Minnesota Covenant Congregations Preparing for General Assembly – Part II

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church members describe their congregation as a small neighborhood-centered church whose whole 100-member congregation is involved in leadership and pastoral care.  The church building is nestled in the thriving southside Minneapolis neighborhood just west of downtown.  The Bryn Mawr Neighborhood has developed from farmland in the mid 1800’s to a “garden suburb” when first established pre WWII.

A message on the church’s website says, “We take Jesus as our model for living, particularly in his embracing of all people, including the outcasts of his culture.  We seek to follow his model of inclusivity and valuing of all people.  Individual members have strong convictions about issues such as celebrating the ministries of our GLBT sisters and brothers, peacemaking, environmentalism, consumerism, and the economic differences that pervade our society.”

Bryn Mawr’s “Mission Possible Team” supports St. Anne’s Place, a homeless shelter in N. Minneapolis that provides housing for women and their children.  A unique outreach mission of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church is the Cedar Lake Seven Men’s Gospel Choir, which draws from the radio gospel music of the 40’s and 50’s and has entertained thousands of people since their formation in 1994.

Central Presbyterian Church,  St. Paul, Minnesota

Central is a downtown St Paul church with a growing membership that is excited to welcome the GA to the Twin Cities.  The church is on the National Register of Historic Places and on Wednesday, July 7, GA visitors will have an opportunity to visit Central on one of the historical tours – “Presbyterian Pioneers in St Paul”.  Founded in 1852, the current building was erected in the late 1800’s and has a history rich with notable speakers including former slave Booker T. Washington; three time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan; former President and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Taft and evangelist Billy Sunday.  In addition to welcoming GA commissioners and visitors who visit Central, the congregation will be joining the Sunday worship service at the convention center and individual church members will serve throughout the week in a variety of ways.

Central’s outreach to the downtown community includes year-round Wednesday lunch – great food, live music, good conversation – followed by a worship service of Scripture, hymns and prayer – a wonderful mid-week refreshment to many!

The Rev. David Colby is Central’s pastor and also serves as a Director on the Covenant Network Board.

House of Hope Presbyterian Church, St Paul, Minnesota

Another St Paul church listed on the National Historic Register, House of Hope was founded in 1849, named after a Dutch refuge in Connecticut and meant to be a shelter “to all who feel themselves as strangers in a strange land”. Individual congregation members will be serving in many areas for GA and continuing the tradition of welcome and hospitality on which this church was founded.

The House of Hope Choir School is one of the area’s finest and most unique children’s and youth choir programs. Open to all boys and girls of the entire Twin Cities community regardless of religious affiliation, the Choir School offers students of all ages, levels of musical experience, and walks of life an exceptional opportunity to sing, learn, and dine together in an engaging atmosphere that encourages excellence, character development, and spiritual growth.

House of Hope’s Pastor David Van Dyke currently serves as Co-Moderator of Covenant Network.

Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church, St. Paul, Minnesota

Their logo is a cityscape with church steeple, a rainbow that grows from left to right and over all a cross.   Their passion is for social justice and faith-based action.   Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church is home to about 160 members who carry on the tradition of the “rainbow coalition” begun at Dayton Avenue in the 60’s, a ministry that today operates a free clothing outlet; sponsored a 175-unit housing facility for low income families; supports refugees; contributes to a ‘food shelf.

During the upcoming General Assembly, two members of Dayton Avenue will be recognized for service and commitment to ministry.  The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will honor Dayton Avenue member, Mel Duncan, at its breakfast on Wednesday, July 7, with the Peaceseeker Award for 2010.  Mel is the co-founder of Nonviolent Peace Force, an unarmed, professional civilian peacekeeping force that is invited to work in conflict zones worldwide.

A second Dayton Avenue member, Elona Street-Stewart, will receive a Woman of Faith Award given by the General Assembly Mission Council at the Woman of Faith Breakfast on July 4.    Ms Street-Stewart is being honored for her many years of involvement from grass roots to national levels of involvement in social justice issues including racism, affirmative action, women and family issues and public policy.

St. Luke Presbyterian Church, Wayzata, Minnesota

St. Luke Presbyterian Church was founded in 1957 in Wayzata, a western suburb of Minneapolis that is rich in history from early settlement in the 1850’s and with Native American tribes before that.

St Luke has a long history of being deeply engaged in issues of peace, justice and healing change for the local, national, and world community.  They have supported the Sanctuary Movement of the 80’s and more recently voted to be a part of the “New Sanctuary” movement.  Over the years this congregation has sold Peace Bonds; opened a food co-op;  participated in ministry with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and have ongoing support for the Native American focus group.  St Luke even has a sweat lodge on the church property that continues to be used to this day.  Currently the 360-member congregation is making plans to transform their 4.2 acres into a model of sustainability, producing both beauty and food to share.                  Their commitment to GLBT persons is also longstanding.  St. Luke is being awarded a More Light National Award at GA at the MLP National Celebration Dinner on Saturday, July 3.   Members of the St Luke congregation will be marching in the annual Gay Pride Parade the end of June.  The church maintains an expansive library of over 3500 books, video and audio-books, including many resources for  GLBT persons and their families.

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