Sanctuary Covenant dedicates new building in North Minneapolis

In 1885, congregants from the Swedish Tabernacle in Minneapolis felt called to bring ministry to the North Minneapolis community. A group from the church began preaching and ministering in the area and soon felt called to plant a church.

They built a chapel that mainly housed space for Sunday schools. In 1890, the group formally split from the Swedish Tabernacle and began the Swedish Mission Church. When the congregation became too large in 1905, the church moved to a lot at West Broadway and Aldrich and changed its name to Broadway Temple—and eventually Broadway Covenant Church.

The church built a sanctuary to seat 1,000 people with the hope of a thriving local ministry. In 1958, after many years reaching the community, the congregation moved to a new location—due to the high cost of building maintenance and a neighborhood rapidly changed by new businesses resulting in the relocation of its members. After struggling to find a buyer, the congregation sold the property to a car dealership and the church was torn down.

Sixty years later, a new Covenant church with a heart for North Minneapolis would break ground and dedicate a new church building across the street.

Sanctuary Covenant Church

Sanctuary Covenant Church was birthed 14 years ago by a group of believers—including Pastor Efrem Smith, Cecilia Williams and Kevin Farmer—to bring reconciliation, multicultural worship, and embrace diversity in the community of North Minneapolis.

Sanctuary became a voice of reconciliation and cultivated a new sense of worship and outreach. In 2011, many of the key senior leaders of the church were called to serve in other locations, and Sanctuary was forced to consider what God’s intentions were for the church in the years to come.

“While there was a focus on deepening in our commitments to one another and God, we realized that our growth and potential was constantly bumping up against the reality that we didn’t have a 7-day-a-week welcoming place in the community,” said Mike Hotz, Associate Pastor of Care and Outreach. “The question we felt God asking was, ‘Who are you becoming?’”

Senior Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dennis Edwards, who joined Sanctuary in 2012, along with other key leaders in the church began the conversation about building a “Gathering Place.” After meeting in local public schools for over 14 years, they knew they needed a place that could offer more effective ministry.

“We imagined a building as a resource for our neighbors,” Edwards said, “not just for ourselves. We wanted a multi-purpose auditorium, not a Sunday-only room with fixed pews/chairs, to ensure that the space could be flexible. In my experience as an urban church planter and pastor, I know that church buildings must be flexible community spaces.”

As they prayed for space in North Minneapolis, they searched all over and found nothing. Then, in 2013, they found an available space located in one of the busiest areas of North Minneapolis, almost directly across the street from the former Broadway Covenant Church that had the same heart for its community over 100 years ago.

“Many other ministry leaders have affirmed how strategic our location is near the busy Lyndale and Broadway intersection,” Edwards said. “This location creates opportunity for us to shift resources to build better connections with our neighbors. We believe our church—the building and our congregation—are assets to our North Minneapolis neighbors.”

On Jan. 7, 2018, Sanctuary Covenant Church officially celebrated with its congregation and neighbors in dedicating the new building at 710 West Broadway Ave. The ministries that will continue to happen in this new location will carry out the vision and calling that has been working in the hearts of God’s people in this neighborhood for many years past—and many to come.