COON RAPIDS UMC HISTORY
In 1900, the area that would become Coon Rapids was mostly made up of farm families, living far from the small, but growing, town of Anoka. To go to church on Sunday could involve wagon rides over poor roads, lasting much of the day. Several of the farmers, along with prominent citizens of Anoka, including James Carter, a blacksmith and member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Anoka, decided to establish a church for the Protestant farmers east of the city. Mr. & Mrs. Carter would teach Sunday afternoon Bible classes in the Wilhelm School (District No 50) to farm children after attending the morning services in Anoka.
Reverend E. C. Clemens, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Anoka, assisted by the Carters, held a revival in July of 1901, at which 25 persons joined the infant church. Among them was Civil War veteran Frederick Blanchard, who went on to also aid in the organization of several other churches in the county. These new members were organized into a Bible class with membership in the Anoka Church, until their own building could be raised out in the rural community.
In December 1901 the quarterly conference of the Anoka Methodist Church incorporated the new rural congregation under the name of Joyce Chapel, after Bishop Isaac W. Joyce, Methodist Bishop of Minnesota. The first trustees were: B. Shattuck, C. W. Ball, C. E. Pendell, John P. Swanson, Gust Borg, and James Carter.
Benjamin Shattuck, another Civil War veteran, donated a one-half acre site for the church building and cemetery, across from the Anoka County Poor Farm. In January 1902 the cornerstone of the chapel was laid by Joseph Holden of Anoka and the work of building began in earnest directed by Erick Johnson. All labor was donated by the members, mostly local farmers.
Using a nail keg as a pulpit, James Carter preached the first sermon to the members seated on chairs and boxes brought from home. The nail keg was replaced the following Sunday by a "fine" pulpit made and presented by the Reed and Sherwood Lumber Company of Anoka. The Chapel, free of debt, was dedicated on July 17, 1902, by Bishop Isaac W. Joyce.
The little church was shared for many years by the Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, and even had a Catholic pianist at one time. This was a common practice in rural communities, and Joyce Chapel shared a pastor with the Anoka Methodist Church until 1908, when it received it's first appointed pastor, Rev. Kirby Chapman, a Baptist Evangelist. There were 9 people on the original membership rolls with a Sunday School membership of 40. Many of these early pastors were Baptist, including the first woman pastor, Ina Gates Stout, from 1913 to 1917.
The end of World War II, however, brought about a change to many of these small, sleepy farm communities upon the outskirts of large cities, like Minneapolis. Funded by the savings of men and women coming off of the rationing of the war, suburbs began to spring up as bedroom communities populated by those who worked in the Twin Cities, but wished to live outside the inner cities. This included the former township of Anoka (the rural areas outside the city limits), which was re-organized separately from the parent city of Anoka and renamed Coon Rapids In 1953.
The fast growth and transformation of the area from farmland to streets of residential homes revealed the need for a new church building. In December of 1949, plans were started to relocate the Joyce Chapel congregation and build a new facility which would better serve their needs. Rev. Ray Overmire was appointed in 1951 to help lead the congregation through this transition.
On June 4, 1953, the congregation gathered at the original Joyce Chapel site to travel to its new location. With shovels and spades in hand, the processional walked down Hanson Boulevard for about half a mile to the new site near Coon Rapids Boulevard, where the ground breaking ceremony took place. The cornerstone was laid on November 29, 1953, with the congregation able to begin worshiping in the Social Hall in December. The sanctuary was ready for worship on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1954. The name was changed to Coon Rapids Methodist Church and the Joyce Chapel building was sold to the city for use as a town meeting hall.
A parsonage was built through the efforts of volunteer labor during the summer and fall of 1956 on a site donated by Mrs. Bertha Barney and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Barney, located upon part of that family’s former farm only blocks from the church. Upon its completion the Reverend Dexter F. Miller and his family moved into the new residence as the congregation's first full time minister. The house was later sold, and still stands today on 103rd Avenue.
The Church and Sunday School continued to grow and, in October of 1958, two sessions of Sunday School and morning worship were begun. The continued growth made evident the need of an addition to the church. On November 25, 1962, the educational and social wings of the church were dedicated under the direction of the Rev. Donald Germain.
In the following years the church continued to experience new growth and vitality under the direction of the Rev. Harold Zart and the Rev. Carlton Forshee. The sanctuary was completely remodeled and the beautiful new one, with its stained glass windows donated by members of the congregation, was dedicated in May of 1985. A new parsonage was built in the spring of 1986 in one of the newer developments in the city.
The Rev. Grant Tanner and his family came to Coon Rapids in June of 1986. He discovered a church alive in faith and open to sharing their wealth of talents and gifts. The following years have witnessed an ever growing ministry with lay leadership at many key positions in music, youth, Sunday School and visitation.
In the spring of 1995 the Social Hall, Sanctuary, and offices were torn down to make room for a new and larger Sanctuary, nursery, music room, chapel, library, narthex and office area. The first service in this new facility was held on Christmas Eve 1995.
The original Joyce Chapel building was torn down in 1999 when Hanson Blvd. was expanded, despite attempts by the congregation and others in the community to preserve this historic building. The cemetery, however, is still owned and maintained by the church. A small, but vital part of the history of the community.
In June of 2000, Rev. Mark Miller was appointed by Bishop John Hopkins to serve as Pastor of the Coon Rapids United Methodist Church, continuing to lead the church in growing and strengthening through the worship of God.
As of March 1, 2003 we welcomed Pastor William Reinhart as a second full time pastor, as the church, still growing strong, was now too large for Pastor Miller to lead alone. Pastor Bill has brought a new dynamic to the church. The two pastors made an exceptional team that attempted to expand to a new church in Andover. On October 5, 2008, the opening services were held at the new site, named ReJoyce. Unfortunately, not enough worshipers and lack of funding led to it being reunited with the parent church on Sunday, September 12, 2010. Many of the former members continue to be a part of the congregation in Coon Rapids.
With the ever expanding need for space, it was decided in 2006 to add a multi-purpose room and new restrooms along with a remodeling of the kitchen, music room and chapel.
On June 16, 2013 Pastor Mark Miller left us to become the District Superintendent of the North Star District, and on June 30, 2013, we welcomed Pastor Randy Koppen as our new pastor, opening a new chapter in our 100 plus year history.
June 1, 2014 was Pastor Reinhart's last Sunday with us as he has been re-appointed to the Buffalo United Methodist Church. In 2006, Pastor Randy Koppen moved on to another position in the conference and Jeff Utecht was appointed as an Interim Ministry Specialist.
July 1, 2018 Welcome, Pastor Dianna Dunham Foltz!