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African American Churches

A grayscale long shot of the facade of St. Mark A.M.E. Church Lovell Johnson Quality of Life Center. The image shows the entrance of a one-story building with a closed door and windows. A small address sign on the wall displays the number "1641."
In Milwaukee, there is a heavy concentration of African American churches in the northwest corner of the central city, in an area roughly bounded by Locust and Brown streets on the north and south, and 7th and 29th streets on the east and west. The creation of this religious landscape is indelibly linked to the… Read More

African Methodist Episcopalians

Grayscale headshot of Ezekiel Gillespie from the chest up in a dark suit jacket, lighter colored collar shirt, and a pair of glasses.
Founded in 1869, St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is the oldest historically black congregation in Milwaukee. Originally named the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Milwaukee, St. Mark remained the largest African American congregation in the region for decades. Church members played significant roles in the Civil Rights movement and leadership of Milwaukee’s… Read More

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

Long shot of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church facade with a blue domed roof and a cross on top on a cloudy day. The building is set between groups of green trees. A manicured green lawn is in the foreground.
Greek immigrants began arriving in Milwaukee in significant numbers in the early 1900s. Other ethnicities were larger in number, but the Greeks quickly made their mark on the city forming businesses such as confectioneries, restaurants, and taverns. Some worked in tanneries and breweries; others built railroads and bridges. These Greeks brought with them the faith… Read More

Bahá’ís

The facade of Baha'i temple with its grand exterior design. The white three story building has several sturdy pillars on each of its levels and one dome in Byzantine and Gothic style on top of the structure. Each story has a number of windows that combine Romanesque and Arabesque aesthetics. Two people wearing red and blue shirts stand in front of the temple that is set in a green garden against the blue sky.
In 1894, Ibrahim Kheiralla, one of the first Bahá’ís in the United States, arrived in Chicago. This Lebanese-born entrepreneur, aided by new converts to the Faith, worked to spread this independent, monotheistic religion. Within five years Bahá’í communities had spread to Southeastern Wisconsin. The Kenosha Bahá’í community, founded in 1898, is the second oldest in… Read More

Baptists

The frontage of the Christ Polish Baptist Church located on a streetcorner adjacent to residential buildings. The church has a broad gabled roof and a cross erected on top of it. A gabled entry porch and tall, narrow arched windows are some of the main features of the building's exterior. Snow surrounds the church and covers some parts of the street. A deciduous tree, bare of foliage, stands near the sidewalks in front of the property.
Baptists were among the earliest faith communities in Milwaukee, holding their first meeting in 1836. As fervent believers in congregational self-determination, Milwaukee’s Baptists have become a diverse and multi-confessional group. In 2010, over 45,000 Baptists worshipped in the greater Milwaukee area as part of at least thirteen denominational bodies. The organizations with the largest number… Read More

Basilica of Saint Josaphat

A grayscale landscape photo that displays the Basilica of St. Josaphat with its huge dome appears from afar. The church is located near a body of water and looms over residential buildings and trees in its neighborhood.
St. Josaphat Basilica Roman Catholic parish church is located on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 6th Street on Milwaukee’s historically Polish south side. The parish was founded in 1888, the fifth in its burgeoning Polish immigrant community. After the first church burned down and a second was too small for a parish of 12,000… Read More

Beth El Ner Tamid Synagogue

Wide shot of the long facade of Beth El Ner Tamid Synagogue in grayscale. The image shows two sides of the exterior wall. The left one features regularly spaced double rectangular windows. The right one has a covered entrance. Words in Hebrew are inscribed on top of the door and on its left and right sides.
In 1923 Beth El Ner Tamid Synagogue, then known as Congregation Beth El, became the first Conservative Jewish congregation to hold services in Milwaukee. As the only congregation on Milwaukee’s West Side, the first synagogue was built at North 49th Street and Garfield Avenue. (The building still stands today.) By the 1940s, it became evident… Read More

Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church

Facade of the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii church by the crowded street. The image shows the main entrance and exterior wall that is partly made of pink bricks. An angel statue in white stands on top of its roof.
In the aftermath of Milwaukee’s most devastating fire in history in late October 1892, significant portions of the Third Ward’s Irish population migrated west toward the Tory Hill and MERRILL PARK neighborhoods. Replacing this first wave of immigrants was a second contingent, generally from Italy and more particularly from Sicily. Their numbers grew steadily, from… Read More

Buddhists

Facade of the Lao Buddhist Temple sits facing a street. The rectangular building features red-colored wooden brackets adorning its eaves. The central section is a three-story structure, while the wings consist of two stories. The center door is covered by a red canopy. Two white lion statues embellish the front steps. A green lawn surrounds the temple. Above is a clear blue sky.
The formal introduction of Buddhism to America occurred at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, when a Japanese Zen monk named Soyen Shaku (1860-1919) came as an envoy. Ninety years later and ninety miles north of Chicago, the formal practice of Buddhism began in Milwaukee under the guidance of Japanese Soto Zen monks at the… Read More

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

Exterior view of Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist against the blue sky. The magnificent three-stage domed tower appears prominently in the surrounding area. A round clock appears on the tower's first tier showing the time at 3:30. The belfry is in the third stage. A cross stands atop the domed roof.
This historic church, often used as an emblem of the city of Milwaukee, is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The cathedral was the work of the first bishop of Milwaukee, Swiss-born John Martin Henni, who served as head of the local Catholic Church from 1843-1881. When Henni arrived in Milwaukee in… Read More

