Our roots in Music and the Arts
Music has always had a prominent and beloved role in the life of First Universalist Church. When the first church building was completed in 1866 it included the first complete pipe organ in Minneapolis. When the congregation outgrew the building they built an impressive stone church with seating for 1,000 and an organ to match. When the church was rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1888, it included an $11,000 organ. Perhaps the best-known organist was Emil Oberhoffer, also the first conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra when it was founded in 1902.
As the church grew with the change of music directors and ministers, intergenerational music programs and opportunities for participation and listening expanded as well. Music continues to be a central focus on Sunday mornings with a variety of offerings.
Early church photographs show that aesthetics considerations were integral to worship at the First Universalist Society, the Church of the Redeemer, and the First Universalist Church. Tuttle spoke of the beauty of the flowers prepared by the women of the church. The role of creating beauty within the church was formalized in the mid -1960s by the creation of the Visual Arts Committee, giving members an opportunity to offer their aesthetic gifts and energy to enhancing each church building and to creating lovely worship space.
The UU logo used by the church was originally developed by church member and art teacher, Emile Hastings and modified by Cummins. Today a commissioned sculpture bearing this logo hangs over the chancel as well as in the Cummins Room. Visual arts continue to hold a special place in the life of the church through a variety of permanent pieces, both inside and out, exhibits and holiday decorations.
~ Excerpted from First Universalist Church of Minneapolis: The First 150 Years, October 2009.