ST. PAUL — A religious community that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett reportedly belongs to has been an established part of Minnesota for decades.
People of Praise not only has an official branch based in Eagan, Minn., but operates one of its three private schools there. That school today enrolls more than 270 middle and high school students and employs 35 full-time and part-time faculty members, according to its website.
The conservative Christian group People of Praise has drawn national attention with this week's hearings for Supreme Court nominee Barrett.
Barrett has not publicly commented on her membership in People of Praise, and the group has also declined to confirm that Barrett is a member. News organizations including the Washington Post and New York Times found through their own reporting that she is a member.
Minnesota branch coordinator Tom Caneff declined to be interviewed for this story, as did Trinity Schools President Jon Balsbaugh. A spokesperson for the national organization declined to make any members available for an interview.
Formally founded in South Bend, Ind., in 1971, People of Praise itself currently comprises 22 branches in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. There are approximately 1,700 members of the group, according to its website, though it isn't clear how many are Minnesota residents.
The group is described on its website as a Christian community that grew out of the wider charismatic movement, sometimes called the Pentecostal movement or renewal. The group formed in the 1960s at Notre Dame University, where Barrett studied and later taught law, "when students and faculty ... began to experience a renewal of Christian enthusiasm and fervor, together with charismatic gifts such as speaking in tongues and physical healing, as described in the New Testament book of Acts," the website says.
People of Praise founded the private Christian Trinity Schools schools in 1981 and today operates three: one in South Bend; one in Falls Church, Va., and the River Ridge school in Eagan. Its first school in Minnesota was originally in Minneapolis and opened in 1987, according to the school's website, using space at a local church.
The school in Eagan has moved twice since it opened, first to Bloomington in 1991 and later in 2008 to its current location. It was designated as a "Blue Ribbon" school on three separate occasions by the U.S. Department of Education.
Students who attend the schools do not have to be members of People of Praise and, according to the group's website, a majority of them are not. Nor are they required to make any statements about their faith or religious affiliations in order to attend, according to the school website, though faculty members "subscribe to the Nicene Creed and are members in good standing of their own Christian churches."
While Trinity School at River Ridge is co-educational, boys and girls are taught in separate classrooms, according to its website. A traditional approach to gender roles is similarly reflected in the wider organization's structure.
Prospective members can only join after completing a probationary period of sorts that can last for three to six years. After joining, they pledge 5% of their annual gross income to the group.
In Minnesota, the group is also incorporated as a nonprofit. Documents made viewable online by the nonprofit news website ProPublica show that the Minnesota branch reported $1.6 million in revenue in 2019, much of which it collected in the form of rent or fees charged for camps, retreats and other activities it organized.