In 1911, God laid it upon the heart of Reverend H. A. Ulrich to move from Chicago to Milwaukee. He had a special burden for German-speaking people, and he began weekend cottage meetings, which were greatly blessed by the Lord. These services resulted in many people coming to know Christ as Savior.
To further the Gospel cause, combined English and German tent meetings were conducted at 27th and Fond du Lac Avenue during the July and August of 1913. These services resulted in many German-speaking people coming to know Christ as Savior. From these early meetings, a German congregation formed, and a hall was rented on Teutonia Avenue. The hall had a capacity for about 75 people, which was later remodeled to accommodate 100 people.
The majority of this new congregation was young people who were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. God continued to bless these efforts, and many were attracted to the Full Gospel message. By the spring of 1914, the hall was too small to accommodate the people. So, on June 15, 1914, a larger hall at 22nd and Lisbon Avenue was leased for one year. The converts were baptized in the natatorium on 16th and W. North Avenue and also in Lake Michigan. This helped publicize the work, resulting in many more being added to the church. Activities, such as cottage prayer meetings, were held in various areas of the city as well as mid-week services in the hall. God poured out His Spirit upon these efforts until the altars were crowded with people seeking God. These altar services often lasted into the morning hours.
By 1914, the facilities at 22nd and Libson became inadequate for the large number of congregants. There was an opportunity to purchase the Congregational Union Church on North 13th and W. Harmon Streets, and in September of 1914, a special business meeting was conducted. There, it was agreed upon to move forward, and the church purchased the new building for $2,000 and called it Bethel Tabernacle.
The new church, Bethel Tabernacle, was officially affiliated with the General Council of the Assemblies of God in May of 1917. Bethel Tabernacle continued to grow and eventually moved to N. 18th and West Brown Streets.
In 1959, land was purchased at the corner of N. 70th and Maple Terrace Streets in Wauwatosa, and in 1964 the first service at the new building was held.
The church continued to grow, and in 2000, property to build a larger facility was purchased in New Berlin. While the new church was under construction, the congregation gathered at the Tommy Thompson Center at State Fair Park for services. The first phase of the project was completed in 2005, and the church was renamed Poplar Creek Church. The first service was held on Palm Sunday of that year and included the Worship Center and the children’s department. The second phase, completed in 2010, included the classroom wing and youth chapel. The total area of the building is 60,000 square feet that sits on 26 acres of land.
Today, Poplar Creek Church continues to grow as it reaches out to the Milwaukee area with the message of Christ. In 2019, the congregation voted to adopt an existing Assemblies of God Congregation in Greenfield, WI as their first church plant. This congregation (previously known as Highlands Church and West Layton Assembly of God) joined Poplar Creek Church as Poplar Creek Church – Greenfield.
In 2020, Poplar Creek Church continues to reach out through The Gathering Place, a ministry to the indigenous tribes of the “Good Land” (greater Milwaukee area). Currently, The Gathering Place is meeting weekly to pray and plan for the church that is scheduled to open in September 2020.
The developing network of churches grew again in July of 2020 with the addition of the Wauwatosa campus. Previously known as Savior Assembly of God, Poplar Creek Church – Tosa is yet another church community where families can find a place to belong as we spread the message of Christ’s love to our neighbors.