Our Story

Living Faith Lutheran Church is the result of a consolidation of two Lutheran churches: Atonement and Our Savior’s. On January 5th, 2014, Our Savior’s began worshipping with Atonement at the Atonement building. They brought with them their afterschool program, community meal, and food pantry. Their building was sold on December 4th, 2015.

On January 31st, 2016, both congregations voted to consolidate the two churches and on February 14th, 2016, “Living Faith” was chosen as the name for the newly consolidated congregation. Drawing from the long and rich histories of both congregations, Living Faith is joyfully moving forward in service to the community and the world.

The Atonement Side of the Family

Living Faith Lutheran Church - The Atonement Side of the FamilyIn the early years of the 20th century, the numbers of people who didn’t speak the language of their parents and grandparents was increasing in the mid-west, so there was a need for English speaking churches. At the same time, there was a new neighborhood in Racine in the area of Wright and Quincy Avenues that needed a church. 

 In 1907, the young people’s mission class at Holy Communion Lutheran Church was approached to help begin a congregation in the new neighborhood. Over the course of the next two years a Sunday School was started in a neighborhood house, a charter was signed, and the first worship building was constructed. The new sanctuary was dedicated on January 16th, 1910.

However, the original sanctuary proved to be too small. The congregation to built a new larger sanctuary on the footprint of the old. On August 11th, 1929, the new cornerstone was laid, and the new sanctuary was a wonderful home for the Atonement congregation. 

The city was moving west, and the members were approached about starting a new congregation in an unused Baptist church at Mygatt’s Corners. All members living west of Lathrop Avenue were asked to help start the new church. There were costs and issues associated with starting the new congregation, nevertheless, eight years later, Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church was born with 667 charter members – the largest United Lutheran Church ever chartered.

Post World War II, there was a baby boom, and worship attendance in our country increased like never before. Between 1957 and 1966, three separate buildings were completed to house Atonement’s educational wing. By the early 1970’s, there were more than 700 people worshipping every Sunday. 

In 1968, members felt called to start a cooperative nursery school. By the mid-1980’s, however, the majority of mothers were in the work force. Day care was needed more than nursery school (which continued until Racine Unified started 4K) so Atonement started a child care operation in 1986 which continued until 2015. In that year, AIM Now began a full-day 4K operation in our building with wrap around care and school age care focused on helping to lift children out of poverty.

With the building growing older, the congregation started a series of renovations in the mid-1990’s. Over the next 20 years, the congregation renovated most of the building including the kitchen, fellowship hall, sanctuary, and roof.

Atonement West was started in 2010 with the goal of reaching people west of our original location. At the same time, the congregation began programs to serve the Wright and Quincy neighborhood like National Night Out and ELCA Neighborhood Camp.

During this time, ELCA congregations in Racine used a visioning process to begin to consider ways to missionally respond to cultural changes. One of the responses was a partnership among several churches called FaithWorks. From this partnership, many things blossomed including the beginning of partnership talks with Our Savior’s, which culminated with the creation of Living Faith, and the replanting of Our Savior’s missions in the Atonement building: the food pantry (which became FaithWorks Food Pantry, the largest in Racine County) and the community meal site.

The Our Savior’s Side of the Family

Living Faith Lutheran Church - The Our Savior's Side of FamilyOur Savior’s Lutheran Church was established in 1896 and closed in 2013. During that span of 117 years, the congregation was served by 17 pastors and 6 interim pastors.

On July 21st, 1896, a group of men met to establish a Danish Lutheran Church on the south side of Racine. It was decided to band together under the name “Our Savior’s Danish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation” and to call an ordained Danish Lutheran pastor. The first services were held in a building on Ann Street. A lot was purchased on the corner of 12th and Racine Street, and a new church was built which was dedicated on October 17th, 1898.

In 1903, Marinus Jensen of Kewaunee, WI, presented the congregation with a model ship which was hung in the sanctuary. One of the traditional features of Danish churches is the presence of ship models hanging from the ceiling along the center aisle of the nave, the ship-like part of the church building. An interpretation of this practice is that the ship represents the church that carries us over life’s calm and stormy seas. It is now hung in the nave of Living Faith. In 1929, the Jorgensen family donated a statue of Christ to the congregation. It now stands on a platform in the front of Living Faith’s sanctuary. It was very important to Our Savior’s people to have the ship and the statue of Christ come with them when they moved to Atonement.

In 1921, it was decided to hold two English services per month. Three years later, both English and Danish services were held every Sunday. The transition from Danish to English continued in the 30’s and 40’s until Danish services were discontinued on Sundays but were still conducted on the 3rd and 4th Sunday afternoons. The word “Danish” was removed from the church’s name in 1944.

The church began to look for a larger home, and in 1949, the George Murray House and property were purchased for $38,000. The new church was dedicated on April 15, 1956, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the church.

In the 60’s, the church began broadcasting services over radio station WFNY-FM, and for the first time, became a two pastor congregation. 

Social ministry was a major focus for the congregation throughout the years. Highlights included starting a food and clothing bank in 1970, hosting the Community Meal program sponsored by the Racine ELCA Cluster churches beginning in 1993, becoming a host for the R.E.S.T. program to house the homeless in 1994, sponsoring National Night Out beginning in 1999, gathering and distributing school supplies to children participating in a weeklong day camp beginning in 2000, beginning an English as a second language program in 2005, and establishing a prayer shawl ministry in 2006.

As time went on, it became apparent that membership was declining and the congregation began looking at forming partnerships. In 2008, Sunday School was moved to Thursday evenings and included children from the congregation and the neighborhood. Around this time, a partnership evolved with Atonement Church in which the Our Savior’s pastor worked with Atonement as a youth and family minister and the Atonement pastors began sharing pastoral duties with the Our Savior’s congregation. With membership continuing to decline, Our Savior’s started having a monthly shared worship with Atonement in 2012 and voted to begin a shared worship and staffing arrangement with them beginning January 1st, 2013. This culminated with the closing of the Our Savior’s building that year and the congregation moving to Atonement.  

A Brief History of Living Faith West

In 2008, Atonement gathered a group of people to seek a vision for God’s mission. This was part of the congregation’s 100th anniversary work which was approaching in 2009. In response to do something “bold and new,” the plan to start a satellite congregation was approved. A core was formed to work on the project, and a number of members attended an ELCA conference entitled “Churches Starting Churches.”

They returned and asked approval to continue with the development of West. It was granted by a small margin. Approximately 80 people were asked to seed the new congregation and be present there for at least a year, and a Mission Developer was called to guide them.

West’s first worship service as held on the second Sunday of September, 2010, at the Sturtevant Sportsplex. A contemporary worship style was chosen with a praise band and extensive lay participation. The West Campus was a vibrant and committed part of the Living Faith congregation.

West continued to meet in the Sportsplex until the end of 2016 when the Racine Unified School District bought the building and converted it to a school. The congregation was able to locate a large storefront, also in Sturtevant. In spring of 2021, the difficult decision was made to close West.