About Us

“Welcome!  You grace us with your presence” Established in 1859, Zion is a member of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.  We are a Christian community proclaiming the “Good News” of God’s radical love for all people. We don’t have all the answers, but we do enjoy exploring the questions together–both in times of joy and of sorrow. We look forward to welcoming you!

Zion’s Pastor

Pastor Jeff Laustsen

Jeffrey P. Laustsen

Pastor Jeff Laustsen has served as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church since May 2014.  A native of North Plainfield, New Jersey, Pastor Jeff is a graduate of Ursinus College, the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and Princeton Theological Seminary.  Prior to coming to Zion, he served congregations in Linden and Waretown, NJ; Niagara Falls, Ontario; and Rockville Centre, NY.

Pastor Jeff is dean of the Nith Valley Ministry Area and serves as Vice President of Stratford and District Council of Churches.  In the local community, Pastor Jeff is a member of the Rotary Club of Festival City – Stratford and has performed in community theatre with the Stratford Community Players and The Community Players of New Hamburg.

Pastor Jeff and his wife Susan, an artist and musician, live in Stratford.

Music at Zion

Contributors to the Music Program at Zion Lutheran Church are as follows:

Minister of Music – Paul Coates
Organist – Marco Burak
Organist – Franklin Famme
and of course, our choir members

Sing to the Lord a new song!

Sing to the Lord a new song!

Under the leadership and guidance of Susan Laustsen, the Sunday School children lovingly created this masterpiece which was unveiled to the congregation during the Church Service on Sunday, May 3, 2015. The phrase “Sing to the Lord a new song!” is found in the hymn “Earth and All Stars.”

Congregational Council – 2019

For this year, the following responsibilities have been assigned to Congregational Council members by election and appointment.

Chairperson: Kevin Tuer
Vice-Chairperson: Elizabeth Bomasuit
Secretary: Judy Stanley
Treasurer: Gerald Cook
Finance: Gerald Cook, Tim Gropp
Property: Tom Cosstick, Kevin Tuer, Dan Neumeister
Worship & Music: Elizabeth Forrest, Lynnette McLeod, Alison Johnston Congregational Life: Elizabeth Bomasuit, Lois Lemon, Judy Stanley
Christian Education: Lynnette McLeod
Accessibility Advisory:   Tim Iredale

Zion Lutheran Church Endowment Fund

In 1986 Zion Lutheran Church received word that it would be receiving a substantial bequest from an Estate.  A committee was formed to determine how best to use these funds and at the Annual Meeting in February of 1988 a Motion was passed by the congregation approving the creation of an Endowment Fund.  A second bequest was received in 2015 which was specifically designated for the Endowment Fund.

Each year, following the Annual Meeting of the congregation, the net income derived from the fund during the previous year is disbursed within guidelines approved by the congregation.  The net income is to serve the congregation of Zion Lutheran Church, our Eastern Synod and charitable organizations and agencies in Stratford, in Canada and around the world – especially Canadian Lutheran World Relief.  Since its inception this Fund, due to prudent financial management, has been able to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to further the work of these groups.

To learn more about our Endowment Fund and how you could leave a legacy of faith and love, please feel free to speak to anyone on the Zion Lutheran Church Endowment Fund Committee:

Marg Lamont (Chairperson), Gerry Rehberg (Recording Secretary), Mervyn Dietz (Advisor and Financial Secretary), Bill Hoffard, Norma Hansen, Sharon Fetter, Kevin Tuer (Chairperson of Congregational Council, Ex-officio), Pastor Jeff Laustsen (Ex-officio) and Gerald Cook (Treasurer-Zion Lutheran Church, Ex-officio).

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is a Church “In Mission for Others” and it is the hope of the members of Zion Lutheran Church, Stratford, ON that the amounts disbursed annually from our Endowment Fund will be a blessing to God’s people and to the organizations it supports for many years to come.

Policy on Addressing Issues and Concerns in the Congregation

“But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” Ephesians 4: 15-16

In order to fulfill its responsibility to “promote congregational unity and good will (and) foster mutual understanding in times of conflict” 1, the Congregational Council has adopted this policy for addressing issues and concerns regarding the life and ministry of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Stratford, Ontario:

  • All members affirm their right to express their opinion about the life and ministry of the
  • The congregation operates with a direct democracy that supports members in sharing their opinions openly with the Pastor, congregational council and at congregational meetings.
  • When a member of the congregation expresses an opinion to a council member, the council member shall ask – “what action would you like congregational council to take with this information?”
  • When the member desires to have the information taken to the congregational council, the member shall be invited to bring the information/opinion/issue to the next council meeting and the date and time will be given to the member. The concern, presentation and action taken will be recorded as part of the Minutes.
  • When the member does not wish to appear in person, the council member in question may present the information/opinion/issue on behalf of the member at the next council meeting. The member will be required to review the prepared submission by the council member and make any corrections, if necessary, to ensure the accuracy of the submission.  Once agreed upon, the member will sign the submission.  The concern, presentation and action taken will be recorded as part of the Minutes.
  • If the member desires that the council member present the information/opinion/issue at the next council meeting, the member must give permission to the council member to share the member’s name as part of the presentation. If the member desires to remain anonymous, the information/opinion/issue will not be addressed by the congregational council.
  • A member also has the option to put in writing, signed and addressed to the Chairperson of the Congregational Council, the information/opinion/issue the member wants addressed.
  • In this case, the Chairperson will acknowledge receipt of the correspondence and will share this correspondence with the Congregational Council Executive, who will assess the issue or concern and take appropriate action, or refer it to the Congregational Council.

