Our history stretches back to 18th-Century England, where John and Charles Wesley founded the Methodist movement. Although he never broke with the Church of England, John Wesley introduced many ideas that were considered revolutionary and are the foundations of the Methodist Church: itinerant lay preachers (people who traveled and preached sermons, but weren’t ordained by the church), “methodical” study of the Bible, and putting faith and love into action. Methodists were among the first to call for the abolition of slavery and prison reform, and founded Goodwill Industries in 1902. We remain social activists to this day.
In 1800 Phillip Otterbein and Martin Boehm founded the United Brethren in Christ among the German-speaking people of Pennsylvania. The United Brethren were early opponents of slavery, and also relied on circuit riders to deliver the word of God. By the mid-20th Century, the United Brethren and the Evangelical Church decided they were kindred spirits and merged in 1945 to form the Evangelical United Brethren.
On the local scene, the first Methodist Church was built in St. Paul in 1838. Trinity Methodist Church came along much later, 1883. Although the building has been remodeled a few times and an education wing added, it’s stood on the same corner–Lowry Avenue and Taylor Street–since the beginning.
The First United Brethren Church in Minneapolis was built in Northeast, in an area once known as Maple Hill (Beltrami Park), in 1905. By the time of the Great Depression, the congregation had outgrown its church on Spring Street and Fillmore. In 1937, they opened a new church on the corner of Lowry Avenue and Cleveland Street. When the Evangelical United Brethren Church was formed in the forties, the name was changed to Grace EUB. Grace became a United Methodist Church in 1968 when the Methodist Church and the EUB merged.
Both churches have their roots firmly planted in the Northeast neighborhood. Trinity became famous for its monthly free community meals, and members of both churches delivered meals for the Eastside Meals on Wheels, which once did its cooking at Trinity. Grace members joined with Habitat for Humanity to build two houses in Northeast.
Trinity and Grace flourished in the 1950s and ’60s when the post-war baby boom sparked the building of Sunday School wings. By the beginning of the 21st Century, however, both churches faced high costs and declining membership, although the remaining members faithfully kept the churches open. Late in 2009, the leaders of Trinity and Grace met in a “Cluster Council” to find ways the two churches could work together. The discussion quickly turned to merger. On May 16, 2010, the member of both churches approved a merger. On July 18, they voted to name their new congregation, Northeast United Methodist. The final merger vote was taken January 30, 2011, and Northeast United Methodist Church was officially recognized as a new church by the State of Minnesota on February 3.
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