More on ULC from the Office of the President

Just received this through my email.  Glad to see that more is being said! – JVS


The Seventeenth Week after Pentecost
October 13, 2011

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

Dear Brothers in Christ,

The church is losing her young people. This is a concern we all share. While some fall away during high school, by far the greatest losses occur during the college years. Our young adults are bombarded by a secular worldview that is antagonistic to their Christian faith. College campuses have become a place where the truth of God’s Word is mocked, the divinity of Christ is questioned, and the church is scorned.

While the Synod has a tremendous system of Concordia colleges and universities, the vast majority of our young people attend secular institutions of higher education. Showing great foresight, past generations gave of their resources to establish campus ministries at major universities throughout the nation. However, over the years, as both local and national support has decreased, a number of campus ministries have been dissolved or closed. The recent events surrounding the sale of University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis, Minn., a vibrant and thriving campus ministry, are but another tragic chapter.

After too many years of being distant from campus ministry, the Synod is prepared to take leadership once again. The Synod cannot do campus ministry, but we can give voice to the importance of campus ministry, encouraging, supporting, and coordinating it wherever it is taking place.

As I write, the Office of National Mission is assembling a campus ministry task force, and plans are underway to host a future national campus ministry conference. We look forward to collaborating with many wonderful people who are already laboring tirelessly in this essential ministry and fertile mission field.

Now is the time to renew our efforts. While many have faithfully labored in campus ministry, they have not always received our support. The Synod simply cannot afford to sit on the sideline while faithful campus congregations are being closed. College students need Word and Sacrament ministry. They need faithful pastors and workers who will care, teach, and prepare them for life in, but not of, the world. In short, they need Jesus.

The Office of National Mission will ensure that a larger voice is given to campus ministry so that it is valued and supported throughout the Synod once again. Investing in campus ministry invests in the future of the Church; it shepherds our young people when they need us most and builds up future leaders in the church.

As you are able, I encourage you to invest in the future of University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis so campus ministry can continue to flourish at the University of Minnesota. While the building they have utilized for campus ministry for over 60 years will be sold, the Word of the Lord will never be silenced. The Minnesota South District has encouraged them to continue ministry in that place. Please consider making a contribution to help see that this happens. You can donate directly through their website, or by sending checks through the mail to:

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

This is not the time for us to abandon campus ministry, but the time to more fully embrace and expand it. Please continue to support all the campus ministries throughout the Synod, and encourage the development of new campus outreach where none is taking place. Let us together be about keeping the souls of our precious children and bearing witness in an increasingly godless culture. What an exciting and dynamic place to be engaged in witness, mercy, and life together!Finally, please join me in praying for the youth of our church:

Gracious Father, Your Son grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all people. Bless, guide, and govern the children and young people of Your Church by Your Holy Spirit, that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of Your Word. Grant that they may serve You well and usefully, developing their talents not for their own sakes but to Your glory and for the welfare of their neighbor. Protect and defend them from all danger and harm, giving Your holy angels charge over them, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (For Young Persons, LSB 315)

May God bless and guide our increased efforts to care for Christ’s sheep throughout their college years so they may be preserved in the one true faith. If you would like to share ideas or thoughts as we move forward, please contact Rev. Bart Day, Executive Director of the Office of National Mission ([email protected]).

Sub cruce,

Pastor Matthew Harrison
Let’s go! Mark 1:38

P.S. If you like to print this letter as a PDF, please click here:



About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


More on ULC from the Office of the President — 140 Comments

  1. Google found links to claims about Pentacostal growth as well as growth of non-Christian religions such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons.

    As for the attraction of young adults to the Eastern Church, isn’t the Eastern liturgy essentially in Greek? If so, then maybe LCMS services should go back to the German language. 😉

  2. @Redeemed #97
    Out of curiosity, what did you ask them to do? I’ve been considering writing to them, but not sure what to propose/ask. One idea I did have was asking them to consider selling the thin strip of land on the edge of the lot where the ULC sanctuary itself sits. That would leave Doran w/ a large site to develop, and ULC w/ her altar and pulpit intact. It would also give Doran some positive press, and perhaps a tax write-off as well.