Christian Scientists

Grayscale image of the former First Church of Christ's interior showing its large nave with an altar and organ pipes in the center background and rows of pews under a vaulted ceiling.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder and discoverer of Christian Science, published her landmark book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in 1875. Four years later, Eddy founded the Mother Church in Boston, and within five years, Christian Scientists began practicing their Christian healing faith in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Christian Science community is one… Read More

Church of the Gesu

Grayscale long shot of the north facade of Gesu Church. The central building is flanked by two iconic towers topped by crosses. The taller tower, on the right, has a clock. This image shows the main entrance with three arched openings atop four columns. A huge rose window is installed above the entrance.
In 1894, along Milwaukee’s most elegant of boulevards (Grand Avenue, now Wisconsin Avenue), arose an imposing, twin-towered Gothic church whose façade was reminiscent of the cathedral at Chartres. The Church of the Gesu was designed by H.C. Koch who also served as architect for Milwaukee’s city hall, then still under construction. It named after the… Read More

Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun

Photograph of the Congregation Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun interior displaying an ark under the glowing ceiling lights. The ark features two menorahs and is flanked by two artworks set against expansive glass windows.
Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, one of Milwaukee’s leading Jewish communities for over 160 years, follows the Reform tradition and is currently a member of the Union for Reform Judaism. This congregation split apart and reunited until it came into its current form about ninety years ago. The congregation traces its roots back to the earliest Jewish… Read More

Congregationalists

Facade of Grand Avenue Congregational Church in daylight. The facade has three sections. A massive arched window adorn the facade's upper center. Below is the main entrance with a double door. Two two-story towers flank the center of the facade and distinguish it from the left and right section. An additional door is installed on the right section's ground floor.
Descended from New England Puritanism, Congregationalism arrived in Wisconsin in 1830 with a mission to the Stockbridge Indians. Congregational ministers soon multiplied, aided by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS). Although Wisconsin’s early Congregationalists cooperated with their better-funded Presbyterian counterparts, local Congregational churches quickly asserted their… Read More

Eastern Orthodox Christians

Exterior shot of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in daylight. The building sits on an elevated platform with a concrete staircase towards the main entrance. The church's front side consists of three sections. The center section has three round arches ornamenting the brick wall with a double door on the central arch. TA flat sculpture of Saint Constantine and Saint Helen is installed on the left section's exterior wall. A blue dome with a cross atop appears above the left section.
Eastern Orthodox Christians from Eastern and Southern Europe endured centuries of wars in an attempt to gain freedom from powerful, conquering countries. In these regions there was a great deal of political oppression that led to unstable governments. The outcomes of these wars not only changed national boundaries, but changed the nationality of citizens. There… Read More

Elmbrook Church

Exterior view of Elmbrook Church against a clear blue sky. The church's unique roof stands out in the distance. A group of trees hides a portion of the building's front side. The roofline heads to a peak that culminates in a giant cross. The church's monument signage sits on a green lawn that separates the church area from the roadway in the foreground.
With over 3,200 members and more than 5,500 people attending any one of four weekend services, non-denominational Elmbrook Church in suburban Brookfield is the largest unaffiliated religious congregation in the state of Wisconsin. What began in 1956 with five families gathering for prayer in hopes of starting “a gospel-preaching church,” initially operated as the First… Read More

Episcopalians

Sepia-colored long shot of Episcopal Social Center's facade facing slightly to left on a street corner. The front section, which consists of two-and-a-half stories, features an entrance and multiple three-pointed arched windows. The Center's name signage hangs on top of the front door and on the exterior wall facing the other roadside. Cars are parked in the left foreground, next to the building.
The Episcopal Church traces its establishment in Wisconsin to the early 1820s, when the Oneida Indians of New York were relocated to a reservation at Duck Creek, Wisconsin—very near Green Bay. Accompanying the Indians was Eleazer Williams, who in 1826 was ordained a deacon in the church and who ministered to the Duck Creek community.… Read More

Hindus

The Hindu Temple of Wisconsin in Pewaukee opened in 2000. Members of the local Jain community also partnered with Hindu community members to construct a Jain Temple that is integrated into the structure.
Over 6,000 Hindus worshipped in the greater Milwaukee area in 2010. Thanks to increased immigration from India in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Milwaukee’s Hindu community has rapidly expanded. While the Milwaukee Hindu community includes congregations of converts, the majority of the region’s Hindus are first or second generation immigrants from India. For… Read More

Holy Hill

Aerial view of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill, a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill, more commonly referred to as Holy Hill, is a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church and is located in southwestern Washington County. Holy Hill is perched in the Kettle Moraine at one of the highest points in southeastern Wisconsin, an… Read More

Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee

Members from a variety of congregations and faiths throughout the Milwaukee area gathered for an interfaith dinner at the First Congregational Church in Wauwatosa in October 2018.
Approximately a dozen leaders of major faith traditions in the metro Milwaukee area founded the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee in 1970. This religious diversity—Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Quaker, and Unitarian-Universalist—was unusual at a time when most ecumenical efforts were Protestant-only in their composition. Initially called the Greater Milwaukee Conference on Religion and Race, and… Read More
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