St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Celebrating 125 Years

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By: 
Michelle Phillips
Top to bottom: St. Luke's current church on Hubbard Avenue; The original church located at Pleasant View & Old Sauk Roads; The second church also at the Hubbard Avenue location.

MIDDLETON–Back in 1894, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church paid $25/month in rent to house its congregation at a small, wooden building that was a Presbyterian Church. Rev. Ernest F. Scherbel was the first pastor of the church and during his tenure, the group ended up purchasing the structure located at Old Sauk and Pleasant View Roads.

Longtime church member Bill Sclinsog said, “They bought the wooden church for $500 and were there until 1900.” 

Then known as the St. Luke’s Evangelische Lutherische Gemeinde Church, it’s 26 charter members had no way of knowing that 125 years later the congregation would still be going strong. In 1924 it had grown and built a new, red brick church on the location that the current church stands, 7337 Hubbard Ave. The current church built in 1994 on the same location. 

On Oct. 20, the church will celebrate its official anniversary with a service that’s open to the public, though it has had events throughout the year commemorating the milestone.

“We have people that have been here their whole life–sons and daughters were raised here and became members” said Cindy Sukowatey, a volunteer at St. Luke’s. “We have invited all the pastors that we know are still alive and the sons and daughters of the church.”

Schlinsog and his wife Nette are an example of one of those families that has raised their children in the church. They have served in many capacities over the years, and in 1981, Nette Schlinsog was the first woman to be the president of the church council. She also served on the MOM (Middleton Outreach Ministries) Board, which began in the early ‘80s. 

“Back then it was a coat closet, and inside the church,” she recalled. MOM moved from the church when it was able to secure its own facility a few years later.

The church also started the Weekend Food Program, which has grown to include other churches, all of which serve a specific school with food for children can take home on the weekend. In addition, it serves a community meal each Wednesday that is open to the public at a cost of $5 and run by volunteers. Luke’s Closet is a clothing closet the church started to serve foster children in the community. Since foster children often come to homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, this helps foster families offset the cost of clothing the child. These and other missions of the church are funded mostly through internal donations.

“We help people within, but we help people in Middleton, the country and Puerto Rico as well,” stated Sukowatey.

“It’s our mission to serve here, there and everywhere, proclaiming and serving peace” said pastor Heather Hayward.

“Since Middleton is the upper middle class city–and you only see that, you don’t see the whole. St. Luke’s sees the whole,” Bill Schlinsog explained. “Serving the community is just part of this church.”

“The theme is ‘Our Hertitage, Our Hope-All are Welcome,’” said pastor Heather Hayward. “We will have services 8, 9, 10 and 11 a.m. on the 20th. There will be a celebration, meal–a potluck– and a program recognizing special guests.”

The group describes the services as “musical and vibrant,” offering both traditional and non-traditional formats each Sunday. “It’s a great mix. If you come expecting an organist, there is an organist. If you expect a band, we have a band,” said Hayward, who added that the church has a special hymn that was created for their anniversary.

“Nobody will be turned away,” concluded Bill Schlinsog.

For more information on St. Luke’s, its events and services, visit stlukes-elca.org.

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