Minnesota South District Votes to Sell ULC Property and Allow the Lord’s Place to be Demolished and Replaced for Capital Gain, by Pr. Rossow

The Minnesota South Board of Directors has voted to sell the University Lutheran Chapel sanctuary and property. They have done this without going to the people of the Minnesota South and North Districts, who gave the money to build the beautiful neo-gothic sanctuary on a strategic plot in the middle of the University of Minnesota campus. It is not certain how the property will be repurposed but as we reported yesterday the Board has already been in discussions with a local developer who is in the business of buying properties, tearing down buildings and erecting new facilities for financial gain.

We are not opposed to capital gain. It is a good thing. But this capital gain is a loss for the Gospel. It robs a parish of its place where God’s word is preached in its purity and the Gospel is are administered according to Christ’s command.

Have you seen the pictures of the University Lutheran Chapel? We are not talking about a storefront ministry here. We are talking about a building and site that give our Lord the glory due His name. The chapel is a beautiful, soaring tribute to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This sale just does not make sense. The chapel has been fulfilling the dreams and goals of the thousands of people who 60 years ago made real the vision to build a chapel on the University of Minnesota campus. There is a thriving congregation of over 200 members who have maintained the chapel without subsidy for the last several years. It does not cost the district anything to run this parish and yet the district Board of Directors, without taking it to a vote of the district, decided to sell this property because they have not managed their district finances well enough to get along without such a sale.

To be blunt, a beautiful, glorious facility that brings fitting praise to our Lord and His Gospel and has brought that Gospel to thousands of young people through the years, is being torn down so that the district can support its own bureaucrats who sit in offices and spin out theories and programs like the one proposed for campus ministry in Minnesota that has led to the pending destruction of this house of God and putting the congregation in peril.

A motion to grant the parish $250,000 out of the three million dollar proceeds to help them relocate was postponed until December but the sale could happen as soon as tomorrow since the Treasurer has been empowered to negotiate a sale immediately.

In no world does this make sense. The Roman Catholic Church has been wisely moth-balling inner city edifices in struggling parishes in failing neighborhoods for future use for the last generation. This is not a failing neighborhood nor a struggling parish. This is a vibrant university community and a thriving parish and yet the District Board is not even proposing moth-balling. They are proposing destruction.

This also seems odd since the parish recently started a local, state and national capital campaign to raise funds to “buy back” its facility from the district with new funds from the very people who built it in the first place. The District President’s office was aware of this plan and agreed it was a fitting thing to do.

I did not give any money 60 years ago to help build this sanctuary. I was not alive yet. I was ready to give a gift to “buy it back” as were countless other confessional Lutherans. Now, I will not get that chance. If I were one of the original donors from sixty years ago, I would be outraged at the mismanagement and poor stewardship being shown by the District Board of Directors who with one little vote, determined that this incredible facility, built by the gifts of donors seeking to establish the Gospel on the University of Minnesota campus, shall be replaced for capital gain.

The Minnesota South District Board of Directors has created a bureaucracy that it cannot support. To save themselves they have decided to sell off an altar, pulpit and the very ground they have occupied for 60 years so that this plot can now house high rent apartments, shops or whatever other capital gain the savvy developers might erect in place of the University Lutheran Chapel.

Here is the motion approved by the District Board of Directors:




September 13, 2011

Resolved, that the Treasurer of the District effectuate the sale of the University of Minnesota campus property located at 1011 University Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN, including the parsonage, under the following conditions:

1) The district retain a broker for the purpose of selling the District’s University of Minnesota campus property for the highest market price available but not less than a net price of $3.2 million.

2) The board expressly authorizes the Treasurer to execute any purchase agreement in excess of this net amount with no further board approval.

3) The Treasurer is authorized to negotiate terms of the listing agreement on behalf of the board without further ratification.

4) It is the intent of this board that a final purchase agreement be entered into prior to the close of the 2011 calendar year.

5) The broker will immediately notify the University Lutheran Chapel of the listing price and negotiate in good faith with any offer that meets the above conditions.

The resolution was adopted unanimously.



September 13, 2011

Resolved, that the Treasurer of the District effectuate the sale of the District’s Minnesota State University, Mankato campus property at 329 Ellis Ave, Mankato, MN, under the following conditions:

1) The district retain a broker for the purpose of selling the District’s Minnesota State University campus property for the highest market price available.

2) The Treasurer is authorized to negotiate terms of the listing agreement on behalf of the board without further ratification.

The resolution was adopted.

