LCMS Leaders See University Lutheran Chapel as Vital Ministry

Several key leaders from throughout the LCMS have recently focused their attention on the future viability of University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pastor David Kind has organized a National Leadership Team to help the Chapel raise capital to purchase the property from the Minnesota South District which has proposed divesting itself of the campus in part to solve budget challenges and also in part to fund a new, remote program for ministry to university students.

These key LCMS leaders of the National Leadership Team call on every member of the LCMS to consider joining them in this historic and important endeavor as they help ULC take the next step in its life together, owning their own sanctuary and campus.

The National Leadership Team consists of some well known figures from around the synod, pastors in the Minnesota South and North Districts and some key lay leaders.

  • Professor John Pless, Concordia Theological Seminary,Ft. Wayne, IN
  • Pastor Klemet Preus, Glory of Christ Lutheran Church, Plymouth, MN
  • Pastor Christopher Esget, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA (Mollie Ziegler Hemingway’s pastor)
  • Pastor Marcus Zill, St. Andrew Lutheran Church and Campus Center, Laramie, WY and Executive Director of Christ on Campus, Higher Things
  • The Rev. Dr. Karl Weber, St. John Lutheran Church, Ottertail, MN and St. Paul Lutheran Church, Richville, MN (Minnesota North)
  • Pastor Brian Thorson, Zion and Trinity Lutheran Churches, Lewisville, MN (Minnesota South)
  • Noreen Linke, member, Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, TX(home parish of the Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, Fifth Vice President of the LCMS)
  • Glenn Meints, Chairman of the Congregation, University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis,MN
  • Pastor David Kind, University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis, MN

Also serving on the National Leadership Team are the partners of Wittenberg Church Consultants, The Rev. Dr. Timothy A. Rossow and Donna Linnemeyer, of Naperville, Illinois, who are donating their services and the campaign plan to the cause.

The Chapel is home to over 100 members and countless students of the University of Minnesota and other area colleges.  The twin cities area has an unusually high concentration of young Lutherans who look to the ULC as their church home and to Pastor David Kind for solid, confessional preaching and teaching during their young adult years. The Chapel reaches out beyond the university campus with its annual theological conference and study weekend, its liturgical arts activities and by sending countless confessional and liturgical pastors, teachers, and musicians into the field of the LCMS.

In an heroic effort to save this vital, active and confessional church, local members, along with church leaders from around the country have vowed to conduct this national capital campaign to raise the funds needed to “buy back” their church from the District. 

Earlier this month this National Leadership Team was formed to work the plan to reach out to current members, students, alumni, alumni parents, confessional churches and confessional individuals who realize the importance of maintaining this beacon of good confessional teaching and preaching. The National Leadership Team has heartily endorsed the plan and is kicking off the effort by enlisting additional volunteers to begin organizing local meetings around the state of Minnesota and around the country to share the story of the ULC and gather financial gifts and pledges of support.

In the meantime, the members of the ULC parish have formed a group of program team leaders and volunteers to carry out the nuts and bolts of the campaign.  They will be producing brochures, a video, pledge cards, hosting a prayer vigil, among other strategies.

What can you do?  If you realize the importance of keeping this vital, confessional church open and functioning so that its members, as well as current and future students will have a place to hear the Gospel preached and taught in all its purity, contact Pastor David Kind to find your place in this campaign.  If you can help the ULC reach it financial goal of one million dollars, please send your gifts to: University Lutheran Chapel, 1101 University Ave, SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55414. (Designate your gift for the “Capital Campaign.”) Future articles will offer more information on how you might host a home gathering for the cause or contribute in other ways. ULC requests your prayers for God’s blessing as they embark on this next step in their life together serving the students of the University of Minnesota and the broader synod.

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.

Comments

LCMS Leaders See University Lutheran Chapel as Vital Ministry — 42 Comments

  1. Rev Rossow,

    Tell the leaders of synod to support ULC versus the LMI and you might have not one but two million dollars.

    It is time to support “ministry” versus nets.

