A bit of history – Old Fourth

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.


3 responses to “A bit of history – Old Fourth

  1. Love old Fourth. Love old church buildings. I can tell when a building used to be a church. It’s also interesting that old “Clearwater’s Chapel” was based on a template that I have seen in other churches throughout the Twin Cities…literally the exact same room.

    I think, pure theory here, that God blesses urban churches because creation is moving in an urban direction. We started in a Garden and will end in a city. Urban is also where culture is and where people are. Weren’t all the original churches urban churches, situated at key towns and locations? Christianity was never meant to be a rural religion, even though it’s necessary for rural churches.

    Another theory – when I was converting old reel-to-reels @ WCTS, I actually heard, pre-move, a pastor/speaker say from the pulpit that God wanted Fourth to move away from the city and witness to “the rich, upper-class business men in the suburbs because they need to hear the gospel as well.” I think something left Fourth at that point, Spirit or blessing or something. Man changed what God set up.

    And the difference between Old Fourth and New Fourth is community. Fourth has no impact on Plymouth at all other than praying for the police/firemen. That’s passive at best. But it’s a difficult area to do more community outreach (note that I’m not saying evangelism or gospel witnessing, I’m saying community outreach) in.

    I could discuss this stuff for hours. Maybe we should do an audio podcast sometime. Get some guys together and hit record.

    FBC Hammond…is that even a church? lol

    • Talk to some people and they will tell you that the church had to move because of the safety & crime issues. I have noticed that Fourth has declined numerically since they left the old location, but not exactly sure of the cause. Podcast is not a bad idea… let me know. I have the same opinion about FBC Hammond, that aside, they are in downtown Hammond in a bad neighborhood, but they have stayed and resisted the urge to move and they have a large attendance in spite of the neighborhood. Some interesting topics and questions for discussion or podcast…

  2. I think a podcast of sorts would be a great idea, but it would need to be very low key, have a variety of friendly opinions from friends, and be loosely moderated by you, and not by some “guest speaker almighty” of the week.

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