Even while steeples are falling UPDATED

The old ULC front entrance

ULC’s demolition was completed today.  Peter Wagner, a college student at the U of MN and also a member of ULC created the following video.

 

Here is an updated version of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlTBynWpVhA&rel=0

On top of this video, there are a number of photos from the demolition.  I will say thank you to Doran for allowing the folks at ULC to salvage the stained glass and altar from the old building.  I will say thank you to the convention delegates who voted to fund the beginning of the new ULC with $2 million from the sale.  That amount will not get ULC anything similar, but it has helped.  Really, our readers need to continue to support ULC and consider making a mission festival offering for the ULC cause.  Another $2 million will most likely be needed to situate the congregation with a similar footprint to serve the students of the University of Minnesota.  Stay tuned for other fundraising options to support ULC.

This whole episode over the past year has been shameful.  Throughout it all we have seen the worst of what happens in a church body which tolerates diversity in belief.  The side-taking and politics are only reflective of different beliefs waging war over resources, and the witness to the Gospel is lost among the fight.  This past year should cause great concern about the future of any Koinonia efforts and how they will all turn out for the LCMS.  How do we reconcile the parties even around something as simple as the Third Article of the Creed, which has long been thrown aside by those who would rather improve upon God’s way of making disciples with the latest and greatest methods and schemes?  God only knows.  Thank God that unity is His business.  Compromise will not work – only God-given repentance and return to the pure teachings of Scripture.

Please continue to pray for the elected leaders in our Synod as they deal with this.  Pray for the new leadership of the MN South District as they have inherited a district that has been torn apart by what created the rubble pictured above.  Pray for the congregation of ULC and Pastor Kind, who have suffered dearly through this and yet behaved admirably.  Support campus ministries and faithful campus ministry models, which focus upon the Word of God, the pure Gospel and the rightly administered Sacraments for their life and outreach to the students which God brings to them.

 

 

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.

Comments

Even while steeples are falling UPDATED — 76 Comments

  1. ULC Survivors: Get your hands on that cornerstone! It belongs to you, and it’s more important than the stained glass windows. It’s an icon of what it means to be ULC!

    Hurry! Don’t delay! Get it! Now!

  2. I liked the constant use of water throughout the demolition. I don’t know if they did that as procedure or (since it is a church) as a reminder of our baptism.

  3. Eric Ramer :@#4 Kitty #7 It’s a dust abatement methid to keep the demolition dust to a minimum, but yeash, it is an interesting… what?… irony?

    Ironic, yes. Perhaps “metaphor” is more accurate. “Dust you are, to dust you will return…”

  4. Dear Pastor Scheer,

    Thanks for the pictures and videos. For those of us who knew that building, its chapel, and its congregation, it means a lot to see its denouement. It is a type of death, but we Christians know what to say to death.

    Your quote of verse one of “Built on the Rock” is certainly apt. Our congregation sang that hymn recently (LSB 645), and I thought of ULC as we sang those words. But I also understood, for the first time, Grundtvig’s real message. Maybe it gets lost in English translation.

    You could rephrase verse 1 this way, “Even though steeples are falling, bells STILL are chiming and calling” and then he moves to verse 4 “Here stands the font before our eyes . . . the altar . . . here sound the Scriptures [referring to the lectern or pulpit]”; then back to the main theme in verse 5 “when the church bells are ringing.” These are all references to a physical church building; not to the “temple in our hearts.”

    So Grundtvig saw that even though churches were being pulled down (metaphorically by false doctrine; and physically by wrecking machines), yet bells STILL are chiming and calling. Bells can’t do that without a steeple, and steeples are always attached to a physical building called a “church.” In other words, tear down one church building, and another will eventually arise in its place.

    In this hymn, Grundtvig was giving a sermon on Matthew 16:18, about Jesus’ church. Our LORD, who is the Lord of all things in heaven, earth, and hell, said these powerful words and promises about HIS church: “The gates of hell will NOT prevail against it.”. “Built on the Rock” is not a song of defeat, but of ultimate victory.