    Pastor Raddatz

  2. In my senior year at the University of Mi when my faith was rekindled by a friend of mine. It was such a comfort to walk into the LCMS Chapel and find a ministry that met my spiritual and intellectual needs. I did not want Jesus movement mantras ( it was the s70s and being in Ann Arbor I experienced it all), I did not want to feel comfortable; I wanted truth and I was given it in God’s Law and Gospel. The historicity and deep legacy of the LCMS was and continues to be my anchor because it is so solidly based on the whole council of God’s Word.

  3. We need to do both, Pr. Raddatz,
    There are more Lutherans in Africa than there are here. [Perhaps Luther was right and we have had our “shower” of faith, which will pass on to people more willing to believe.]

    St Olaf is in Northfield, and another elca college is in St Peter, two place MN SO thinks it needs to provide “coffee houses”! I took “Coffee 101” when I went to a Norwegian college so I don’t see the need. (If they wanted to plant real Lutheranism, that might be something new there.) So I am sorry to support the idea even indirectly. But if that is what it takes to keep a confessional Lutheran presence at U of M, I will help as a native Minnesotan.

    I hope everyone else here will do a little more than talk about it.

    [Hi, Pr. Zill! Thanks for sending UT a grad student and St Paul a regular pewsitter.]

  4. @Timothy C. Schenks #4
    The District should consider GIVING the property to the chapel/congregation.

    Well, sure, Timothy; the people of Minnesota paid for it the first time.
    But apparently their liberal congregations aren’t generous enough to fund the district’s “coffeehouse” schemes, so ……

    What I want to know is: if the property is bought for ULC, will they really own it? Because lcms districts seem to be getting the idea here and there that they can take over congregational property, in elca fashion!

  5. Nathan Raddatz :
    Rev Rossow,
    Tell the leaders of synod to support ULC versus the LMI and you might have not one but two million dollars.
    It is time to support “ministry” versus nets.
    Pastor Raddatz

    There are people who want to give to nets. There are other people who would want to give to ULC. There are still other people who want to do other ministry. One does not negate the other. The Lord provides plenty of resources, even if all we think we have is five loaves and two fish.

  6. I too can thank Pastor Zill for a gift. Our voters assembly Vice Chair was catethized by Pastor Zill out in Wyoming. He and his wife are wonderful confessional members of our parish. They are another great example of what a physical presence of the LCMS can do on college campuses. God bless St. Andrews (Zill’s parish), the ULC and all our campus parishes.

    TR

  7. Praying that an effort such as this could be started at University of Wisconsin in Madison, where our LCMS students are hungering for campus ministry………

  8. Which are the handiest confessional Lutheran churches, Ramona?
    What are they doing to invite students and make them welcome? The district cannot be depended upon these days (although I don’t know what Wisconsin is like).

    LCMS students should find a church while they are finding a college and go there.
    Their home pastors could help them make a connection. If it matters to the student, it can be done.

    [St Paul has put ads in the introductory issues of the campus newspaper, for one thing.]
    But we got the last two grad students because one had a brother who listened to Issues Etc. (Thank you, Tod Wilken!) and one was referred by Marcus Zill and his campus ministry. We are happy to have them!

  9. Buildings for campus ministry do not fit the mold for Missional Renaissance- Reggie McNeal- then again neither do church buildings and district offices.

  10. @helen #9
    Or better still, having a good church nearby could be a part of considering where to attend college, especially given all of the trials and temptations usually found during those four years.

    I have a number of members who attend Pr. Zill’s congregation, and also the blessing of having him in my circuit.

    Save ULC. Even if we must pay for her again. My home congregation paid for her building three times in the span of a year due to a swindling contractor and then a fire.

  11. As a grateful alumnus of ULC, I’ll make a donation to purchase the building a second time.  I just wish the MNS district would explain what seems to be their unfair and unChristian action.   Minnesota Lutherans worked hard and donated generously in the 1960’s to pay for the property.  This was intended as a gift to the students and not a gift to the district.  

