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Originally known as "The Wayside Chapel", Wooddale Church is a large evangelical Christian church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The large success of Wooddale Church led to the formation of many other similar churches in Minnesota. Today Wooddale church is affiliated with the Converge Worldwide (Baptist General Conference) as well as the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.
Wooddale Church was founded in 1943 at an organizational meeting in a Minneapolis tavern. That meeting led to a Sunday School and morning and evening church services on April 12, 1943. The original congregation adopted the name “The Wayside Chapel.” Until January 1, 1949 students from the Northwestern Bible School and Bethel College and Seminary actively led the small church.
On January 1, 1949, John D. Lundberg became the pastor of the church. During the early part of 1949 the church made plans to reorganize as a Baptist church because of a desire to affiliate with other churches and because of the need for financial assistance. The congregation affiliated itself with the Baptist General Conference.
On June 12, 1949, the church officially became Wooddale Baptist Church of Richfield. There were 32 charter members. That same month, the church broke ground for a permanent church building, albeit just a basement, which would be occupied November 13, 1949.
The church continued to grow and by 1954 the Sunday School had grown to an average attendance of 238. This led to further construction of a Christian Education space.
In the fall of 1955 Lundberg left to take a new position in Florida. In April 1955, Paul Thompson became the new pastor. He began his ministry on July 1, 1956. On February 1, 1957, Pastor Paul Thompson died from injuries received in an automobile accident. In May 1957, Peter Unruh became the senior pastor.
Continued growth led to duplicate Sunday morning worship services and plans for construction of new facilities which were ready for use September 13, 1959. In 1962 the church began having duplicate Sunday morning services again and began planning for additional expansion, completed on September 27, 1964.
On January 1, 1977, Leith Anderson began his ministry at Wooddale. Anderson retired as senior pastor on December 31, 2011. A lengthy and deliberate search for Anderson's successor culminated on April 28, 2013 when the membership of Wooddale called Dale Hummel as the current senior pastor of Wooddale Church.
In 1981 the church purchased 32 acres (13 ha) of undeveloped land in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a nine-mile (14 km) move. It was at this time the church was renamed “Wooddale Church.” Construction on the new site began in the fall of 1983 was partially occupied in July 1984 and finished and fully occupied in November 1985.
On October 30, 1988 construction started on a new 63,000 sq ft (5,900 m2), 2000-seat worship center, complete with pipe organ and a 199-foot-0.75-inch (60.6743 m) steeple (to avoid the need for a beacon light on the top), and was finished in November 1990.
Wooddale expanded to a 2nd campus on November 16, 2008, located at 5532 Wooddale Avenue South, Edina, Minnesota.
Wooddale Church, 6630 Shady Oak Road, Eden Prairie Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3218 is a member of both the Baptist General Conference as well as the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. It is listed as a member congregation on both denomination's websites.
Expansion to other suburbs
Concurrent with the building expansion of the early '90s, and consistent with its focus on outreach, Wooddale Church began an aggressive program to start new churches, with Wooddalers recruited as a part of the founding core of each church start.
- Woodridge Church (Medina) was begun in 1991.
- Woodcrest Church (Eagan) began in 1993.
- Westwood Church (Chanhassen) held its first public services on Easter Sunday in 1995.
- Bridgewood Church (Savage) 1997
- Northwood Church (Maple Grove) in 2000
- Oakwood Community Church (Waconia) 2000
- Timberwood Church (Nisswa)
- City Church (Minneapolis) 2004
- Brookwood Church (Shakopee) 2008
The continued growth of the Church meant that more space was needed. In 1995, construction began to provide new classrooms for the church’s youth programs and office space for the expanding staff. In March 2000 a 34,600 sq ft (3,210 m2) addition was dedicated.
In the fall of 2000 the worship schedule was expanded to six services each weekend with a contemporary service on Saturday evening, and three contemporary services and two traditional services on Sunday morning. Attendance was soon averaging well over 4,000 each weekend, with about 2,000 children, youth and adults in Sunday School.[when?]
By 2006, attendance was averaging 5,000 per week. Pastor Emeritus Leith Anderson currently serves as president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) which represents 30 million Christians.
As a performance venue for symphony orchestras the hall has been praised for its "bright, warm acoustics.
- Hanners, David "Minnesota pastor brings calm hand to battered church group." David Hanners. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington: Nov 12, 2006. pg. 1 ProQuest document ID: 1160763341 Document URL: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1160763341&sid=3&Fmt=2&clientId=76566&RQT=309&VName=PQD (Subscription) Retrieved April 10, 2007
- Ong, Bao, "Pastor to lead evangelicals." Publication title: Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington: Nov 6, 2006. pg. 1 ProQuest document ID: 1175439811 Document URL: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1175439811&sid=3&Fmt=2&clientId=76566&RQT=309&VName=PQD (Subscription). Retrieved April 10, 2007
- Anthony, Michael."Shostakovich work proves worthy match." Publication title: Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington: Oct 1, 2006. pg. 1 ProQuest document ID: 1138911451 Document URL: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1138911451&sid=3&Fmt=2&clientId=76566&RQT=309&VName=PQD (subscription required). Retrieved April 10, 2007