History

In January 1922, Reverend 0.0. Inman, pastor of the West Allis Presbyterian Church, and Miss Katherine Ebel, parish visitor, started a Sunday School in a privately owned community hall which stood on the northwest corner of what is now south 98th street and west Greenfield Avenue.

The challenge of the new Sunday School was taken up by some of the teachers and women of the community. On November 16, 1922, the Ladies Aid Society was formed at a meeting held at the home of Mrs. Edith Burton. The Ladies Aid developed the support of the community and raised funds to purchase a lot intended for a church site. This lot was on the north side of west Greenfield Avenue between South 97th and 98th streets, and was purchased for $1 50 from Mr. Frank Conrad.

In the spring of 1926, a petition signed by 41 members of the community requested the Milwaukee Presbytery to form a new church here. Presbytery approved the request and arranged for an organizational meeting.

On Sunday afternoon, May 9, 1926, Presbytery organized the Greenfield Avenue Presbyterian Church. The first officers consisted of 3 pelders, 2 deacons, and 5 trustees.

Through all the years the Sunday school was the nucleus around which the church and its organizations were formed. Mr. Moran was the Sunday School superintendent and all the fine teachers deserve the highest praise for their fine faithful work. Mrs. Moran played the piano.

His work at the West Allis Church was too much of a burden for Reverend Inman so, in the fall of 1926, he turned the Church over to the Board of National Mission to be run as a mission church which was a status it kept until the 1940’s- The Reverend Hugh Owen was installed as supply pastor by National Missions and later called by the congregation to serve as pastor.

The lot, which had been purchased by the Ladies Aid Society, was not considered adequate for a new church site and a lot was purchased on the north east corner of south 98th and Greenfield Avenue. Plans were made for a new church building. A new building was dedicated on February 27, 1927 in a service conducted by Reverend Hugh Owens. The new building was a frame structure 48 feet long and 24 feet wide, set on posts, with no basement or footing. On that day $1,600 were pledged, and this together with funds raised by the church and the Ladies Aid, and materials donated with $500 given by the Building Fellowship of Milwaukee Presbytery, covered the outstanding debts on the new church and it was dedicated, as pledged, free of debt.

Reverend Hugh Owen continued as supply pastor and moderator for three and one half years until the end of April 1930 at which time Presbytery recommended that the Forest Park and Greenfield Avenue churches be combined as a parish under one pastor. Mr. Owen expressed his desire to withdraw from the field as he did not wish to serve two churches and, since he was established at his home in Waukesha. The church had come a long way under the fine spiritual guidance of Mr. Owen who had labored faithfully in the field, going about his pastoral duties throughout the community on foot.

In May, 1930, Reverend Elmer P. Loose came on the field as a supply pastor and on September 28, 1930 responded favorably to become regular pastor of the Forest Park and Greenfield Avenue Presbyterian churches. However, in the fall of 1931, the board of National Missions at our request, approved the plan to have Mr. Loose relieved from Forest Park and give his full time to the Greenfield Avenue Church. The Reverend and Mrs. Loose started the daily vacation Bible school.

The building was soon found to be inadequate and was moved in the early 30's to a site just west of its original location where a basement had been constructed. This move did not improve the facilities since there was no interior stairway from the basement to the sanctuary. To have built such "luxuries" would have deprived the Church of room needed for Sunday School. The cost of this remodeling was covered by pledges from the congregation that were paid even though the country soon entered the depression. During this period, many families were moving from place to place and our membership was a changing one. The burden of debts and the maintenance of the building had to be sustained by the few families of the church who were still employed. At one time, there were but eight or ten families of the membership who were not on relief (80% of membership were on relief). Those who were receiving salaries had drastic cuts in their incomes. This meant a very difficult time for the church to keep going. Keep going it did even though the emphasis was on impressing the people that their presence in the house of God was more important than paying bills.

In November, 1938, the first choir of the church was organized.

At the October 25, 1939 congregational meeting, a constitution and bylaws for the congregation of Greenfield Avenue Presbyterian Church were adopted.

The church budget was inadequate to even pay the pastors salary and Mr. Loose, in full understanding of the whole problem, accepted only the amount of salary that was absolutely necessary for his maintenance. Finally, he gave the church a quit-claim, in writing, on back salary amounting to some $800 and covering a period of eight years.

Thereafter, the church gradually improved in its financial status, in large measure due to the personal contact work of Mr. Loose. In April of 1943, the church officials were in position to notify the Board of National Missions of Presbytery that the church could now continue on a self-sustaining basis.

