Save ULC – Update including a recent letter sent from MNS District to delegates AND a letter of clarification by President Harrison

There is still no word on the court case with ULC (eviction hearing).  The MNS District Convention begins on Thursday.  This letter was received today by all delegates to the convention. It does actually tell us the probable fate of CLC in Mankato (sold to an LCMS congregation in Mankato).  UPDATE – There is also a letter from Pres. Harrison expressing his thoughts regarding the sale of ULC (since the District’s letter cites him as possibly supporting the action).

Here is the letter from President Harrison:
Dear Directors,
As you well know, I have refrained from involvement in the ULC matter. I am compelled, however, to send this note to you as my name has been used, in part, to justify the action of the board in selling ULC. I want to be very clear to you and for the sake of the good people in the Synod who have been so troubled by this whole affair.
In your presence I acknowledged the board’s legal “right” to sell the chapel. However, I do not in any way, shape, or form, condone the sale of ULC. It is a tragic mistake, which has unleashed a blizzard of sin on all sides. Our life together has been deeply embittered.
I continue to name you in my daily prayers, as I have from the beginning of this affair, praying the Lord would grant us all repentance and rescue us from our sinful selves.
Fraternally in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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.


Save ULC – Update including a recent letter sent from MNS District to delegates AND a letter of clarification by President Harrison — 32 Comments

  1. So all of Monte Meyer’s crying about losing his chapel was nothing more than crocodile tears. His chapel is being sold to another LCMS congregation, one that will no doubt continue campus ministry on that campus in the exact same place (and probably with the same person). That’s totally different than what they are doing to ULC. Why didn’t they offer that chapel to the ULC congregation for 900K?

    It also looks like Pres. Seitz is trying to paint ULC as litigious and duplicitous liars. I think ULC explained already that they weren’t planning on bringing suit against MNS, but then changed their mind when they had no other recourse left and had found documents proving their claims.

  2. The boards resolution accuses ulc of acting in bad faith and ignoring scripture. It is absolutely without shame. Steal a church and accuse them of sinning when they don’t go along with it.

  3. The last MN South Board of Directors meeting was over a month ago now. Still no minutes from that meeting have been posted on the MN South website. Generally the minutes are posted in a much more timely manner. Makes you wonder what is in those minutes that they don’t want to share before the district convention.

  4. “It is a tragic mistake, which has unleashed a blizzard of sin on all sides.” MH

    I would have preferred words like “It is a grave sin against the Church and our Life Together”, and I do not appreciate the implication that ULC has sinned in this. ULC is the victim and has been conducting herself in an extraordinary way in the midst of the cross she has been bearing.

  5. In a September 30 [not 20], 2011, letter, “Concerning the Sale of University Lutheran Chapel,” posted on the WMLT blog, President Harrison stated in the following paragraph:

    “The Life Together which we enjoy is fragile and often fractured. This action makes it even more so. There is no question that the Board had the right to do what it did with the property. Unfortunately, this action is difficult, even impossible to separate from ongoing dissensus in the district about what it means to be Lutheran, very similar to our larger challenges as a Synod. We have a long way to go in this regard. God help us.”

    To quote only the middle sentence of the paragraph by President Harrison and leave out any mention of the context of the paragraph is not something that will improve the reputation of President Seitz.

  6. @Carl Vehse #9
    “To quote only the middle sentence of the paragraph by President Harrison [“There is no question that the Board had the right to do what it did with the property.”] and leave out any mention of the context of the paragraph is not something that will improve the reputation of President Seitz.”

    Absolutely deceitful of President Seitz! I’m glad President Harrison corrected him. I hope he repents.

    The DP also neglected to mention to the delegates that he turned down a more financially lucrative offer in favor of one that would evict the congregation…

    @Noreen #8
    Pastor Harrison: “It is a tragic mistake, which has unleashed a blizzard of sin on all sides.”
    Noreen: “I do not appreciate the implication that ULC has sinned in this.”

