Next Door’s Beginnings

In the 1960s, three pastors at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Milwaukee often shared living room conversations where they dreamed about the future of their church. One of those dreams was to expand a youth and young adult outreach ministry.

“We had a lot of young people in the neighborhood and we knew we had to do more than just take care of our own,” said Rev. Glenn Nycklemoe.

Rev. Nycklemoe served alongside Rev. Charles Berdahl and Rev. Louis Accola. Working with parishioners and lay leaders, they expanded the outreach ministry to a church parsonage located right next door to Our Savior’s. Programming began with a drop-in center for teens and young adults to gather for fellowship in a safe, fun and welcoming environment.

It was for everyone — that’s how we approached the work,” Rev. Berdahl said.

As community support grew for this outreach ministry, church leaders decided it was time to incorporate as a non-profit in 1971. A church member named Don Mundt, who was an attorney for Northwestern Mutual Life, assembled a team from his company to draw up the incorporation papers and officially name the ministry Next Door.

Rev. Glenn Nycklemoe at the old Next Door house  

Future programming included an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment program, a summer youth employment initiative, adult education and a home visitation program to support young families. The pastors stayed involved throughout their service to the church.

“I was often meeting folks there that needed to have conversations and positive relationships,” Rev. Berdahl recalled.

“I remember sitting around with just a bunch of kids — they would ask questions, they had some religious questions from time to time,” Rev. Nycklemoe recalled.

Next Door carried on for about two decades with Our Savior’s Lutheran Church before a move to the central city and a shift toward early childhood education. The church parsonage Next Door occupied later became the Brumder Mansion Bed & Breakfast.

When asked about the Next Door of today, the pastors we spoke with were thrilled to see how far the organization has come since their living room conversations decades ago.

“I’m just so proud of what happened to our dream — it took on a life of its own and became so much more than we expected,” Rev. Berdahl said.

“It just makes me very, very happy to see what has happened,” Rev. Nycklemoe said.