By Susu Jeffrey
Walker Community United Methodist Church in south Minneapolis was a true “commons” for all kinds of progressive groups. The church built in 1910, at 16th Avenue South and 31st Street East (near Lake and Bloomington), was a “total loss” from Sunday evening’s fire.
(Please see the Star Tribune for a photos)
Either a lightning strike or arson is the probable cause. Five firefighters were hospitalized. Captain Kathrynne Baumtrog remains in the hospital. Bulldozers razed the remaining walls on Monday. Amazingly the altar box survived as did the LGBT flag and ALL ARE WELCOME sign in the front yard.
KFAI Community radio began broadcasting from Walker. I hosted a poetry show in the belfry in the 1980s and remember climbing and climbing up to the hot in summer—cold in winter cramped, cheery studio.
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre also started out of Walker. HOBT holds (what we think is) the largest Pagan gathering in the U.S. on the first Sunday in May. May Day in the Park is the annual parade down Bloomington Avenue and ceremony in Powderhorn Park with multi-thousands of people celebrating spring.
Walker provided space to progressive groups including Communities United Against Police Brutality, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, the Welfare Rights Committee, and Occupy. A Latin American woman considered “illegal” actually lived at the church for a time. Last year the church approved a statement embracing same-sex marriage.
Countless benefit performances were held in the Walker sanctuary including Stop the Hwy 55 Reroute. In fact their minister provided expert testimony at the trial of 34 people arrested at The Four Trees Spiritual Encampment in December 1999. When asked if springs could be considered “sacred” Pastor Roger Lynn affirmed that concept and told the court, “There are springs all over the Bible.”
Walker Church did not limit its largess to social justice. Beyond Christian faith and values the church welcomed Pagan groups for seasonal rituals. The church was fully insured and the spirit of Walker, with 150 church members and hundreds of thousands of community members survives.
*** Editor’s note:
There will be a funeral for the Walker Community Church Building tonight (Monday June 4th) at 3104 31st Street East in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Service will begin at 8:30 PM. Feel free to bring an offering to place upon the ruins. Please join us.