    I concur with you, Noreen, that ULC’s congregation and pastor are above reproach in this matter, but perhaps Pastor Harrison had in mind those of us on ULC’s side who have sinfully reacted to the filthy swine on district’s side. 🙂

    Pastor Harrison was just being diplomatic, seeking the ultimate goal of unity. Trying to bring both sides back together, he is like the loving father who reminded the unrepentant son, “This, your brother, was dead and is alive again! We simply had to rejoice together!”

  7. @Noreen #8 – I agree with you that ULC is the party that has been originally sinned against. However, as the Scripture pints out all our righteous deeds as a filthy rags. Even in our best works we still sin – that is what sinners do. Nothing we do is perfect. President Harrison is being a good pastor in pointing out that all conflict produces sin as a by-product. I’m sure ULC and Pastor Kind can point out places where they have not done their best. Thus President Harrison is correct in calling us all to repentance, and to cling to the forgiveness we have in Christ Jesus.

  8. The district doesn’t want to be exposed to maintenance costs?

    What about exposure to the costs of consultants etc? Those are going to be much higher and harder to explain to people, harder to fundraise to support.

    How do they plan to generate support for the new campus ministry plan?

    Even if they had an exciting alternative that were thriving by connecting with students (which they don’t) it would be hard to maintain because fads by their nature are transitory. They don’t have a plan that they can make more successful than ULC, and even the few costs of ULC that fall to the district are too high, but the far higher costs of proposed programs are going to be more sustainable?

    That is not vision in any sense.

    Just their own proposals are nonsensical.

  9. Sunday Morning Prophecy

    An old Negro minister concludes his sermon in his loudest voice,
    having previously pointed out the sin of this world:

    …and now
    When the rumble of death
    Rushes down the drain
    Pipe of eternity,
    And hell breaks out
    Into a thousand smiles,
    And the devil licks his chops
    Preparing th feast on life,
    And all the little devils
    Get out their bibs
    To devour the corrupt bones
    Of this world-
    Then my friends!
    Oh, then! Oh, then!
    What will you do?

    You will turn back
    And look toward the mountains.
    You will turn back
    And grasp for a straw.
    You will holler,
    Save me, Lord!
    Save me!
    And the Lord will say,
    In the days of your greatness
    I did not hear your voice!
    The Lord will say,
    In the days of your richness

    I did not see your face!
    The Lord will say,
    I will not save you now!

    And your soul
    Will be lost!

    Come into the church thsi morning,
    Brothers and Sisters,
    And be saved-
    And give freely
    In the collection basket
    That I who am thy shepherd
    Might live


    Langston Hughes

  10. This ULC affair is a great tragedy. An ominous cloud of mistrust hangs over the whole business:Charges and countercharges, injunctions, accusations, rumors, just to mention a few. I have followed it from the distance of my own district: it has a profound spiritual dimension, and is extremely painful and frankly frightening to witness. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood….”

    Let’s look on the positive side. Most Boards of Directors (BOD’s) are fairly invisible. They go about their work for the district, and, in most cases, few people pay much attention to them or their decisions. As I said in another thread, it’s doubtful that most district members even know their names. Many congregations, pastors, and laymen are indifferent to the work of the BOD and the district, some are hostile, and some supportive. This decision and its fallout have heightened the visibility of the MNS BOD–I daresay that their identities are well known, if not household words. This affair has underlined for all of us the importance of the work of BOD’s (and Boards of Regents, for that matter), and perhaps from now on, we’ll all take a lot more interest in what our district BOD’s are doing. It should cause all of us to read our district’s bylaws, study the Synod’s constitution (which is the districts’ constitution by definition), and follow actively the work of the BOD, and, most importantly, hold the Board accountable for its actions. Unless I miss my guess, the MNS Convention should be very interesting: lively and spirited debate, and plenty of opportunities for confession, forgiveness, and the mutual consolation of the brethren and sistren. Its Witness, its Mercy, and its Life Together will be tested, and we pray, with President Harrison for repetance and rescue.

