094. Meeting House: "This is your church"

Photograph of Meeting House
Meeting House
“My name in Wilhelmina Hammond Steininger. I was born in Austria, Hungary, December 16, 1909. We came to America in 1910. We landed in Naperville, Illinois. My dad got a job at the Kroehler Manufacturing Company. On Sunday morning, my Dad took my sister and me, and we walked three blocks and he said, ‘This is your church.’ And it was a German minister at the time, and our Sunday school was all in one building.” The congregation of Zion Evangelical Church held services in German from the time it was founded in 1834 until the early 20th century. English services became the norm as it became more difficult to find German-speaking ministers. In the 1990s, the church reinstated German services. Mrs. Steininger, like many of her congregation, appreciates the revival of German language services, which helps strength Naperville’s ties to its German roots: “We feel dedicated to the German. The nice thing about the German is even if you don’t know very much, every word is printed. Then we have our songs. Now with our singing that’s another story, because we have such trained voices, you know, but we do sing the glory of God, no matter which way we sing it. When I sing a German song, it really comes from the bottom of my being. It seems to me in German it is said better many, many things than translation in the English.”