Park United Methodist Church Celebrates 150th Anniversary – Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Park United Methodist Church celebrates its anniversary and the public is invited to the 150th anniversary festivities.

“We go back to our roots in 1872 with the formation of a Methodist congregation as well as the beginning of an evangelical United Brethren congregation in 1888,” said the Reverend Rory Swenson, acting pastor of the church two blocks away at the north of Washington Street.

Located across from Gregory Park, from which the church takes its name, the church will celebrate 150 years of ministry in the Brainerd Lakes region on Sunday, October 16.

“We’ve come a long way since those early Brainerd church leaders met in dance halls, hotel bars, private homes and an ‘adjoining’ web,” Swenson said. primary mission of following Jesus Christ has not changed.”

A photo gallery for the 150th anniversary of Park United Methodist Church includes images from the church’s history.

Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

The 150th anniversary celebration and special worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the church and will include a free chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, rolls and dessert. Gluten-free options will also be available.

“We have former pastors, and we’ve put together a little choir — just to talk about the history of the church, but celebrating who we are today and I’ll be the speaker for that,” Swenson said, who has pastored the church for over a dozen years.

Along with choral and instrumental music and the opportunity to reunite with former pastors, staff and members during the anniversary celebration, historical artifacts will be on display and there will be an informal moment of sharing and the free catered meal afterwards. the worship service.

Four women pose for a photo in the kitchen of Park United Methodist Church.
A photo gallery for the 150th anniversary of Park United Methodist Church includes the ladies in the kitchen.

Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

Karen Strobel of Brainerd was baptized at Park United Methodist Church as a baby 69 years ago and has been a member of the church ever since.

“Everyone has times when they think they’re going to leave, but I’ve always loved the camaraderie or the feeling of being like family,” said Strobel, a retired registered nurse.

In 1994, the Methodist Evangelical Church voted to merge with Park United Methodist. In 1993 the Evangelical Church purchased property for a new church development, which became Light of the Lakes Church and then New Light Church. In 2011 it merged with Park United Methodist.

Park United Methodist Church is shown partly demolished.
The Park United Methodist Church 150th Anniversary Photo Gallery includes a look at various moments in the church’s history.

Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

“The current congregation is enriched by these converging currents of faith that we now celebrate. … Park Church seeks new expressions and ways to embody God’s love in our community and around the world,” Swenson said.

Strobel said: “We had a slogan – and that was a few years ago – but it said, ‘Open hearts, open minds’, so sometimes that’s what I think… we welcome everyone world.”

Photos of the exterior of Park United Methodist Church in Brainerd.
Park United Methodist Church is located at Sixth and Juniper Streets in Brainerd and will celebrate its 150th anniversary at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 16, 2022 at the church.

Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

Strobel sits on the church’s 150th anniversary committee. But she’s not the only church member working to improve her community.

“We know our church members live out their faith in countless volunteer roles and financial contributions as well as in their personal acts of care,” Swenson said.

Park United Methodist Church hands out candy bars and hot chocolate to candy lovers, for example, near Gregory Park.

“Hundreds of people visit our restaurant at the Crow Wing County Fair every year,” Swenson said. “These profits are used for special projects and donations for local programs such as The Shop, which reaches out to support young people in our area.”

The congregation also provides annual missionary support to one person in the Democratic Republic of Congo to help communities become more food secure and sustainable, according to Swenson.

For more information about Park United Methodist Church, call 218-829-4116 or visit

FRANK LEE can be reached at 218-855-5863 or

[email protected]

. Follow him on Twitter at


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