Salem Lutheran Landmark Church

Of interest to members of the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod is the announcement that plans are presently being formulated for the preservation of the Salem Lutheran Landmark Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The church occupies a historic site symbolic of the growth of the Wisconsin Synod. The church itself is one of the oldest church buildings in the Synod.

Concerned members of Salem Congregation recently organized a foundation under the name Salem Lutheran Landmark Church, Inc. The foundation's purpose is to build an endowment fund, which will provide long-term preservation of the church building without placing an unbearable demand on the already inflating budget of the congregation.

An understanding of why they chose to take steps to maintain this building would be incomplete without recalling the events of earlier years. History notes that about 20 families formed the Salem Evangelical and Reformed Church in Granville Township, Milwaukee County, on December 25, 1847. Plans were immediately laid for the building of a church, and this was dedicated in June 1849. In the same year, feeling the need to spread the precious gospel of Christ, the members of Salem joined hands with other congregations to organize Die erste deutsch-evange-lisch-lutherische Synode von Wisconsin.

The Synod's constituting convention met at Salem Church in 1850. Five pastors representing 18 congregations were present. Since the first official meeting of the Synod was held at Salem, a meeting in which the constitution was adopted and the Synod officially came into being, Salem became known as the Birthplace of the Wisconsin Synod.

As Salem Congregation experienced rapid and steady growth, it soon be came evident that the congregation's original structure would not long be adequate. Steps therefore were taken to erect a second church building on a donated plot of land just across the street from the original structure. Dedication of this "new" church, built of yellow brick, took place on October 28, 1863. This church building, dating back to Civil War days, is the one now known as Salem Lutheran Landmark Church.

It was in this church building that Salem Congregation heard God's Word proclaimed from generation to generation, until the dedication of its latest church facilities in November 1977. During the 114 years the Landmark Church was in use, 1,973 children were born anew in holy baptism, 1,740 Christians renewed their baptismal vows in confirmation, 611 marriage knots were tied with the Lord's blessings, and 699 persons were given a Christian burial. We rejoice and glory, not in anything that we or our fathers before us have accomplished, but in the many mercies God has bestowed upon his people in this his temple.

Not only historical and sentimental reasons, however, make the preservation of Salem Lutheran Landmark Church important, but future usage as well.