The Story of Lake Harriet United Methodist Church
Who and what Lake Harriet United Methodist Church is today is rooted in the past. Our church is like a giant tree, whose trunk connects us all, The roots are where we have come from – unseen, yet holding us steady and strong against the wind.
If we shake a limb, we touch a root. What makes Lake Harriet United Methodist Church unique is that we are grounded in strong traditions. Many of the programs we have now, we have had for the past one hundred years – re-newed and re-visioned certainly, but there all the time. We are a church with a tradition of strong preaching, mission, social justice, and outreach programs. We are known for outstanding lay leaders and a willingness to give our time and money to support the church and its ministry. Our theatre and music ministries are strong. We have an outstanding preschool. We are warm and welcoming to all. These strengths are rooted in our past and will carry us into the future.
Lake Harriet UMC celebrated its centennial in 2007.
In 1904, a group of Methodist families began meeting informally in the cottages of Linden Hills. By 1906, the families were holding Sunday school classes; and in 1907, this group became an official church when the Reverend Christopher Harper McCrea was appointed pastor. An early church historian records the origin of the church this way: “Lake Harriet Church, C. H. McCrea, was organized on September 9 [1907] with 35 members. The lot purchased two years ago [1905] for this enterprise was sold and the finest lot in the district secured.” This fine lot was located at 44th and Upton, and the building the group constructed was “48 by 50, built of frame with metal lathe and cement plaster, shingled roof, basement partially completed.” The historian concluded: “Brother McCrea has a great opportunity which he fully appreciates.”
As much as Lake Harriet Methodist members must have loved the grand church in Linden Hills, they outgrew it just the way they had outgrown the first one. After World War II, many young families began moving to the suburbs west of Lake Harriet to 50th Street. In 1948, under the leadership of Henry Lewis and his co-minister, Howard Huntzicker, the congregation purchased a lot at 49th and Chowen Avenue. The building of these two churches came at no small cost to a congregation that was going through tough financial times: a depression and two world wars. The church records from these yearly years are filled with accounts of fund-raising campaigns. Yet even through a time of church building, the congregation was committed, as it is today, to outreach and missions.
Source: excerpts taken from “Like a Tree: The Story of Lake Harriet United Methodist Church,” published in 2007. To read more of this document, click here.