  11. When President Harrison said there is “… a blizzard of sin on all sides” I don’t believe he was saying ULC sinned by going to court to defend herself.

  12. Pray that the new president of MN/S will do what is good and right in the sight of our LORD. He will have the opportunity to promote “Mercy, Witness and Life Together” at the foot of the cross.

  13. Since the MNS District has decided to publicly discuss an ongoing legal case, it would be duplicitous to refuse to discuss the matter at the District Convention because of pending litigation.

    I know, I know. What’s my point?

  14. Since the other ULC thread is “dropping off of the page,” I wanted to ask in this thread whether or not there is any news about the court hearing? Is the court still hearing arguments, or awaiting the judge’s decision?

  15. Is it possible that the judge is waiting to see how the convention acts before announcing a decision? I hope Rev. Kind’s meeting at ULC with the delegates is helpful tomorrow.

  16. It is this that is driving me nuts about the MNS BOD and their DP President Seitz!

    All this talk about sin………

    It is not about sin it is about something far worse! Beyond sin!


    Moral Clarity

    June 13, 2012 by prschroeder

    In a sermon entitled, “Where are you, Adam?”, by Rabbi Marc Gellman (published in First Things), among the many cogent Torah-centered observations he preaches, this is one of many that stands out:

    “In The Altruistic Personality, their book about Christians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, Samuel and Pearl Oliner asked what distinguished the rescuers from the majority who did nothing, or were complicit.

    Their conclusion was that they were not distinguished by educational level or by political views or even by attitudes towards Jews.

    They were, however, different in two critical respects: they were strongly connected to communities that had straightforward and unsophisticated understandings of right and wrong, and they had a powerful sense of moral agency and shame.

    They said over and over again in interviews that they could not have lived with themselves—and many said they could not have answered before God—if they had not done what they had done.

    The righteous gentiles of the Holocaust came from communities and families that had prepared the way for their courage by teaching them how to feel shame and therefore virtue and courage.

    In this country those same institutions are often preparing the way for moral relativism and cowardice by teaching that nobody really knows what is right and what is wrong, so what the hell…………………………………..

  17. This is the best I have seen!

    Pastor Jeff Springer

    “The ULC debacle is a misuse of power, it is an unethical application of the kingdom of the left on the part of Syndocrats and a failing of vocation.

    I think we are mixing the kingdoms up a bit here.
    Perhaps it is not the right question to here to ask who is sinning.

    It is simply not a wise thing to do.
    In regard to the kingdom of the right we do address sin. But on the left it about what is best in fulfilling a vocation.
    No good decisions and nothing accomplished if we are stalemated by who is sinning. And in the process people suffer.

    I am glad my doctors are not this dense otherwise I would be dead and with my Lord. Not all bad but not great for fulfilling my vocation to my family.

    I am disgusted with lack of ethics, poor management misplaced priorities on the district levels of our synod.

    And I admit that I am a sinner too does that help?

    I do not blame ULC for taking the BoD to court otherwise lets call a Synod Convention now and call a moritorium on districts fleecing congregations. I make a motion that every congregation remove the district as a benefactor in their articles of incorporation. The mounting litigation points to the fact the Synod’s Kingdom of the left policies are lacking both morally and ethically. Still we probably go to court less than most. Sounds like a good research project.”

    Quoted by permission.

  18. “It is a tragic mistake, which has unleashed a blizzard of sin on all sides.” – Pres. Harrison

    This is an unfortunate statement and fails to bear a sense of proportion. We are speaking of a situation on earth, within time, in the church militant. A statement like this diffuses responsibility and thus emboldens the side of those who would do evil.

