History & Overview
Sabathani Community Center was founded in 1966 by concerned residents and members of Sabathani Baptist Church in South Minneapolis. These were caring folks who wanted to provide recreation for kids in the neighborhood. The youngsters were well-meaning but restless. At the time, there were few and inadequate facilities to serve their needs. The initial concept of Sabathani quickly outgrew its single purpose. Residents began requesting broader, more direct services, especially those addressing basic needs.
After operating in a number of locations in South Minneapolis, Sabathani took a huge leap forward in 1979 when it settled in the former Bryant Junior High School building. In a large outpouring of community voice, neighborhood residents organized to lobby the city and the public schools to sell the site to Sabathani.
The community’s efforts were successful. Sabathani had obtained and renovated the school building on E. 38th Street with the concept of creating a focal point for community identity, empowerment and social change. Organizers of this grassroots effort envisioned a place where residents could gather in a welcoming environment, fellowship, build community, conduct business and receive programs and services that would move people forward.