The Estonian Ev. Martin Luther Church. It was humble beginnings for the early Estonian and Latvian immigrants to America. Who chose this area of Wisconsin because it resembled the countryside of their homeland so much . Even before l907 the plans began to provide a place of worship for their community. A small amount of land ( 3 1/2 acres) was purchased by the founders and builders of the church which still stands today.
Miraculously it has withstood the elements, abandonment and vandalism for over a hundred years. Until officially re established in l994 under it s original name given to it by the founders. “The Estonian Evangelical Martin Luther Church of the town of Shley”. It was just in time, before the fragile foundation and structure began to deteriorate to a point of crumbling that the efforts of “Saving this historical Icon of Baltic culture” began and are now under way.
Thanks to hundreds of contributors and hard working Estonian volunteers who have put their minds and sweat into preserving history and putting new life into this worth while cause.
Sheer necessity dictates saving the structure securing the foundation and structural materials which have supported it thus far.
Replacing the roof and any unsafe elements. Then, Maintaining the cemetery which still is host to eleven burial sites dating back to the late l8 hundreds. Manicuring the the surrounding grounds for use by visitors and hopefully new congregation for all who wish to find spiritual comfort from periodic services or enjoy the serene setting of this beautiful pastoral setting.
Once the structure is secured, The roof, windows and doors replaced we will have time to think about the future. With the following facts that are to be considered: As many if not more Americans then Estonians have visited the church in the past 10 years. Taken a keen interest in the history of the church and the pastoral setting of it’s location. Latvians as well have to be considered , as they were an integral part of the Gleason community and helped establish and build the Church. Estonians as well as Latvian pastors came to visit and hold services here in both languages. Future traffic and donations may well depend on the reaching out to all, by inviting all faith or spiritual oriented people to use the premises for; Services picnics, special occasions such as weddings and baptismal. All in the spirit and hope to remember early Estonian immigration to America. And to perpetuate Estonian life, traditions and culture for the public at large.