    “I do not in any way, shape, or form, condone the sale of ULC. It is a tragic mistake, which has unleashed a blizzard of sin on all sides.” – Pres. Harrison

    This is a clever statement. On the one hand, it fails to confess the commandments and as we are instructed in Scripture to admonish our brother. On the other hand, those of us who like what Pres. Harrison says most of the time and believe he is going to help turn the synod around will read into his statement what we want to see.

    “It is a tragic mistake, which has unleashed a blizzard of sin on all sides.” – Pres. Harrison

    What this really says: “Therefore, how can we judge?” This is one of the steps in how to end conflict in the church and ensure the innocent party is further wronged. Much like blaming a raped woman for her style of dress.

    It is difficult for me to believe that Harrison actually believes we cannot judge in this situation. However, this is what happens when one attempts to issue a politically sensitive statement.

  19. The statement about a blizzard of sin on all sides has, perhaps, some unfortunate aspects or possible implications, but it has this in its favor: A SP has said a DP and Board of engaged in a blizzard of sin (albeit with others doing the same). How often in church politics of any denomination does that happen? Isn’t it still a remarkable and satisfactory step?

  20. So not only did the district BOD agree to sell the property, now they have agreed to LESS than was originally set as the price? More than $500,000.00 less than another offer (if I recall correctly) that allowed for ULC to retain a place to worship there? Why?

  21. The title of the May 24, 2012, Minnesota South District Board of Directors Minutes indicates the meeting was from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM. However, according to the minutes, following the opening devotions:

    The meeting was called to order in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit by the President, Rev. Dr. Lane Seitz, at 9:25 a.m.

    A motion was made, seconded, and carried to go into executive session at 9:27 a.m. in order to protect attorney/client privilege.

    A motion was made, seconded, and carried to come out of executive session at 11:47 a.m.

    A motion was made, seconded, and carried to adjourn the meeting at 11:54 a.m.

    Closing Prayer – Mr. Michael Zimmer

    That must have been a long prayer.

    According to the May, 10, 2012 meeting minutes, the closing prayer by Rev. Dr. Peter Meier was only about seven minutes long.

  22. And in post #5 here, Mrs. Kind says that the BOD was in executive session from 9:00 until 3:00. What happened between 1:00 and 3:00? Or was it noon and 3:00 (how Good Friday-ish!)?

  23. I intentionally spent yesterday thinking rather than writing. I too was bothered by the ambiguity of the “sin on all sides” bit, but it is certainly true, and calling a spade a spade is part of being a theologian of the cross. Pastor Harrison was unambiguous about the cause of the “blizzard;” it was the “tragic mistake” of the MNS BOD and Dr. Seitz. (I seem to recall a millstone being involved in a discussion of those who cause other Christians to sin.)

    Part of me wishes that, with an ongoing court case, he had left the question of legality to the lawyers and judge. From a vocational perspective, Pastor Harrison was “poaching their deer” when he said the board had a legal right to sell the chapel; but in this letter he is only acknowledging what he did in fact tell the BOD, not speaking to the merits of the current case.

    In the cold light of dawn, the part that still bothers me is the “Fraternally in Christ,” closing. The MNS BOD publically sinned and needs to repent and go the other way. Perhaps here I am the “poacher;” but as an ecclesiastical supervisor doesn’t Pastor Harrison have an Ezekiel 3:17-19 responsibility to use the binding key and tell them that their actions have separated them from Jesus, and have cost them the “brotherhood” implicit in Pr. Harrison’s “Fraternally in Christ” closing? If God’s word to the wicked MNS BODs is “you will surely die” isn’t Pres Harrison in danger of God requiring the MNS BOD’s blood at his hand if he gives them no warning?

    I am grateful that Pastor Harrison wrote, and the letter is pretty good. From a political perspective it may be the right letter at the right time for the ULC. I pray that it is, but I also pray for the repentance and restoration of Dr. Seitz, and his BOD, and this letter doesn’t seem to advance that.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

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