Yesterday, we went to the Fire Fighters Museum in NE Minneapolis yesterday and enjoyed it. We got to see a lot of memorabilia and a few fire trucks along with taking a ride on a fire truck at the end of our time at the museum. Out of curiosity, when we were finished yesterday, I checked the GPS to see how far we were away from the old site of Fourth Baptist Church on Broadway and Fremont in downtown Minneapolis. I saw that we were less than 2 miles away, so I decided to venture over there to show my son where Fourth Baptist Church used to be and where Family Baptist Church currently is located kitty-corner to the old site. I had been to this site over eight years ago during the day.
Some may not understand why I would do this. For me and family, the only Fourth Baptist Church that we know is the current facility located in Plymouth. I never attended church at the old site. I wanted to show my son what the old church used to look like and so he could see the difference in neighborhoods.
I have always been an informal student of churches and their history. I have on occasion, spoken with people in our church who attended at the old facility (commonly referred to as Old Fourth) and they told me some interesting stories. The church has gone through some changes since they met downtown and the neighborhood has changed as well (probably not for the better, but for the worse). I am thankful that Fourth started Family Baptist and did not totally evacuate from the city but committed to inner city ministry by the planting of Family Baptist Church by leaving a staff member and several hundred members to make up the core of this new church plant. Fourth moved to Plymouth in 1998. They had been in the downtown area of Minneapolis since 1881.
What has also intrigued me is why a church like Fourth moved to the suburbs when churches like FBC Dallas, FBC Hammond, FBC Jacksonville have all remained in the downtown urban setting and have thrived in these urban environments? Maybe this is a question that I cannot answer, but someone else may have the knowledge and the answer.
The other observation that I made was that there was a lot of traffic in this area for a Saturday. I can only imagine what it would be like during the week. What was also interesting is that the old neon sign for Fourth Baptist Church is still mounted on the building even though it has not been a church in over ten years. Because of the traffic pattern, I was unable to take any pictures of the site (the old auditorium, the neon sign or Clearwaters Chapel).
Maybe someone who reads this might have some insight into some of the questions that I have raised. As always, I welcome your comments.
UPDATE: Looks like the old site as we know it (or as some knew it) will be leveled to make way for a new Minneapolis Public Schools HQ. See the link here. It is a reminder to all of us that ministries are temporal at best. I never had the opportunity to attend church and seminary at the old site downtown, but I can appreciate all that God did while Fourth Baptist was in that location (1881-1998). It is also a reminder that the true church is not a building, but rather each person who makes up the membership of a local NT church. Time to get some pictures for posterity before everything is leveled.