Before a new building was finished in 1870, services were held at Main Street and Fourth Avenue. Early baptisms were performed in the Mississippi River. After St. Anthony was annexed by Minneapolis, the church changed its name in 1879 to Olivet Baptist Church.
In 1921 the present name, University Baptist Church, was adopted. Construction of the present church building was also begun in 1921. A dozen ministers served the congregation over the next 70 years, the longest terms served by G. C. Fetter, 1929-46, John Bone, 1947-59, and Lee Freeman, 1976-90.
Through its 150 years the congregation has been characterized by progressive theology and a strong commitment to peace and justice issues. Early members were involved in the abolitionist movement and women's suffrage. The 1960s were marked by programs of social action and issues involvement. Pastor Kenneth Huyck marched in Selma, Alabama, for civil and voting rights.
Like other inner city churches, UBC has been challenged to sustain membership and resources within changing times. For a brief period, UBC considered merging with other southeast churches to maximize resources and talents and developed ongoing relationships with other congregations. Dr. David Bartlett helped expand church outreach at the University of Minnesota and established other new programs. UBC efforts were directed toward ecumenical programs.
In recent decades UBC has developed an outstanding music program. A new pipe organ was built, and the church published and still uses an inclusive language hymnal--among the first in the nation. The congregation starts the Lord's prayer, "Our Father, Mother." Rev. Dr. Nadean Bishop, the first woman and open lesbian pastor, served the congregation between 1992-2000. During this time, several outreach programs to assist the needy were developed. In its justice ministry, UBC became vocal as a Welcoming and Affirming congregation.
The building continues to serve the community as a site for several nonprofit organizations and has been benefited by recent extensive renovations, including handicap accessibility for the sanctuary and main floor. The Rev. Douglas M. Donley has been our Pastor since March of 2001. In its southeast Minneapolis location, UBC enjoys both the advantages of a diverse membership and opportunities to minister to its neighbors.