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.


Minnesota South District Votes to Sell ULC Property and Allow the Lord’s Place to be Demolished and Replaced for Capital Gain, by Pr. Rossow — 186 Comments

  1. @T. R. Halvorson #149

    To state the obvious, MNS District leadership DOES NOT see ULC as fitting in with their model for 50 revitalized congregations by 2017

    @Matthew Mills #148

    Don’t hold your breath waiting — A District president that doesn’t have gonads to personally call Pastor Kind to tell him the decision of the Board (recall DP Seitz sent an email to Pr Kind at 5 AM!!), is not going to come out and publicly justify or explain how they came to this decision… there is just too much to explain!!

  2. As Mr. Halvorson said “we are burnin’ daylight”, the only entity with a chance to at least slow this down and provide extra time is the MN North, any MN North Pastors or Congregations willing to formally bring this up to the MN North President and Board?

    I have never met any of either the President or Board members of MN North, but human nature would make it very easy to just ignore this rather than get involved in a “messy” situation. even though they may have a legitimate interest in the use and disposition of the ULC buildings. If no one demands they look at this, it might be very easy to just wait and say “too late”.

  3. @Kurt Battles #156
    The MNN Website lists the circuit counselors, and most of them had email addresses on the synodical clergy finder. I info’ed them on the note I sent to DP Fondow, but you could address them and ask them to bring their concerns to their DP, or to help w/ the fundraiser if nothing else. That’s a great question.

  4. @Matthew Mills #157
    I did e-mail DP Fondow, but since my congregation is not in MNN it would be very easy for them to think “this guy is not even in my district”. If enough MN North Pastors, Circuit counselors, Congregations and/or enough Parish members wrote or called that might get some attention. I doubt a couple of e-mails from a few people who aren’t even in MN North will get any respose (again I don’t know that – just guessing). Any good friends of ULC in MN North district?

  5. @Kurt Battles #158

    Short (but often dangerous) answer: yes.

    Longer (but safer) answer:

    First, the “actual title” to land is not simply a piece of paper that one gets a copy of, as you would with a car. Title is the intangible interest vested in an owner that is the result of a chain of instruments. Each successor in the chain takes subject to what is already in the chain. No one can grant a greater interest than the one he already had. Viewing that same principle from a different perspective, an owner cannot, by his grant to a successor, strike down another’s interests in the land. So it can be insufficient to simply copy the last instrument. One should “run the chain,” and condition one’s view of the effect of the last instrument by the effect of the prior instruments in the chain.

    Second, the purpose of public land records is not to show everything affecting title, but to give notice of things that do. Instruments can refer to things briefly, so briefly that they basically just raise questions without answering them, and that puts one on notice to inquire — notice to inquire elsewhere beyond the public record.

    This can seem tedious, unduely technical, etc., but until one actually runs the chain, you won’t know whether the effect is helping or hurting your cause. It could be helping. So, one must simply buck up and accept the tedium for the good it might do.

    Were this in Montana or North Dakota, I would know how to do this, but in Minnesota, not.

  6. @Robert #106

    That is very true, Robert. But, parties might sign a preliminary buy-sell agreement before they order titled insurance or an abstract of title and attorney’s opinion of title. The district then would be bound to sell to the purchaser, and the purchaser would have the power to enforce specific performance of the agreement. That would disable ULC from purchasing. So waiting for the title insurance is waiting too long. I realize you probably knew that, but in case others reading the thread might not (which I encounter often enough elsewhere), I thought this should be mentioned.

  7. Points to keep in mind about the recent history of the Minnesota South District:

    Leading up to the 2009 District convention the Board of Directors was quite divided along the old familiar LCMS battle lines and faced a number of controversial decisions that, as far as I know, were not related to the sale of the ULC. The convention responded by voting in almost an entirely new Board of Directors.

    Not long ago the District gave $250,000.00 to the Synod as a gift over and above its regular giving to help the Synod pay its bills. That would seem to indicate that our District is not selling the ULC for financial reasons.

    In May of this year the Minnesota State Pastoral Conference passed a resolution asking the Minnesota South District Board of Directors to let the District Convention decide what to do with its campus ministry properties. As a courtesy the resolution that the Board of Directors passed to sell the ULC should have at least given some justification for ignoring a resolution passed by a majority of the pastors in the two Minnesota districts of the LCMS.

    Also, why doesn’t the resolution to sell the ULC say anything about what the proceeds of the sale will be used for?

