A LONG AND COLORFUL HISTORY
Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church (MPLC) had its beginnings as the old Mygatt's Church built in 1858 at the corner of what is now Highway 31(Green Bay Rd) and Highway 20 (Washington Ave) and was initially called the First Freewill Baptist Society of Mt. Pleasant. In 1947, Atonement Lutheran Church leased the church as a mission branch of its church and became known as Mygatt's Corners Lutheran Church. On Easter Sunday, April 29,1956 Mount Pleasant Evangelical Lutheran Church was consecrated. The church became a separate, independent body with 415 charter members, the largest newly chartered church at that time in the history of the United Lutheran Church in America.
A NEW BUILDING
Approval to purchase the land from Lincoln Lutheran of Racine for the present church south of 16th Street on Green Bay Road was obtained in 1972 with the purchase occurring in July 1973. Sale of the Mygatt's property (site today is occupied by Denny's Restaurant and Midas Muffler), helped finance the construction of our current building.
The church building located at 1700 South Green Bay Road, locally known as “The Spaceship Church,” was designed by architects Helmut Ajango and Gene La Muro and dedicated on November 9, 1975. It is essentially a dish with an inverted saucer as its roof; large plate glass windows surround its perimeter, filling in the space at which the two join. Just above the glass windows providing support and structure to the roof, are steel structural beams and metal brackets surrounding the entire building designed to look like the crown of thorns Jesus wore.
The building's unique shape determines how it is accessed and used, both functionally and liturgically. Ahead of its time in accessibility, upon entering at ground level, one enters the lower level fellowship areas and upper level worship areas by a series of switchback ramps that wind around the building's diameter. Liturgically, this is a church in “three-quarter round,” which is uniquely addressed for communion and processional traffic flow. The design is based on the premise that we, as people of God, are gathered around the table of the Lord. The Altar represents the table and is in the exact center of the building as God is the center of our worship. Further, the “building in the round” depicts God’s love having no beginning…no ending…encircles us always…crown of thorns remembering Jesus’ suffering and death to take care of our sins. The circular altar rail proclaims our unity in faith
The building emphasizes Trinitarian symbolism by having three entrances to the building along with a three bladed steeple which pierces the roof and ascends to a needle point in the sky. The central spire starts as three legs of unequal width, connected by horizontal welded rods forming a sculpture in the nature of a cross that join to form a 120-foot spire. Surrounding the base of the cross is a baptismal font encircled with stone work. As there are no exterior corners to the building, the corner stone is laid among the stone work of the baptismal font. A wall of the same stone is found just below in fellowship hall which supports the cross/spire.
GROWTH AND BUILDING EXPANSION
MPLC's growth continues and we were, and still are, blessed with individuals who are open to change and who look towards new opportunities with a penchant towards environmental stewardship. Concerns over future ownership of the corner lot just to the north of the church on 16th Street and Green Bay Road led to the purchase of .8 acres from Lincoln Lutheran in 1990. Parking was becoming an issue so we offered to purchase land to the south, instead Lincoln Lutheran indicated we could add gravel and use the land for parking (in 2015 we purchased land). Additionally, in 1990, improvements to the property included a glass enclosed cry room, enhanced lighting and internal landscaping.
Membership continued to grow and space became very tight, particularly in the education area and fellowship hall. A building committee was formed and one of the original architects, Helmut Ajango was hired and plans moved forward to add space to the building. Separate buildings were ruled out as that would detract from the original structure, so a subterranean education wing and library began in 1996. By building underground where temperature is a steady 55 degrees, minimal energy would be required to maintain a comfortable temperature year-round. This new wing has over 200' of frontage and created 14,000 square feet of additional space without impacting the original structure’s design. By the end of 1997, construction was completed. Along with the new education wing and library, was a remodeled kitchen and fellowship hall, a new narthex, new carpeting and fire sprinklers throughout the building.
Fellowship Hall became significantly more useful as a gathering place for coffee fellowship, adult education, potluck meals, choir birthday parties, confirmation suppers, quilters, rummage sales and many other events. It became the area where we hosted homeless guests overnight on Saturday evenings. This assistance to the homeless, thru a local organization (REST) lasted for 12 years and evolved into what is now HALO. The area also houses a shower and laundry area that our guests used.
Remodeling of the musical performance area took place in 2005 by removing a section of pews and creating a tiered level performance area from what had been a sloped seating area. The sanctuary acoustics then went through a dramatic transformation by creating curved walls in the front (behind the altar), enclosing the open sides on the ceiling shell and insulating and covering the open rafters which not only improved the sound quality but also was energy efficient. All of this was done in concert with the construction and installation of a new John-Paul Buzard pipe organ in 2006. The “prime directives” in the design and installation of the Buzard Opus 34 organ were to bring order to random asymmetry, lead the eye to the center of worship area, emphasize what little verticality the space actually has, and to give a dignified prominence to the steel spire. The final design of the organ's facade utilized 3 sections, a further emphasis of Trinitarian symbolism. The organ’s design not only enhanced the sanctuary’s architectural style, but also brought an entirely new dynamic to the worship life of the congregation.
In 2013, a Refresh and Renewal initiative brought new colors and carpet to the sanctuary, ramps, fellowship hall, and education wing. The altar rail was replaced with a hand-crafted woodworking masterpiece using oak to complement the new color palate. Between 2015 and 2017 we purchased 11 acres of land to the south and west and subsequently sold 7 acres which enabled us to add 112 paved and lighted parking spots to the south lot. Continuing our environmental stewardship, all lighting within and outside the church was replaced with efficient LED lighting.
OUR SHAPE MAY SET US APART, BUT WHAT REALLY SHAPES US IS THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH IS ALIVE AND ACTIVE IN THIS PLACE!