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Decommissioning Service for St. Paul's 1905 Church Building


[Muskego, Wisconsin, April 2024] St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Muskego invites the community to join them in the decommissioning service for the 1905 church building on their Muskego campus at S66W14325 Janesville Road. The service will be Sunday, July 21 at 9:30 am in the 1978 church sanctuary. After the decommissioning ceremony, all are invited to walk through the 1905 building. Individuals will have an opportunity to ring the bell to honor the gospel proclaimed in this building.

“This will be a sad day at St. Paul’s. All of us here love this building and the spiritual history that it represents,” admits St. Paul’s member Chuck Thompson, who is coordinating the decommissioning ceremony and the congregation’s efforts to honor their spiritual heritage. “It is also a day to celebrate the many lives God touched by the gospel in this building during its 73 years of regular use.”

The July 21, 2024, decommissioning service will feature the showing of the video We Preach Christ Crucified that will preserve images of the  building, inside and out. The video will also include memories St. Paul’s members have of worship life in the 1905 church building. As part of the service St. Paul’s four pastors will share brief devotions celebrating the Christian life events that occurred there: baptisms, confirmations,  weddings, and funerals. The decommissioning ceremony itself is based on a letter by the late Rev. Robert J. Zink, the last pastor to serve in the building. A memorial booklet is also being prepared.

In 1978, under Pastor Zink’s leadership, St. Paul’s recognized the 1905 building could not be modified to serve the congregation’s needs and a  new church was built. For the last 46 years, the 1905 building has stood relatively unused. Minor maintenance was performed on the building  over the years. Now, however, major costs of tuckpointing, roof replacement, and steeple repair are necessary to preserve the outside of the  building for the long term. 

Rather than invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a relatively unused building, the St. Paul’s Voters Assembly decided in May 2022 to demolish the building. At the request of five members, that decision was revisited during the summer of 2023. Articles in the worship folder and a special newsletter were published to inform the congregation. Eight open forums were also held to answer questions and to hear  the opinions of the men and women who attended. In August 2023 at a special voters’ assembly, the congregation reaffirmed the decision to demolish the building.

After the July 21, 2024, Decommissioning Ceremony, items will be removed from the building that the congregation wishes to preserve. After  that, mementos will be made available to the congregation members. Finally, other congregations and members of the community will have the opportunity to obtain furnishings or mementos. 

Demolition of the building is scheduled two to three months after the July 21 Decommissioning Ceremony to allow time to remove these items.  The basement of the building will then be filled in and available for additional cemetery lots.

St. Paul’s is one of the largest congregations in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod with a membership of 2700. The congregation has four weekly traditional worship services and one contemporary service called The Bridge held in their Trinity Gym. The congregation  supports a 3K-8th grade Lutheran Elementary School, an infant to three-year-old childcare program, and the Community Counseling and Care  Center that provides both professional mental health counseling and a variety of support groups. The congregation recently began a second site, The Bridge MKE, at 3203 S. 76th Street, Milwaukee.

Thompson concluded: “We hope many of our neighbors in the community can join us for the decommissioning service on July 21. Help us  celebrate our spiritual past and ask God’s blessings on our ministry in the future.”

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