  12. @Nathan Raddatz #1 Once again, the facts are getting in your way here. Synod is not being asked to support LMI – individual members of Lutheran congregations are being asked to support it. Glad you’re still doing your homework…

  13. @Paul #14

    Per the 6-15-11 LCMS Press Release:

    “At the 2010 synod convention last July, more than 97% of voting delegates moved to encourage the LCMS through its agencies, congregations, schools, universities, and seminaries to support LMI.”

    I think that support will come from more than just individual congregation members for this worthy initiative.

  14. Paul,

    Yes,yes. You are more knowledgeable than me, since you served on some board or committee having some dealings with the LMI.

    The problem is that you cannot seem to get your facts or assumptions right.

    Case in point:

    1. The resolution quoted above.
    2. CPH VBS had as their mission project this LMI effort.
    3. Rev Harrison spoke publicly at a press conference with Rev John Nunes at Historic Trinity in Detroit.
    4. Ads for this campaign are in different synodical items.

    The leadership at least by their words and actions does support this.

    Something to think about. A church (campus ministry) is being threatened with the sale of it’s sanctuary. Though a district affair, maybe synodical leaders ought to publicly promote funds for this or at least tell some to cut the crap.

    There are a million things far better for our leaders to support and promote than nets and any cooperative work with LWR on the LMI effort.

    To those who say there are many great efforts, you are right. But not the LMI when there is an opportunity to save and start new churches which are efforts of the LCMS alone and not some pan-Lutheran organization.

    The scenario is clear, support the truth and clarity of the pure Gospel, not the buying of nets with who knows what is going to happen or even if the Gospel will be present.

    Have a blessed night

    Pastor Nathan Raddatz

  15. Steven,

    If you are trying to be sarcastic, you failed. I never said let these people die. I did say we ought to get our hand out of this effort. In fact, whether the LCMS name is on the project, there is reason to believe these people as poor as they are will receive help from other government agencies inside and out of the US.

    Again, in regards to ULC, we ought to focus locally and at a national level in getting the funds. With so many financial concerns at all levels beginning with the local parish, I believe firmly we are spread way to thin already. Consider that our seminaries need financial assistance and that a number of international students would die to come to one of our seminaries.

  16. @Nathan Raddatz #18
    I believe firmly we are spread way to thin already.

    “We’ve only got [five loaves and two fishes] but what are they among so many?”

    “Yeah, Lord, we can’t do it all. Our family’s got loans out for 3-4 pickups because we all have to drive to church individually and keeping them in gas is expensive, too! Apple keeps coming out with a new gadget and we need all of them. Flat screen TV’s are the way to go now; you wouldn’t want us embarrassed by having to watch Leno on one of the old kind! Wear last year’s shirt? Yagottabekidding! That goes to Goodwill.”

    “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do it to Me.”

    There are truly many appeals and many needs! Prayer is needed most of all,
    and then each needs to support the work as much as they can.

    Support of international students at our seminaries is certainly a worthy project!
    Some of them will be African. Some of the people helped by the eradication of malaria may well be their parishioners.

  17. What’s needed is that our district offices stop wasting our money on things that are not Lutheran (and may be only marginally Christian).

    They might re think their own salaries and get them in line with the parish pastor, (not some multiple of his wage). I don’t say “Lay people off” because that’s painful, (although it was mandated by convention at synodical level).

    We can pay day school teachers less this year and still be “on district scale”! (District administrators? Nobody’s said.)

    Our [state] university is reducing staff by not filling positions as they are vacated and yes, we’ve had frozen salaries, too. And we, being many in this town, are the people who are called upon to support the churches.

  18. The $1,000,000 goal could be reached if 20,000 confessional Lutherans would each give a one-time gift of $50.00. Most people I know could do such a thing. Let’s all use our time and energy in spreading the word so that we can get as many of our friends to send that gift of $25 or $50 or $100, and let’s see if we can’t just reach that goal so that ULC can continue to serve our synod in the many fine ways that she has been doing. Let’s help them put an end to the stranglehold the MN South District has had on them for all these years. And for those of you who can give a larger gift, or give a pledge of support over the next three years, please join me in doing it. The time is now.

