The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


His faith and politics do mix

Former Milwaukee mayor Frank Zeidler discusses theology and race relations with equal enthusiasm

When participants at the Churchwide Assembly gathered in August, it is fair to say they were guests in "Frank Zeidler's Milwaukee."

"Zeidler is a great statesman in our church," says Greater Milwaukee Synod Bishop Paul Stumme-Diers. "He lends a political voice to the faithful, and a voice of faith to [politics]."

The ELCA layperson served three terms as Milwaukee mayor. From 1948 to 1960, Zeidler stood at the helm during a huge civic building boom: 3,200 public housing units, a four-year public university (University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee), the first educational TV station, fire stations, branch libraries, the freeway system, slum clearance, bridges — all of it without a whiff of scandal or corruption.

At age 91, Zeidler has a nimble mind. He discusses the fine points of Martin Luther's two-kingdoms doctrine, then veers to describe the roots of Milwaukee's Interfaith Conference — "originally formed," he explains, "to improve race relations, particularly in housing and jobs."

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