Frank Zeidler, 93, Milwaukee’s last Socialist mayor (1948-1960), died July 7.
Zeidler told The Lutheran that his socialism grew out of his faith: “My selection of the Socialist Party was on the basis of Lutheran Sunday school teaching. [It was] interested in the workers and the poor, and I gravitated to that. The killing in World War I was another motivating factor. The socialist movement was a peace movement. So, for those reasons, I joined the party at age 20” (October 2003, "His faith and politics do mix
In February, Milwaukee’s Redeemer Lutheran—the church Zeidler had attended since age 4—announced plans for the Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion.
“It all started with conversations with Frank about the idea of the public church,” said parishioner Shelley Bruehling. He believed faith and public action go hand-in-hand, she said. “There is no political decision that doesn’t have moral implications,” she added, paraphrasing the speech Zeidler gave when he accepted the 2006 Wittenberg Award from the Luther Institute.
Zeidler attended the first training session for center facilitators, who have led discussions on such topics as poverty in Milwaukee, an upcoming referendum on a Wisconsin constitutional marriage amendment, violence in the city and immigration. Bruehling said the center will begin public conversations this fall.