After a five-year vacancy, Holland School, 1534 6th St. NE, has six churches and two schools as its new occupants.
Northeast Community Lutheran Church Pastor Craig Pederson said the church is the building’s main tenant; the congregation renamed the school building Grace Center for Community Life.
Northeast Community’s congregation initiated purchasing Holland from the Minneapolis Public Schools more than two years ago; the sale was finalized June 30. They will temporarily use the former cafeteria for their worship space, he said, until they can remodel the building and open up Holland’s original central atrium, which was closed off in a renovation many years ago.
The move is the congregation’s third in five years. In 2005, three Lutheran churchesâ€”Emanuel Lutheran, Holy Triune, and St. Paul’â€”merged to form Northeast Community Lutheran Church. The new congregation, which has about 275 members, sold Holy Triune and moved to Emanuel, but were daunted by structural problems that included a large crack in the sanctuary ceiling.
They relocated most of the church’s operations to St. Paul’s, a smaller building that they still owned, and where Pederson had been pastor for five years before the merger.
Fraser Academy, a charter school from South Minneapolis, and Camden Music Schoolâ€”which already had been using church space, first at Emanuel and then at St. Paul’sâ€”have also have begun moving into Grace Center. Pederson said that four smaller church congregations that formerly met at St. Paul’s will be moving to Grace Center as well: Oromo 7th Day Adventist, Mercy Seat, Vine and Branches, and Crossover Ministries.
The Giving in Grace Christian Center will remain at St. Paul’s (which is for sale) until the building sells.
The Strong Tower Parish, currently at 15th Avenue and Monroe Street NE is buying the Emanuel building from Northeast Community Lutheran Church; Pederson said they just learned that sale is scheduled to be finalized this week.
Pederson said there is a lot of work to do at Grace Center (the building was built in 1968; it replaced an 1886 structure), but rather than worry about it, he prefers to look at it as a “blank palette.” They are in the process of determining where the church entry doors will be, and deciding what to do with what he calls a “sea of asphalt” to the south, which was used as a student outdoor play area.
They will remodel in stages, he said, and are working with an architect. “There is a lot of planning and design work to be done.” They had discussed remaining in the St. Paul’s building until the renovations were finished, but “we felt it was important to get our people into this building and start taking ownership. We want them to get a feel for design ideas.” Holland has some advantages, he added, in that the whole building is air conditioned, and the church’s section will be all on one floor, a feature that appealed to the congregation’s senior citizens.
Northeast Community’s first service at Grace Center will be July 18, he added, although. “We won’t be a polished product by then.”
Pederson said, “We hope this [move] will position our church for growth, and also enable us to serve the community. We will be expanding our food shelf ministry and our community dinners. We will have more programming for children.”
Technically, he said, the church doesn’t own the building. A non-profit corporation, The Northeast Lutheran Ministry Center, owns it; its board of directors is comprised of Northeast Community Lutheran Church congregation members and other people from the Minneapolis area ELCA synod. “The goal was to draw on people who had real estate and property management experience, who could provide better oversight.”
Linda Silrum, Fraser Academy director, wrote in an e-mail to the Northeaster, “We are thrilled that the sale went through and that the pieces fell into place for Fraser Academy to be part of Grace Center.” Fraser, she added, is in its seventh year as a charter school. It provides an individualized educational program for K-5th graders.
They expect to have 75 students in the 2010-2011 school year. Teachers start work on July 26 and students will start August 2. The school, she said, has a year-round school calendar, small class sizes and embraces “a broad and diverse spectrum of learners.” The school’s website is www.fraseracademy.org, its phone is 612-465-8601.
Camden School of Music
Janet Zahn, founder and director of Camden Music School, said the school opened its doors in January, 2005, at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis. They started out with 15 students; this year they have an average of 200, and serve all ages from newborns to seniors. Their oldest student so far, she added, was 86. Camden Music School has been partnering with Northeast Community Lutheran Church at its Emanuel site for three years, Zahn said, and moved to St. Paul’s in early 2010.
They started the move-in at Grace Center last week. “One of the good things about three churches merging is that they have many pianos, and they’re letting us use them,” she said.
They will keep their North Minneapolis location and some of the 11 staff members will go back and forth between schools. Camden Music School offers vocal lessons, instrumental lessons (piano, guitar, bass, wind, brass, strings, harp, hand drums and drum kit), Musikgarten early childhood classes, music theory and ensembles. It recently launched adult rock and roll band classes.
During the school year, classes run Monday through Thursday, mostly after school, and Saturday mornings. This summer, they are offering two camps, “Monkey Mind Pirates,” for kids 8-11 (it runs a week of half-days, July 19-22, with performances July 23 and 24), and Camp Komoniwannrock, for students in grades 5-8 (it runs two weeks, half days, August 2-5 and August 9-12). Registration, Zahn said, is still open.
“Our plan is to grow the business so that we are a vibrant, strong presence in the communities that we serve,” she said. “I believe in what I’m doing, and I believe in the power of music.”
Camden Music School’s website is www.camdenmusicschool.com, phone 612-618-0219.
Northeast Community Lutheran Church’s website is www.neclchurch.org. Its phone number is 612-788-2444.