations. I work with the Hunger Team, of which Pastor Christian is a part. I also work with congregations as they look to the future with visioning and planning. These themes may sound familiar to you? They were passions of mine in the parish and I am privileged to continue to work with them in the larger church.
     I am looking forward to reconnecting with you on August 21st! Carolyn and I miss the people of Zion and are anxious to hear your news and the news from your families. Just so that you are not surprised, remember that I have a chronic health condition that requires that I am careful in public contexts. Doctors’ orders that I continue to mask, keep a safe distance and take other precautions. It is frustrating at times, but I am thankful that I can still gather with others!
     I was blessed to serve with you as part of the community of Zion. I am looking forward to reconnecting with you on August 21.

Pastor Troy

From Pastor Christian Muellerleile:
Pastor Christian is a farmer/pastor at Good Courage Farm, an emerging agrarian ministry of the Episcopal Church near Hutchinson, MN where he serves as Food Faith+Farm Manager. He also loves helping out at local vegetable farms, vineyards, and congregations when they need pulpit supply. Kateri works in Litchfield teaching Early Childhood Family and Parent Education. She also teaches Yoga and Parent Education at WINGS Adolescent Treatment Center, Childbirth Education at Meeker Memorial Hospital, and Yoga at Open Sole Yoga. Kateri also accompanies and assists pregnant women and their birth partners as a Birth Doula. Augustin is a 9th grader at the Litchfield High School. He enjoys acting and singing in musicals, training to become a lifeguard, participating in FFA, and racing mountain bikes with the Hutchinson Tigers Cycling Club. Antonia is in 7th Grade at the Litchfield Middle School. She acts and sings in musicals, plays the French horn, swims on the Litchfield Dragons Girls Swim Team, and loves debating and making different kinds of music and art.


From Cheryl Whitchurch, AIM/Deacon:
Dear Friends,
     Happy 100th Anniversary Zion Lutheran Church!  Your love, care, and nurture of our life-long faith in Jesus continues to guide us in new places and ventures.
     Andrew lives in Moorhead and he is a second grade teacher at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Schools.  He coaches boys basketball and golf.  Zach and Vanessa live in Surprise, Arizona.  Vanessa is an occupational therapist at a rehabilitation hospital.  Zach works on the financial side of healthcare supporting various hospitals throughout the country.  My work in Alexandria has been a combination of all things I’ve ever done. I’ve worked as a reading tutor at Voyager Elementary and as an interim kid minister at Calvary Lutheran Church.  I am now on the life enhancement team at Nelson Gables, an assisted living senior community.  I am blessed daily by the relationships with residents and their faith, wisdom, and life stories.
     Reminiscing over Zion’s last 100 years, we remember impactful moments at the baptismal font and at the communion rail.  We remember Christ-centered worship and community outreach.  We remember the traditions and we remember how we have weathered change together. We remember the music, the relationships, and the mission trips.  All are interconnected and all are lasting affirmations of God’s great love. We are so grateful for the history, faith, and mission that we have shared. As surely as God has moved in and through Zion Lutheran Church these last 100 years,  God will continue to lead and move you into the future work he has called you to do.
     We will always be deeply rooted in the love, faith, and community of  Zion. Thank you!  We wish you lots of peace, joy, and love as you boldly follow Jesus into Zion Lutheran Church’s next century. 

With gratitude and love,
Cheryl Whitchurch