    In history, this really has been true. Every time the devil pulls down one church, it sprouts three more. This is the hydra-like character of the church throughout history. The devil killed Jesus, then 3,000 believers were added in one day on Pentecost. The devil killed Stephen, the most holy man in that crowd, and the church went to the far corners of the Roman Empire starting churches wherever it went. The devil killed the martyrs, and they were the seed of the church, wherever they went. Even in the 20th century, the communists and the devil tried to stamp out the Chinese church, and it went underground, and has multiplied into the millions.

    Look what happened here at BJS with Issues, etc. The devil tried to stamp out “Issues, etc.” And what happened. First, a crowd of supporters came together and surrounded Todd and Jeff with love and care. Second, Pastor Rossow and his people at Bethany in Naperville, Illinois said, “We can do something about this – we HAVE to do something,” and they started the “Brothers of John the Steadfast” organization. Third, BJS started this website in order to support the new “Issues, etc.” And it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Fourth, both the attack on Issues, etc., and its response, led to a change in synodical leadership. Fifth, the new leadership in synod said “Why is Issues, etc. not on KFUO anymore? Throwing them out never made any sense” – and so invited Todd and Jeff back to KFUO, where they are now again today.

    Change and decay and demolition should not discourage us. Our LORD gave us Christians two eyes. One eye sees the present world with its “change and decay in all around I see” (LSB 878); the other eye, thanks to the revelation in Scripture, sees the heavenly world where “the patriarchs and prophets noble train with all Christ’s followers true, who washed their robes and cleansed sins’ guilty stain, sing praises ever new, I see them shine forever” (LSB 674). As a pastor, with one eye, I see my members dying, and dead, and go down into the grave with one eye; with the other eye, I see their souls ascend to join the saints, shining in white robes and singing “praises ever new.”

    Even as we grieve for their loss, I look forward to news of ULC’s new home and activities. I hope that you can all supply that, as it comes.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  5. I’ve updated the post with a second video of it.

    Thanks, Pastor Noland, for the uplifting words. After crying through the videos it was excellent reading your words.

    Norm

  6. How can you not cry watching this.

    I know it too late — but, having the steel cross that was surrounded by the stained glass would be a good monument for the front lawn of the Minnesota South District offices.

    Chilling version of one of my most favorite hymns — Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

  7. The cornerstone is the property of the Minnesota South District. Pastor Kind has reported on Facebook that members of ULC will be welcome to observe the opening of the cornerstone and take pictures of documents inside the cornerstone, but the cornerstone and its contents belong to the Minnesota South District, not to ULC.

  8. @Rev. David M. Juhl #16

    As Rev Juhl states, Rev. Kind did indeed share this fact on Facebook. A reliable source has also commented that the MNS BoD/Leadership would not allow ULC to retrieve/have/posses the cornerstone. This source also confirmed that MNS agreed that ULC may be present at the opening of the cornerstone and would be allowed to take pictures of the contents and would receive copies of the contents, as feasible, but ULC would not be permitted to have the original contents.

    Looking at the picture of the cornerstone, it appears that the block has a hole in its base. Does this mean the cornerstone was opened on site and if so, were representatives of ULC present, and if so, were they able to take pictures of the contents?

    One has to wonder at the hubris of the MNS Leadership, that they would act in such a petty way as to deny ULC such a tangible connection to its past and to those that gave so generously to support the construction of the building. Oh, wait, one doesn’t have to wonder at all…

  9. @Former Anglican #18

    Normally, the cornerstone box is sealed shut–if the box were copper (the usual material), it would have been soldered shut, and so would have been opened in another location, probably with tin snips. I would expect that the MNS box-meisters would have notified Pr. Kind of the scheduled box opening. The box is usually places in the recess, then mortared in–which the picture seems to indicate. Although the cornerstone should be saved, it would not be unusual for the box to be removed before the cornerstone (which weighs probably about 200# – 300#) is moved.