  19. @Nathan Raddatz #16 The implication of course, when saying “support” is financial. And that is my point – the LCMS is not providing financial support to LMI. Individuals are being asked to do it. They don’t have to of course, and if they would like to use their $ for other causes they are free to do so. It is beyond my understanding however, why anyone would so strongly encourage people not to support an effort to help combat malaria. If an individual places a higher priority on another issue, so be it. But to hammer away at a project because it “isn’t Lutheran” (what does that even mean?) shows the relative chill in one’s heart.

  20. Pray for the Lord’s mercy upon ULC. And please support the goal of securing the future of this ministry at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and to the broader Twin Cities area. As Noreen Linke points out above (post #22), if 20,000 confessional Lutherans each give $50.00, we will have reached the $1,000,000 goal.

    ULC is not a decaying, floundering congregation – it is alive and active and vibrant and growing. At the beginning of every school year we have new students that come (and many stay for the duration of their education in the Twin Cities) – not just from the U of MN, but from other colleges and universities in the area. This past Sunday (8/28) our car pool to and from Concordia University in St Paul (CUSP) was challenged because of the number of CUSP students that came to the Divine Service – we need to add more cars and drivers! All of these students are fed with the Word, Body and Blood of our Lord; they learn, they grow in their faith, and when they leave the Twin Cities to pursue their vocations beyond college, they are equipped to face a world that continues its hostility towards faithful Christians. But ULC is not only a campus mission, it is also a full member congregation of Synod, with an active membership – we have both young and old, Sunday school, confirmation classes, choir, musicians, bible studies. Is ULC not worth supporting?

    There are NO other area congregations that actively reach out to student populations in the Twin Cities. How the district expects other congregations to fill the void, if they do go through with their proposed disposal of the ULC property, is mind boggling. The likely outcome = ULC will be put out on the street with no physical home (and in reality NO chance to regain such a prominent, visible location) and other congregations, that are not geographically close to the U of MN campus and have no experience in campus ministry, will be asked to take on this role and they will struggle – some will work hard, others will not bother, and in the meantime the LCMS presence on the U of MN campus will be lost and only regained at huge expense of time and money. Is ULC not worth supporting?

    ULC is an oasis and a sanctuary in a barren, hostile land. Please pray for ULC and support her in this challenging time.

    Oliver Young
    Elder
    University Lutheran Chapel
    Minneapolis, MN

  21. @helen #3
    My son goes to Carleton College which is just down the road from St Olaf. He attends Trinity Northfield, which strikes me as a pretty solid LCMS congregation, and in my opinion a good candidate for a ULC style “Town and Gown” ministry. It’s got a fairly stable base of locals (probably better than ULC) a nice enough facility, and a location w/in walking distance of one nationally ranked college, and close enough to a second. Rather than starting up some sort of “coffee house ministry” at St. Olaf, MNS District should be encouraging Trinity Northfield to partner w/ ULC and follow a model that’s both consistent w/ our confessions and seems to work. It needn’t be expensive. Trinity Northfield and ULC could offer rides to get students together for some of ULC’s excellent study weekends, and add an on-campus Bible Study (or even a Confessions reading group!)

    The “student leadership” and “students as missionaries” models miss the obvious points that college students are both very busy, and in a very spiritually challenging atmosphere (often for the first time.) What they need is to be supported, led and fed by the men called by our Lord to “feed His sheep.” This isn’t the place to experiment w/ the latest and greatest.

  22. Your son found Trinity Northfield. I would hope that Trinity is putting out the welcome mat for others like him!

    I agree; a “coffeehouse” is not what’s needed!

  23. So why are not Lutherans getting together in Minn South Dist to pass a Resolution at their next District Convention to give this property to ULC.

  24. @Albert Hughes #28
    Mr Hughes:

    Ideally, the district will do the right thing and hand the property over to ULC without direction from the convention, though I doubt they understand how this is the right and property thing to do.