    I’ve also been considering writing to Pastor Harrison, requesting him to consider making an offer to Doran for this modest slice of the lot for which they have contracted w/ MNS. It would be a positive (and comparitively inexpensive) way to allign Synodical actions/funds with his very positive statement. Although well short of $3.5 million, ULC might well have the funds required to close up the wound this would leave in their chapel’s side, and address the required HVAC/utilities work.

    It’s an idea.
    -Matt Mills

  3. Personally, I have been reluctant to contact Doran without being closeby. I would hate to muddy the waters for the Chapel. I don’t mean this critically, but I’m cautious about this action.

  4. @Rob #73
    It is an error to equate the Ten Commandments with the secular legal system of our nation/state. Obeying Caesar is generally necessary (4th commandment) but from Matt 5, and Luther’s explanations it’s pretty clear to me that there’s a lot more to God’s law than obeying Caesar. I believe the 9th commandment question (and perhaps the 7th as well) comes down to what it means to be a “steward.” In 1963, MNS was given two things as regards ULC; legal title, and the responsibility to operate the University Lutheran Student Center to “serve the two districts.” They have the title, and with it (presumably) the legal right to sell, but they were to hold it in trust, as a steward. “Looks like you messed up by trusting us w/ the title” might be a solid legal defense, but I don’t think it will hold much water at the judgment seat of God.

    So what is Pastor Harrison’s responsibility? In light of Ezek 3:17-18 I think it’s fair to say that, regardless of our fallible human Synodical by-laws, theological supervisors had best let those they supervise know when they are living in open sin (regardless of the legality of their sinful actions.) I have absolutely no reason to doubt that our SP is doing just that, and absolutely no need for him to tell me about it.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  5. @Old Time St. John’s #99

    On reflection, I think that there is another significant thing that we can do for ULC right now– we can encourage congregations to contribute to them corporately, rather than only focussing on contributions from individuals. Although Pastor Harrison’s stunning statement of support of ULC has been tremendously welcome here, not everyone reads such things. Even sympathetic congregational leaders and pastors may not have put in the time needed to follow this closely. We serve ULC when we ask our church congregations to send them funds. Money from other congregations tells ULC that they are not alone; that the Body of Christ stands with them in groups as well as individually. In many cases this will be a longer lead time item than sending individual contributions, but in some ways it makes a broader statement of support, and I think that that is important and helpful.

  6. How many church officials will hear Christ say on that day, “Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you.”

  7. Oliver Young :
    @Jana Snow #86
    I am sorry that your opinion of ULC was so quickly cast. If you have the opportunity, please do come and visit us, even now in these dark days for ULC, and I am sure you will see that we are indeed a vibrant and growing liturgical, confessional congregation.
    In Christ,
    Oliver Young
    Elder, ULC

    The fact is, people general give it less time than did Jana. She went twice. Most people will give it once.

  8. @Old Time St. John’s #107

    I know I’m repeating myself but…..for those congregations and pastors who live in Minnesota, it is enormously important to encourage the district to allocate a substantial portion of the sale proceeds to the ULC property fund.  This should be a priority of the convention in June.

  9. @Johannes #50
    Is not all this “to do” about the District selling its property on the Minneapolis Campus coveting? Who owns the property? The District. The ULC is a tenant. Does the owner have the right to do with his property as he chooses? What if the ULC rented from any other entity and the owner decided to sell the property, would not the ULC have to find new digs? The ULC is an independent congregation of the LC-MS that expected the Minnesota South District to allow them to continue being a tenant. How many independent congregations are dependent on the District Offices to supply them with property to carry out Word and Sacrament ministry? This is an issue that should have been addressed at the time ULC became an independent congregation. They should have established a plan to transfer ownership of the property by securing a mortgage or whatever else could have been agreed to at the time.

  10. @John Rixe #110
    Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I’m far away, so that’s not something that I can work on.

    If I lived closeby, I would also be visiting ULC to worship there on occasion, and also attending the open parts of the MNS district BOD meetings.

