May 17, 2013
Come to the Who We Are section to find out what we're all about!
If you're curious about what a truly nurturing community of believers is like, then we welcome you to come visit us. First time visitors.
Lyndale Church is in a partnership with Salem Lutheran and First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, owning together and sharing space in Salem's beautiful limestone sanctuary at 610 W. 28th St. Lyndale and Salem moved in December 21, 2001. First Christian January 15, 2012. We'll rotate about every 3 months through the three different sanctuaries. Check here for pictures of the construction.
IN THE NEWS
Read what the Star Tribune is saying about us here
What is UCC?
Find out about the United Church of Christ and the history of this wonderful organization on our What is UCC page.
What are your options when your building is too big and costly and your congregation too small? Improvise.
The 115 members of Lyndale United Church of Christ, Minneapolis, Mn. inherited from our forebearers a beautiful sanctuary at 31st Street and Aldrich Ave. S. with gorgeous stained glass windows and a dark wood ceiling. We also inherited 25,000 sq ft. to heat with an aging boiler, deteriorating walls and ever increasing fuel bills. Sharing space with people in the community helped the congregation for many years. But in 2002, we recognized we had to begin doing something to have a sustainable (economically and environmentally) ministry into the future.
Following an evaluation of the buildings “ministry” we arrived at the goal of having “a beautiful, environmentally and financially sustainable, multi-use building at our current location that houses not only our church, but senior housing”. We’d seen it done at an Episcopal Church by the University of Mn. We weren’t alone in our problem though. Salem Lutheran Church, 3 blocks away, housed unsustainably in 45,000 sq ft, began conversations with us. We discovered our site was too small to develop, so we put our energies into partnering with Salem and developing their site. That’s partnering, not merging with a Lutheran Church, though denominationally they weren’t as glbt friendly us. An issue for some in the congregation, though their pastor was an out lesbian.
By 2006, CommonBond Communities proposed demolishing the entire Salem Church building, (1904 limestone sanctuary and 1950’s addition) and building a mixed use development on Salem’s site with affordable housing and a new stand-alone church building. We would have our sustainable building and support affordable housing. What could be better?
Two problems. The neighborhood didn’t want more affordable housing and the Minneapolis Historic Preservation Committee wasn’t going to allow the demolition of an “historic” church. Not good news. Salem shuttered up their building so they wouldn’t have to go through another winter and moved in with us on All Saints Sunday, November 1, 2006. Their traditional service at 8:30 a.m. worshiped in the sanctuary, as did our 10:30 a.m. service. Their jazz service worshiped at 10:30 a.m. in our 2nd floor “dance studio”. As both Sunday Schools “happened” to be using Seasons of the Spirit, it was easy to combine Sunday School and our small youth group appreciated joining another small youth group. A prayer Salem shared with us became our prayer and theme, “Gracious God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ. Amen”.
To make a really long story shorter, by the Spring of 2007 we had found a developer who would build affordable condos on the site and renovate the old 15,000 sq. ft sanctuary building for a ministry center with two sanctuaries, fellowship hall and kitchen, offices, classrooms and “rental” space.
In order for us to have the $1.4 M needed to join Salem in renovating the building, in February of 2008 we put our building up for sale. We were told it could easily take a year to sell. By June, the neighborhood plans were approved for the affordable condos and our Ministry Center. What could go wrong? Surprise! Someone wanted to buy our church and if we sold it we’d have to go somewhere else before the Ministry Center was done. Over the summer of 2008 the negotiations continued and on September 2nd the Council affirmed that we were ready to sell the building even if we didn’t know if the Ministry Center Project would go forward. Stepping out in faith, again. A great practice to be practicing because on September 16th, the worst economic crisis since the great depression began. And in the midst of that, on October 7th, Lyndale UCC and New Wine Church agreed on a purchase price for the building. On December 7th, the Lyndale congregation by a unanimous vote, approved the sale of our property and a purchase agreement was signed by moderator Michael Vanderford, on December 17th. That was the good news. But with a condo market that had tanked, Brighton Development now had to go back to the drawing board and proposed building affordable rental housing for the project. It was the only way they could get public money. We were thrilled again that it was affordable housing. Not so the neighborhood. A new round of meetings to try and get their ok began. Meanwhile, we had to move forward as if our building would really sell and we’d really have to move. By the grace of God and the bad economy, we found a place that needed our rent money. Intermedia Arts had been hit hard by the downturn. And they were ½ block from the Salem site. In December we organized an ST2 (store, toss, sell, take) team to start organizing to clear out the building, if the sale went through. How fortunate too, that we were chosen as one of 5 churches for the project entitled, “Creating Significant Worship in Times of Change and Challenge”, though United Theological Seminary.