    Although the animosity between MNS and ULC is palpable, I’m inclined to give the MNS leadership the benefit of the doubt, and predict that they would have contacted the ULC leaders about the box-opening, which ought to be done with appropriate gravity and solemnity. This is no small thing–it is a big deal.

  10. @Win #19
    Win-
    after watching this video, I would not grant the “leadership”, past or present, of the Minnesota South district a thing. Seeing the cross come down at 4:20 of the 2nd video was horrifying.

  11. It is characteristic of “missional leadership.” They disregard the past. They have no respect for anything –except their personal vision of the future. TW

  12. I cannot understand how so-called Lutherans could do this AND how the members of the MNS District (congregations, laypeople and pastors) could sit and watch this happen without a HUGE fight. This is akin to the German people sitting idly by while the Nazis committed their crimes. This is unconscionable and inexcusable. This is being “missional”? Shame on the people that made this happen and those that quietly watched it happen. Lord, have mercy.

  13. @mbw #23
    Yet, even when the convention had taken most of the sale money away from the District, and it was clear that their “vision” for campus ministry couldn’t be executed w/ the remaining funds, the District went to the closing and signed the chapel away. I lean towards “the rush of excitement from exercising power” explanation because Dr. Seitz et al. didn’t make much money out of this evil act in the end.
    I think a few of these pictures should show up in the Lutheran Witness along w/ the story of what was done to ULC by their own District. If Pastor Harrison is looking for a venue to help the ULC raise some real money, that would certainly be a step in the right direction. I’ve seen articles about congregations who have lost their sanctuaries to arsonists and tornadoes, why not a faithful congregation (and “model campus ministry” said Pr. Harrison) who lost their sanctuary to the violence of evil men?
    Fight the good fight+,
    -Matt Mills

  14. Okay—from Steadfast I have heard so much about ULC and how the district did not treat them well. So tonight, I was talking with a layman who had some very different information. Will someone contact me off list [Norm give those who ask my email address] to answer some of my questions:
    1. Minnesota has always been North and South and that South owned the ULC property.
    2. ULC has over 3 million in donations for a new place to go along with the 2 milllion given them at convention.
    3. The district always considered them “renters” who were costing more than they contributed.
    4. The congregation of ULC was at times not able to even pay Pastor Kind because they are so small and give so little.

    Supposedly these four points were mentioned at the recent convention which gave them the 2 millions.

    Thanks and everyone–don’t discuss my questions here–please!!!

     

    NOTE:
    Anyone who wants to reply to Pastor Sterle please send the response to me here and I’ll forward them to him.

  15. I am going to comment on your first question because it is a simple matter of public record. Originally, when the Chapel was built, there was only one Minnesota district–and fundraising specifically to build this flagship church was conducted statewide. When the Chapel was being built, the entire district convention adjourned for an interlude to go see the property–it was a huge, beloved achievement for the district to build there, in that strategic location on one of the largest universities in the country. When this district was divided in two, all of the joint property EXCEPT ULC was divvied up between the newly formed districts. ULC was entrusted to MNS, but not consider MNS’s sole property. That’s how important this was to the state as a whole.

    Since you asked us to avoid comments, I will not comment on the others at this time. But, I request that you rescind that request, because it seems unfair to ULC to leave those criticisms public without comment, when they are inaccurate.

  16. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #26

    Regarding comment 2, ULC relocation fund:  $2 million from sale of the chapel plus $239k other donations equals $2,239,000 now in the relocation fund.  ULC will need at least double that for a near-campus facility.  Please see http://www.saveulc.org/ 

    Thanks for the opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding.  We need to respond to your questions publicly since they were asked publicly.

