South side churchgoers get a taste of history

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by Matt Doyle

Milwaukee -- Pastor Joel Jaeger jokingly hoped for gold coins.  It would help pay for the renovations going forward.  What they did find helps the congregation see how much the neighborhood and church has changed over the years.

"It contains a Bible, a songbook, a quarterly newspaper of the church body of the day, a children's newsletter."

Along with many more documents dating back to the early 1900's when the church was originally built.

"No gold coins, I'm not surprised," Jaeger said.

"I forgot about the German part of this congregation," former member Nancy Yets said.   "I'm glad to have seen it that's that what it was. I didn't really expect gold coins."

The big reveal happened Sunday morning at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church near 22nd and Greenfield.

A construction worker found the box when they were cutting away stonework outside the church.  The discovery drew a crowd Sunday.

"It brought people connected to the congregation who's families have moved away," Jaeger said.

Yets was part of the congregation for 39 years but left.  She came back today.

"Specifcally for this," she said.   "My son and I did. I love this congregation, I really do, a longtime I was here."

The congregation formed in 1884.  The church was built in 1901. Since that time, the church and neighborhood evolved - which sort of makes the discovery a symbol of change.

"This neighborhood has changed so much," Jaeger said.  "From German immigrants - 120, 130 years ago to Eastern European immigrants, to Hispanic immigrants and even Southeast Asian immigrants that gives it a very different feel."

But Pastor Jaeger says deep down people are all the same - and this  ensures the congregation is...

"Connected to the past. Always looking to the future, that's what this does for us."

Jaeger plans to put a new capsule in filled with some of the old items as well as new ones.

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