MINNEAPOLIS, MN (December 19, 2016) – U.S. Bank Stadium, the NFL’s newest venue and home to the Minnesota Vikings, cost more than $1 billion to build, seats more than 66,000 people, and has been compared to the Crystal Cathedral in California. Owners had threatened to move the team if the stadium weren’t built, but it still took years for the city and state to secure funding for the much-debated project.
Across the street, dwarfed by the grand stadium, still stands the First Covenant Church of Minneapolis, a nearly 130-year-old brick edifice that, due to its 2,500-seat sanctuary, was the largest meeting hall of its day and overshadowed all other buildings in the neighborhood. That construction project in 1887 wasn’t so much debated as it was deemed divinely inspired due to the heroics of its new pastor, Erik August Skogsbergh.
Church elders said they would know it was God’s will for the church to be built if Skogsbergh could raise 10 percent of the $55,000 the structure would cost in three weeks amid an especially bitter winter. A story in last Saturday’s StarTribune recounts the accomplishment: “A tiny man of 117 pounds, he rode around on horseback during the frigid January of 1884, raising the required $5,000 in three weeks to build the massive worship hall before a February deadline imposed by church elders.”
The article notes the important role that Skogsbergh played in Covenant history and quotes Jeremy Berg, founding pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Mound, Minnesota, who has done significant research on Skogsbergh. “Once while he was preaching, the crowds were packed so tightly into the tabernacle that the balcony began to give way and sunk down a whole 2 inches, so that the doors underneath were jammed shut.”
To read the rest of the story, read Skogsbergh.
Dan Collison, current pastor of First Covenant, said it was fitting that the story ran this past weekend. Fans walking past the church to the stadium for the contest against the Indianapolis Colts had to endure temperatures that reached 20 degrees below zero.