The U of M LCMS Chapel is a Church Growth Dream Come True, by Pr. Rossow

They have built all sorts of dorms and apartments around the University Chapel in Minneapolis. This is a Church Growth dream come true! The people have come to the church. Yet the Minnesota South District, a district outspokenly committed to the principles of Church Growth, wants to tear it down and sell it. Something just does not add up.

I gleaned this little tid bit while having dinner with the chaplain, Pastor David Kind. I am up in Minneapolis to speak at the CLCC conference and to stick around for some of the ACL conference and had some free time this evening and had a wonderful couple hours of touring the facility and learning all about the Lord’s ministry going on there.

Pastor Kind lives up to his name. He is also a great teacher, administrator and friend to the community. He took me on a tour of the chapel, its Sunday School rooms, the liturgical art studio they have started, the offices and the neighborhood. The chapel is a treasure and so is its pastor. I ask the thousands of BJS readers (we average 3,000 unique visitors a day) to pray that the Minnesota South District Board of Directors reject the plan to liquidate this grand, stately and wonderful facility rather than cash it in for short-term “gain.”

We will keep you posted and as plans become available on how the chapel community will respond we will make them available to you. In the meantime, continue to call and e-mail the Minnesota South district office.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


The U of M LCMS Chapel is a Church Growth Dream Come True, by Pr. Rossow — 16 Comments

  1. I’m generally not into the “It’s a Vast Church Growth Conspiracy!” statements that we confessionals sometimes like to make. In this case, I’d say it’s justified. From what I can tell, even Church Growthers should love this chapel. Unless it proved that Church Growth methods aren’t necessary to have a thriving ministry…

  2. @Nathan92 #1
    Nathan, you got it: “it proved that Church Growth methods aren’t necessary to have a thriving ministry…” Read the other recent stories and blog comments about the history of ULC, and you will understand how right you are…..

  3. “Yet the Minnesota South District, a district outspokenly committed to the principles of Church Growth, wants to tear it down and sell it.”

    Please understand that the above statement refers to some (many? most?) of the elected officers, appointed staff, board & committee members in the district, which is NOT the same thing as the Minnesota South District (congregations, pastors, teachers, deaconesses, etc.). The members of my district are getting this as the result of what a strong majority of delegates voted for at the last district convention. Then we went the way of “theAlley”, which is being touted now as the future way of “doing campus ministry” in our district.

    I serve within the geographical boundaries of the “Minnesota South District of the LCMS”, but please do not confuse me with the “Minnesota South District” referred to above.

  4. @Rev. Anthony Bertram #3

    You have hit on a matter of much confusion:
    Just WHO is the Minnesota District? Is it the officers, board(s), etc.? Or is it the congregations?
    Is the District “the Church” (or simply “Church”?) There is a lot of misunderstanding here.
    Just WHAT is the district? Check the handbook–if I remember correctly, in a nutshell, the District is the Synod in that place. Now what the heck does that mean, portend, or signify?
    Which kingdom does the District serve? Or more accurately, in which kingdom does it serve?
    Once you get that figured out, things get very interesting.
    There are a lot more questions, but you get the picture.

    The regions, circuits, congregations, officers, Board of Directors, staff, and whomever else better get this sorted out. In my humble opinion this confusion is the root cause for much of the distress in which we find ourselves. Especially the atmosphere of mistrust that exists between pastors/congregations and the synod/districts. Have fun!

    Johannes (no answers–just a lot of questions. Been there, done that)

  5. If this is not what Minnesota South as a whole wants, then Minnesota South had better be acting to put the brakes on in its district office.
    Also, that ULC is in Minnesota South is an accident of geography; I daresay that other parts of Minnesota and the upper Midwest contributed to the building of ULC over the years, as a place for their UofM bound youth.

    And, it should be repeated, we are not just talking of a “student center” here, but of a functioning congregation also composed of non students who went looking for a Lutheran church.

    The idea of tearing it down to build an “Alley” in St Peter or Northfield (both —a strongholds) is as ludicrous as offering to build a baptistry at the Jordan river. IMHO.

  6. It would be exciting if it were as interesting as a vast conspiracy. Alas, I fear it is just money. All of the districts are hurting for cash – as is the Synod. This is an asset MNS can sell to make ends meet this year. That’s short sighted, but I think that’s the driving factor. Perhaps some on the board also do not like Pr. Kind or this congregation for a host of reasons – but I’d be willing to bet a six pack that dollars are the driving factor.

    In regard to the shortsightedness it reminds one of the KFUO-FM sale. If someone else could make a profit of it, why not us? But that was not the problem. The Synod needed a quick infusion of cash. They didn’t have time to wait for a steady trickle of profit. So also here, I think.


