Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock
The construction of the US Bank Stadium has been a fact of life in our neighborhood for years. Many of us have gotten used to the daily changes. However, how many of you know about a hidden gem, virtually across the street from the stadium?
Reflection of US Bank Stadium in the Church vehicle window
First Covenant Church, literally in the shadow of the stadium, seeks to be a diverse, multi-generational, urban Christian community that is a place of learning and transformation for all kinds of people. What is perhaps even more fascinating is how the people of First Covenant live that mission. Pastor Dan Collison stresses that being an urban church comes with its own set of challenges, but the congregation of First Covenant has decided to face some of those challenges in a unique and innovative way.
Pastor Dan Collison
Several years ago and as part of a “re-birthing” process, the decision was made to invite different groups to house themselves within the church building in the spirit of a non-profit incubator model. Striving to create a community that involves all aspects of life, the groups that are within First Covenant are fascinating, creative and diverse. There are eight different nonprofit groups that call the First Covenant building their home. Each of them has a very different mission, but provide comprehensive services for all areas of life.
The Good Arts Collective is a non-religious, member-driven arts organization seeking to enrich the Twin Cities art scene through collaboration and coordination. As an example of the creativity within this group, they will be presenting Oliver Holiday & the Cinnamon Sabotage, a variety show for the whole family. There are funny characters, great music, and family friendly giggles along the way. The show runs Monday and Tuesday December 19 and 20 starting at 7:30pm at First Covenant Church Minneapolis. (Tickets are $10, children under 12 are free.) You can also find Good Arts Collective on Facebook.
Metro Kids Early Childhood Center is licensed for 76 children and operates a day care at the church. It is open Monday through Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Parents set the schedule that works for their family. The teacher-child ratio is very low, so children get the one-to-one attention and nurturing they need. For more information or a tour, please contact Executive Director Charice Deegan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-332-5437.
First Covenant is also the site of a homeless adult emergency shelter from November 1 through the end of April, and is open 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., 7 nights a week. The winter shelter is funded by Hennepin County, and The Salvation Army provides the professional staff, assigns the guests, and shares the cost of operations. First Covenant provides the space and volunteer coordination of more than 60 individuals and community groups to provide and serve a hot meal nightly. There are two main ways to help:
- Provide a meal - (3+) volunteers (most critical need)
Time frame: Approximately 5:30-8:30 p.m.; dinner served at 6:30
Responsibilities include purchasing ingredients, preparing a meal for 50 guests and cleaning the kitchen. If you would like ideas for a menu, contact the Volunteer Coordinator.
- Assist in the shelter as an evening advocate - (1+) volunteer
Time frame: 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. (a Salvation Army staff member will also be onsite). Responsibilities include assisting staff with general duties such as monitoring restrooms, distributing linens and hygiene items, etc. The objective is to free up the Salvation Army staff to deal with housing issues, rosters, paperwork, information and referral, and advocacy.
The East Town Business Partnership is also housed in First Covenant. It is a business and professional association which supports the activities of businesses, non-profit corporations and property owners in the Downtown East/Mill District and Elliot Park neighborhoods of Minneapolis. The Board of Directors holds an open board meeting on the second Thursday of every month, September through June. Contact email@example.com for more information, or visit the website.
The Twin Cities Christian Legal Aid organization holds a free legal aid clinic at First Covenant every first and third Wednesday of the month from 1 – 3 pm. Walk-ins are welcome and no appointment is necessary.
First Covenant houses an HCMC program called Upstream Health Innovations. The vision for this group includes a future where health is managed proactively within the community rather than reactively within the healthcare system, and a future in which meaningful conversations about health are not confined to the clinic. This future would redefine primary care as that which happens upstream—in homes and communities. Upstream Health Innovations is taking steps towards creating a future where people realize their full potential because the barriers to health have been recognized and removed. Visit their website for more information.
First Covenant also shares their space with a Nigerian church, United International Christian Fellowship. They are a small fellowship of between 20-25 people but do connect with and sometimes promote their gathering in a larger religious affiliation called African Christian Fellowship-Twin Cities.
First Covenant has been working for a year and a half with Community Housing Development Corporation and Ryan Construction to build a six story affordable housing project with 169 units on the surface parking lot. The project continues to gain momentum. It will have 200 bike stalls for the 300 people expected to live there. Look for the ground-breaking announcement within the next few months.
It is clear that First Covenant is a gem in our neighborhood, and too often, a hidden gem. Please take some time to read about all of these enterprises, and help where and when you can. We are stronger together.
Claudia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org