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St. Paul’s History: by Pastoral Eras and Anecdotal Notes of Growth and Change

Rev. O. A. Bergh 1872-1873

St Paul’s Congregation was organized July 6, 1872.

Rev. Chr. O. Brohaugh 1874-1880

The church property at 4th Street and 15th Avenue was purchased from “The First Congregational Society of Minneapolis” for $2,500.

Rev. F. H. Carlson 1880-1884

StP’s on April 9, 1883 decided to move the old church to the rear of the lot and erect a new house of worship. A 1927 newspaper clipping says when the old church was sold, the new church was built, “just before the first horse-car line between Mpls.& St. Paul on Washington and University Ave.” “Mpls’ population was only 50,000.” StP was the City’s third Scandinavian Lutheran church.

Rev. I. Eistinson 1884-1893

1887 membership was “330 souls” with 80 voting members. The choir began in 1890, continuing without interruption to today.

Rev. K. C. Holter 1894-1897

The congregation continued to experience steady growth with all worship services exclusively in Norwegian until 1898.

Rev. N. J. Lohre 1898-1903

English services began on the second and fourth Sunday evenings of the month; all services in English in 1937. Total expenses in 1899 were $1,935. In 1900, the Ladies’ Aid installed a steel ceiling in the church auditorium at a cost of $540.00.

Rev. Martin Norstad 1903-1911

God blessed the work as it continued under the direction of Pastor Martin Norstad.

Rev. Edward Johnson 1911-1919

The pipe organ was installed in 1912. In 1913, Pastor Johnson and a committee of five started “Rice Lake Mission” in a store near Minnehaha Avenue South that became Our Redeemer Lutheran congregation. By 1914 every other Sunday morning service should be conducted in English.

Rev. A. L. Lawrence 1919-1923

StP C celebrated its 50th Anniversary on June 11, 1922. The Ladies’ Aid had redecorated the church and replaced the gas lights with electricity, in addition to the installation of a new carpet in 1920.

Rev. C. K. Solberg 1924-1937

In 1925, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church property, nw corner of 18th Street and 14th Avenue South, was purchased for $25,000. The first service was first Sunday in January, 1927. The former church on 4th Street and 15th Avenue was sold to the St. James African Methodist Church. With the larger facilities, the congregation grew to 417 souls by 60th anniversary on June 12-13, 1932. Since its organization, over 1,600 persons had been members for a longer or shorter time and over 700 had been confirmed. The new structure was almost as historic as the former St. Paul’s, as the stones used in the walls were formerly part of the old Westminster Presbyterian church on Seventh and Nicollet (where Dayton’s/Macy’s Store now stands), but which burned in 1895. The congregation experienced the pressure of the depression years during which the congregation was paying $2,300 as the pastor’s salary.

Rev. H. O. Egertson 1937-1941

The church office, pastor’s study and prayer room were built, the entire interior of the church redecorated and a new altar painting provided in 1939-1940. At the annual meeting of the congregation in 1940, the constitution and by-laws were revised and the church council introduced. The congregation engaged two neighborhood missionaries and a “Sunshine Girl,” and in 1940 a full-time evangelist and a parish secretary. A parish paper has been published since 1937. For several years the congregation conducted its own tent mission each summer to reach the unchurched in the immediate community.

Rev. L. C. Masted 1941-1948

A radio ministry had been begun in 1938-39 over WDGY, and this radio work was renewed in 1941 over WMIN by Pastor Masted. He continued with the tent missions, having as many as eight weeks each summer.

Rev. Maynard Halvorson 1948-1956

The parish house and an annex were purchased soon after he came, and dedicated October 31, 1948. The cost to the congregation was $25,000, as much as the original price of the church. Pastor Halvorson was given permission to travel occasionally in evangelistic work. Several previous pastors had provided their own parsonage since the move to 14th and 18th. After the purchase of the four-plex, Pastor Halvorson used that as a parsonage, until a new parsonage was purchased at 4717 10th Avenue South.