  7. Pr.Curtis, have you read their mission plan or their power point? Essentially, they sell the buildings and hire some kind of consultant, and let the alley, and other church growth pastors, take over campus ministry. Thats the condensed version. It’s shortsighted power grab.

  8. Boaz…look over the budget in that plan. It’s quite telling.

    Do other districts have missionaries-at-large/campus pastors with six-figure salary packages and guaranteed 10% raises each year? Perhaps that sort of “scale” for its employees is how MNS got itself into such a financial bind.

  9. Could it be that the district feels that the congregation would do just fine without the building? Could it be that the district wants to use that money to fund start ups at other campuses? Just trying to put a positive spin on things.

  10. Snail letters*, please:
    TO: Board of Directors MNS
    c/o Rev. Dr. Lane Seitz, President
    14301 Grand Avenue South
    Burnsville, MN

    To the Board of Directors, MNS,

    *Not so easily or quickly deleted.

  11. This “sale” possibility will be on the agenda at the BOD meeting on May 17, so delay NOT!

  12. Thank you Pastor Rossow, and also Mollie, for your voices about this situation. My family has known Pastor Kind for most of the years he has been at ULC. Two of my daughters were members there while they attended school in the Cities. One of my daughters is still a member there. She was married at ULC last weekend, so our entire family was there. We consider this our second church home, and Pastor Kind to be one of our pastors. We have supported ULC with our time, talent, and treasure. This is a healthy, vibrant, multi-generational congregation that loves and cares for students. They are a proxy family to all. I am sickened by what is taking place. I think it is convenient to say that this is about money. That is an easy argument to hide behind, and might be legitimately made if one was talking about the Mankota piece of this, but ULC is a situation that should stand on its own and be evaluated as such. The entire weekend we were there, on the ground, walking all over that neighborhood, my husband and I both remarked over and over how this place should be the MODEL for success to the synod. It should be highly treasured, especially in these bleak financial times, as one place that actually works for very, very minimal cost. High bang for the buck. I am much more cynical and believe that the forces that are at work here hide behind money arguments to accomplish something very evil and they will not rest until they have accomplished it. Much more can be said about it that I will not say here. I hope and pray that as the continued outpouring of support from all corners of the Confessional Lutheran world come in, that the powers that be in the MN South District will feel the pressure and relent from this fast-track action and treat fairly their brothers and sisters in this congregation and especially the students in this place (whose tears I have seen), and work together to find a MUTUALLY agreeable solution. This, in my opinion, if it really is about money, would be an agreement to sell the property to the congregation at a reduced rate. This place has already been paid for by many, faithful Lutherans over the years for this very purpose that it is currently being used for. The District is only managing it in trust for those many faithful souls. They should not be given the right to profit at the expense of those who sacrificed to provide this extra, special place. And for those who have suggested that the members of ULC might find a different place to gather, that is simply not a viable option whatsoever. Selling the ULC campus will kill the unique and successful ministry at ULC.

    Concerned Lutherans, your voice is important, especially those of you in Minnesota. Send letters! If you need a mailing list, please contact me via email [email protected]

  13. @Noreen #12
    I would not deny that there is a battle of philosophy of ministry and mission going on in the MN-South. That is why I do see this issue as being primarily about money. He who has control of the purse strings has control of all. Who will be deciding who gets the “mission grants” that will be made available at the expense of ULC? Is it likely they will favor congregations who conduct traditional, liturgical Lutheran worship? Money equals control.

  14. If you haven’t yet written and sent a snail-mail letter to the MNS BOD c/o the Rev. Dr. Lane Seitz (Board of Directors – MNS District, LC-MS, c/o President Seitz, 14301 Grand Ave. South, Burnsville, MN 55306) then close your browser, and get it done now. Blogging feels good, but ULC needs real help and prayers.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills
    ULC class of ’85

  15. I want to post a public retraction. When I first heard about all this I was misled by a pastor in the district to think that the first report of these things was untrue, or misleading. I regret that I took his words at face value and posted remarks here that would have tended to cause others to think the reports were false.

    The move by the MN South District to kick the UoM campus ministry out of its facilities, sell the property and engage in an extension to what is already, in my opinion, a highly flawed view of campus ministry, is truly regrettable.

    I would challenge the MN South District to sell its administrative building, move into a large congregation somewhere and reduce the salaries of all district officials by 10% as a good faith demonstration that the MN South District administration is willing to make tough decisions and hard choices and save money to keep successful ministries like that going on at the U of M in the Twin Cities up and running!


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