This project was made possible by the generous support of the many friends of Union Gospel Mission. In particular, we would like to thank the following supporters for their extraordinary contributions.

  • The E.R. MacKinney Family
  • The George Verley Family

Timeline of Faith

1800s – 1920

The Birth of a Mission

The Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities
Inspired by the pioneering work of “city missions” around the world and growing social pressures at home, faith leaders in the young city of St. Paul create a refuge for those who are poor, suffering and without hope.

1800s: Start of the City Mission Movement.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.

Luke 4:18 (NASB)

1870-1900: Economic calamity and an immigration boom.

1900: Social services rise to meet the challenge.

City life stands, on the whole, for mental, moral and physical deterioration.

Twin Cities businessman

1902: Union Gospel Mission is founded.

1902: An enduring resolution.

1902: Reverend E.R. MacKinney, first superintendent.

1902: A haven for “Soup, Soap and Salvation.”

1902: The central role of women.

1904: The Gospel Wagon.

Located on a corner where we can gather a crowd, the singing, testimonials and some short, sharp addresses by the converts have been blessed by God.

from an early Mission report

1905: Union Gospel Mission's Second Annual Report.

1909: Peter MacFarlane, Mission Man.

I came to the Mission half-starved spiritually.... I’m not starved anymore, for I have learned to feast on the good things of the kingdom.

Peter MacFarlane

1910: The Mission’s Seventh Annual Report.

1910: A home for seven decades.

The greatest and most rewarding charity work that I did was with the Union Gospel Mission.

Dr. Harvey Ogden Skinner, the clinic’s founding doctor

1910: A new medical clinic for St. Paul.

1916: The Mission receives influential support.

1917: U.S. Enters World War One.

1919: The West Side Mission is established.

1920: Help for unwed mothers.

1920: A new Sunday School.

1920s: A youth problem, a Mission solution.

1920 – 1940

Everlastingly At It

The Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities
As the 1920s roar into the Great Depression, the Union Gospel Mission redoubles its efforts to help those in need, from a hotel to house the homeless to clubs and camps for youth.

1926: Expansion and the Bethel Hotel.

1927: An outlet for boyish energies.

1928: Peter MacFarlane at the Minnesota Club. (Date approximate)

How many of you would be willing to give up your meal tonight to help some downtrodden person?

Peter MacFarlane

1929: Girls’ Club opens. (Date approximate)

1929: Stock Market Crash.

1930s: The Great Depression.

We are faced with a grave responsibility. [Our work] should be enlarged and expanded…sufficient to meet and care for the increased numbers...

Peter MacFarlane

1930: A surprising home for Gospel Hill Camp.

1938: A presence in the Rondo neighborhood.

1940: Who seeks shelter at the Mission?

1940: The Ober Club for young people.

1940 – 1960

Tradition and Transition

The Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities
At the mid-century mark, Union Gospel Mission loses its longest serving leader and launches new initiatives in employment and addiction recovery that define its next era.

1941: The U.S. enters World War II.

1940s: A day nursery to support the war effort.

1957: New leader, new style: Harold Mordh.

It is easy to see from Harold’s case how it pays in dollars and cents to give boys a boost when they need it.

Peter MacFarlane

1958: End of an era.

1958: A Thanksgiving tradition begins.

1960s: Fellowship Hall and workman’s pool.

1962: Help for alcoholics.

1950s-1960s: I-94 changes a neighborhood forever.

1960 – 1980

The Struggle for a New Home

The Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities
Despite the Mission’s essential role in the community, the upheaval of urban renewal eventually displaces it. The organization embarks on a decade-long search for a new location — led by one of its loyal graduates.

We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.

President Lyndon Johnson

1964: Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

1960s: Turning donations into jobs.

1960s: Foster care for those in need.

1965: Dental care within reach.

The fun part of it is seeing them come out with the pain gone.

Dr. Mohammed El Deeb, clinic volunteer

1969: Search for a new location.