  11. @anon pastor 2 #111
    A church District should not be the type of landlord that would sell a fully paid for property used by a thriving congregation for its original purpose–Word and Sacrament ministry.

  12. I asked them if they would consider donating the chapel part back to ULC, as a 501c3 contribution. It might not be a bad idea to ask how much they would want for the chapel footprint.

  13. @anon pastor 2 #111
    By the ’63 agreement, the MNS district basically (though not legally) held the title as a trust. With the title they assumed the cost of operating the center (which has declined steadily to near zero) and the responsibility to operate it in a way that served both districts. Lots of “wise as serpents” lessons should have probably been learned before now, but no, I don’t see any reason to label the actions of ULC as “covetous.” If they tried to sell it themselves and use the money to do something other than Ministry to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, that would be coveting the property, but that’s not the way this went down.

    If a large group of donors bought a flock of sheep and gave the MNS district the title w/ the understanding that they would use the wool to keep their kids warm, they wouldn’t expect the BOD to fire up the Webber and open a Lamb Kabob franchise. That would be 180 degrees out from the donors’ intention for the use of the flock, though arguably legal.

  14. @Redeemed #114
    Thanks! It’s a similar enough idea, and it lines up w/ a traditional view of word and sacrament ministry focus. When my immigrant ancestors built their first church building in Horicon Wi, they didn’t start w/ a gym, parking lot, or fellowship hall. They started w/ a sanctuary; an altar and pulpit around which they could receive their Lord’s means of grace.

    I think I will write Pastor Harrison and ask him to consider making an offer for the ULC sanctuary to Doran, as part of Synod’s new campus ministry push.

  15. @Matthew Mills #106

    I was on the board of elders there and was a member for 5 years there. But anyway, I think it is very unlikely. They already have little parking. Barring a real miracle turn around, I think the thing to concentrate on is getting the congregation moved to a decent facility close to campus as possible. But that decision is up to the congregation.

  16. @Pr. John A. Frahm #117
    What’s “close?” (I walked) and what’s “decent?” (the current chapel worship space is awe inspiring.) It is a highly unlikely scenario, but as a student I certainly wouldn’t have given up the ULC sanctuary and location for a parking lot.

  17. @Pr. John A. Frahm #117

    I understand your point of view, but is there any incompatability in simultaneously pursuing both? Various proposals can be made to Kelly Doran while at the same time raising funds for new property. Mr. Doran’s life story suggests that, rightly approached, he is community minded and would at least listen, particularly if a delegation of significant dignitaries sought an amicable appointment for a meeting.

  18. Pr. Lorfield and Mr. Mills: All I’m saying is: It is certain that the MNS District (as successor in this case to the joint MN district) was supposed to hold the property in trust, or as a steward (I’m not using the terms in legal senses – not a lawyer). The Board of Directors could certainly have seen this action as the best stewardship of that property – to sell it at a great financial profit and use the money to further campus ministries both at U of M and elsewhere. I disagree with their view, but to publicly go around accusing them of sin and demanding repentance is a bold step. And one that risks violating the 8th commandment. We are commanded to put the best construction on this. My best construction is that this was a bad choice, but not a sinful one. Not one that calls for public accusations of intentional sinfulness. And note that the one who could have done so, at least positionally, has been careful not to do so.

    By the logic you both have stated above, the MNS has been violating the 7th commandment all along, by charging rent of the ULC. Is that your conviction as well? Or are you so frustrated by this decision (and rightfully so) that you are choosing to conclude that the decision was not just ill-advised, but in fact sinful, placing the souls of those who made it in mortal peril? It often feels good to do so, but that just gives Satan more ground to operate. I draw no conclusions about your own motives just as I do not do so regarding the BOD, but you would do well (as would I and everyone else) to examine ourselves. Remember, if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

    Now, to dwell instead on my other point: is it not most certainly true that God can cause his Word and Sacraments to thrive on the U of M campus even without this building? Are we so focused on the worldly trappings that we are undermining the efficacy of His means of grace? And thus robbing Christ of His glory? His kingdom reigns forever. Pestilence, persecution, and the very gates of hell cannot stand against it. Certainly not human short-sightedness.

