The Twin Cities Welcome All Faiths

Metro-wide congregations represent over a dozen religions
Cathedral of St. Paul
Cathedral of St. Paul

Photo by Erica Loeks

Residents throughout the Twin Cities live out diverse faith traditions, making Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding metro area an ideal place to enjoy the fellowship of spiritually inclined people. With congregations representing over a dozen faiths, those looking for a place of worship will find it easy no matter their religion or denomination.

Protestantism

Options are vast when it comes to Christianity, thanks to the many denominations that call the area home. The Protestant branch of Christianity includes Lutheran, United Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical Free and nondenominational churches. You’ll find different worship formats—from traditional to contemporary, from intimate congregations to mega-church environments.

Lutherans make up 20 percent of Minnesota’s population, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2015 Religious Landscape Study. Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, founded in 1920, serves over 14,000 of them. Between the church’s two campuses (one just south of downtown Minneapolis and the other in Victoria, in the west suburbs), this Evangelical Lutheran Church in America-affiliated organization offers ministries for children, young adults and adults as well as many volunteer and service opportunities. Another ELCA-affiliated option is Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities, with campuses in Minneapolis and Minnetonka.

The Twin Cities are home to many nondenominational churches, as well. Grace Church in Eden Prairie is a popular megachurch in Minnesota, often hosting concerts with Christian artists as well as many fellowship opportunities for men and women, like the Arise with the Guys men’s gatherings that take place on Saturday mornings. Church of the Open Door, another option, serves thousands in a beautiful Maple Grove facility. Eagle Brook Church has six campuses throughout the metro, making it one of the area’s largest nondenominational churches. Substance Church, in Spring Lake Park and downtown Minneapolis, also serves thousands with arts-focused services and its inspiring message, “Church doesn’t start until the service is over.”

Many LGBTQ-friendly (also known as “reconciling” or “welcoming”) congregations mean it’s easy to find an accepting congregation in the Twin Cities. Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Edina, St. Stephen’s (Lutheran) in Bloomington and Edina Community Lutheran Church are just a few churches
to consider.

Other congregations provide support for physical and mental illness or disability. Bethlehem Lutheran Church collaborates with St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church to offer Mental Health Ministry of Bethlehem, a social event every second Monday of the month for those with living with mental illness, along with their family and friends.

Churches here also represent the Twin Cities’ rich diversity of cultures, including North African, Southeast Asian and more. The Twin City Chinese Christian Church in Roseville is trilingual, offering services in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. The country’s largest Hmong Christian church, the St. Paul Hmong Alliance Church, holds traditional Hmong services, children’s services and services in English. Many churches throughout the metro provide language services, such as American Sign Language (ASL). Some even offer complete worship services in ASL, such as Bread of Life Deaf Lutheran Church and Deaf Life Church, both in St. Paul.

Basilica of Saint Mary
Basilica of Saint Mary

Courtesy Basilica of Saint Mary

Catholicism

The two most prominent houses of Catholic worship in the Twin Cities are no doubt the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis and the Cathedral of St. Paul, both of which have served the Twin Cities for hundreds of years. Catholics make up 22 percent of Minnesota’s population, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2015 Religious Landscape Study, and parishes throughout the metro offer perpetual adoration, confession and daily prayer. Other popular programming includes adult ministry, marriage preparation and children and teen religious education classes. To better serve the Hmong-American community, the Cathedral of St. Paul merged with the Hmong-serving Church of St. Vincent de Paul back in 2012. In fact, churches across the board have striven to break down language barriers. Within the Archdiocese of St. Paul, 23 parishes serve the Latino community, with others catering to Korean, French, Filipino and Vietnamese communities with language-specific services.

Judaism

Minnesota is home to a significant Jewish population, with over 45,000 Jewish people living here since 2016. Their history in the state dates back to 1878, when Temple Israel, a large Reform synagogue, housed the first Jewish congregation in Minneapolis. Today, Temple Israel is one of the largest Jewish temples in the country. It provides large-print prayer books, ASL interpretation and hearing devices to make its services more accessible to every congregant. 

Mount Zion Jewish Temple, another Reform synagogue, in St. Paul, offers weekly Shabbat and daily services, and welcomes everyone to worship, accepting those of mixed religious backgrounds and LGBTQ community members. In South Minneapolis, Reform temple Shir Tikvah (translated as “song of hope”) also takes in people from all walks of life. Beth El Synagogue is a conservative Jewish community located in St. Louis Park that serves nearly 2,000 families. Orthodox Jewish congregations throughout the Twin Cities include Congregation Bais Yisroel, Congregation Darchei Noam and Kennesseth Israel Congregation—all in St. Louis Park.

Islam

The Twin Cities have seen a growing number of mosques. The regional epi-center of this faith tradition is the Islamic Center of Minnesota, founded in 1969 by a group of Muslim students. At its Fridley location, the Islamic Center provides counseling, language classes, a food shelf, youth services, financial assistance and even a private school, Al-Amal, for students preK through grade 12. The community space manages a satellite location in Columbia Heights, called Abu Khadra Masjid, with Halaqas and daily prayers. In the south metro, the Burnsville Mosque and the Garden of Eden Islamic Cemetery operate under the Islamic Institute of Minnesota, a nonprofit supporting Muslims in the community.

Hinduism

The Twin Cities Hindu population has thrived ever since the establishment of the Hindu Society of Minnesota in 1978. The organization’s authentic, traditionally constructed Hindu temple in Maple Grove is a beautiful gem on the horizon, and, on the inside, you can find resources and support for those practicing Hinduism or for those interested in learning more about it. Another community temple is the Minnesota Hindu Dharmic Sabha Vishnu Mandir, in Minneapolis. This intimate space was established in 1985 and serves a congregation of about 100 families.

Buddhism

There are more than 30 places of worship for the Buddhist faith around the Twin Cities. St. Paul’s Clouds in Water Zen Center welcomes people from all faith backgrounds for daily meditations, classes, workshops and Dharma talks. Minnesota Zen Meditation Center is another destination for those wanting to learn more about the discipline of Zen Buddhist meditation, and children and adults can take in the teachings of Buddha at Minnesota Buddhist Vihara, a Theraveda monastery that regularly hosts cultural events.

Interfaith

Unitarian Universalist churches throughout the Twin Cities host community teachings for members of diverse faith backgrounds and beliefs. Similarly, the Minnesota Council of Churches, in Minneapolis, engages with interfaith relations by promoting and honoring all beliefs and traditions, bringing people together for dialogue, education, meals, services and prayer.

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