1973: Job skills for brighter futures.

Our graduates have gone on to become medical and legal secretaries, office managers and administrative assistants because we’ve taught them the foundational skills to get their foot in the door. From there, the sky’s the limit.

Carol Wickstrom, former director

1974: George Verley, a life of service.

1980: 11 years later, a new home.

It turned out to be the best place for us....It took a long time for me to see that.

George Verley

A life transformed: Mike Kukuska.

1980: Hope for lives broken by addiction.

They just loved me for who I was. I believe that they had a vision from God to start the center. I am a product of that vision.

Jim Sky, a drug and alcohol addict for 24 years who was saved through the work of the center

A life transformed: Randy Young

1980 – 2000

Confronting Crisis with Compassion

The Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities
From its new home on University Avenue, Union Gospel Mission is tested by a wave of homelessness, addiction and families in need — and responds with innovative new programs to pull people out of crisis.

1981: Economic crash and homeless crisis.

Suddenly we were overwhelmed with men.... It seemed like within a month’s time we went from 180 to 300 men.

George Verley

1984: Holiday meals for seniors.

We try to make those days special. Otherwise, that’s just another day for so many of our people.

George Verley

1991: Real change through discipleship.

The Discipleship Program became my home and family when I was lost and alone. There I experienced my first real exposure to God and His Word, and it changed my life!

Donald, Discipleship Program graduate

1992: Hope for recovery expands.

Now they have all the components to take people...that everyone else has refused to take and run them all the way through the program and back into society.

F.T. (Ted) Weyerhaeuser, 3rd generation member of the UGM Board of Directors

1992: A refuge for families in need.

A life transformed: Anna Oerter.

1990s: Developing skills for the digital age.

Here are just a few of the most important things I learned while I was in the Learning Center: I learned that there is a second chance waiting for you — if you want it.... I learned that it is never too late to go back to school. I am 35 years old and had tried two or three times before to get my GED, but this time I actually did it!”

Jason, LifeNet Learning Center graduate

1994: Empowering education at LifeNet.

1997: From dreams to careers with WorkNet.

1997: Child development and adult education in one place.

2000 – 2020

A New Century Dawns

The Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities
As the new century dawns, Union Gospel Mission again redoubles its efforts, expanding programs and developing new approaches to meet the increasingly complex needs of those it serves.

2001: The Ona Orth Ministry Center.

You want to give something that is going to live on.… If I could just see a changed life in one person, it was worth it.

Ona Orth

2003: Welcome Ken Cooper as Executive Director.

This work can’t be contained within the walls of a building, and it continues on long after programs and directors have run their course.

Ken Cooper

2004: Discovery Program brings hope and healing.

2004: Children’s Gospel Mission comes on board.

2004: New name, bigger reach in the Twin Cities.

2005: SuccessNet, a safety net for job success.

2005: Extending a hand to ex-offenders.

2005: Outreach expands with Asian Ministries.

2007: A new leader for the Mission: Ken Peterson.

In my years as Executive Director, I always kept in the forefront that everyone who walked through our doors looking for help was made in the image and likeness of God — worthy of our full attention, our best efforts and our sincere love.

Rev. Kenneth Peterson

2008: Economy hit hard as real estate bubble bursts.

2011: Innovative support services for those in need.

You will never be spiritually what you’re not emotionally. By also addressing the emotional, physical and mental health needs of those who come through our doors, we prepare people to invite God into their lives.

Dr. Charles P. Morgan

2013: Daily Diner trains job seekers in Frogtown.

2014: Practical job exposure and training.

This program encouraged me to pursue my dreams and not to settle [for less].

Pat, Christ Recovery Center graduate and aviation mechanic

A life transformed: Donald Samuels.

2014: A new leader for a new era.

As Christians, we need to engage completely with the world around us — looking outward as well as inward — to marshal all our knowledge and resources for the benefit of others.

Dr. Charles P. Morgan

The future of Union Gospel Mission.