Zion Lutheran Church, Presho, South Dakota

The foundation of Zion Lutheran Church of Presho began in 1909 when the Mission Board sent Reverend Gustav Steffen to Draper, SD searching for Lutherans. He found a number of families who were interested in having church services, even if it were just occasionally. Arrangements were made with the school board to hold services at the Schoelte School located about 15 miles southwest of Presho.

On December 25, 1910 a children’s Christmas program was held. What a wonderful event for the children who had never see a Christmas tree with lighted candles; perhaps it had other decorations too. Gifts and treats were received. The building was packed with people.

This group of Lutherans then organized and on June 19, 1911 received the Articles of Incorporation from the State of South Dakota and became known as Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Congregation.

In the early 1900’s services were held in the Old Norwegian church across the tracks where the sale barn stands. The following years showed children being confirmed and the congregation showing growth. Services were often held in homes of members and n later years were conducted in schoolhouses once a month. Quite often these services were held in the afternoon. Many of the services were held in the Ceader Valley School, Kincannon School and Brule School. About 1935, the Lutheran members started coming into Presho to attend services and participate in the activities of the church.

Church services were also held in Vivian from 1915 to probably the early 1930’s.

On October 10, 1920 the congregation was formally organized. The first constitution was adopted on Oct 24. 1920 thereby creating Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Presho, SD. Today Presho and Reliance are served by one pastor as they form a parish.


Taken from Courage Faith Bold Witness A History of the South Dakota District LCMS pg. 88


Trinity Lutheran Church, Reliance, South Dakota

It was in the fall of 1908 that congregations of Red Lake, West Point and Reliance called the Reverend Martin Engel to minister to the Lutherans in these areas. Pastor Engel lived in Chamberlain and served both sides of the Missouri river. In 1917 the congregations of Red Lake, Westpoint and Chamnberlian merged into one congregation and Reliance was left with a decision to make.

On May 27, 1917 families met in what was known as the Lebselter Schoolhouse southeast of Reliance to organize a Lutheran Church. At this meeting, a numnber of families decided that it was time that they started a church., Thus was the beginning of Trinity Lutheran Church of Reliance.

In October of 1917 the building was completed and listed its expenses; “,umber $821.70; drugstore $9.85; carpet $30.30; hardware $352; making a total cost of $896.85 of which $199.45 was unpaid, all labor had been donated.” Even the altar cloths were sewn by the ladies of the congregation.

The church was formally dedicated to the glory of God on October 14, 1917 under the guidance of Reverend Fredricksen.

In 1918, the by-laws were discussed and the church constitution was adopted. Money was raised to pay off the debts and to purchase a bell. (This bell is still in use today, calling people to worship each Sunday.) In 1920, communion vessels were purchased and a formal decision was made to unite with the Lutheran church – Missouri Synod.

Trinity was served for a short time by the pastor from Presho and formed a dual parish in 1936.

A new church was built on land that was donated by A.C. Miller in Reliance for the future church site. The church was built and dedicated to the glory of God on July 18, 1954. This new house of worship cost about $5,300.

Trinity of Reliance was linked with Presho a number of different times, until 1973 it again formed a dual parish which is still in existence today.

As one reads the histyory of Trinity, Reliance it has had its full share of trials and tests. And yet the people acknowledge that it was help from Almighty God which sustained them throughout these trials and tribulations and gave them the wisdom and fortitude to grow and thrive in the midst of all these problems.


Taken from Courage Faith Bold Witness A History of the South Dakota District LCMS pg. 82-3