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Jacques Marquette

Photograph of the Jacques Marquette statue in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) was a Jesuit missionary best known for exploring the upper Mississippi River with Louis Jolliet. Born in Laon, France, Marquette became a member of the Society of Jesus at the age of seventeen. He was assigned to the missionary outpost of Quebec in 1666. Having envisioned being a missionary since boyhood, Marquette… Read More

James Groppi

Father James Groppi rests with fellow marchers amid their demonstrations for fair housing in 1967.
James Groppi (1930-1985) was the most famous cleric in the history of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He was born November 16, 1930, raised in a home attached to his family’s grocery store in Bay View, and attended nearby Immaculate Conception Church as well as Boys Tech and Bay View high schools. Feeling a… Read More

Jehovah’s Witnesses

A large audience listens to a speaker at the 1978 National Jehovah's Witnesses Convention, held in the MECCA Arena, now known as the Milwaukee Arena.
In 2015, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society—the publishing arm of the Jehovah’s Witnesses—counted a monthly average of 1,195,081 actively preaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States. While the Society does not keep numbers for individual communities, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey estimated that roughly one percent of adult Wisconsinites self-identified as Witnesses. In… Read More

Jews

Photograph of the home of Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in River Hills. The Milwaukee congregations Emanu-El and B’ne Jeshurun combined in 1927.
Who is a Jew? The difficulties of definition were apparent in two recent publications. In 2011, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation commissioned a study which concluded that there were approximately 25,600 Jews in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. A 2013 Milwaukee Magazine article, using a measure of synagogue membership, said there were fewer than 9,000. Defining Jews… Read More

Lutherans

St. John's Evangelical was built between 1889 and 1890 to accommodate its growing congregation. It is a renowned example of Gothic architecture in Milwaukee.
Lutherans have been part of Milwaukee’s fabric from its earliest years. But the American Lutheran controversy—the tension between Americanization and maintaining religious identity—is at the core of the Lutheran experience in Milwaukee. Historian Mark Noll described the attempt to maintain an inherited faith in the context of Americanizing as “steering between the Scylla of assimilation… Read More

Methodists

The Summerfield congregation traces its origins to 1852, making it the oldest Methodist congregation in Milwaukee. The congregation has gathered at its current location on Juneau Avenue, pictured here, since 1904.
Since the 1830s, Methodists have been worshipping in Milwaukee. This faith tradition encompasses a variety of denominations, including many congregations that have traditionally served particular ethnic, racial, and linguistic groups. Some of these denominations exist today, including many historically black churches, while others have merged into larger communions. The largest Methodist denomination in the nation… Read More

MICAH (Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope )

Rev. Willie Brisco addresses the media in 2013 to express opposition to legislation that would have required MPS to sell buildings to private companies. Rev. Brisco has served as president of both MICAH and WISDOM.
Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) was founded in 1988, launching locally a new generation of congregation-based community organizing. An affiliate of the national Gamaliel Foundation, MICAH draws its organizing principles from the tradition of Saul Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundation. MICAH’s approach is to organize through member congregations (rather than the umbrella… Read More

Muslims

Operated by the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition, the Islamic Resource Center in Greenfield opened in 2011.
Similar to the national demographics of Muslims in the United States of America, Muslims in Milwaukee are quite diverse ethnically and racially. Although still small in numbers, estimates in the Muslim community range from 10,000-15,000 individuals. Muslims in Milwaukee, despite being a religious minority, have an important presence in the city through active civic leadership… Read More

Old St. Mary Church

Photograph of St. Mary's Church located on N. Broadway. Established in 1846, the church remains an important and popular part of Milwuakee's Catholic community.
This popular Roman Catholic Church sits on the corner of Kilbourn and Broadway. It was the proto-German church of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Founded by the St. Ann’s Frauenverein, a group of German-speaking women, property for the church was purchased for $425 and a cornerstone laid on April 19, 1846. A spire was added to… Read More

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Taken in 1960, this photograph showcases the three altars located at the front of the Holy Trinity Our Lady of Guadalupe church.
Mexican migration to Milwaukee in the early twentieth century was spurred in part by revolutionary turmoil and anti-Catholic persecution. Many Mexican Catholic immigrants to Milwaukee found work in the city’s tanneries and housing on the near South Side. Outreach toward Mexicans by the local Catholic Church was spurred by the Society of St. Vincent de… Read More

