The Wisconsin Gospellers is a choir ministry affiliated with the Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ. The choir was founded in 2007 by Fritz West, in response to an invitation from the West End Gospel Singers in Eberswalde, Germany. Fritz recruited Martin Ulrich as musical director—and rallied lay singers from around the state for monthly rehearsals. The West End Gospel Singers have toured Wisconsin and northern Ilinois three times, and the WI Gospellers travelled to Berlin-Brandenburg in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
From the start, in other words, the WI Gospellers have
- Been an expression of the long-standing partnership between the United Church of Christ (UCC) and Germany’s Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK).
- Understood ourselves as called to share God’s Good News through the powerful language of gospel music.
- Embraced the mutual hospitality and fellowship of what Germans call Kirchengemeinschaft (full church communion). For us, Kirchengemeinschaft often includes joint rehearsals and concerts, homestays, shared meals, and exploring local culture.
The WI Gospellers also understands gospel music as a way to build bridges in Wisconsin. We regularly hold a mid-winter workshop at Cedar Community near West Bend, and we rehearse—thanks to the hospitality of traditional congregations—in churches across the state.
The choir continues to welcome new members—and new partners. In 2017 we traveled to New York City to help the New York Conference UCC kick off its own state-wide gospel choir. In 2019, the WI Gospellers spent 2½ weeks in Germany’s Hesse and Rhineland regions.
The choir is affiliated with the Wisconsin Conference UCC, but is entirely self-supporting, primarily through membership dues and free-will offerings.