Rev. C. O. Satre 1957-1987 

A house at 4836 10th Ave. So. was purchased to furnish a more adequate parsonage. When it became apparent that the government project for freeways would bring a condemnation of our property at 14th Avenue and 18th Street, the former First Presbyterian Church property (which then was in the hands of the Global Gospel Fellowship) was purchased as the future home of St. Paul’s, renovation cost $215,000, and dedicated April 26, 1964. Being a pioneer Mpls. Congregation it was fitting that the structure originally built by the “oldest Protestant Church in the great northwest” became the new home of St. Paul’s. The bell in the tower is historic, used in the early days of Minneapolis to call together the village meetings.

Throughout Pastor Satre’s years, messages from St. Paul’s were broadcast weekly on radio station KTIS.

Roland J. Wells, Jr. 1988 – present

Following the 1987 vote, several members felt that they could not be members of the ELCA. Many young families left. The congregation selected Rev. Roland J. Wells, Jr. as their fifteenth pastor. Pastor Wells began with extensive visitation, asking the congregation, “What is your vision for the future of St. Paul’s?” The congregation began to look forward. The Staff, Pastor and Council began to look at their strengths and focus their ministry. Pastor Wells developed the House Church structure now in place, based on the model of the Korean pastor, Yongii Cho. In 1990, nineteen from the congregation served in a short term mission to Por Venir, Baja California, Mexico.

Pastor Wells’ Era in 7 Year Periods

I. First 7 years: Rebuilding & Reconnecting (1988-94) the congregation coming back together, re-establishing its identity through the House Churches and a three-year overview of the history of Pietism, Scandinavian Neo-Pietism and the LBI Revival. For about a decade the congregation ran Summer Advance, an all-day, all-summer youth program for neighborhood kids. This was discontinued when the Minneapolis Schools began a much more extensive required summer school program which many of those kids were required to attend.

II. Second 7 years: SUM (1995-2002) founding of the School of Urban Ministry, (SUM) now called MisisonShift Institute. (see www.MissionShift.org), aimed its ministry at world missions and urban cross-cultural education. 1996-97 was the height of the crack wars in Minneapolis, and our corner was often the worst crack street in the city. How things have changed!

III. Third 7 years: U4C (2002-2009) founding of U4C- the Urban Cross-Cultural College Consortium, a new, residential urban studies/ministry major or minor offered by Concordia University, Crown College and Northwestern College. St. Paul’s provided the organization, building, housing and oversight. See www.U4C.org The MissionShift DVD series was filmed and distribution began. see http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/lops/873lop57.html Two houses were procured and grants were arranged to cover the cost of an Associate Pastor, in order to free up Pastor Wells to work on the educational programs.

Currently the congregation is continuing to build strategic networks and alliances, as well as mentoring immigrant congregations and leaders. 2010 saw St. Paul’s move from the ELCA to LCMC- Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. The congregation made it through the two votes with neither strife nor loss of members. The second vote was unanimous. Founding of an independent branch of MissionShift Institute at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO in 2012.

Pastor Kenath K. Harris was called in 2004 to serve as Outreach Pastor. Upon his call-up to serve with the Minnesota National Guard in Iraq in 2008, Ken resigned his call here. Pastor Kurt M. Linn was called on to fulfill this role in 2008.

St. Paul’s has shared our building with a number of young and/or immigrant congregations:

El Shaddai, Jesus in the City, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church, Iglesia Centro Cristiano de Minneapolis and Ebenezer Oromo Evangelical Church.

One-third of its membership comes from within a three-mile radius; about one-third from a six mile radius and the rest from a 60-mile circle including Eagan, Lakeville, Chanhassen, Shakopee, Maple Grove, Maple Plain, New Brighton, Roseville…and all over. On any given Sunday our congregation has people from five generations and four races. Come and see why!

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