Zion and St. Mark's originally were two separate German speaking Lutheran congregations in New York City. St. Mark's was located on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, where German immigrants had founded it in 1846 to have a home for their faith. Zion was founded at its current location in the formerly German neighborhood of Yorkville on Manhattan's Upper East Side in 1892.
Both congregations grew at a rapid pace with the influx of mass immigration to the United States from Germany in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Both congregations were at the heart of German speaking neighborhoods.
In 1904 disaster struck St. Mark's from which it never really would recover. The Ladies' Aid Society (Frauenhilfsverein) had chartered a boat for its annual outing, the General Slocum. Almost all the women and children of the parishioners went aboard that steamship to sail up the East River for a wonderful summer day outing. Not far from where Zion church is, at hell's gate, the boat caught fire and over 1000 parishioners perished. In 1946 then St. Mark's merged with Zion after most of the remaining congregation had left the Lower East Side and moved to Yorkville.
While Yorkville continued to thrive in the first half of the last century, it's German character was lost in the second half. Nowadays it is a gentrified neighborhood where people from many nations live.
Zion-St. Mark's membership declined with the end of mass immigration from Germany. But we still preserve our cultural heritage by keeping our German worship service and the many German cultural events throughout the year.
Nevertheless our membership has become more international. Today still the majority of our members is German, but we also have members from Brazil, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Colombia and many other nations as well of course as many who were born in the United States.