White Bear Lake United Methodist Church’s Oven Serves Community

White Bear Lake United Methodist Church fires up its oven for food and fellowship.
Andrew Jacot

The church, in addition to opening their bread oven to the community each month, conducts classes on several types of bread from challah to whole wheat with currants and walnuts.

Before breaking bread with each other each week, the congregation of White Bear Lake United Methodist Church bakes it together. In 2010, members built the wood-fired oven in the church’s backyard and have used it to faithfully serve the White Bear Lake community ever since.

The oven was the idea of former WBLUMC pastor Bryce Johnson. “Pastor Johnson’s favorite hobby was to bake bread—he even built an oven in his backyard,” bread oven ministry leader Glenn Oliphant says. During a sabbatical in 2009, Johnson attended baking classes in Tuscany and apprenticed with a master baker in rural France. Inspired by the experience and the multitude of outdoor ovens he saw in small towns across Europe, he raised the idea of installing one on his own church grounds. “The congregation readily agreed,” says Oliphant.

Church members teamed up to build the oven, which was completed and dedicated in September 2010. In the years since, the oven has become a key part of WBLUMC’s ministry and outreach to the White Bear community, as well as the centerpiece of a range of special events and programs that bring food and fellowship to the community at large.

Recipients of WBLUMC’s Bread Bounty

  • White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf
  • Growing Home Farm
  • Catholic Charities
  • Manitou Days
  • Each summer, the church fires up the oven to cook dozens of pizzas for festivalgoers, and in the last two years alone, has served more than 1,800 people a free slice of the homemade, wood-fired goodness.