Members of All Nations Church at the Winter Arts & Crafts fair

A young member in the courtyard at All Nations Church in Minneapolis, MN.

The history of All Nations Indian Church, United Church of Christ, was written up in the “Minneapolis Star and Tribune” on June 8, 1986, through an extensive interview with Harry Stroessner, who was the founding minister. Stroessner is quoted as he describes All Nations as “the only mainline church that doesn’t use the historical, or high church, form or worship.”

When asked if this is a Christian group, Stroessner replied, “Yes, we are, but we acknowledge traditional Indian values in Christianity.” He also states that “The more I study Indian religion, the more I am amazed at the parallels of the values and belief systems with Biblical accounts.”

As documented by Carolyn Hendrixson, United Theological Seminary, November 3, 1998, the first service of All Nations Indian Church was held October 4, 1981 at the Minnesota Church Center on West Franklin Avenue. The church moved it gathering to the Division of Indian Work of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches located at 30th and Park Avenue South in Minneapolis. On September 12, 1982, All Nations celebrated the signing of their covenant. The covenant expresses All Nations blending of Indian culture and Christianity: “We gather from all nations to covenant with the Lord of us all to seek with open minds the vision of the way of our Great Spirit; to travel together in the journey of faith and thereby find the never ending circle of life. As did our Elders, we seek to make our lives fruitful and caring in service of the Creator and all people.” The service included songs and prayers from the Ho Chunk Nation, Dakota, and Nez Perce.

The congregation moved into the current space at 1515 East 23rd Street, which is designed as a long house, and held the first service Christmas Eve, 1987. The All Nations Relatives Program helped the church meet its goal for a new building with 200 families giving $200 per year until the church reached its financial goal for the building. When the church opened there were 105 members. Stroessner resigned in 1990 after ten years of service to the first urban Indian church in the UCC.

There was an interim period when there was no ongoing pastoral assistance but the child care center continued to operate in the building. An interim minister came in for Sunday worship, but participation dropped off and few people were attending service.

In 1992, Rev. Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American, became the first Indian minister of the first urban Indian Church of the UCC. Her leadership has brought new life to the congregation and the community involvement. There is a worship fire on Sundays, a weekly drum night for the community, a Veterans eagle feathers program, and of course a large Christmas dinner, program, and service for the entire community.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:34