Friedens Community Ministries has evolved from a parish food pantry that served the immediate neighborhood of Milwaukee’s Friedens Church at 13th & Juneau to a social service agency that serves clients throughout Milwaukee County.
Our service offerings and milestone events in the past have included:
- Eldercare Transportation Service – begun 1973
- Neighborhood Pantry – begun 1978
- Incorporated as Friedens Inner City Ministries (a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation) on July 15, 1993
The name was later changed to Friedens Community Ministries.
- Satellite Pantry (Bryant Elementary School) – begun 2001. Moved to Granville Elementary in 2004.
The name was changed to Fletcher Elementary School in 2006.
- Stockbox (CSFP) delivery to elderly residences – begun 2002
- Moved to Marcia P. Coggs Center at N. 12th and Vliet – July 2005
- Opened a south side pantry in 2009 at 2114 W. Mitchell Street known as Despensa de la Paz
- Opened a north side pantry in 200? at 91st and BrownDeer at John C Cudahy YMCA known as JCY, which closed Oct. 2014.
- Began overseeing a second south side pantry on 2nd at Orchard known as Hope House Food Pantry in 2015.
- Opening new pantry in partnership with Zion Rock Baptist Church in winter of 2015 at 102nd and Fond du Lac.
How We Came to Be What We Are Today
History of the Original Friedens Church
Friedens United Church of Christ began as an Evangelical and Reformed Church on Juneau Avenue near downtown Milwaukee. According to the archives at the UW-Milwaukee Library, the original Friedens Church dates back to 1869. It was originally a congregation of German Americans. The church continued in its original form for many years.
As the ethnic composition of the neighborhood changed in the late 1950s and the 1960s, and as parishioners aged and moved to the suburbs, membership of Friedens United declined. In 1985, unable to pay its bills, the congregation disbanded, and donated the Church property to the Southeast Association, Wisconsin Conference, United Church of Christ, which in turn, sold the church property to the Free Spirit Missionary Baptist Church.
Several years later, on the night of February 23, 2002, the church building, built in 1906, was gutted by a fire. It burned into the morning, destroying this architectural gem and its beloved stained glass windows.
Many former parishioner remember this church as Milwaukee’s Evangelical “Cathedral,” the mother church that birthed a vibrant ministry in the heart of Milwaukee.
History of our Outreach Programs
Under its former name of Friedens Inner City Ministries, Friedens Community Ministries has operated a food pantry since 1978 in Milwaukee’s near northwest side. The pantry began as a charitable activity of the parishioners of Friedens United Church of Christ. In the original parishioner’s native German language, “frieden” means “peace”. Believing there is no true peace without justice, and that nourishment was a fundamental right of citizens of a just society, the Food Pantry was one means by which Friedens parishioners reached out to their neighbors in need. Many of these neighbors were recent arrivals in the community surrounding the church at 13th Street and Juneau Avenue.
Other examples of Friedens social justice activities were a system of small buses called “Elder Care” that transported the elderly to and from basic services, an overnight shelter for homeless men and women, and conversion of urban lots that had lost their houses into vegetable gardens to be cultivated by local residents.
Upon sale of the church building in 1985 (see above), congregation members active in the ministry arranged for the pantry to move to the basement kitchen of the former St. Michael’s Convent at 24th and Vliet Streets. The pantry was originally financially supported by churches of the Southeast Association, Wisconsin Conference, United church of Christ, and by the U.C.C. National Office. Joann Duncan was the pantry’s first paid director, with support starting in 1985 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Joann, with the help of a half-dozen volunteers and unemployed people in the neighborhood, bought food from Second Harvest, bagged it, and gave it to those who came to the pantry door.
Now without a church in the neighborhood they were serving, members of the Friedens Church Committee continued to supervise the pantry’s operations. With approval of the Southeast Association, the pantry incorporated as a non-profit charity, with members of the Friedens Church committee as the First Board of Directors. From this beginning, the board continued by filling its membership with directors from diverse backgrounds, including those from other churches, the local community, and persons who simply wanted to work for social justice. The pantry’s current by-laws call for representatives from the U.C.C. and R.C.C., as well as from those with no religious affiliation. The commitment is to feed the hungry poor.