History

A Brief History of Community United Church of Christ
Taken from the writings of Dorothy Goth and Priscilla Goth Nauer

On April 21, 1888, a Sunday School was organized in the newly formed community of St. Paul Park. It proved to be the forerunner of the town's first church. By September, the group had grown to more than 75 people, who wrote to the St. Paul Presbytery asking to be enrolled as an official congregation. On October 8, the St Paul Park Presbyterian Church was formally recognized. A month later they ordained and installed Rev. William C. Covert as the first minister. The church was incorporated on January 3, 1889, and in October 1889 it was reported that "St. Paul Park has built a neat and attractive church building at the cost of $4,600" on the corner of Third Street and Ninth Avenue.

After the first 10-15 “boom years”, the church experienced some decades of slower growth or decline. There were times when the church held services only occasionally, but youth outreach was always important to our founders. A particular point of pride is that Sunday School classes never ceased. After the local presbytery voted to disband the church in 1920 due to perceived inviability, the congregation decided to instead affiliate with the Congregational Church, becoming Community Congregational Church. In 1957, the Evangelical & Reformed and Congregational Christian denominations joined to form the United Church of Christ. A decade later this congregation voted to follow that lead and become Community United Church of Christ.

A tragic lightning strike on January 6, 1950 burned down the original church building. After some debate on where to construct a replacement building, church members decided to rebuild on the corner of Summit and Pullman Avenues in St. Paul Park. The location offered better visibility and access to residents moving into the new subdivisions up the hill from the original village. The Parish (Fellowship) Hall was dedicated in 1951 and the congregation held worship services there until the sanctuary was completed in 1956. A narthex and wheelchair-accessible ramp were added to the front of the building in 1988 during a 100th Anniversary celebration. A model of the first church and a quilt depicting the evolution of both buildings is on permanent display in the narthex.

Throughout the years, social outreach and community involvement have been driving forces in the church. In the early 20th century, church youth were involved in statewide civic outreach programs. In the 1960’s, members identified needs within the larger community and began a kindergarten class for local children (until the public schools began offering their own). Members also offered a sex-ed class to teens and young adults. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, church members collected sewing supplies for women in Zambia, began adopting a student from another country (a practice which continues today), and provided space to tutoring and young parent programs. In recent decades, the church has adopted city parks, served as the distribution site for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, collected food for the local food shelf, adopted a family each Christmas, and worked with other churches to achieve equality in marriage in Minnesota. We celebrated our 125th anniversary in October 2013 by raising hundreds of dollars for local schools and the statewide youth ministry of the United Church of Christ.