By February 2009 a Design Team formed to begin planning for the still very uncertain Ministry Center and March 22nd the congregation hosted a building farewell worship service and open house for members and friends of Lyndale, present and past. New Wine Church was having trouble getting all the financing they needed to close, so on March 29th at an emergency congregational meeting the Lyndale congregation approved loaning new Wine $120,000 so they could close on our building. March 29th in the midst of an emptying building, the last worship service for us at 810 W. 31st Street took place, if the closing happened. The pulpit and communion table were taken out during the service. On Tuesday, March 31st, another miracle, in the midst of the worst economy since the depression, documents were signed and we sold our building to New Wine Church, a predominantly African immigrant, Pentecostal church.
Palm Sunday, April 5th, Lyndale and Salem processed from our former church, past the sites of previous Lyndale Church buildings at Lake and Aldrich and Lake and Lyndale, to the corner of Lyndale and 28th to see where we hoped to end up. Then we walked back to 2822 Lyndale for a joint Palm Sunday service. (Normally one congregation worships in the theater space and the other in the gallery space.) Here’s a brief clip of that procession from the news. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UfSpQcOmDk
The economy was creating havoc on affordable housing tax credits and in August of 2009, the project was put on hold while Brighton tried ways to close a $900,000 gap. Yet, we had to move forward as if, hiring a contractor in January 2010 for the Ministry Center renovation. God wasn’t done with us yet. On April 12th, Pastors Don and Jen reported to the Partnership Team that they have met with the Pastor of 1st Christian Church, Disciples of Christ who had sold their building in the neighborhood (and were renting back) and were interested in discussions about our Ministry Center concept. In June we receive a $1400 gift from Advent Lutheran and Broadway UCC in New York City, who were celebrating the 10th year of sharing a building. We developed a video thank-you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQfyncgEDXc
That summer of 2010, things began to happen more quickly. On July 11th the official Ministry Covenant was signed between Lyndale and Salem Churches following worship. August 3, a capital campaign committee recommended hiring the Ackley Consulting Group to guide Lyndale through a Ministry Center Capital Campaign to raise the $300,000 needed to buy into the project, along with the money from the sale of our building. By August 23rd the Lyndale Stewardship Council was formally introduced to the interest in making 1st Christian Church a 3rd partner in the Ministry Covenant and the Ministry Center. In order for the housing to start on time, a north wall had to be stabilized and asbestos needed to be abated, so on September 26th the Lyndale congregation unanimously approved authorizing up to $500,000 for pre-closing payments for a building we didn’t yet own. November 7th a joint worship service for the three congregations to “worship and meet” was held at Intermedia Arts, followed by a shared lunch and folk dance at 1st Christian’s building. Finally, as ducks miraculously lined up, and even though the closing hadn’t happened as planned, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Greenleaf Commons Affordable Housing and Salem/Lyndale Ministry Center was held on Friday, November 19th attended by the mayor, city council person and Director of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, where the final gap money to close the deal was provided. Another whole story could be written about how the bond market had a major hiccup on November 23rd, while the closing was happening. Another miracle occurred after much perspiration and worry, the documents were signed and Brighton became owner of most of the site, except under the now Salem/Lyndale sanctuary.
January 9, 2011, following the first Joint Ministry Covenant meeting between Salem and Lyndale, the Lyndale Congregation passed unanimously and Salem passed with 86% a motion to invite 1st Christian to join the partnership. On January 23rd, 1st Christian Church voted 84% to join the partnership. This February we’ve been reworking the plans to include three congregations. March 15th the demolition of the balcony in the sanctuary begins as well as construction of the new entrance on the west side of the building. We are waiting for final numbers which we should have the end of March and renovation will continue through the year with a more green friendly, sustainable building to house three congregations completed (we’ve been told, but we’re practicing non-attachment) by Thanksgiving of this year. We voted unanimously on March 6th to have a capital campaign to raise $400,000 for the renovation, operations and maintenance of the ministry center.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Whatever it is, we seek to be a witness to the still speaking God and how 3 small, but vital congregations can faithfully improvise with what’s set before them, with trust and playfulness, hope and non-attachment, prayer and vision, never imagining how much more God has in store for us, than each of us originally thought.