  19. Yes, we are to put the best construction on everything. Yet what are people to think when the district BOD refuses to even let the ULC congregation have the altar, pulpit, paraments and other furnishings? What is the BOD going to do with them? Actions like that make it hard to see something good in their intent. Instead it comes across as mean and petty (or worse).

  20. I agree that not allowing ULC the furnishings and paraments seems mean, petty, and unloving, though I know none of the details of this and surely nothing on this front is finalized yet. However, the best construction remains: a dumb, perhaps even inexplicable choice. Not sin. And not the public sin that compels public rebuke.

    And let us all remember the ultimate purpose of public rebuke of public sin: the desire that the sinner would return to faith. We preach the Law to quicken consciences with the ultimate goal of ministering the Gospel. If the rebuke is motivated by anything other than that, then it is time to check yourself. Because even when our Christian duties demand that we rebuke, all the while we are to be personally forgiving seventy times seven times.

    No matter how great the BOD’s offense to any of us, it is nothing when compared with our sin’s offense to God. The sin which Christ removed at Calvary.

    That’s probably enough from me. I lurked on this topic for a long time over the course of many threads. I will happily return to doing so.

  21. Rob :I agree that not allowing ULC the furnishings and paraments seems mean, petty, and unloving, though I know none of the details of this and surely nothing on this front is finalized yet. However, the best construction remains: a dumb, perhaps even inexplicable choice. Not sin. And not the public sin that compels public rebuke.

    If you would like to know the details, one of the threads here about ULC has a link to the minutes of the BOD meeting. It tells the story in chronological order, complete with several moves in and out of executive session. I think that you would find it interesting to read the motions and amendments in order. I found it quite revealing.

  22. @T. R. Halvorson #124
    A lot of that information is in the power point by Pastor Kind on the ULC website. One of the slides includes the major funding sources for the original purchase and building of the Chapel.

  23. At our church last week the Old Testament lesson was Isaiah 45: 1-7–a prophecy to Cyrus, the unbelieving king of Persia who God used to return His people to Israel and rebuild His temple. Are we praying for a Cyrus in this situation? I know that I am.

  24. Old Time St. John’s :
    Redeemed (what a great name!),
    I have noticed that two men who identify themselves as currently serving as elders at ULC MN post here from time to time. I’m watching for these posts to see whether they identify other areas where we can help. The only thing I can think of that is on the table currently is the fundraisers that some churches are having–concerts and pancake breakfasts have been mentioned. I hope that our contributions and prayers are an encouragement to our brothers and sisters at ULC.

    Old Time St. John’s –

    We at ULC MN are humbled by the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ – by your financial support, by the vocal support expressed here on BJS and other web sites, and by your prayers to our loving, gracious and merciful Lord.

    It is truly heartening to know that all of this is happening to help us, a small confessional, liturgical oasis in a sea of liberalism, indifference and more: the campus of a major American university. Thank you to all of you, and most especially our thanks rise to our Lord.

    As of Friday Oct 14, 2011 ULC had received $43,596 in donations to the Save ULC/Building Fund.

    You asked what else can supporters do to help ULC. In addition to the fund raisers you cite, possible other ways to help include the following:

    1 – Encourage your Pastor and your congregation to financially support ULC
    2 – Spread the word to other congregations to help ULC
    3 – Write the the MNS BOD urging them to contribute financially to ULC and to ensure the continuation of ULC’s mission by allocating funds from the sale of the chapel/property, to ULC.

