150 Years of Global Missions

Fish Farming in Tanzania

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” Acts 13:47

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Zion, we should also celebrate the rich history of our ministries beyond our local community in which we share Christ’s word, strengthen faith and serve those in need.

One global mission you may be familiar with is Mission Jamaica. Various congregation members have participated in this “vacation with a purpose” since 2011. The Mission Jamaica team provides participants the opportunity to use their time, talents and faith to construct housing, offer medical care, implement Christian teaching, provide supplies, and more to those in need via short-term trips to Jamaica.

Perhaps you may also be familiar with the Villages of Hope mission of All Kids Can Learn International (AKCLI) in Zambia. Zion continues to provide financial and other support to this special school that provides Christ’s Word, housing, education, vocational training and employment opportunities to orphaned children and other children within the community.

Or, maybe you’ve also noticed the Fair Trade Coffee station in the narthex on the second Sunday of each month. Zion has encouraged and supported fair trade organic Lutheran World Relief (LWR) coffee, tea and cocoa sales since November 2011. Each pound of coffee purchased through the LWR Coffee Project at Zion generates 20c for the Lutheran World Relief Small Farmer Project to support small-scale coffee farmers, provide technical assistance, and improve access to credit, marketing and training. Plus, $1 is added to each package sold to support our global mission projects.

These are just three areas in which Zion and its congregation members have been presented with opportunities to let our lights shine globally. Enjoy spending a few minutes perusing the Global Missions Anniversary kiosk in the narthex, featuring Zion’s involvement in global missions over the last 150 years. Take a look at the pictures and short stories. Zion members, Dennis and Meredith Murnyak served in Tanzania for 25 years helping to implement fish farming. Our congregation has partnered with Redeemer Lutheran in North Minneapolis, which has offered hope to a struggling neighborhood. Many members have gone to Jamaica to build houses and provide medical care. Others have volunteered in Zambia assisting the children through All Kids Can Learn International. That’s just a start.

You might also be surprised to learn about a number of special projects and activities by individuals and families that have not been sponsored directly by Zion. You will see how our members are committed to prayerful and financial support of missions and have proclaimed the gospel message through action for a century and a half. Let’s continue the tradition!

Photo: Farmers selecting breeding stock from a tilapia pond in Tanzania


There were three mission societies at Zion: Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society (WMS), Miriam Society (Young Women’s Missionary Society) and the Junior Missionary Band (all Sunday School children were enrolled). Each group held a bi-monthly meeting and an annual mission festival. Zion was part of the Cokato District Women’s Missionary Society which frequently held their conventions in Buffalo.


A“mission program adapted to the children is rendered the first Sunday of each month.” Later annual reports indicated that this was still taking place at least through 1964.


Africa missionaries, Rev. and Mrs. George Anderson, spoke at the annual mission festival. They “spoke both eloquently and earnestly of foreign missions, in particular of our field in Africa.”

Through membership dues, collections at meetings and individual gifts, the joint disbursements of the three branches of the missionary activity reached the sum of $307.77.

No mention was found of how the mission money was spent.


Special offerings were taken for “Finnish relief” and for Lutheran World Action “orphaned missions.”


We must continue to keep in mind not only the important work of the local congregation, but also the greatly needed home and foreign mission activity of the Church at large. For a Church that is not mission minded has lost the real power, message and challenge of the Christian gospel. Zion pastor, Rev. Philip W. Pearson


Miss Laila Malm was commissioned as a missionary at Zion and spent 10 years as a teacher in Tanzania.


Sunday School Mission offering was taken once per month and contributed to: an Indian orphan boy, American Leprosy Mission, Lutheran Braille Evangelism Assn, and a portable record player to a children’s home.


World Mission Committee expanded our world outreach thru the partial support of Dave Cornell’s “Athletes in Action” ministry.

1978 – 1983

The Leff family were involved in Zion’s sponsoring of the Dai family, Vietnamese refugees, who came to Buffalo in the winter of 1979-80.

Zion sponsored 5 refugee families from VietNam and Cambodia, some in partnership with the Buffalo United Methodist Church. Zion had a standing Refugee Committee at this time which took leadership in this project.


