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A CHANGE IN LOCATION, NOT IN MISSION
A CHANGE IN LOCATION, NOT IN MISSION
1964. Only three years had passed since the Wisconsin Synod suspended its century-long fellowship with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). For most of its history, the Wisconsin Synod had been primarily a Midwest-based church body, with the vast majority of its congregations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, and Illinois. Now, the synod recognized that it had a responsibility to expand beyond the region of its birth and become a national church body and to spread the gospel around the world.
The challenges were daunting. But God himself provided synodical leaders and members with the faith, the zeal, and the commitment to rise to the challenge. It was not long before WELS was planting missions in Zambia and Malawi, proclaiming the gospel in Hong Kong and Taiwan, sowing the seed of God's Word in Latin America. On the home front, the rallying cry for establishing new home mission congregations was "Every state by '78." It may have been a slogan, but it described a clear commitment of our synod to take the truth of God's Word to people and places across the country and around the world.
To facilitate and coordinate this growth in the scope of its work, the synod purchased a former bank building on West North Avenue in Milwaukee. It was located just a block away from a building that housed Northwestern Publishing House. For 20 years this little building served as the place where the work of the synod was planned, coordinated, and supervised.
God was blessing the ambitious expansion plans with incredible growth. Administrative and support staffs increased as new missions were planted at home and abroad; soon the building was no longer large enough. In 1984 the synod decided to move its headquarters from the North Avenue location. A double office building at 2929 Mayfair Road in Wauwatosa was available for purchase. Its 70,000 square feet of space would meet the current and future needs of the synod. (Only about half of the space was used for synodical operations; the rest was leased to other tenants.) The building was purchased and furnished for $3.1 million, the equivalent of $7 million in today's dollars. The new Synod Administration Building, affectionately known as the "SAB" or "2929," would serve as the home of the synod for nearly 30 years.
That changed in the summer of 2013 when the move was made to the synod's new home in Waukesha. The new WELS Center for Mission and Ministry is located on Stone Ridge Drive just overlooking I-94. Its 33,000 square feet of space is perfectly sized to meet current needs and can accommodate some future growth if necessary. In addition, the building's 17,000- square-foot basement has the potential to house the increasing materials in the synod's historical archives (now housed at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary). The building was purchased for $2.9 million.
This beautiful building, of course, is just a structure made of brick and steel. What is more important—and what has not changed—is the purpose of the building. There in that new headquarters, dozens of people will work with and for the members of our synod to carry out the same mission overseen and directed from the two previous buildings. Our common mission—training future called workers, planting new missions at home and abroad, helping congregations and schools carry out their work—has not changed and, by God's grace, will not change.
In that new headquarters, dozens of people will work with and for the members of our synod to carry out the same mission overseen and directed from the two previous buildings.
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