Amended and adopted by the Congregational Council of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on December 12, 2018.

The Constitution and Bylaws of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, amended February 1, 2015, Article X, Section 7E.

Conflict of Interest Policy

The Church, as a ministry initiated and sustained by God, has a mandate to conduct all of its affairs ethically and above reproach both in the sight of God and people. Such a mandate includes a commitment to operate with the highest level of integrity and to avoid conflicts of interest that either directly or indirectly result in material personal advantage or privilege.   For full policy please click here.

Guidelines for Capital Project Approval

1. Capital Project requests are to be submitted to the Congregational Council for consideration.

2. Congregational Council is responsible for determining how the cost of the Capital Project will be funded. Options that are available, but not limited to, are:
(a) Contributions from congregation members
(b) Fundraising Campaign
(c) Allocation from the Building, Memorial, or other Fund
(d) Allocation from the Endowment Fund
(e) Any combination of the above

3. Congregational Council will be guided by the principle that the Endowment Fund is to be used only after all other options have been considered and additional funding is still required. In addition, funds available for allocation are determined by the Restricted and Non-Restricted nature of the bequests.

4. If necessary, a request for funds will be made to the Endowment Fund Committee. After due consideration, the Endowment Fund Committee will forward their recommendation back to the Congregational Council for approval/disapproval.

5. If approved by the Congregational Council, the motion will be presented at the Annual Meeting or a Special Congregational Meeting called specifically for this purpose. The motion will be adopted, if it is approved by at least 2/3rd of the members present.

 Adopted by the Congregational Council of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church March 20, 2018.

Not Lutheran? No problem

Although Lutherans form only about 2% of Canada’s population, the church itself is one of the largest Christian groups in the world. We have been a church of immigrants for much of our history, and even today you’ll find Canadian Lutheran churches with strong German, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Lithuanian, Finnish or Icelandic roots, to name a few.  You’ll also find us reaching out to today’s newcomers with services in Spanish, Vietnamese and several major Chinese dialects. Regardless of our roots, all are welcome in our church.  If you come from an Anglican or Roman Catholic tradition, you’ll likely find much of our worship comfortably familiar – but you don’t have to come from any tradition to be welcome beneath our roof!

Martin Luther

16th century reformer, Martin Luther.Lutherans base their beliefs on the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century priest who had no idea he was starting a denomination when he was just trying to reform the church. His reforms were based on a then-radical idea that human beings could do nothing to “earn” God’s grace – grace ia a gift freely given, available to all through the act of faith.  This doctrine became known as “justification by grace through faith.”

Why are we called “Evangelical”

The full name of our church is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), although we are quite different from our Evangelical brothers and sisters in the Pentecostal tradition. Essentially, we believe the point of the church is to share the good news of Christ in both word and deed.  Like the disciples of old, we are “evangelists” for Christ’s message of love and compassion. But we don’t believe any one group of people is “saved” (since God’s grace is freely available to all).

Are we the same as the Missouri Synod Lutherans?

The simple answer is No.  The ELCIC traces its roots to German immigrants settling in Halifax around the year 1750.  The church now known as the Missouri Synod or Lutheran Church – Canada traces its roots to German Lutherans from Saxony who sailed to North America in February 1838 and eventually settled in St. Louis Missouri.  The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States was organized in April 1847.  Johann Adam Ernst called to be pastor in Eden NY in 1849 made frequent trips into Ontario organizing several congregations.  In 1847, 80 families of German Lutherans from Wurttenburg settled in Middletown townships southwest of Delhi.  The settlers were introduced to Rev. Ernst and he conducted the first service in Rhineland on Feb 28, 1854.  St. Peters Rhineland was organized that same year and is the oldest Missouri Lutheran Congregation in Canada.  It was not unusual for Missouri Synod pastors to serve Canada Synod Congregations in the early years as Pastors were in short supply.  Zion Stratford is no exception and was served by Missouri Synod Pastor F. Dubpernell in 1877.  Calling Dubernell severed Zion’s connection to the Canada Synod and we were actually one of the founding congregations of the Canada District of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States in 1879.  We remained in the Missouri synod until 1904 when a conflict arose and we rejoined the Canada Synod.

Missouri Synod congregations today tend to hold to a more conservative theology than our congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. For more information see Cronmiller, Raymond (1961) “A History of the Lutheran Church in Canada”

More Lutheran Theology

You can find out more about our Lutheran Theology on our National Church Website