    I think it fair to say that there are moves to do precisely what you suggest – but someone else will need to comment on any details. However, we can’t just wait and hope that it passes and the property is handed over to ULC. The district administration appears to be on a faster track – possibly wanting to get the property sold prior to the convention; none of us are fully clear as to the district’s timing, etc.

    Nonetheless, even if the property is transferred gratis into ULC’s complete control, the district’s lack of maintenance over the years means that money will need to be spent to, at a minimum, catch up to where things should be, and ideally to get a head of a number of issues with the plant, property and equipment. We at ULC are willing to take on this burden as well, in addition to having to purchase the property, if we have to (which is ridiculousness in the extreme – see John Rixie’s comment at #13) – we are a dedicated group!

    In the meantime, please pray for us and support us.

    Oliver Young
    Elder
    ULC-Minneapolis, MN

  25. @Matthew Mills #26
    Yes, it is great when some students rise up and take leadership. But to expect or demand it is placing an undo burden on the student body. (reminds me of the pharisee things form Matthew 23) The students need help and assurance, and the emerging leaders need mentoring. For those who wish to be intentional, be intentional with the stuendts God put right in your lap. I mean, how can ministry get any easier? God gave them to you to take care of.

    @Albert Hughes #28
    I remember from archives here (ULC and 2009 district convention threads) I read about I believe the 2006 MN South convention about a resolution dealing with supporting ULC and campus ministry, something that would have been great for the chapel. I think Christian Preus posted it. But at the time the floor committee poo-pood it because it was possibly unnecessary and there were other business items to attend to. But now without that protecting resolution, coming out of this last convention I am left with the impression that then higher ups already didn’t want ULC, and after the contention concerning the Alley, it sure look like retribution to me. I would sure hope that these more liberal minded people are exposed for over-playing their hand, and that enough MN South delegates put a stop to this cannibalism of district ministries.

  26. I would exhort everyone on this blog post that the purpose of having this conversation is to keep in front of us the positive message that in our Life Together with our brothers and sisters of ULC we support their mission to the local students, and to our synod-at-large, and that we will hold them up before Almighty God in our prayers, asking for His mercy, and that we will give to them financially as we are able. Sharing of pertinent facts may be helpful. Tearing one another down is not.

  27. This is a great cause, and I support it.

    It would also be helpful to know the status of negotiations. Is there an agreement in place to sell the church? What will happen to donations if the district does the right thing and gives the property to the congregation?

  28. @Old Time St. John’s #32

    Giving the property to the congregation could have been done any time. I don’t think it’s likely.
    But it does sound like the place has been neglected (possibly with the thought that it would be torn down for more apts anyway, so why bother?); I imagine any excess shekels would be used to do repairs.

    I expect the congregation’s officers to keep us informed as things progress.

  29. @–helen #33
    Helen:

    In theory, yes, the property could have been given to the congregation at any time. And the district could still do the right and proper thing by handing the property to over to the congregation.

    Historically, you have to remember that the MNS district was for many years solely responsible, financially, for the property and the remuneration of the pastor. The congregation itself, up until recently, was not in a position to take on such a financial responsibility. About 10-15 years ago, the congregation sought and received a CCM opinion that confirmed that as a full member congregation of Synod, ULC has the right to call its own pastor. Up to this time the district handled this, which of course limited the congregation’s involvement in the process. With the call of Pr John Pless to Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne 10 years ago, the congregation called Pr David Kind. It is from about this time that the district’s financial support started to decline, and they in turn started to increase the rent charged to ULC. Obviously, this is thin on specifics, but gives a generally accurate history.

    This year the congregation actually declined the limited financial support of the district – they still charge us rent. We have come along way – though we are by no means a wealthy congregation but we can, by the grace of God and the generous support of faithful friends take on the challenge of ensuring the continued presence of ULC on the U of MN campus.

    As I mentioned at post #29, and as you correctly state Helen, if the district hands over the property to the congregation, there is work that needs to be done to catch up on deferred maintenance of plant, property and equipment. Any and all funds raised in this campaign will be fully accounted for and will not be wasted.

