Glen Cary Lutheran Church was founded on October 24, 1870. The constitution officially designated it the "Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Glen Carey Township, Anoka County, Minnesota" and the constitution further stipulated that "this name cannot be changed except by State Legislature orders." Sometime later Glen Carey (a Scottish name meaning "Beautiful Valley") Township was burned to the ground by a prairie fire, leaving its name to be preserved by the church. Church services were held in homes in the first years. The first church building was started in 1873 on land donated by Mats Gilbertson. Mats and his wife and children first moved into the area in 1866. It took them three days by covered wagon to make the trip from St. Anthony (later Minneapolis) to our present location. The trails were so bad the horses were mired in mud several times. The new church was 22 feet wide, 32 feet long and had 14 foot studs. The church was used during part of the season of 1875 and was completed in 1880 for year-round use. It was in 1875 that pastors from Minneapolis began serving the congregation once a month. For many years this meant someone had to drive a team into Minneapolis to "fetch the preacher." In 1899 the railroad came through neighboring Andover (only three miles away), shortening the trip considerably. There was still a problem however; the train only came through around midnight. To compensate for the inconvenience, whoever was delegated to make the trip to "fetch the pastor" was excused from their $3.00 annual payment to the church. For many years there were frequent entries in the congregational minutes with instructions to negotiate with a congregation in Minneapolis for "pastor service."
In the early years, Glen Cary Church did not have musical accompaniment and three gentlemen were elected to lead the congregation in singing. Three men were elected to increase the odds of at least one of them showing up. In 1926 services were held every third Sunday. Sometime after 1933 a pastor began to come every other Sunday plus once a month for Ladies Aid, Luther League, and whatever other meetings were occasioned. It was not until 1952 that services were held every Sunday.
The early settlers were predominately Norwegian and Swedish. There was a discussion about which language to use during worship, which led to the separation of Glen Cary members. In 1873 some Swedes withdrew to form another congregation to our north (Our Saviour's Lutheran), while the Norwegians stayed in the Glen Cary congregation. There were also hard financial times through out our history. At a particularly trying time during the depression, the men were discussing closing the church because the church didn't have $35 to pay the pastor's salary. The resourceful women of the congregation overheard this and planned a chicken dinner to help raise the money. This traditional dinner was used for many years to raise funds for various needs of the churh. Though the menu has changed over the years, the dinner is now an annual event known as the Harvest Festival.
Ground was broken for our first Sanctuary in 1959; the Narthex and education wings were added in 1969. Groundbreaking for our current structure was in 2001 and the building was completed in September of 2002. Our new Sanctuary can accommodate more people so we have moved from three Sunday services to two Sunday services. Our Sunday school classes have been combined and are held during the hour between worship services. Glen Cary Lutheran Church has been around for 143 years. Concerns expressed through out our history are still expressed today. How do we reach out to the growing population and incorporate new members into the life and mission of the congregation without losing the close-family spirit? We pray that our mission will continue to be to reach out to all within our reach.