In 1944, Mr. Loose, for the third time, requested that we permit him to retire and, on his insistence, his request was granted. On November 2nd he retired from the ministry after completing more than fifty years of service as a minister of Jesus Christ. He was made pastor emeritus of our church.

Following Reverend Loose's retirement the Church, in June 1 945, called Reverend W. E. Daniels who served for one year.

During this period, due to World War Il, it was difficult to obtain pulpit candidates since many of the ministers were chaplains in the armed services.

In 1946 Reverend John M. Dzuro, who had just returned from duty as an Army Chaplain, was called to act as pastor to combined Greenfield Avenue and Forest Park Churches. Having engaged a pastor, the next problem was to obtain a manse. This was no easy task as at this time the housing situation was acute. A new brick house was found in the late stages of construction. The Trustees of the Administrative Council of the Synod of Wisconsin purchased a manse at 21 29 South 94 Street fort $9,500. The landscaping was completed, a garage built, and the attic converted to an extra room -- all done by the men of the two churches of the parish.

The present church building was constructed in 1953, with the old property being sold to make way for expressway 1-894. An addition was built in 1969. 

Early in 1958, Reverend Dzuro announced that he was accepting a position with the Synod and the pulpit was again vacant. In the summer of 1 958, Reverend Melvin H. Herlache, the fifth pastor of the Church, was called to serve and the Church continued its mission.

This church participated with two other West Allis Presbyterian churches, First Church and Cleveland Avenue Church, in a larger parish for three years. The name of this larger parish was Southwest United Presbyterian Parish (SUPP). Presbytery officially constituted this parish on January 29, 1978. Basic features developed for the SUPP organizational plan included: two pastors serving all three churches, one parish office with a half time secretary, regular weekly worship in each church location, and the integrity of each congregation as an individual church.

On May 1, 1978, Reverend W. Steve Watson became the first co-pastor.

On December 1, 1978, Reverend John N. Gregg became the second co-pastor of the Southwest United Presbyterian Parish. The parish ended in January of 1 981 .

Reverend John N. Gregg became our pastor on May 1, 1981 jointly with being Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Milwaukee. After 7 1/2 years of parttime service, he became our full-time pastor on January 1, 1987.The Session of the church voted unanimously on September 13, 1983, and reaffirmed that vote in 1 992, to adopt the "Commitment to Peacemaking", a major program of our denomination, the PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.). This continuing commitment was given an outdoor symbol with the "planting" of a peace pole on World Communion Sunday in 1991 , proclaiming "May Peace Prevail On Earth" in eight different languages.

Reverend Elaine Hanson-Hysell came to us as interim pastor in February, 1997. On June 16, 1999, Reverend Kevin G. Tarvid began work as our called pastor.

TODAY Greenfield Avenue Presbyterian Church continues to support the following projects: Heifer Project International, Chili Mac Project for St. Ben's meal program, Crop Walk, Habitat for Humanity, Walk A Mile in Our Shoes, and Interfaith West Central. We extend the hand of fellowship to the community through our many fests: Strawberry Fest, May Fest, Pancake Breakfast, Adult Fellowship and Fall Fest. The GAP Youth Group traveled to Indiana from December 28, 1 999 through January 1, 2000 to participate in the national church's Youth Conference entitled "Dawn...an Epiphany Event". In 1999 the Evangelism Committee was re-formed as the need for continuous attention to evangelism within the congregation and community became a serious priority in the life of the church.

On May 9, 1995, our Session agreed to establish a "Peace Garden", to be located at the corner of the back yard beside the parking lot. It would be an area of beauty, where individuals might come for prayer, meditation, reflection, or a quite moment of escape from a noisy world.

On Sunday, September 13, 1998, following our morning worship service, a formal Dedication of the Peace Garden took place. The Garden has exceeded our expectations, with a gentle loveliness and serenity, which creates a very real sense of peace. Designed to be in bloom from early spring until late autumn, the garden is filled with perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees, with a bench where one may sit for a moment of contemplation. It is a special place where God's presence is readily felt.

Through the many generous gifts given by friends and relatives, J. T. Gall developed the Peace Garden in memory of his wife Christy Dixon.

History highlights compiled by the late Edward Griffith, Sr. (a charter member) and taken from annual reports by Barbara Brunett.

75 Years of Caring and Sharing

2001

Greenfield Avenue (Presbyterian Church

1455 SWI 5outh 97th Street

West Allis, 3214