144-year-old church in north Minneapolis facing financial trouble

A north Minneapolis church that has stood for more than a century could soon be forced to close. The St. Olaf Lutheran Church is facing serious financial troubles.

“This church basically goes from Sunday to Sunday from one offering plate to the next from one Sunday to the next,” said Pastor Dale Hulme.

With a small congregation of around 200 people, St. Olaf Lutheran Church near 29th and Emerson is making just enough to get by, but money problems are threatening its closure.

“This building is 107 years old, but the church itself is 144 years old,” said Pastor Hulme. “It’s one of the oldest churches in Minnesota.”

Three years ago, the attached nursing home, which was associated with the church at the time, foreclosed. The church was left with a pile of unpaid gas bills. With no way to pay the $23,000 they owe, CenterPoint Energy eventually was forced to turn off their heat. 

“We bring in as many electric heaters as we can without blowing the circuits out,” said Pastor Hulme. “You saw the big blanket there that’s for the elderly people to huddle under, those that are brave enough to come.”

They say they will keep holding church even in the cold of winter, but they hope they can find the money to get the heat turned back on before then.

CenterPoint Energy released the following statement:

“The church received the benefit of the natural gas service that gave rise to the delinquent bill.  The bill was accrued under the name of St. Olaf Residence Inc. Pastor Dale Hulme was the president of that organization.  We’ve been actively been working with Pastor Dale Hulme to resolve this situation.

“Obviously, we care about our customers and have been working very closely with them to help them negotiate a payment to restore natural gas service and are still willing to work with them to restore service. We also have to treat all our customers fairly regardless of the type of commercial business it is.”

For more information about the church and to donate, click here.