  17. It’s probably not a good idea to post on a worldwide public website what amounts to be unsubstantiated gossip by an unknown person and then to request that the publicly posted gossip not be discussed publicly.

  18. I am so sorry to everyone who felt a personal connection to this place.

    It can be said “it was just a building” or “it was just a radio station” or any number of other minimizing and I believe cold statements. But our God became Man and walked on physical earth. I would never lower Him to my own excessive sentimentality, but I am glad I can talk to Him, and repent of (and I do not accuse any ULC lover of sin here) about my own sometimes-foolish and sentimental hurts.

    Having beloved places violated and destroyed hurts.

    He will make all things new. And I am thankful that even before that, He is going to provide a nice new earthly place for ULC.

  19. …it seems unfair to ULC to leave those criticisms public without comment, when they are inaccurate.

    Absolutely! Responses should be public. TW

  20. @mbw #31

    Much more than sentimental attachment.  This is the needless destruction of an incomparable center for Gospel witnessing accomplished by the evil, secretive, deceptive betrayal of church leaders.   

    John, ULC ’61

  21. John Rixe :
    @mbw #31
    Much more than sentimental attachment.  This is the needless destruction of an incomparable center for Gospel witnessing accomplished by the evil, secretive, deceptive betrayal of church leaders.   
    John, ULC ’61

    Yes. I know that and did not say that was all it was.

  22. 11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.
    12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.
    13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’
    14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
    15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.
    16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’
    17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’
    18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’
    19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’
    20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief;
    21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’
    22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow?
    23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
    24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’
    25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’
    26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
    27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'”

  23. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #26
    I can speak to #3 (The district always considered them “renters” who were costing more than they contributed) because I was a sophomore at the U of M when Pr. Pless arrived. There was no “congregation” there to pay rent in ’83. Pastor Pless was called and paid by the District directly, and the building was there as District property being used to minister to us. The congregation exists because God uses His Word and Sacraments to call gather and enlighten His Church. They started paying rent through the process of changing from a District outreach to an independent congregation (and this process began when the District attempted to unilaterally replace Pastor Pless w/ a candidate of their choice when Pr. Pless took a call to CTS.)

    Last tonight, I was talking with a layman who had some very interesting information that could easily be debunked on the web in 10-15 minutes, but I didn’t bother to do that. Will someone contact me off list [Norm give those who ask my email address] to answer some of my “questions”:
    1. Bremer County Iowa used to be part of Wisconsin, until it broke away in an attempt to join the Confederate States of America in 1860.
    2. Readlyn IA is run by drug gangs who have been kidnapping tourists for ransom money.

    Thanks and everyone–don’t discuss my questions here–please!!!

    -Matt Mills, ULC ’85

  24. I can’t control myself, Matt, so I have to answer publicly to stop your wild misinformation:

    1.  Bremer County actually became part of  Florida because they were tired of the long winters.

    2.  The current ransom rate for kidnapped tourists in Readlyn is 10 minas.

  25. You guys are so funny.

    However, I would like to say that I am grateful to Pastor Sterle for raising these questions, if they were part of the discussion at the district convention, so that they can be aired and the truth can be proclaimed. I have been wondering what untruths have been circulated to try to justify this evil sale, and so this post helps to make that more clear. It is wrong to be untruthful, in the Church or outside. God calls on those who created these lies in order to justify their bad behavior to repent.

  26. Rev. Roger D. Sterle :
    Okay—from Steadfast I have heard so much about ULC and how the district did not treat them well. So tonight, I was talking with a layman who had some very different information. Will someone contact me off list [Norm give those who ask my email address] to answer some of my questions:
    1. Minnesota has always been North and South and that South owned the ULC property.
    2. ULC has over 3 million in donations for a new place to go along with the 2 milllion given them at convention.
    3. The district always considered them “renters” who were costing more than they contributed.
    4. The congregation of ULC was at times not able to even pay Pastor Kind because they are so small and give so little.
    Supposedly these four points were mentioned at the recent convention which gave them the 2 millions.
    Thanks and everyone–don’t discuss my questions here–please!!!
     
