Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two years before Minnesota celebrates its 150th anniversary, the church of St. Stephen in Anoka is celebrating its sesquicentennial.

People might know the church today for its area outreach programs, St. Stephen School or the Summerfest community celebration. But the church started shaping and creating the community long ago, when it started in 1856 in the lumber industry settlement between today's Anoka and Champlin.

Early on, the church was a key founding component in the area that fostered social interaction and was heavily involved in looking out for the needy, said Vicki Wendel, program manager for the Anoka County Historical Society. "Anytime a church has been around for 150 years it's going to have made a tremendous impact," she said. "It certainly has had an effect on many, many, many people."

What began with 54 Catholic settlers (who lived surrounded by wilderness and worried about things like Indian uprisings) is today a church that welcomes more than 6,500 people to its six weekend masses. StarTribune

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