Historic Minneapolis church launches campaign to restore steeple, exterior
A Minneapolis church is celebrating 140 years of serving the community and it’s taking on a major renovation as it carries on its legacy.
Calvary Baptist Church has launched a $1 million fundraising campaign as it prepares to repair its steeple and building exterior.
“There’s just been thousands, and thousands, and thousands [of people] over the years that have come through here and we want to make sure thousands can come in the future,” said Senior Pastor Jeff Cowmeadow.
The church is located at West 26th Street and Blaisdale Avenue. According to the church, it was established in 1883 and the sanctuary opened in 1902. It was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“People when they come in here, they feel a sense of awe, a sense of peace,” said Cowmeadow.
He’s been with the congregation for more than 30 years. He guides the roughly 250 people who gather for services on Sunday.
Cowmeadow has worked to restore the interior of the church and now feels it’s time to focus on the exterior.
“The deterioration has become an eyesore,” he said of the steeple. “The metal needs to be addressed, it’s rusted, and the shingles of course are very, very old.”
According to Cowmeadow, the steeple also needs masonry work.
Calvary Baptist Church has received a $200,000 grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places, which is an organization that provides funding for buildings that have historic, cultural or architectural significance. The church was one of 16 applicants selected out of nearly 400.
The grant is a seed the project will grow from, which is expected to cost $750,000 total. Calvary Baptist Church hopes to raise $1 million to cover the cost of additional exterior work.
“There’s more tuck pointing,” said Cowmeadow. “We want to better protect the stained glass than it’s protected now, the roof needs attention.”
The church serves as a hub for the community. It is host to licensed therapists, an industrial kitchen used by small businesses, Narcotics Anonymous meetings and the non-profit Whittier Wildflowers Preschool.
“This is a community gathering space,” said Ann Hotz, the preschool director. “This is a place where people from everywhere come and feel comfortable.”
The preschool serves children between the ages of two and five years old.
“Whittier is known as the international neighborhood,” she said. “We have a new family from Ukraine, there’s families from Columbia and Guatemala and Mexico, various African countries.”
According to Hotz, some families live in the Whittier neighborhood while others travel to the neighborhood to attend the school. Children of all faiths attend.
The church’s steeple is widely recognized.
“People see that from all over the neighborhood and they can pinpoint where the church is,” said Hotz. “When we go on field trips and things, the kids will be riding the school bus they’ll see the steeple and say ‘There’s school, there’s school.’”
It also serves as an opportunity for reflection.
“I think it’s important to raise our eyes, I think it’s important to see the sky, I think it’s important to see the stars,” said Cowmeadow. “I think it’s important to look at the expansiveness and realize perhaps there’s something greater than ourselves.”
The congregation hopes to meet the $1 million goal by 2026. For more information, click here.