    And, yes, as the campaign picks up steam we will communicate how everything is progressing. We will continue to be open about all of this.

    Oliver Young
    Elder
    ULC, Minneapolis, MN

  30. @Oliver Young #34
    Historically, you have to remember that the MNS district was for many years solely responsible, financially, for the property and the remuneration of the pastor.

    For about 50 years, U of MN has had a campus ministry, managed by the district office for about 40 of them, but paid for out of the contributions of Minnesota congregations, north and south, to the capital campaign in the 60’s and for ongoing support since. That is what the pewsitters expected. District officers have come and gone; the mission at ULC has continued and been a blessing to LCMS.

    Why this particular set of district officers, 10 years after ULC has been granted some autonomy, should think they can close the whole thing down and spend the money on experimental/entertainment venues nowhere near UofM, I cannot understand. However, if ULC can be bought and remove the temptation from the district office to dismantle it, then that is what will have to be done.

    Thank you for your post!

  31. Copied from the “Save University Lutheran Chapel (ULC)” Facebook page…(https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=156700411058827)

    The Minnesota South District Board of Directors is meeting again in September to discuss the possible sale of ULC. This confessional congregation is an excellent outreach to the students at the University of Minnesota and is the only congregation that has shown consistent growth in Minneapolis. If sold, this congregation will be displaced and we willl lose a valuable ministry to a desperate demographic.

    PLEASE contact the BOARD OF DIRECTORS and ask them to not sell!!!

    MN District Pres. : Rev Dr. Lane Seitz
    ——[email protected] 952-223-2150
    Mission Exec: Rev. Peter Meier:
    —— [email protected] 952-223-2151

    MN South District
    14301 Grand Ave South
    Burnsville, MN 55306

    Phone (952) 435-2550

    Please address all communication to:

    THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS CARE OF REV. LANE SEITZ.

    For further information: http://ulcmn.org/Files/Pages/SaveULC.html

    Link this Event to any other Lutherans you know!!

  32. @Former Anglican #36

    The MNS BOD meeting is Monday, September 12, 2011.

    When contacting the BOD, not only ask them NOT to sell the ULC property, but also urge them to hand over title to the property to the ULC congregation, at no cost!!

  33. “At no cost” is probably too much to expect, though it might be right.
    Like political liberals, our “liberals” are very willing to spend others’ money for their own pet projects.

    @Former Anglican #37

  34. Here is the mailing address to send donations to support ULC’s fund raising campaign. A request for this was posted on ULC’s Facebook page.

    Please send donations to:

    University Lutheran Chapel
    1101 University Ave. SE
    Minneapolis, MN 55414

    Make checks payable to “University Lutheran Chapel” and note on the memo line that this is for the Capital Campaign

    Oliver Young
    Elder
    ULC, Minneapolis, MN

  35. @helen #38

    Please see comment 13. “At no cost” is what we should expect. We already paid for it once. The MNS BOD are gracious volunteers. They are not evil. I feel they will act fairly and in Christian charity when they are properly informed. Please send your respectful emails to the addresses in comment 36.

  36. ULC member Tom Walker and Pastor Kind attended the MN South District Board of Directors
    meeting today. At the meeting the District Treasurer recommended that
    the Board sell our chapel and informed them that the District has
    received an offer on for 3 million dollars from Doran Construction, a
    local developer, to purchase the ULC property.

    The Board of Directors will be discussing and likely voting on whether
    to sell ULC when they continue their meeting tomorrow.

    This does not sound like the actions of “gracious volunteers” to me, especially when they are well aware the ULC is trying to raise the funds to purchase the chapel themselves and continue in their faithful work of ministering to students in the Greater Minneapolis area and to all of God’s people.

  37. Sorry. Didn’t mean for it to post twice. Also, to John Rixe. Sorry to sound so harsh. I tried to make a general submission and it didn’t work until I submitted as a reply to your post. But my main thrust is to point out that these actions do not reflect a body of people interested in doing the right thing for the Church as stewards of this property they were entrusted with by the entire state of Minnesota.

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