History of Our Church

Zion Lutheran Church of Camas, Washington was founded on May 9, 1897, by fourteen German men, with the help of Rev. J.J. Kern of Portland.

The original church, located at what is now 12th and Division, was purchased from the Evangelical Church at the end of 1897 for $325.00. This served as Zion’s place of worship until 1938.

The first organ was purchased in 1898 for $58.00 with a down payment of $10.00 and the balance paid off at $5.00 per month. 

In 1898, Pastor Schoenberg came to Zion and served the church until 1901. His salary was $100.00 per year, plus a house, wood, and food as conditions permitted. The first class of three young people was confirmed in 1899.

Pastor Charles Boehner served from 1903 - 1916, with a beginning annual salary of $50.00.


The Ladies’ Aid society was formed in 1916. In 1919 the women of Zion Lutheran Church were given the right to vote in church affairs.

The first congregational minutes were recorded in English by Gus Lorenz and English replaced German as the language used at church services in 1925.

The church was renovated under the tenure of Pastor Phillip Rusert.

In 1936, Pastor Weitzenkamp was called and was instrumental in the process of building the new church at its present location at 4th and Garfield in Camas. 

A year later a small brick parsonage was added to the church.

The Camas paper mill was at full employment and helped the church grow in membership and financial strength. Zion grew rapidly during the 1940s and tentative plans were made to build a social hall and enlarge the sanctuary.


Reverend Werner Jessen served as Zion’s pastor from 1941 - 1955. During that time Zion became independent and was no longer a mission church.

In 1944, Zion became debt free and a mortgage burning ceremony marked the occasion.

Pastor Russell Luke came in 1955 and served until 1960. It was during his tenure that building plans and fundraising for Zion became a reality. The newly remodeled church and the dedication of the new Social Hall happened in June 1959.

The parsonage was too small for the family of Pastor Eric Sigmar (four children), so the congregation approved a new parsonage to be built in 1961.


Pastor Burton Schroeder served from 1969 - 1980.

Pastor Lowell Erickson followed from 1980 until his retirement in 1992.

It was during this time that Zion bought the entire block surrounding the church. The Social Hall was renovated along with the church basement and the old parsonage was converted into church offices. The last piece of property on the block was purchased in 1984.

The Sunday School space was remodeled in 1985 and the sanctuary was remodeled in 1987 on the 90th anniversary.


Pastor Kim Frenz was installed in 1993 and served until 1999. In the fall of 1996 the entire church was painted in anticipation of the 100th Anniversary Celebration in May 1997.

Pastor Tom Tweed, and his wife Hannelore arrived in 1999. During Pastor Tweed's tenure, Danielson Hall was added in 2008, changing the look, design, and functionality of the building. 


Thanks to a handful of German families with a vision for a Lutheran church in Camas 117 years ago, Zion Lutheran Church is still here to serve.

© 2024 Zion Lutheran Church Camas, WA
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