All About Zion
The Anglican Communion
The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion—the third largest global church next to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Anglicans represent about 80 million Christians in more than 160 countries. Anglicanism varies much worldwide, but all Anglicans are all rooted in the Church of England, use the Book of Common Prayer locally adapted as the basis for our worship, and are in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Please visit www.anglicancommunion.org for more information.
The Episcopal Church
The origins of the Episcopal Church go back to the founding of our country. The first parish was founded in Jamestown, Virginia, by English settlers. After the Revolutionary War, it became necessary for Anglican parishes to form an American church and the Episcopal (simply meaning “governed by bishops”) was born. Missionary efforts extended into the territories after that. Nearby Nashotah House Theological Seminary was established in 1842 in Wisconsin, and Zion parish in Oconomowoc was founded by seminary leaders shortly thereafter. The Episcopal Church, as with Anglicanism in general, is both catholic and reformed. We are a church that was established in England during the Reformation in the 1500s, but our traditions, sacraments, and ecclesiastical order of bishops, priests, and deacons, dates back to the earliest days of the Church.
The Episcopal Church is a broad denomination. We ordain women and men to all orders of ministry. Worship style differs from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, while fundamentally rooted in the Anglican principle of common prayer. Our members span the theological and political spectrum as well. In the Episcopal Church, it is not uncommon to find people who make different choices in the voting booth worshipping side-by-side at the Altar. Though diverse, all Episcopalians believe in Jesus as Savior, look to the Bible for our rule of life, respect the dignity of every human being, and want to serve God by helping others.
Zion was founded as the parish in Oconomowoc in 1846. Our beautiful peninsula on Fowler Lake and money for the first church building was donated by parishioners and city founders, Mr. and Mrs. John S. Rockwell. The current church building was constructed in 1889. The “parish house” including the Great Hall was built in 1910; and the education wing was built in 1960. A simple mid-century modern rectory for the priest is also on the property. The small but lovely Lancashire-Marshall organ dedicated in 1893 has received many updates over the years and undergone a conservative refurbishment from 2017 to 2020.
Zion’s early rectors (priests “in charge” of the parish) were professors and presidents of Nashotah House, though our first services in the 1840s were conducted by the rector of St. Paul’s Milwaukee. He walked to Oconomowoc (over 30 miles) to do so. Our longest serving rector was Father Harry Pallett from 1946 to 1974. Under Father Pallett’s leadership, Zion experienced its season of greatest growth and stability.
Zion has had its ups and down since then. In 2010, Zion lost much of its membership due to leadership anxiety over social issues. After an initial period of healing, Zion engaged an intentional redevelopment process in conjunction with diocesan leadership resulting in growth and increased vitality. Thanks to careful stewardship and the generosity of many, we have eliminated all of our remaining debt and have tackled major building projects. God is blessing us with numeric growth, including the presence of many young children. Today Zion is a growing congregation, embracing of a wider circle of people, that is becoming a vibrant parish once more. We would love to have you join us.
Our official children's formation classes take place on Wednesday nights, with a growing Sunday School for our youngest worshipers on Sunday mornings after the worship service. Our children of all ages are well-engaged in our worship services. On the first Sunday of the month, they present Zion's food pantry offerings to the altar. It's happy chaos!
On Wednesday evenings, our young people from middle school and high school gather for dinner, worship, and small group time - sometimes watching videos and discussing, sometimes taking part in manuscript Bible study, sometimes simply sharing the challenges of their lives at school. But with the Godly (and hysterically funny) men and women leading the group, these kids have a great experience every week.
Zion's choir, under the direction of Mrs. Stephanie Seefeldt, has come back to life, after lying dormant for many years. It has become a source of not only beautiful music and heartfelt praise, but of deep and abiding community and fellowship. We rehearse on Sunday mornings at 8:00 and all are welcome - it is not necessary to be able to read music [though it helps!].
Whether it's a midweek Bible study with the Vicar's wife, an evening of Craft & Chat at the local coffee shop, or an outreach event at Christmastime, there are many opportunities for women at Zion to connect with one another and with the Lord. Every semester offers something different. We can't wait to see you there!
Episcopal worship contains all kinds of liturgical gymnastics. There is much joy to be found in learning how it all works. Our servers are part of the Great Story as it unfolds Sunday by Sunday in the lectern, in the pulpit, and at the altar. Starting at a very young age, some children are able to participate as 'servers' by being the 'boat boy/girl' and carrying the incense boat when a thurible is used. In mid-elementary school, children are trained to be Torches - carrying the lights that accompany the cross down the aisle. Older children serve as crucifers, and seminarians and licensed adults serve as lay eucharistic ministers. We need plenty of people to serve in these roles and we'd love to have you join our team.
Whether it's participating in our long-traditioned Cobbler Booth at the festival of the arts every summer, helping to dress the sheep for our Advent pageant, or hosting dignitaries like the Presiding Bishop for special events, there is no shortage of JOY around the halls of Zion these days. We are reminded of God's word in the book of Joel when he promises to '...restore the years the locusts have eaten...' - that after a season of drought, Zion is flourishing by God's grace alone, through the gifts and generosity of good people, and for the sake of the Kingdom. We would be so grateful if you would join us!