Zion’s first pastor was the Reverend John Samuel Nilson. Pastor Nilson was born in Hallaröd, Malmöhus län, in southern Sweden, in 1829. He came to Minnesota in 1854, studied at St Ansgar’s Academy in Carver, MN (which later became Gustavus Adolphus College), and Augustana College and Seminary in Paxton, IL, and was ordained on June 17, 1866. He first served the Gotaholm congregation, then located a few miles south of Watertown (now Trinity Lutheran). Besides Gotaholm, Carlslund, and Swedesburg, Rev. Nilson served congregations in Moore’s Prairie, Brush Prairie, Silver Creek, Nylunda, and Hermon (all in Minnesota).
“A great deal of his time was spent as a pioneer in preaching to congregations recently organized. He was a faithful preacher of the law and the gospel and knew the full blessings of a life of prayer. He also paid not a little attention to music and frequently organized and led the church choirs” Augustana Journal
Pastor Nilson died in April of 1904, and is buried at the Swedesburg Cemetery.