Church makes quite a trek through Rochester

We've talked about some churches that have moved or are in the process of relocating.

Before the expansion of the new Methodist Hospital, which opened in 1966, there stood a little church called First E.U. Brethren, where the west side of the Mayo Charlton Building stands today. The address was First Street and Third Avenue Northwest.

The mid 1960s found the congregation voting to find a new location and build. Less than a decade earlier, the old First Methodist Church had left for today's Fourth Street Southwest location. It's now Christ United Methodist Church.

Today, first Evangelical United Brethren is Evangel United Methodist Church at 2645 N. Broadway. The current pastor is Jeff Utecht, now in his seventh year serving 730 confirmed members.

Starting in 1868 as a Rochester Mission Church, the building was moved in 1910 to the corner of Third Avenue and First Street Northwest. In 1924, a larger building was dedicated and was the congregation's home for the next 42 years.


In 1960 continuing through 1964, plans were being made to relocate, build a new church and sell the existing building, which was difficult for many long-time members. The vote was to sell to the Mayo Association for $220,000.

Property on U.S. 63 North was purchased. The original building, including architects fees and church furnishings, cost approximately $350,000. The groundbreaking service for the new Evangel Church was held May 2, 1965, and the cornerstone was laid that year on Oct. 17.

First Evangelical United Brethren members held their final Sunday service on May 1, 1966. A week later on Mother's Day, May 8, the first service was held in the new church. One week later on May 15, a wonderful service of dedication was held.

Pastor Robert C. Painter was assisted by several officials of the Minnesota Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. They were the Rev. A.B. Utzman, conference superintendent of the St. Paul district, the Rev. Floyd E. Bosshardt, director of Christian Education Missions, the Rev. E. Russell Praetorius, conference superintendent of the Minneapolis district, and Bishop Harold R. Heininger of the Northwestern Area. He gave the dedication sermon, "Our Master's Church."

The building committee chairman, Carlton Penz, presented the key of the church to Bishop Heininger and requested that he dedicate the building. This church has always been a missionaries-supporting congregation as told to me by Dwight Rieke.

He and his wife Ruth have been members since 1950. They support 10 or more world-wide missionaries to the extent of approximately $50,000 annually. Dwight said his wife suggested the new church name "Evangel," which means "Good News."

Another member, Gary Hebrink, took the name before church committees and it was approved.

This church has been a strong singing congregation, and it also excels in nursery day care for little ones during the week. So when people enter the west door of the Mayo Charlton Building on Third Avenue Northwest, they are covering an area once very close to God in that little "first" church. Their rich history is on North Broadway as Evangel United Methodist Church today.

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