Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Inside an historic Faribault church along Fourth Avenue December 18, 2019

A Christmas star serves as a current focal point inside the sanctuary of Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church, Faribault.


AS A WOMAN OF FAITH, as an appreciator of the arts, as a creative, I hold a fondness for historic churches. That includes Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church in Faribault, where Hillary Clinton once spoke. I don’t recall the year or reason for her visit, only that my then grade-school-aged daughters, who attended school just blocks away, went to see her. Not for any political reason but because she was the First Lady.


The entry to Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church, Faribault.


Inside the sanctuary of Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church, Faribault.


I remember that bit of history each time I step inside this 1915 church across the street from the Rice County Government Services building. From the exterior, the church appears more courthouse-like than faith center with imposing columns defining the entry. Inside, the sanctuary circles below a dome rather than the expected typical narrow straight-away of churches from that era. Soaring stained glass windows allow in plenty of natural light to offset the dark wood.


Just down the street from Fourth Avenue sits the Congregational Church of Faribault, UCC.


Sometimes I wonder how many born and raised locals have never stepped inside this lovely space. Faribault has many historic churches, an asset which I think needs more promotion and a deeper appreciation. The history and art, especially in windows like the Tiffany stained glass at the Congregational Church of Faribault, UCC, are local treasures. My church, Trinity Lutheran, and the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour showcase beautiful stained glass also.


A seasonal message posted on a hallway wall next to a community bulletin board.


But back to Fourth Avenue. After finishing my meal during the annual Community Christmas Dinner there, I walked around the sanctuary, which connects to an educational wing built in 1964.


The art of a wiseman.


All three wisemen in a corner of the sanctuary.


I looked at the Christmas decorations


Ready for winter, snow shovels lean against an entry wall.


and for nuances that define this as a house of worship in Minnesota.


A bulletin board just inside another entry shows a seasonal message and support for Ruth’s House, a local shelter for women.


With minimal time, I didn’t poke around as much as I typically do. Still, I photographed enough to show you a glimpse of this house of worship, home to a faith family that always feels warm and welcoming each time I visit.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Inside an historic Faribault church along Fourth Avenue”

  1. It is nice to see someone who is willing to showcase such monuments of beauty, even when they project a different viewpoint from the author. A true sign of a journalist and someone who educates. Hopefully your insights inspire others to follow in your footsteps.
    May you have an enjoyable and peaceful holiday (hopefully without a blizzard).

  2. Susan Ready Says:

    Lovely photograph essay on the highlights of a beautiful historical church that can be appreciated by all no matter what faith. Blessings of the season to you and your family. . .


    I recall seeing this impressive church on shopping trips to Faribault when we were growing up. It was so nice to finally get a look inside. Your idea to showcase the churches to the public is a great idea; I hope it happens because these places are uplifting and beautiful. Merry Christmas.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    Now I want to go look inside this church sometime when I’m in Faribault.

  5. Brian Says:

    One of my benefits of having a rural delivery route in western North Dakota was being able to see the locations of country churches along with pioneer cemeteries. When Chief Sitting Bull surrendered in western Dakota Territory in the early 1880’s and the final stretch of railroad was laid between Mandan and Billings it was safe for homesteaders. Where people settled, churches followed. I saw many dilapidated remains of pioneer churches, but more than a few were still being used, if not for services then for other gatherings. One senior saint (now deceased) from my church in Dickinson ND grew up in a country church on my route, Ebenezer Baptist Church of New Leipzig ND. I thought the name odd in North Dakota, and most country churches were Lutheran churches named for Apostles. Martin Luther King was pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta GA. My friend, the senior saint Emanuel Auch, told me the men and boys sat on one side and the women folk on the other. He said the services were in German. As the years went by families started to sit together (oh the humanity!) and a second service in English was added and eventually only English was used. I’ve seen church disagreements over paint or carpet color, can you imagine the hard feelings by some when those old traditions were changed?

    Thank you as usual for your insight and pictures Audrey.

    • It would have been so interesting to ride with you on your route and see those pioneer churches and all the other history and beauty of that region.

      As far as women on one side, men on the other and the introduction of English in previously German speaking only churches, I am only a generation removed from that. My parents and their parents attended Lutheran churches with services in German and the division of peoples.

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Love me some old churches…this one is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

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