In the late 1970s, the closest Churches of Christ, Scientist, to the south of the Minneapolis / St Paul metropolitan area were Red Wing, Rochester and Albert Lea. There were individuals living in the suburbs south of Minneapolis who believed that there should be services more convenient for those interested in attending.
In April of 1979, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, Massachusetts, (The Mother Church) was contacted in regard to holding Christian Science services in the Burnsville area south of Minneapolis. At that time, meetings were being held bi-weekly, in the home of Sara Daly, 3400 Skyview Drive, Burnsville. These did not conflict with the services held in other established Christian Science churches. The Mother Church asked the group (us) to check with the neighboring Christian Science churches to be assured that a new church would not detract from the attendance to their services. They (we) received congratulatory letters of encouragement from the Minneapolis churches.
Our hearts "burned within" us as we held our first public service on Sunday, January 2, 1983, in the community room at First Federal Bank and Trust (now American Bank) near Burnsville Center at County Road 42 and 35W.
We had provided for Sunday school and child care.
Our first reader was Frank Sanders and the second reader was Sara Daly. Someone provided an eighteen-inch keyboard (with buttons for the left hand); Suzie Huth sang How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place, which was truly lovely. It was set to a tune by Josef Hayden. It was a class act, but our instrumental efforts were less than inspiring.
After nine months, we moved to the convention rooms of the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge (now Ramada, Limited). We were most welcome there but competed with the kitchen noise and the music of another nearby church service. We were there for nearly two years while looking for a more suitable place. We had looked at various rental spaces, but none seemed appropriate for our needs.
In May of 1983, we applied to The Mother Church for society status, which was granted to us on March 6, 1984. Other Christian Scientists had graciously recommended us.
In April of 1984, we received a letter from the office
of the treasurer of The Mother Church, explaining the availability of funds from the recent dissolution of Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, Minneapolis, designated for the establishment of a new church or society within a twenty-five mile radius of the metropolitan area. This was a welcome surprise to us, which we briefly considered, then proceeded to investigate how to receive these funds.
No longer considering rental property, our search took on a more permanent view. We looked at several plots of land and outgrown edifices. Eventually, this property at 14515 Glazier Avenue came to our attention through realtor Bev Rongren of Coldwell Bankers. It had a small house and a large garage with a total of approximately three acres of land. The size, location and the price seemed appropriate for us. On September 12, 1985, it was purchased from James A. and Muriel Heidemann.
Our first service in our new home was Wednesday, October 2, 1985. Again, we were much encouraged and very grateful for this provision. Now our hymnals, keyboard and other materials had a home, too. Wall lighting was provided by Hank and Fran Arlen in October cf 1985.
A Hammond organ was purchased at Schnitt music, in December of 1985. Second Church, Minneapolis, gave us an organ for our church services and then it was used, in the Sunday school. Seventh Church provided funds which was used for literature racks. We later placed them in two Dakota County libraries to hold free literature and The Christian Science Monitor and much later, the magazine, The World Monitor. Fourth Church gave us a podium, Sunday school tables, many chairs, book cases, wall signs, collection bags, bound volumes, pictures, books, tapes, recordings, etc. We had items from First Church, Minneapolis, including hymnals. Red Wing and several other churches, including a church in Wisconsin, gave us many bound volumes.
Meanwhile, we needed to pursue the sale of the edifice which belonged to Fourth Church in Minneapolis. First, we negotiated at length with the Roger Vann Ministries / Peace Bible Church and were advised that this would not work us. We learned that another congregation was interested, and the building was finally sold to All God's Children / Metropolitan Community Church in 1986.
During these early years in our new home, our efforts in outreach to our community took the forms of newspaper announcements of our services, gifts of subscriptions and literature to two libraries, donations to flood victims, lectures and the airing of the weekly Lesson Sermon videos which were shown several times a week on the cable stations in Apple Valley and Burnsville.
We had five lectures, the first of which was given by Ada P. de Mondino, CS, of Montevideo, Uruguay, on October 20, 1983. It was held in the community rooms of the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge at Cliff Road and 35W in Burnsville. It was entitled, "Obeying and Enjoying One Infinite God".
Gordon Clarice, CSB, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lectured at Holiday Inn, Burnsville, in 1984.
