The Swedish Tabernacle Then and Now

Completed in October of 1887,  the Swedish Tabernacle still stands on the northeast corner of 7th and Chicago Avenue. Way back when, the building’s  2,500 seat assembly hall was the biggest meeting place in Minneapolis. During the 1890’s, the Swedish Tabernacle hosted tremendous gatherings of city-wide interest. Explorers, scientists, statesmen, and preachers spoke here on a regular basis. 

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A 1924 history of the Tabernacle penned by the church’s founder E. August Skogsbergh on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary claimed that when the history of Swedes in America is written, the Swedish Mission Tabernacle of Minneapolis would be listed among the country’s memorable places. Skogsbergh went on to say that although the church lacks the elegance and costly luxury that so many churches count as their greatest asset. The Tabernacle was not built to be observed, admired, and described. It was built to be used. These days building is occupied by the First Covenant Church of Minneapolis.

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9 Comments

  1. I am the Senior Pastor of First Covenant Church, and a Downtown Minneapolis civic leader. The congregation went through a “re-birth” from 2009-2015 and has redeveloped into a new and growing young urban congregation embodying the same spirit as the days of its origins. We call ourselves “a 140 year old church start”. Let me know if anyone at Nokohaha wants to get a tour and get updated!

    Dan Collison
    Senior Pastor First Covenant Church
    Director of East Downtown Partnership, Minneapolis Downtown Council
    Executive Director, East Downtown Council

  2. Ann

    My great grandparents were married at the Tabernacle in 1894. Did the congregation dismantle/disband or move to another home? Although I did secure a marriage license from the MN Historical Society, I am wondering if you have any suggestions for where church records from the late 1800s for the Swedish Tabernacle may have gone.

    • Hi Ann–We are one contiguous Covenant congregation (the name was changed sometime in the early 1900’s, but redeveloped/re-birthed in 2009. We have a wonderful archive that celebrates the history and records.

      • Ann

        Thank you – and your archivist did reach out to me and also provided some resources if she can’t find anything pertaining to my query in your archives. Many thanks!

        • Hell Ann. My great great uncle was the pastor at Swedish Tabernacle in the 30s, and it is my understanding that his church was on the corner across from the old nurses dorm at the Swedish Hospital which is now HCMC (around 8th and 10th, a few blocks down from Covenant). The building is still there, but the parish morphed into Covenant. Patrice

  3. Ann M

    I loved this church and its people when I attended here as a student. So good to see Pastor Dan’s comments about the new congregation, and how God continues to shine a light in the city to another generation.

  4. Renae A

    My mother would often talk about Rev Otteson, who was the pastor of this church, I’m guessing, somewhere in the 30’s or the 40’s. He grew up in the Wolverton, MN area. Any information about him?
    I also have a photo of some distant relatives who ran a little restaurant just across the street from there – “Three Sisters” was the name of this place. It would be interesting to learn about any information on this place, as well.

  5. Syd H

    I have an amazing gold pocket watch that was given to my great grandfather when he retired in 1906. He was a missionary in China in the early 1900s but before that I think may have worked for the Swedish tabernacle in Chicago. It actually has an engraving that looks just like the picture posted at the top. I would love to know if you have any more information.

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