Pentecostals

A group of parishioners gather on the steps of New Fellowship Church of God in Christ in 1939. The church was located on N. 8th Street.
In 1906, the Azusa revival began within the holiness community of Los Angeles. Although this nearly three-year revival was not the first modern Pentecostal gathering, it was an important moment for the expansion of the movement. Known for its charismatic services, faith healings, and practice of speaking in tongues, the Pentecostal movement spread rapidly across… Read More

Presbyterians

Interior photograph of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church located on North Astor Street.
Although Presbyterian churches counted only a little more than 8,000 members in the Milwaukee area as of 2010, Presbyterians have played a significant role in shaping the city. A Presbyterian congregation was among the earliest founded in Milwaukee, and famous early Milwaukee Presbyterians included meatpacking magnate John Plankinton, Mayor William Pitt Lynde, and mapmaker Silas… Read More

Roman Catholics

Photograph of the congregation standing at a Mass held in the Church of the Gesu.
Roman Catholicism has been an important social and cultural force in the history of Milwaukee from the putative beginnings of white settlement in the area with Solomon Juneau. Juneau himself and his wife, Josette Vieau Juneau, were Catholics. Father Florimond Bonduel, an itinerant priest from Belgium, celebrated the Catholic Mass in their home. From this… Read More

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army's 100th anniversary booklet, published in 1999, emphasizes both the organization's significant contribution to the community and its continuing presence.
From its entry into Milwaukee in 1889, the Salvation Army has pursued its two-part mission to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” Captain Samuel Neil, his wife, and four companions established Milwaukee’s first Salvation Army center on what is now North Plankinton Avenue. In 1893,… Read More

Seventh-day Adventists

Located on Terrace Avenue, the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church is located in a large home Alexander Eschweiler designed in 1913.
In 2010, over 2,800 Seventh-day Adventists worshipped in the greater Milwaukee area. Known for keeping the Saturday Sabbath, the Adventist faithful meet in thirteen minister-led churches and lay companies in the metropolitan area. Among these congregations, Central Seventh-day Adventist, in Milwaukee’s North Point neighborhood, is notable for its location in an Alexander Eschweiler-designed mansion. Milwaukee… Read More

Sikhs

The Sikh Religious Society dedicated its Brookfield gurdwara, located on N. Calhoun Road, in 1997.
While there is no authoritative count of American Sikhs, the Pew Research Center concluded that in 2012 about 200,000 Sikhs (a conservative estimate), primarily of Indian descent, lived within the United States. As signs of faith and social solidarity, many Sikhs adopt the names “Singh” (lion) for men and “Kaur” (princess) for women. A monotheistic… Read More

Society of Friends

The Milwaukee Friends Meeting place of worship is located on the Anita and Jacob Koenen Land Preserve along the Milwaukee River.
Members of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, were among the early Yankee-Yorker settlers in Southeastern Wisconsin in the 1830s. Over a century later, the current Milwaukee Monthly Meeting—the Society of Friends congregation in Milwaukee—was founded. The Milwaukee Friends Meeting, like its counterpart in Madison, arose from the pacifist movements of the 1920s… Read More

Spiritualists

This 1889 photograph features the Morris Pratt Institute, the only Spiritualist college in the United States, at its original location in Whitewater. The institute still exists today and is now located in Wauwatosa.
In 1848, the Fox sisters reported communicating with spirits through rappings in their Hydesville, New York home. Sparked by this revelation, Spiritualists began forming churches and spirit circles throughout the United States in hope of similarly contacting the dead. Wisconsin became a center for the Spiritualist movement, which counted among its followers such dignitaries as… Read More

St. Benedict the Moor Mission and Church

This photograph, looking north on 10th Street just south of State Street, captures three elements of the St. Benedict the Moor Mission in the 1930s: on the far right a sliver of the church (with cupola along roofpeak), St. Anthony Hospital (right of center), and the boarding school (on the left, for decades the original home of Marquette College).
Established in 1908, St. Benedict the Moor Mission was the principal focus of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s early ministry to African Americans. Its school was one of the few boarding schools for African American children in the country. While priests and sisters formed good Catholics, they also nurtured strong, knowledgeable, and confident individuals able to… Read More

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral

Completed in 1958, St. Sava remains a centerpiece of Milwaukee's Serbian Orthodox community.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, located on 51st Street just south of Oklahoma Avenue, is currently the main place of worship for Milwaukee’s Serbian Orthodox community. The congregation has its roots in an influx of Serbian immigrants to Milwaukee in the early twentieth century, a migration that called for the creation of a new church.… Read More