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Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

The Finnish newspaper Uusi Kotimaa estimated there were around two hundred Finns living in Minneapolis in 1881. They were attracted by the promise of wages of $1.75 a day to work in the city’s sawmills and brickyards (History of the Finns in Minnesota, p. 119). The first Finnish activity in Minneapolis was not a church, but the Minneapolis Finnish Women’s Club that began to meet in the 1880s and was formally organized in 1895 with the aim to “acquaint women with good literature and to discuss literature in their club meetings” [ibid]. But the women also held a Sunday school for children and sponsored lectures concerning issues of “morality.” It is argued that the reason it took the Finns so long to establish religious institutions was because they were divided among themselves regarding denominational affiliation. One scholar suggests, however, another reason: once in the United States, Finnish immigrants began to abandon organized religion in large numbers (They Chose Minnesota, p. 307). A division on religious and organizational issues caused many Finns living on the Near North Side who were followers of Lars Levi Laestadius, a pietistic Lutheran minister, to form two congregations sharing the same name, Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church. The one at 237 Humboldt Avenue North was organized the same year as the women’s group, 1895, and for five years met in various homes and in a store located at Fifth and Main Street NE before a church was erected on Humboldt. The second congregation apparently met in various homes prior to formally establishing itself as a church in 1932 and purchasing the closed St. Johannis Scandinavian Episcopal Church located at 500 Newton Avenue North. In the 1930s, both congregations claimed to have about one hundred members.