MILWAUKEE — Way back in 1837, Martin Van Buren was president and Wisconsin would not become a state for another 11 years. In April of that year, Milwaukee’s oldest congregation met for the first time. Immanuel Presbyterian Church held a celebration 175 years in the making Sunday, April 22nd.
Immanuel Presbyterian Church is a big part of Milwaukee’s history. When the church was first founded, it had just 18 members. Today, the congregation has grown to 685 people.
Virginia Schwartz was baptized at the church, and is now the head usher. “I’ve been here a long time. I think some of the best experiences we have in life are things we can’t see or explain. It’s a matter of faith,” Schwartz said.
Senior Pastor Deborah Block has addressed crowds at the church for 34 years. “It was a wonderful thing to look out on the sea of faces and see people that I have married, baptized, confirmed…families of people I have married,” Block said.
11-year-old John Ogden’s great, great, great grandfather was the founder of the church of Immanuel Presbyterian and generations of Ogdens and other families at Immanuel have made many memories, but Schwartz says she’s only looking ahead. “175 years is very special, but it’s just one point in time, and it’s every day that matters and every Sunday that matters,” Schwartz said.
The city of Milwaukee proclaimed April 22nd, 2012 Immanuel Presbyterian Church Day in Milwaukee.