    Oliver Young
    Elder, ULC MN

  25. @Rob #122
    Several points here and I hate to chase them all, as I don’t have the time any of them deserve, but here goes:
    I have no choice but agree w/ your requirement to put the best (possible) construction on the actions of the MNS DP and BOD, but I don’t see yours as “possible.” Simple ignorance, or a bad business sense, doesn’t cover the facts, and none of these folks are uneducated. They are deliberately selling a chapel out from under a thriving word and sacrament ministry, and using the money to fund in perpetuity a pastoral consultant w/ the aim of setting up student-led Conventicles at as many MNS colleges as possible. They are withholding information, working in secret, acting with vengeful pettiness, and stifling the voice of dissent against these actions. I see three possible constructions: greed/power-lust, heresy, or insanity. Which of those is the best? What’s more, as you are absolutely right about the churchly goal of a call to repentance (that they might turn and live) by your (frankly Pollyanna) insistence that no sin was committed, you are denying the MNS DP and BOD churchly discipline and repentance. I can’t conceive of a less loving response from the perspective of the immortal souls of Dr. Seitz and his BOD. It isn’t loving for a dentist to not drill a cavity in order to avoid paining his patient.
    I don’t get your 7th commandment point at all. As the stewards of the “ULC vineyard” MNS is absolutely w/in their rights to make business decisions geared toward increasing the number and quality of the grapes. Rent, no rent, new roof, no new roof, that’s the BOD’s proper role; It’s cutting the vines down and turning it into an apartment building that I’m taking issue with.
    I have examined myself, and (surprise) I’m a poor miserable sinner; consumed with anger, inordinate love of the ULC’s sanctuary, organ, paraments et cetera. I repent of those sins, and avail myself of our Lord’s means of grace. Means of grace that don’t function too well in the student-led Conventicles with which the MNS DP wants to replace the altar and pulpit of ULC. Word and Sacrament ministry to a campus community requires a place (to which students can walk) where they can gather around an altar and pulpit. If an acre on the Eastern edge of the campus is worth $3.5 million to a secular developer, where are we going to find a place to do that? The congregation can survive 5 miles from the campus, but it will no longer be a ministry to the students of the U of M. To save the word and sacrament ministry that nourished my soul while I was an undergrad at the U of M is to keep ULC on the campus.
    My sense is that we’re on the same side, but what you’ve written only appears loving. Real love calls sin sin.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  26. @Redeemed #97

    FYI – this is a few-day-old article with info about Kelly Doran, the developer. It seems many (all?) of his projects near the U of MN seem to be tearing down old, possibly historic, buildings and replacing with apartments. Note that there are several comments that give disapproval of the Doran projects.

    Doran corners luxury market with bulldozers

    Another recent article:

    There goes the neighborhood

  27. @Matthew Mills #130

    w/ the aim of setting up student-led Conventicles at as many MNS colleges as possible

    Now there’s an overlooked point, that the campus ministry plan is a plan only for colleges of the south district. Since the 1963 resolution said that although the south district would have the legal title, the center property still was to “serve the two Districts.” Wouldn’t his require a reasonable share of the net sale proceeds to go to the north district so that it can set up student-led conventicles or whatever it wants to do in MNN colleges? Othewise, how does the property that replaces the real estate “serve the two Districts?”

  28. David C. Busby :@mbw #28 I should rephrase.
    He has done nothing in public to bring the MNS BoD under church discipline.

    They don’t look very good in the light of the calm, pastoral communications he has made. He has not dug in in support of the power structure. He’s talking basically about hope of recovering from a disaster. That doesn’t mean he won’t take any action ever. But he can’t just zap them. And as I understand it our “church courts” were gutted a long time ago by the DRP. And the synod dys-functions as a slave to its bylaws and lawyers. A lot more than that board has to change.

  29. @Robert Burmeister #132

    At the end of the first linked article, Kelly Doran mentions how hewants/needs to build on campus for student housing, because 10 blocks off campus is too far and students don’t want to walk/commute. HILARIOUS!! So the BoD thinks ditching an on campus porperty will actually be a good thing to minister to students? This scenario betrays the faulty thinking of the “missional” crowd, or whatever CGM phliosophy, this board is under. We want to reach out to all these students, to go to them and be with them (mission, outreach, whatever) Yet we leave their presence by forfeiting the foothold we have. (probably because it was an old archaic building that held liturgical worship)

    It also shows how since half of the board, roughly speaking, are pastors, we train them at seminary to preach and teach and administer the Sacraments. I am not aware of what kind of business training we give them. Throw in religious type lay people who come form whatever backgrounds, it doesn’t look like we will get a whole lot of authentic type CEO/business management abilities there, either. So they act outside their skills and epicly fail in a business sense: location, location location.

    Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of poridge to temporarily satisfy a grumbling stomach. This is a disaster of incomprehensible magnitude. What utter shame…

  30. Found this on ALPB.ORG posted by Pastor Mark Birkholz today:

    The Montana District Pastor’s Conference passed a strongly worded resolution in support of ULC:

    (I received this via e-mail; I haven’t seen it posted anywhere online.)

    A Resolution of the Montana District Fall Pastors’ Conference
    Supporting University Lutheran Chapel at the University of Minnesota
    WHEREAS, the Minnesota South District (MNS) Board of Directors (BOD) has recently taken
    actions and executed an agreement to sell the property on the campus of the University of
    Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, used for the past 62 years by University Lutheran Chapel (ULC);

    WHEREAS, the Joint Minnesota South / Minnesota North (MNN) Districts Pastors’ Conference
    (May 11, 2011, Brainerd, MN) had requested that the MNS BOD bring this entire matter before
    the MNS District in convention to deliberate and determine an appropriate course of action
    regarding the sale of the ULC property; and

    WHEREAS, at the very time efforts were underway by the Synodical President, the MNN
    District President, and the MNS District President to discuss this matter with the MNS BOD,
    documents were executed and signed to sell the property; and

    WHEREAS, while the MNS BOD acted by right in executing the documents to sell the building
    and property used by ULC, by appearance they did not seem to act in love and mercy toward
    their neighbor; and

    WHEREAS, the decision to sell the University Lutheran Chapel by the MNS District BOD has
    resulted in tension, divisions, and a disruption to our life together across the Synod; therefore
    be it

    RESOLVED, that the Montana District 2011 Fall Pastors Conference humbly express its sincere
    sadness at the outcomes of these actions of the MNS BOD; and be it further

    RESOLVED, to urge that, if at all possible, the MNS BOD reverse or delay its recent decisions
    regarding ULC, so that the matter may be addressed by the MNS District Convention, and
    further communicate to the MNS and MNN Districts an explanation of their rationale, and offer
    a letter of apology to MNS and MNN Districts and ULC and her pastor; and be it further

    RESOLVED, that the pastors of the Montana District convey to the congregation of University
    Lutheran Chapel and her pastor their spiritual support of prayers and physical support from
    the 2011 Montana Conference offering, so that through these our brothers and sisters in Christ
    at ULC might be encouraged and supported in their ongoing ministry and mission; and be it

    RESOLVED, that this resolution stand as an example for other Missouri Synod Lutherans to
    rally around the congregation of ULC, encouraging them to show our “mercy, witness, and life
    together” for brothers and sisters who have, by appearance, been abused and mistreated; and
    be it finally

    RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the Montana District 2011 Fall Pastor’s Conference send this
    adopted resolution to the following individuals: The LCMS President; MNN District President;
    MNS District President; the Chairman of the MNS BOD; and the MNN and MSS Circuit

    Submitted by the Rev. Douglas Thompson, Park City, Montana
    Adopted by the Conference in Great Falls, Montana, 13 October A+D 2011
    Pastor Mark Birkholz
    Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church
    Oak Lawn, IL

  31. Wallenstein: “Paul: Confessional LCMS churches that use the liturgy and the hymnals shop at CPH. LCMS congregations that have membership in the Willow Creek Association are not buying any CPH materials. So every time you visit Lutheran blogs and websites to criticize confessional Lutheranism in favor of the Church Growth Movement, you are causing CPH to lose sales. Is that what you want? There is still time to switch sides, Paul.”

    Was this public matter resolved publicly?

  32. @Don #138

    Partly is because they are elected by their peers. This can have a moderating influence, so that he will not upset either side. The weakness is that in not upsetting either side, they may be unlikely to take much of any stand at all. So actually the more liberals ones may have a better chance of election, since they are the ones more likely to let anything go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.