First Universalist Church of Minneapolis is a church founded by people who brought their brand of liberal Christianity to the frontier town that was Minneapolis in 1859. It is a congregation whose story is not just of the church but of the city of Minneapolis as well – where many of the early leaders of the city were members of the congregation.
Names like Washburn, Pillsbury, Lowry, Crosby, Loring, King and Morrison. These are not merely the names of city streets and parks and schools, or the names carved into impressive tombstones at Lakewood Cemetery. They were not only the founders of the Minneapolis flour and lumber industries, but helped found many of Minneapolis’ institutions from Lakewood Cemetery to the parks and library system, the city’s early transportation system, the Washburn Orphan Home, Unity House, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and General Mills. They found inspiration in the sermons of the Reverends Keyes, Tuttle and Shutter as they fueled the progressive ground-building programs that put Minneapolis on the map.
First Universalist is a church whose ministers debated both sides of the evolution question, founded the first settlement house in the city of Minneapolis and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a congregation that went from being a downtown church in the 1880s with a sanctuary that held 1,000 people, to a congregation of 40 that met in a house during the 1940s, to a congregation that in the late 1990s moved to a building with a sanctuary that held 900. It is a congregation that believed in “the supreme worth of every personality,” and that “love is the doctrine of this church.”
The Early Years: 1859-1891, Keyes and Tuttle, downtown Minneapolis
The Middle Years: 1891-1963, Shutter and Olson, decline and revival
Cummins sermon: The Truth About Universalism
Cummins sermon excerpts
1972 Cummins sermon, “Ten Years in a Free Pulpit” (also available as a reading on the February 12, 2012 podcast)
The Contemporary Years: 1986-2009, Sweetser/Milnor and Rivas, social justice and reflection
These history compilations provided from work done by John Addington, Carol Jackson, Larry LaVercombe, Mikki Morrissette, and Jessica Wicks.
If the story of our congregation interests you, or you want to learn more from the resources developed thus far, considering joining the History Hounds team at First Universalist.