C. Earl .Armstrong, CSB, delivered a lecture entitled, "We Are Brethren" at Yankee Square Inn, Eagan, on October 16, 1985.
Juan Carlos Lavigne, CSB, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, delivered a lecture entitled, "Can God Protect Us?" at Holiday Inn, Burnsville, on April 20, 1986.
Gordon Clarke, CSB, lectured at Scott Highland Middle School on April 18, 1987. The lecture was entitled, "Finding Our Family by Finding Ourselves".
Attendance of many visitors continued through the late 1980s and 1990s; all joined in our enthusiasm, gave of their hearts and worked very hard. Some became members and stayed awhile and moved on and others remained with us.
We learned a great deal about loving and respecting our neighbor and witnessing God working His purpose out.
After we received the funds from The Mother Church from the dissolution of Fourth Church, we were involved in many business and legal issues concerning the sale of Fourth Church property, the purchase of the Apple Valley property and the building of the new edifice. Included in this involvement were soil analysis, title insurance, property insurance, platting, re-zoning, easements and selling the north part of this property.
By Laws were written in 1991 and rewritten and simplified in 1997. In 2001, the membership application form was revised with the help of surrounding Christian Science churches that shared their application forms with us. We are very grateful for their loving cooperation in this process.
Through the years, we had thought about providing a more suitable building that would "look like" a church. The little house in which we met needed many repairs, we weren't connected to the city water system and the building, in general, wasn't up to the city building code. We struggled with our goals. We were very grateful for a place to come and worship together and we felt that our church was within us, that it afforded "proof of its utility". After all, did the early Christians have a building? Eventually, we all concluded and agreed that having a lovely building would be evidence of our gratitude for God's great love, provision and care.
We continued to receive gifts from churches and individuals. A beautiful Kimball organ was donated by the Conrad Hansen family; Golden Valley and St. Louis Park churches shared their abundance with us. More recently, First Church, St Paul, gave us many wonderful chairs for our old building and now they are in our new Sunday school. Any omissions are sincerely regretted.
We are greatly benefited by the many professionals for their help, as well as the excellent work of the members and friends of the Society. Several attorneys were engaged in the early business dealings, some of whom were Jerome Franke, Alien Gibas and Ken Keate. Ray Connelly, realtor, was invaluable in the sale of the north part of this property to Stephen Dalseth, D.D.S., of Dalseth Family Dental
During the sale of the north end of this property and the construction of the new edifice, we are immensely grateful to Hugh Bishop, attorney, for the benefit of his wisdom, experience, patience and legal expertise throughout the entire project. Reed Becker, vice president of Widseth, Smith and Nolting, architectural firm based in Alexandria, was the architect, who was diligent in ascertaining our needs and wishes in design. The very capable contractors were George Flavell and Ronald Douglas, who shared their insights and experience on a spiritual level, as well as their skilled, hands-on work as gifted artisans. It is important to recognize the strength of leadership of member Raleigh Foss in coordinating all aspects of the aforementioned activities.
The democratic process was observed as the building design and furnishings were decided. During the ten month construction period, we were led to a beautiful, fresh space in the Northwest Airline Credit Union building, just two blocks from our building site, in which we held our Sunday services. We were back to transporting the hymnals and keyboard, a much larger one this time. The Wednesday services were held in homes in Northfield, Lakeville and Apple Valley.
Finally, the first Sunday of 2002, just nineteen years since our Society's first public service, we were in our new home. The turnover in membership was nearly one hundred percent, and our hearts still "burned within" us.
The first reader was Raleigh Foss and the second reader was Patricia Lee. Beth Gusenius, an employee at the University of Minnesota department of music, was the soloist. Laura Hammond, a Sunday school student, was our organist.
Since that Sunday, we have several attendants who are interested in becoming members. We are enjoying monthly Bible study sessions led by Mary Jane Chapin.
Our membership recognizes many decades of devout dedication of the past members of the former Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, Minneapolis. We feel profound gratitude for the financial legacy left to us to go forward with that support. We are also deeply grateful for the generosity and encouragement of our neighboring churches. We are especially grateful to God for lessons of patience, nurturing skills, how to love and support others, and the inspiration to continue sharing of our rich overflow of blessings.
Thank you for your loving encouragement all these years and for sharing in this public acknowledgment of gratitude to our heavenly Father and for His bestowal of bounty and care for all of us.