The History of St. Philip's
On February 2, 1958, 231 persons gathered on a Sunday morning at Nelson School in Columbia Heights. This service was the beginning of a new congregation of believers called St. Philip's Lutheran Church. The Reverend Mandus Egge, who had been called the Evangelical Lutheran Church to establish a new congregation in Fridley, had begun work in the area several months earlier. On May 12, 1958, St. Philip's Lutheran Church was formally organized, and the first membership list included 144 baptized members.
On August 10, 1958, the first worship service was held in the new church building (the area in which the Mandus Egge Chapel is now located).
An education unit was dedicated on December 27, 1959.
By the fifth birthday of the congregation, over 600 children were registered in church school classes, and membership had grown to 1,500. Four worship services were held each Sunday so plans were made to construct a new sanctuary with education and administrative facilities.
To build was a true venture in faith because at the time the decision was being made, sixty families of the congregation lost their homes and many others suffered severe property damage in tornadoes that hit the community on May 6, 1965. The church became a food and clothing distribution center and just eleven days after the destruction, the Board of Administration unanimously passed a resolution to go ahead with the expansion project.
Ground was broken for the $790,000 facility on August 1, 1965.
On November 27, 1966, the new building was dedicated "to serve the Triune God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." The majestic and yet intimate and warm sanctuary was designed by Spitznagel and Associates of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Its most impressive feature is a unique baldachin suspended over teh chancel area, designed and built by Palmer Eide, who was head of the art department at Augustana College in Sioux Falls. The symbols in the sand castings on the baldachin focus on the Triune God and on the physical and spiritual feeding of all of God's people.
As the congregation approached its 25th anniversary, it undertook a fund drive in gratitude for God's blessings. The first $50,000 went to the ALC Seminary appeal, the next $20,000 was used for energy improvements and $180,000 was used to purchase a new pipe organ. The new Schantz Organ was dedicated on October 3, 1982.
In 1991, the congregation embarked on an extensive building addition and renovation project. A large new fellowship hall was added to facilitate new ministries and programs to reach out in mission to the community and beyond—including an after school program for Middle School youth, a shelter program for families temporarily without housing, English as a Second Language classes for new refugees, and numerous other food and helping ministries.
St. Philip's is a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It has been served by many dedicated and talented pastors and lay staff members. The vision and mission of the congregation have changed to reflect and serve the needs of the members and the community. The Gospel is our foundation and strength. Congregational life is centered in worship, the study of the Word, and continuing to take risks for the Gospel using the variety of gifts that God has given us to reach out in love with sensitivity and boldness.