Over the past several years, Zion Lutheran (sometimes alone and sometimes in partnership with United Methodist) has sponsored five refugee families. Two of these families are from Viet Nahm [sic] and the other three are from Cambodia. Directly and indirectly, we have touched the lives of thirty homeless refugees who came to Buffalo to seek a new beginning. The Nuhl and Dai families now live in Minneapolis and the Vo family is in Long Lake. We are now helping fourteen people (soon to be fifteen).

The Tek family, parents Chheav and Heap, and children Sinat, Sakham, Sakhoy, Saphoth, Sokny, Sineoun and grandson Phumea came to Buffalo in September of 1981. Mr. Tek has worked for Buffalo Greenhouses for the past two years. Mr. Pensky is so pleased with his work that he constructed a house for the Teks on his property. The boys also help out at the greenhouse when necessary. Sinat works at Buffalo Cleaners. She enjoys her work and the people she works with, but would like to find a job with longer hours and medical benefits. All the children are enrolled in Buffalo schools and work hard at their studies. This is really a family to be proud of!

Our new family, Sopheap and Ny Sour and their children, Thol, age 11, Sophal, age 3, and Sophana, age 16 months, came to live in Buffalo in October of this year. They are currently housed in the old parsonage. Sopheap is employed by John Deitering and travels to Delano every day to work in his woodworking shop. Thol is in fifth grade and the report is that he is a very bright boy. Thol was orphaned in Cambodia and was separated from his grandparents and sisters and brothers on the way to Thailand. The Sours have been caring for him for about four years. Sophal and Sophana spend their days at home with mom who is expecting another baby in March. Sophana’s medical condition is still undiagnosed. She cannot sit, stand, or hold her head up by herself. She is getting stronger and since coming to Buffalo, she has started to roll over by herself. She will need constant attention and care.

A report such as this cannot hope to bring out the unique personalities or courage of these people who are trying to learn a new language and customs. It cannot thank enough the people who have spent countless hours in help and services of those who have donated material items and money. We can only say that we are grateful to you all and may you continue to remember your Christian ministry. To see someone excel in what they are trying to do, to survive our harsh climate, to see a genuine smile of thanks; this is our reward.

World Mission Committee (WMC) sponsored 2 Mission Sundays, which featured Rev. Samson Mushemba of Tanzania and Dr. John Fredell. Zion helped to sponsor Dr. Fredell’s mission work in Liberia. The Zion Sunday School chose to support Phoebe Hospital in Liberia as a mission project.
Zion was also providing support to the David Jones family as missionaries in Hong Kong.


WMC again sponsored 2 Mission Sundays with Bishop Nirmal Minz of India and Pastor Les Peterson, former missionary to Tanzania, as our guests.
Continued sponsorship of Dr. John Fredell family in Liberia and began sponsoring Dennis and Meredith Murnyak as missionaries in Tanzania.


Sunday School students sent hygiene kits to children overseas through Lutheran World Relief. An annual clothing drive was held to recycle clothing to needed areas of the world.


WMC continuing support of 2 missionary families (Fredells and Murnyaks) and assisted former Zion youth director, Martin Rathjen, and his wife Kim with Lutheran Youth Encounter mission work in Australia and New Guinea.


WMC continued support of Murnyaks and their fish farming project in Tanzania. Approved support of Rev. Norman and Virginia Bakken in Kingston, Jamaica for 1989. Thirteen Zion members attended the annual Global Mission Event.

Mid 1990s

The Minneapolis Area Synod matched up churches that needed a mission partner with churches they thought could help. A lay person from Redeemer Lutheran Church came out and talked to Pastor Ed Blair and John Folkerds, and also preached a sermon on stewardship Sunday. Zion then decided to become a mission partner with Redeemer.


Interim Associate Pastor, Judy Burgett Winzig, was key in attempting to partner with the Shelleng congregation of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria.


Zion began supporting the Village of Hope in Zambia through the All Kids Can Learn International (AKCLI) organization. The founder of the Village of Hope, Kathleen Schwartz, is the sister of Zion member Minda Squadroni.


Zion’s first team visited Mission Jamaica. Both Pastor Ted Vanderpan and Interim Associate Pastor Karri Anderson had led groups to Jamaica in the past.

The Global Missions Committee brought the Lutheran World Relief Coffee Project to Zion, eventually selling fairly-traded coffee monthly at Zion and weekly through Local Roots Coop.


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