— Dinkytown church to close, make room for new complex

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Hundreds of emails and phone calls flooded Pastor David Kind’s University Lutheran Chapel office Wednesday after his congregation heard the church will close by the end of the year.

The board of directors at the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which owns the Dinkytown building, voted in favor of the $3.2 million property sale last week.

The church has been fighting to save its University Avenue space for almost a year. Plans to demolish the building and replace it with a new apartment complex are in progress.

Right now, the building is likely to go to Doran Construction, the company behind Sydney Hall and 412 Lofts, Kind said.

More than 100 University of Minnesota students regularly visit the church, making up roughly half of the congregation’s members.

Church members say the main objective of the campus ministry is to provide community outreach to students.

“We have always been a congregation rooted in campus ministry. We grew out of it. If we relocate even five miles away, our dynamic would change,” Kind said.

University senior James Vieregge has attended the church for more than three years. The chapel is one of the only three Lutheran churches near campus.

“It’s incredibly valuable to have a [church] that’s about three blocks away from my apartment,” he said.

Church member Monica Elsesser said the student population is the church’s core.

“When campus clears out during holidays and summers, the church clears out,” Vieregge said.

A faithful split

The church has struggled with the threat of possible closure for several years, Kind said.

The South District voted to sell the property in 2008, but failed when offers didn’t come knocking.

Though church members say they know a future sale was inevitable, it didn’t seem like an immediate threat.

Last year, the church’s council started another committee to sell the building, but two resolutions Kind dug up in church archives earlier this year seemed to bring hope for the church’s survival.

The two documents established specific provision for the property’s sale. Kind presented those to the committee earlier this summer, but the appeal was ultimately dismissed.

The South District Synod could not be reached for comment.

Congregation member James Bolt said the recent events are “sad reflections on the Synod.”

He’s seen disconnect between the Synod and many churches throughout the years.

“I’m not surprised it happened, but I am in the manner it was [conducted],” said Bolt, who has been a University Lutheran Chapel member since 1985.

Theological ‘vendetta’

Some church members believe the disagreement stems from long time controversy of how to practice faith.

“The sale is not an isolated incident,” said Matthew Rieddle, a University junior who attends weekly services at the church.

The University Lutheran Chapel practices a more traditional faith model, which Kind says isn’t popular with the Synod. Church members say there has been a push in the past 25 years for a more liberal faith doctrine.

Vieregge said he believes some churches have been “ruined” by the district in the past.

“I know people who have switched denominations because of the Synod’s shenanigans,” he said.

Kind said he believes the struggle is part of a theological vendetta against several confessional Lutheran churches.

“This isn’t a challenge coming from outside the church. It’s an obstacle coming from those who are supposed to be our brothers and sisters,” he said. “That’s a hard thing to bear.”

Despite this, Vieregge said, “Kind is able to draw in people without “gimmicks.”

One of his biggest feats is his ability to draw people into a congregation with an old-time feel, he said.

In response to the sale efforts, the congregation has started several committees, including a national fundraising campaign, to fight the closing. Despite the Synod’s decision, Kind believes the church still has a chance.

“This is going to be a long process,” Kind said. “I don’t see it getting resolved soon.”

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

Norm has been involved behind the scenes in many of the "go-to" websites for Lutherans going back many years.

Comments — Dinkytown church to close, make room for new complex — 54 Comments

  1. Brother Noland,

    Can you help me understand this statement from your post? I think I am getting the wrong impression. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, so I am asking for your clarification.

    “Which brings up the issue of why the targeted locations are not doing campus ministry RIGHT NOW, with their existing pastors and lay volunteers. How is the Facilitator going to change those local congregational situations of either impracticality or lethargy?”

    It seems to me that your statement and question are questioning the viability of the current ministry at those “targeted locations.” I am guessing that is in reference to ULC and Mankato (CLC). Are you saying that they are NOT doing campus ministry and are impractical and lethargic? Please help my ignorance here.

    BTW, I am a member of the Board of Directors for University Lutheran Chapel of Hope, which is minimally supported by the District. We have, for many years, had an “association” type model of support here. In other words, its operated in a similar way to many Elementary Schools and High Schools in our Synod. This has worked exceedingly well. From time to time we have had detractors that questioned the “viability” of orthodox Word and Sacrament Ministry in the campus setting. So, I am somewhat hyper-sensitive to this apparent line of thinking.

  2. @Rev. Lawrence N. Bradt #51
    Rev. Bradt

    Where is University Lutheran Chapel of Hope located? Is University Lutheran Chapel of Hope a constituted LCMS congregation that calls it own pastor? ULC Minneapolis is a full member congregation of Synod and called its pastor; Rev David Kind.

    I don’t think Pr Noland is referring to ULC and CLC as the targeted locations. For ULC; it certainly is doing campus ministry and is not impractical or lethargic – just look at the outcry to the proposed sale of the property!

    I think what Pr Noland is referring to is that the MNS district has identified other targeted locations (between 9 and 12 locations) on page 20 of the document to which he provides a link.

  3. @Rev. Lawrence N. Bradt #51

    Dear Pastor Bradt,

    I am referring to the Campus Ministry Map on page 20 here:

    On page 20, it shows 15 locations that plan to be served by the new Campus Ministry Facilitator, including the present two, ULC and CLC. My comment is directed to those other places where, supposedly, campus ministry is NOT happening right now. My comment is NOT directed toward ULC or CLC, where campus ministry is obviously not lethargic or impractical.

    MY POINT IS: If campus ministry is ALREADY happening at those 13 or so places, then why do we need to fund a Facilitator to make it happen there? Does that make sense? If not, can someone help explain my point. Thanks to “Former Anglican” for “catching my drift”!

    MY PRIMARY POINT IS: The Facilitator Plan won’t work; because Facilitators don’t work, they just consume money and resources.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  4. @Martin R. Noland #53

    It sounds like the “Facilitator Plan” is a way to get IN CONTROL of what happens. This is a sinful human model of how things work. It only emulates the mindless authoritarianism that is on the increase out in the world. This authoritarianism runs parallel to a mindless antinomianism, in a seeming contradiction. It is two or three generations of spoiled people.

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