    NOTE:
    Anyone who wants to reply to Pastor Sterle please send the response to me here and I’ll forward them to him.

    @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #26

    I have discovered the answers!

    ” After the others had left, he said,

    ” to you faithful of BJS I will explain,

    The wolf is MNS.

    The two foolish pigs are those who foolishly follow the distric.

    The wise pig is the one who will deal justice to those souls who destroyed my HOLY PLACE.

    LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD is Pastor Kind and ULC……….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4Lx5Bmpojw&w=450

  27. @John Rixe #39
    I am sorry John. I apparently publically posted slanderous rumors against North Eastern Iowa without any attempt at simple fact checking first. I acknowledge my culpability and publically repent.
    Matt ULC ‘85
    And I’ll also tell my Des Moines in-laws to fill their pockets w/ Minas anytime they risk the trip to Readlyn 😉

  28. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #26
    Commenting on #3: The district did not always consider them renters, although they did pay rent. The district originally considered them a mission to the campus–a special status that involved a full-fledged congregation but also considerable subsidy because of the special nature of that specific mission. This used to be a common, and praiseworthy stance in our Synod.

    The change to the district regarding them as renters was the district’s change, not ULC’s. It is to the shame of the district that they changed into looking at this faithful, effective congregation that way. Furthermore, it is to the shame of the district that they changed to the point that they viewed one of their own CONGREGATIONS that way–as renters and, worse, as adversaries.

    Commenting on #4: I have no inside info on ULC’s finances, and in fact it makes me a little uncomfortable that this is an area of public speculation, but here is some information that seems to contradict the assertion that their congregation is not financially viable. In the end of 2010 they wrote to the District, declining their last remaining district subsidy amount, which was less than $15K annually at the time. This was because they had worked their way around to being entirely self-supporting. This is a matter of public record. See the link below for this letter:

    http://www.ulcmn.org/Files/Save%20ULC%20Files/Nov%202010%20Letter.pdf

    Additionally, toward the end of 2011, ULC announced that someone from their congregation had offered a $25K matching grant for donations to the Save ULC effort. This is a substantial offering from one person.

    The bottom line: ULC believes themselves to be self-sufficient for their operating expenses, clearly.

    Having said that, I don’t believe that they should need to be self-sufficient. I believe that campus ministries by their nature are somewhat financially dependent, and that it behooves others to contribute to them financially. Let’s not forget that President Harrison asked the entire Synod to financially support this one congregation–unprecedented, and demonstrating this necessity. We should do this.

  29. @Carol Broome #44
    We can’t have paid rent in ’83, and my bet is that ULC didn’t pay rent from ’49-’83 either. We were a mission of MNS District. I believe rent came w/ congregational independence in the 2001-ish timeframe, but I bet someone out there has better info than I do.
    -Matt Mills, ULC ’85

  30. @Matthew Mills #45
    I know. I guess I was unclear. I didn’t mean that they always paid rent; rather that the district viewing them as renters was new, and should never have happened, whether they paid rent or not.

    The district should have viewed them as a mission and as a congregation. Instead, they came to view them as mere renters and as adversaries. Despicable.

  31. I was talking with a layman and want to share publically that I have heard of financial misinformation and very inappropriate behavior with 2 Lutheran Churches in Readlyn, IA. But don’t discuss it here…please!

  32. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #26
    Perhaps you had good intensions, but your post is shameful of a man in the OHM. I am unsure how any layman at your church could speak with you and then what you would do with that information/gossip.

    For the District side, you (cts’76) were classmates with Rev. Seitz (cts’74) and served with him in the same district, I am sure he will accept your phone calls. For the ULC side, they have had documents on their website for months to answer 3 of your questions. And if you must know about money and collections, call Rev. Kind.

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