This is the story of Mizpah United Church of Christ, its origins, and how its story became our Spirit of Peace Story
The Early Days
Mizpah was organized in September of 1888, where 22 individuals representing four denominations and 6 individuals without formal church affiliation gathered to draw up the original twelve article constitution and a Statement of Doctrine, beginning with:
The name of this church shall be ‘The Mizpah Congregational Church of West Minneapolis’.
The first twenty years were quite a struggle with membership in the low 20’s; going through eighteen ministers, building then losing a parsonage, and having no money in the bank. Mizpah started gaining traction and membership peaked in 1909 at 60, just in time for the 1929 depression.
The Mizpah Blessing
Mizpah is the Hebrew word for “Watch Tower”, or “A Place of Blessing”
Genesis 31, verse 49 – And Mizpah; for he said, “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.”
Growth in the Growing Community
Things continued to be very challenging until around 1940, and in 1942, planning began for a new building. The city of Hopkins population nearly doubled during and after World War Two. The current building’s property was purchased in 1951. The membership had grown to 250 by 1952, and to 1200 by 1956. The current building was built in 1953 with the help of about 300 active members. That was followed by a parsonage in 1956, and an education wing addition in 1960.
Meanwhile, in 1957, Congregational Christian Churches merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church forming the new United Church of Christ denomination. Although Mizpah voted to be part of the new U.C.C., it would not be until 20 years later that “Mizpah Congregational Church” would change its name to “Mizpah United Church of Christ”.
Community Involvement and Activities
Mizpah truly was a church of the community, offering meeting places for community organizations such as Boy Scout Troop #375, the Women’s Club of Hopkins, Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the home for a Nursery School.
Mizpah continues its program of service with participation in monthly food service at LOAVES and FISHES. The members and friends continue volunteerism and collections for the HOPKINS MINNETONKA AREA RESOURCE CENTER and ICA. Mizpah members continue to have involvement with the CHAPEL VIEW senior nursing center volunteer programs. The “TUESDAY FIXIT” group provides fellowship and service within the church.
Mizpah is a JUST PEACE church and an OPEN AND AFFIRMING church. Mizpah continues its ties with the Minnesota Conference of the UCC and has been heavily involved with CONFERENCE YOUTH EVENTS.
In 1963, Charlie Heuser, the Mizpah pastor at the time, said in his comments on the 75th Anniversary of Mizpah, “From the beginning, our Church has sought to live up to its name to be a “Place of Blessing”. Mizpah continues to strive to live up to its name. The Congregation looks forward to many years of service and community fellowship as asked of us by our Christian faith. We are in service to our Lord’s work.
During Lent and Easter in 2018, the Holy Spirit led brought Mizpah UCC together with St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. We discovered amazing commonality in our passions for worship, community service, ministry, and love for one another and our community. Since our first gathering, we have been walking together, hand in hand, moving inexorably toward the formation of a new shared ministry.
And this is where our Spirit of Peace Story begins.