In the early 1740s, Germans began to settle the New River Settlement which is now known as the Price’s Fork area of Montgomery County, Virginia. It is known as the the first settlement by non native peoples across the Alleghenies in Virginia. The leaders of this community had surnames of Harman, Harless, Shell, Wall, and Price (which originated from German surnames of Hermann, Horlas, Scholl, Wahl, and Preis). These colonists included a high percentage of Lutherans. It is believed that there may have been a congregation in this wilderness area prior to 1755, but it is believed that New St. Peter’s Church was established around 1775 (with official church records dating to 1796). In this era, congregations typically did not have any pastoral oversight and missionaries would visit the area to preach periodically. The first known missionary was Leonard Schnell, who was a Moravian Missionary who visited the settlement in 1749. It is said that Pastor Samuel Burgell, a Lutheran Pastor ministered to people in the area in 1755 and Pastor Peter Brugell (or Burgell) was a Pastor in the area in 1788. The next known leader was Pastor Wolfgang Frederick Augustine Daser (also a German native) served at St. Peter’s Church from 1796-1800.

In 1809, a list of congregations of the Virginia Conference (Ministerium of Pennsylvania) included Price’s Church (formerly called St. Michael’s Church and also called St. Peter’s Church) with congregational officers George Zerfass and Jacob Price. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Western Virginia was formed from parts of the North Carolina Synod (which had congregations in Southwest Virginia) in 1842. Congregations listed in 1860 from Montgomery County included St. Peter and Mt. Tabor, led by Pastor Solomon Schaeffer. Mt. Tabor existed from 1843 to 1931 when members transferred to Luther Memorial. The late 1800s saw the birth of new congregations which would join what was then called the Virginia Synod. In Montgomery County, these included Shiloh (1876), St. Mark (1878), and Luther Memorial (1886). The Home Missions Committee in the Virginia Synod began the development of new church missions, which included New Mt. Zion Church in 1948.

Mt. Zion Lutheran Church was erected by Pastor Solomon Schaeffer in 1846 on land owned by Samuel Smith. The log building was also used as a school and was originally located near the intersection of Routes 718 and 655. New Mt. Zion was built in 1904-1905 on land, including ground for a cemetery, also given by Samuel Smith. The assembly worshiped in the two buildings but was never an official congregation until 1948 under the leadership of Pastor H.E. Poff. Prior to 1948, attendees generally maintained church membership at St. Mark’s (Prices Fork) or Shiloh (Long Shop).

Drawing of New Mt Zion Lutheran Church

The fellowship hall was built in the late 1970s across from the church on Poverty Creek Rd. A picnic shelter was added to the church in the late 1980s. In the mid to late 1990s, the chancel was enlarged, a restroom was added, and stained glass windows were installed.

Since that time, New Mount Zion Lutheran Church has been served by the following Pastors:
– H.E. Poff (1948-1961)
– Richard Umberger (1962-1967)
– William McCray (1971-1976)
– Paul Hamsher (1978)
– Kendall Olander (1982-1985)
– George Ziegenfuss (1986-1989)
– Robert Hughes (1989-1992)
– Gary Rhinesmith (1993-1997)
– Robin Henrickson (1997-2002)
– Shirley Larson, interim (2003)
– Dr. Paul Hinlicky (2004-2008)
– Magdalena Sevcikova (2009-2010)
– Richard Bansemer (2010-2019)
– Dr. Bryan Katz (intern 2020, pastor 2021-present)

In addition, New Mount Zion has had several interns that led the congregation during its history.

Eisenberg, William Edward. “The Lutheran Church in Virginia 1717-1962”. Virginia Synod, Lutheran Church in America, 1967.

Handley, George. “Lutherans in Virginia 1962-1987: Volume 2 – Congregational Sketchbook”. Virginia Synod, Lutheran Church in America.