By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
There’s a lot of churches in Milwaukee. Enough that anyone, be they a resident or simply passing through, is likely to find a church that suits their needs be it religion, service length, service time and location.
But the Siloah Lutheran Church, 3721 N. 21st St., according to its pastors and congregation is special. On Sunday, Oct. 27, Siloah will be celebrating 125 years.
In that time, Siloah has seen pastors come and go, congregations members join and move on, but through it all it has sat on the same location for the past 125 years.
The church was first established in 1894. At the time, there were few houses around, and the majority of the congregation consisted of German immigrants. Pastor Brady Coleman, who has been the acting pastor for the past two years, said that up until the seventies, the church offered German speaking services.
Coleman said that the forties and fifties were the church’s hay day. There were over 3,000 members, he said, and many people throughout the state had some connection to the church. In the sixties, membership began to decrease.
Part of this was due to white flight, Coleman said. However, African Americans began coming to the church instead. Currently, the church has 400 members, but now it boasts a more diverse congregation.
The choir director is African American, and the organist is white, he said.
While the church has witnessed the changing of the neighborhoods, a lot within it remains in its original state. There’s been some rudimentary changes, like the addition of service screens in 2007 to make the service more accessible, but overall many aspects have remained the same.
It still has the original pews and pipe organ, Coleman said. He added that it also has its original bells from 1909.
“Every Sunday, the church bells ring, which is unusual in 2019,” Coleman said.
One of the bigger changes was the addition of a school in 1962. Today is has 90 students. At the beginning of the school year, the teachers chipped in and bought a red carpet for the first day of school.
The children loved walking down it and posing for their parents, Coleman said.
In addition to the school, Coleman said that the church tries to interact with the community as much as possible. It has a food pantry on Tuesdays and Fridays and offers monetary assistance to those in need.
“We look at a person’s physical needs as well as their spiritual needs,” Coleman said.
Soon, Coleman said the church wants to help those who are incarcerated. The church is in 53206, and a lot of people in that area know someone in prison, he said. Siloah plans to connect with inmates via family members and send them uplifting literature and gift boxes.
Coleman is excited for this weekend’s celebration. It is the kickoff event, he said, adding that there will be additional celebrations throughout the year. But for Coleman, each Sunday is special.
“Each Sunday is like a little family reunion,” he said.
He added, “If people gave Siloah a look, they may be pleasantly surprised.”