Walker Church: A Community Commons

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.


Starhawk Visit Schedule : Mon-Tues Dec 5-6th

Monday, December 5, 2011 at 5  PM
Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Ave. (downstairs), West Bank, Minneapolis
”  Empowering Tools for Challenging Times  ”

From Cairo to Wall Street, all over the world people are coming together to create change, organizing without top-down leadership or hierarchies. In thousands of voluntary groups everywhere, people work together to create everything from community gardens to media to new ways of living. Such circles can be enormously creative and empowering, but they can also be cumbersome and frustrating. Yet when they work well, they liberate our imagination and change the world.

In her latest book, The Empowerment Manual, A Guide for Collaborative Groups,  Starhawk draws on four decades of experience in circles and collectives to show us how to foster connection, clear communication and positive power in ourselves and our groups. She is well-known as a global justice activist and organizer, whose award-winning work and writings-translated into many languages-have inspired many to action.  She has lived and worked collectively for thirty years. 

Starhawk will sign copies of The Empowerment Manual and chat with folks informally.

Join us for a potluck.  Bring some food to share.  

Sponsored by OccupyMN; Women Against Military Madness (WAMM); & MN-WEB (Women’s Earth Brigade)


Tuesday Dec. 6th:

Empowerment Training Day with Starhawk 8am-5pm. 
This day will be focused on trainings and discussion about core issues facing OccupyMpls, to build a respectful and empowering collaborative group throughout the winter.  The day will include an 8-9 a.m. Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser with a presentation from Starhawk. The rest of the day will consist of Facilitation Training, Teach Ins on various topics, and Open Space for discussing core issues facing OccupyMN. All at Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. So, in south Minneapolis.  Sponsored by OccupyMN/Minneapolis. New website:  OccupyMinnesota.org.

If you would like to host a breakfast table and for questions Contact Malia at kochikaralove@gmail.com .

  • 7am: Prep for Breakfast-Fundraiser.  Table hosts arrive and help set up.
  • 8-9am: Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser.  30 minutes eat & chat.  30 minute presentation, with a short slideshow about OccupyMpls & Occupy around the world, a story or two from Starhawk, and a few testimonies from people involved with OccupyMpls.  Attendees will be asked to contribute what they can to help cover the cost of Starhawk’s plane-fare, and to OccupyMpls’s general fund.
  • 9:30-12pm: Facilitation Training: (All interested in becoming a facilitator for General Assemblies invited!) What is the Art of Facilitation? How do we improve our skills?  What are some current issues with General Assemblies and how can they be addressed?
  • 12-1pm: Lunch
  • 1-2pm and 2-3pm: Teach-ins:  On various topics, including “Anti-Oppression Awareness”; “Economics Unmasked”; “Art and Community Activism”; and more.  (TBA)
  • 3-5pm: Open Space: Discussion on various core issues facing OccupyMpls, including:
  1. What is the relationship of General Assemblies to Direct Actions? / How are we using Direct Actions as a movement? / Is there a framework for input or feedback pre- & post- actions?
  2. Visioning: What is our goal?  Do we have different goals? Are there Affinity-groups?
  3. Structure of General Assemblies: What is Consensus & how does it work?  What is modified consensus & when is that a better option?  What are blocks & how do address inappropriate use of blocking?
  4. Guidelines & Shaping of “New Norms”… how to build a culture at OccupyMpls that is empowering and respectful?  How do we address conflicts, violence and intimidation?
  • Dinner (location TBA)
  • 7-9pm: General Assembly (location TBA) The “GA” is the governing body of the various Occupy movements.

Sponsored by OccupyMN/Minneapolis.