New Decade, Old Things

As the Brookdale church family we now have the privilege of entering our 120th year of ministry.  On November 28, 1899, in a private home on 41st and Dupont Avenue North, a group of 20 or so Swedish immigrants covenanted together to form what would become Camden Covenant church. And then when they outgrew that building, they relocated in 1956 to our current location in Brooklyn Center. 


So altogether we have 120 years of history in North Minneapolis and in Brooklyn Center.  Our church home since 1956, at the intersection of Highway 100 and Brooklyn Boulevard, is about a mile and a half from the home where 20 immigrants first met, sang, read scripture, and prayed together.  This apple didn’t fall far from that tree.


I’ve been thinking about this long history a lot lately.  I have been thinking of that small group of people, probably all non-English speakers, and wondering what they would make of us–indeed of the world today!  Our two worlds, though only separated by one mile, seem light years apart.  There is no way they could have predicted much of life as we know it in 2020.  Could they advise us?  Would they have wisdom to share? Would they just shake their heads in total confusion?

I often find myself looking at the wonderful pictures that Diana Lundquist hung on the hallway across from the Prayer Chapel.  Every time I come out of that chapel there is a trio of black and white photos from 1927, 1939, and 1949.  Some of us long-timers can still name some of those faces in the 1949 photo.

If you enter church through the handicap entrance, you see the brass plaque on the wall dedicated to those charter members who sat in a house on 41st and Dupont and felt the call to begin a church.  At the bottom of the plaque is this verse: “I have a goodly heritage”. It comes from Psalm 16:6.

Psalm 16:6 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    I have a goodly heritage.

I think it’s interesting that this verse uses geographic language.  I read it in several different translations, and they use words like: lot lines, boundary lines, and houses and neighborhoods.  Location, location, location.  I think we are exactly where God wants us to be.

It’s a serious thing to be entrusted with a building, a lot, or a history.  But we do have a good heritage!  Our founders may be flabbergasted by the world we inhabit, but I know we could find some common ground!  We could sing that new hymn they were learning, our #78,  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”.   (It wasn’t written until 1923 after all).   We might not be able to sing it all in the same language; they would be singing in Swedish, and we might have a mishmash of English, Lao and Spanish, but we could all agree on the truth of it.  Only because of God’s faithfulness are we still here.

Great is thy Faithfulness, O God my Father!

There is no shadow of turning with thee

Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not

As thou hast been, thou forever wilt be


So as January unwinds we will begin with prayer.  We will renew our commitments. We will ground ourselves once again in the Word and the work.  And with God’s help, we will be faithful.  Not perfect.  But faithful.