  8. @T. R. Halvorson #141


    After providing a copy of the mockup of a bulletin insert to Pr David Kind by email, through responses from him and Pr Brian Thorson who is part of the National Leadership Team that is heading up ULC’s fundraising effort, I have been told the communications committee of ULC has made edits and adjustments, and now have an insert that they are ready to use and will be distributing today.

  9. To all our dear friends and supporters:

    The ULC congregation, through Pastor Kind and its elected leadership, is humbled by the expressions of support that you have shared on this site, and many others.

    ULC faces a daunting task, but we rest assured that by, with and through the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in whom all things are possible, the preaching of the Word and the right and proper administration of the sacraments will continue amongst this flock. We earnestly pray that this will still take place in our current location, but we have to also prepare for a possible change in our location

    As many have noted, time is of the essence. Be assured that we are actively looking at all possible avenues and opportunities in the face of the decision handed down by the MNS BOD on Wednesday morning. Many of the suggestions on this site, in terms of what we can do, are being researched and investigated – much is happening behind the scenes.

    We ask that you continue to pray that our Lord will guide our actions to His glory, and we also ask that you prayerfully consider how you can support us financially in this difficult time.

    As I am able, and as appropriate, I will share information and links.

    May our most loving Lord have mercy on us all.

    Oliver Young
    ULC, Minneapolis, MN

  10. Let’s hope President Harrison makes a statement on this bad decision and will help out the church. His leadership is needed on this issue.

  11. Pastor Fisk’s video left out the last verse, but it tells the story too well:
    Psalm 137
    1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
    2We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
    3For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
    4How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?
    5If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
    6If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
    7Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
    8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
    9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

    I think that psalm should be the rallying cry for this fiasco.

  12. Neal :Unfortunately, this whole affair is a result of “The Alley”. Two years ago at the MNS district convention The Alley was successfully used as a wedge issue to divide the delegates and the sympathy went with The Alley and their side swept the elections. This definitely proves that elections do have consequences.

    As Dr. Nadasdy of “The Alley” will be a featured presenter at this year’s MO District Professional Church Worker’s Conference in a few weeks, one of the attending pastors should ask him about his side sweeping the elections and its effect on the Chapel.


  13. Mrs. Hume :
    @Timothy C. Schenks #174
    Maybe they will replace the ULC with an “Alley”
    That could cost 3 million.
    Young people will get accustomed to that style while at college and then look for that style when they leave.

    And then once those same young people will find a better interpretation of that style at the non-denominational church down the street, they will leave Lutheranism for good.

    Church Growth Movement within the LCMS? Absolutely. But which denomination is actually growing as a result?

  14. The Pharisees,Sadducees,Scribes,Zealots and Herodians all tried to shut down the ministry of Christ to the point of open murder, His crucifixion, under the guise of the Law of Moses.

    Some repented, as was the case with Paul, others were to hardened to repent.

    But make no mistake when it is asserted that no one who persecutes Christ and His Doctrine has a living faith while so doing.

    This action of the BOD of MINNS Dist at the behest of the Dist Pres cannot be done with a straight face in the face of Christ and His church.

    How many Ecclesiastics and those who follow them are in hell right now because of this and similar decisions?!

    I do hope Christ will deliver His own in this their hour of trial and that His martyrs and their blood be again the seed of the church.

  15. @mbw #177

    As you know, mbw, I am on the same side of this issue as you are. Just a note, though, that word “landmark” in that verse does not refer to something like the chapel. It refers to the monumentation of the boundaries between two tracts of land. In modern times it is still a crime to move such a monument or landmark, which literally marks land.

  16. I learned of this yesterday in church, and it grieves me. I never attended there as a member, but was fortunate enough to attend two services through LSF conferences, and I can aptly wonder if the LCMS is in possession of a better campus ministry.

    Utterly shameful and sinful.

  17. Is “emerging world” a term of art like the term “emergent church?”

    I ask because the district’s mission statement includes the following strategy: “Focus congregations on what it means to live out the Great Commission in an emerging world.” What does the phrase, “emerging world,” mean? Anyone?

  18. T. R. Halvorson :
    @mbw #177
    As you know, mbw, I am on the same side of this issue as you are. Just a note, though, that word “landmark” in that verse does not refer to something like the chapel. It refers to the monumentation of the boundaries between two tracts of land. In modern times it is still a crime to move such a monument or landmark, which literally marks land.

    Hi TRH – never any problem here with friendly fire! But to the extent that there’s any moral stake in the property, the Scripture applies.

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