History of WLCFS

As Christians, we have found such joy and peace in God, we necessarily desire to share it with other human beings. We not only want to bring the Good News of salvation to those individuals who are of our faith, but we also want to do as the Lord has commanded us in Galatians 6:10, saying:

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

This is the reason for which Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service (WLCFS) was first established—to do good to all people.

On July 13, 1965, the Board of Directors filed the Articles of Incorporation for Wisconsin Lutheran Convalescent Home, Inc. (WLCH). The Green Tree Gardens Convalescent and Nursing Home was purchased, and WLCH began operating the facility on August 1, 1965.

In January of 1966, it was decided that the WLCH was in need of expanded services not only to accommodate more patients and residents, but also to provide social services.

On March 4, 1966, the name of the agency was officially changed to Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service, Inc. (WLCFS), and on March 13, 1966, Pastor Ernst F. Lehninger received a divine call to serve as the first Executive Director of the agency, until his retirement in June of 1991.

Pastor Robert Michel was then called to serve as Executive Director in the fall of 1991. He began his official duties in December. Pastor Michel retired on July 30, 2004 and was replaced by Pastor James Mattek in September 2004 to serve as Chief Executive Officer.

In 2009, Pastor James Mattek stepped down from his role as CEO to become the Director of Ministry, while Dan Degner took his place as the current Chief Executive Officer.

Over the decades, our programs and services have changed, grown and adapted with the changing needs of those we serve. Our outreach now extends to all those who are in need of our healing and helping ministry.

We work as a team to reach out and make an impact on the lives of all, while living out our mission of "healing and helping people in need through the ministry of Jesus Christ."

WLCFS Timeline

  • January 1966: Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service; name adopted, agency purposes expanded from Wisconsin Lutheran Convalescent Home.
  • October 15, 1966: Social Service division began operation.
  • 1968: Family Counseling services and Adoption program begins.
  • June 1968: Resident center (Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center) and Social Services/Administration buildings dedicated.
  • 1974: First area counseling clinic, Black Creek, WI.; moved to Appleton, WI in 1985.
  • 1975: Bethany Chapel dedication at Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center.
  • 1976: Educational Services program authorized by Board of Directors.
  • 1977: Counseling clinic opened in Tomah, WI; discontinued in 1982.
  • 1978: Group Home for the mentally handicapped opened in Milwaukee; closed in November 1991.
  • 1979: Alcoholism Awareness program began within the Social Services Division.
  • 1980: Outreach office opened in the Milwaukee inner city; discontinued in 1984.
  • 1980: WLCFS establishes a daughter corporation, Wisconsin Lutheran Retirement Community, Inc. (WLRC).
  • 1982: Counseling clinic opened in Eau Claire, WI; Tomah, WI office discontinued.
  • 1982: Luther Haven Retirement Community opens under WLRC ownership.
  • 1984: Counseling clinics opened in Wausau, WI and Morton Grove, IL; both closed in 2006.
  • 1985: Counseling clinic opened in Appleton, WI.
  • 1986: Counseling clinic opened in Fort Atkinson,WI; closed in 2006.
  • 1987: Counseling clinic opened in La Crosse, WI; closed in 2006.
  • 1990: Integration of Education and Group Services program.
  • 1991: 25th Anniversary—"Celebrating an Affair of the Heart."
  • 1995: Counseling clinic in Oak Creek, WI opens.
  • 1994: Counseling clinic opened in Twin Cities of Minnesota; closed in 2006.
  • 1996: Adoption and Foster Care programs discontinued and Social Service Division becomes Christian Family Counseling.
  • 1997: Wisconsin Lutheran Living Center assisted living built next to Luther Haven Retirement Community.
  • 1999: Counseling clinic in Brookfield, WI opens.
  • 2008: The Gardens of Hartford assisted living community built.
  • 2011: Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center sold.
  • 2011: Counseling clinic in Mankato, MN opens.
  • 2012: In-Home Care was added as a program.
  • 2012: Counseling clinic in Lakeville, MN opens.
  • 2012: Christian Family Counseling and Administration offices moved to the new Germantown, WI location.