Pieces of hidden history uncovered inside old Minneapolis church

December 31, 2018 06:30 PM

When Rebekah Coffman and her father discovered a time capsule that sat forgotten for more than 125 years, they knew they had to see what was inside of it.

Wesley United Methodist Church was founded in 1891. It has since been purchased by Substance Church.


"When this building was built, this was a neighborhood with trees and small houses and the outskirts of downtown, and now you look at how the city has grown around it, and this is truly a time capsule of what Minneapolis use to be and how people use to live here," said Coffman.

The time capsule that honors the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, was discovered tucked away in the cornerstone. Coffman learned of the capsule as she was going through historical documents.

When the copper box was finally opened, they found old photos of the congregation, a prayer book and more.

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"My personal favorite is moss from the grave of John Wesley that somebody brought from London on a ship," said Coffman.

That's not the only thing that surprised Coffman and her father. A second time capsule was also discovered, this one from 1993.

"Symbolism of the '80s, so a lot of things that were politically concerning to the congregation. Equal rights for gender and sexuality and also concerns with AIDS. That was really prevalent at the time period," Coffman said.

The items inside of the capsules are now in the basement of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Coffman says the goal is to make a long-term display where the public can see them up close.

"It's really easy to see a church that lost its congregation as something that isn't relevant, and this really reconnects the building to its heritage and also shows you can give new life to a building in a meaningful way," said Coffman.

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Ashley Zilka

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