Annual Church Tour (part one of two)

Every year, the Nashotah House community has the opportunity to tour churches in either the Milwaukee or Chicago areas. In preparation for this year’s tour, I interviewed Canon Joseph Kucharski, Professor of Church Music at Nashotah House and Canon Precenter for the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, the organizer of the tour. This is the first in a series of two articles about the Church Tour, the second of which will post next week.

Q.  How long has the church tour been going on?

A. This is actually the 19th year of the church tour.


Q. What was your inspiration for the tour?

A. The tour grew out of my elective class, The Anglican Choral Tradition. In the course, we look at the advancement of music, liturgy and architecture from the pre-reformation period up to the present in the  English Church, and discuss its influence of the Oxford Movement on the American Church. One student asked some questions about Milwaukee churches that I attended as a child, and I thought, why don’t we visit some as a class. So, my 8 students and I took off an afternoon and carpooled into Milwaukee to see some of the great church buildings.  Eventually, others students on campus heard about it and asked if they could do something similar in the future.  Dean Kriss liked the idea very much and suggested a seminary tour in place of classes once a year. Since then, we’ve rented as many as two busses to hold everyone and extended the tour to the Chicago area on alternate years.

Q. What do you hope students (and others) get out of the tour? Why should someone spend a whole day going from church to church in Milwaukee or Chicago?

A.  What I hope people will discover is the concrete witness of the Christian Faith as seen in these magnificent structures that were erected by people, many of them poor first-generation immigrants, who wished to offer something of beauty in thanksgiving to God and as a place of worship for future generations.The sacrifice made by the builders of these churches is a testament to faith and stewardship. How many congregations of the present day have members who would take out second mortgages on their home to fund the builders, or actually dig the foundations with picks and axes after a full day of their usual labors? The importance of a beautiful and worthy house for God is something that seems to have been lost in today’s culture. 

Q. Where are you taking the tour this year?

A. We are visiting the Episcopal and Roman cathedrals, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, The Milwaukee Art Museum, St. Joseph’s Convent Chapel, the Basilica of St. Josaphat, and St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral.

Q. Is anything particularly exciting you about this year’s tour?

A.   Every year I enjoy the look of awe on the faces of students who have never been in large church buildings or churches decorated in a European style. So many American churches are rather plain. These buildings are inspirational; they raise one’s spirit and speak of the beauty and transcendence of God.






About nashotahhouse

Located in Nashotah, Wisconsin, Nashotah House Theological Seminary is the oldest institute of higher education in the state of Wisconsin. Founded in 1842 by a Missionary Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Nashotah House belongs to the Anglican tradition of worship, theology and spirituality. That is, Nashotah House traces her roots to the Church of England and locates herself within the worldwide Anglican Communion. Comprehending the fundamental disciplines of Holy Scripture, Theology, Church History, Spirituality and Pastoral Ministry, the curriculum at Nashotah House not only roots our students in the ancient wisdom of the Church, it prepares and empowers them to communicate the Gospel to the world today.