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Hephatha Lutheran Church

Hephatha Lutheran Church is a Word and Sacrament neighborhood church home that has served on 18th and Locust for over 100 years. A baptismal calling in the Gospel leads it to particularly care for the well-being of children, as is expressed in worship and in day-to-day ministries that focus on young people. This includes ministries to address lead poisoning and infant mortality, and engaging youth in work, service, and worship. Hephatha has ministry connections with the Benedict Center, Felmers Chaney Correctional Center, Hopkins Lloyd Community School, Meta House, and the Dominican Center. Outreach ministries serve to blur the line that exists between "church" and "community" to create "church community" and or "community church."

Primary Focus Area: Neighborhood outreach, Baby Sanctuary, Youth Development, Assisting Sex-trafficked Women

Requesting Funding for Operating Support

Operating Budget: $437,720

Lutheran Affiliation: ELCA


  • The Strong Baby Sanctuary has sites at the church and Hopkins School and includes weekly parent meetings and direct assistance. It has now been merged with the Coalition On Lead Emergency, which provides lead education and distributes lead filtering pitchers. Hephatha partners with the Birthing Moms Proposal—a pilot project through the Milwaukee Health Department. The Birthing Moms Proposal requires the Health Department to provide a lead-free kit to each birthing mother (10,000 annually).

  • Hephatha Lutheran Church is the lead faith partner in the Benedict Center’s Sisters North collaborative. The Sisters Program provides respite, hospitality, crisis stabilization, case management, counseling, and resources for women in the sex trade and/or are victims of sex trafficking. Hephatha provides leadership, volunteers, financial support, advocacy, and prayer to ensure the goals of the Sisters Program North are realized.

Who is Served: Hephatha’s church community includes an active membership of approximately 450 people. 96% are African American and younger than average for Milwaukee Country. The Strong Baby Sanctuary impacts over 200 children and the Coalition On Lead Emergency impacts 200 people including those who are at the highest risk of lead poisoning. It supports women of child-bearing years and their infants, toddlers, and children under age 6. It serves to reduce the rate of infant mortality, which is disproportionately high among Milwaukee’s African American community.

The Sisters Program serves women who are trafficked and/or involved in the street-based sex trade. Approximately 50% of women served are either homeless or “precariously housed” per the definition used by the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program.

Location: 1720 W. Locust Street, Milwaukee, WI 53206


Note: The following video was created by Outreach for Hope to support ministries of congregations located in low-income central city areas of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA.

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