Great Stuff — New building brings new hope for Minnesota’s ULC campus ministry

Found on Reporter Online:


By Paula Schlueter Ross

Seeing and visiting the new Luther House campus-ministry center at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, has been good for junior Hannah Saunders.

University of Minnesota junior Hannah Saunders, left, poses in front of University Lutheran Chapel before it was torn down last summer. Future plans for the LCMS campus ministry include building a new chapel on its new site at the university. Also pictured are senior Solveig Preus, center, and Thomas Saunders, who graduated from the university in 2011. (Ruth Saunders)

University of Minnesota junior Hannah Saunders, left, poses in front of University Lutheran Chapel before it was torn down last summer. Future plans for the LCMS campus ministry include building a new chapel on its new site at the university. Also pictured are senior Solveig Preus, center, and Thomas Saunders, who graduated from the university in 2011. (Ruth Saunders)

Last summer, Saunders, 20, was faced with the wrenching sight of her campus church — University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) — being torn down right across the street from her apartment building.

“I was very upset and it took me until we had the new location to feel anything positive about the situation,” she told Reporter.

Saunders, a junior who is studying child psychology at the university, said she believes “no church should ever be torn down if at all avoidable.

The ULC ministry was forced to relocate when the LCMS Minnesota South District’s board of directors voted in 2011 to sell that district-owned property and another campus-ministry property in Mankato, Minn. Although the action took place before he took office as district president, the Rev. Dr. Dean Nadasdy said he understood that the decision “was a move by the Minnesota South District to divest itself of the high costs relative to maintaining buildings and to have campus ministry become a ministry of congregations.

“The district had — and still has — an aggressive plan to expand campus ministry in the district through existing congregations and new starts, without the burden of owning and maintaining facilities,” Nadasdy told Reporter.

Even though buildings were sold at both locations, “both campus ministries now continue as congregational ministries,” he noted.

Delegates to the district’s 2012 convention adopted a resolution to provide $2 million from the sale of the ULC property toward its relocation. The campus ministry in Mankato continues in the same facilities, which were purchased by Hosanna Lutheran Church, Mankato, also with assistance from the district convention.

“Healing and reconciliation will continue among us,” Nadasdy said. “My prayer is that both campus ministries will flourish as these two congregations bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their respective communities. I’m also praying that our district can proceed, as planned, to expand congregation-based campus ministries.”

The new Luther House, just a block from the ministry’s former location, is an English Tudor structure formerly used as a sorority house. A portion of the $2 million in funding from the sale of the ULC property was used to purchase the new building, and the rest went to the “Build It Back” campaign to raise an additional $1.6 million for construction of a chapel on the new site (see for more information).

“We still need to build a chapel, hopefully right next to Luther House,” said the Rev. David A. Kind, LCMS campus pastor at the University of Minnesota. “But it is wonderful to have a place again on campus where we can operate the campus ministry of the congregation and serve the students of the U of M, many of whom would not find us, or perhaps simply wouldn’t come to us, if we were totally off-campus.

“We also think that Luther House — and eventually the chapel — will send a strong message to the community that we will not abandon our campus and her students, but are committed to serving them with Christ and His Gospel.”

More than 150 people attended the opening and dedication of Luther House on April 5, according to Kind. And the building is actually “more conducive to campus ministry,” he said, than the former chapel.

“Luther House is a very warm and inviting place, having large public spaces on the first floor for students to gather, study and hang out in, and a wonderful game and movie room in the basement for them to enjoy,” Kind said.

“The old chapel had a great location — right across the street from one of the dorms. But the new location is also very good — only one block further away from campus, and situated on a main walking route to campus in the midst of sorority row.”

The Rev. Marcus T. Zill, campus pastor at St. Andrews Lutheran Church and Campus Center in Laramie, Wyo., and coordinator of campus ministry for the LCMS Office of National Mission, said it was “a true joy” to take part in the Luther House dedication.

“University Lutheran Chapel has certainly endured a lot the last two years,” Zill told Reporter. “While they still have a long way to go to completely re-establish themselves and they need our ongoing support, the dedication of this house gives them a tremendous opportunity for a new beginning.

“Luther House will be a tremendous asset to University Lutheran Chapel in continuing to provide a solid Lutheran presence at the University of Minnesota for years to come,” he added. “This is essential as the University of Minnesota is not only one of the largest universities in the nation, but also has a significant Lutheran student population.”

Kind said ULC’s ministry did not stop after the property sale. Sunday worship services were held on the campus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., between the university’s St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses, and a van was purchased to shuttle students from their dorms to the seminary.

But fewer students attended services at the off-campus location, he added, “in spite of our best efforts” to keep them coming.

“This shows why establishing Luther House is so important, and why building a new chapel on campus is even more important,” he said.

To learn more about ULC’s ministry, visit

Posted in Found on the Web Tagged permalink

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.


Great Stuff — New building brings new hope for Minnesota’s ULC campus ministry — 5 Comments

  1. Just some curious questions. Why did the Mankato campus chapel get sold to a church and the Minneapolis campus chapel get sold to a developer (who tore it down)? What was the difference between the two? Wouldn’t the district have seen the same benefit from selling the Minneapolis building to the congregation? (I.e. no longer having to spend money to maintain the building).

  2. Overtures 1-14 and 1-15 relate to campus ministry.
    1-15 relates specifically to ULC:
    To Commend and Support Campus Ministry
    at University of Minnesota

    Whereas, Our forebears in the faith built strategically located
    chapels to conduct Word and Sacrament ministry at major college
    campuses across our country and to promote Lutheran Christian evangelism among students and community members; and
    Whereas, Ministries at these chapels are a refuge and a help to
    Lutheran and other Christian college students, many of whom are
    away from home for the first time, and to others who are brought to
    faith in our gracious God in that context; and
    Whereas, These ministries serve students from all over the country and from international locations as well, and thus their ministries
    are a service to the Synod at large and indeed to the Church as a
    whole; and
    Whereas, One such active congregation, University Lutheran
    Chapel in Minneapolis, MN,serves one of the biggest public universities in the country, provides a vibrant town/gown ministry, has
    been the source of dozens of pastoral and diaconal students for service in our Synod, and has provided leadership in theological studies
    that have been helpful to many other congregations; and
    Whereas, This faithful congregation’s strategically located campus church home was sold by the Minnesota South District’s board
    of directors for demolition by a developer who paid $3,250,000 for
    it; and
    Whereas,The congregation was left without a church building;
    Whereas, Although the Minnesota South District board of
    directors did not provide any funds for the continuation of this congregation, the Minnesota South District in convention granted the
    congregation part of the proceeds($2,000,000) from the final sale
    price of $3,250,000; and
    Whereas, On-campus property is extremely expensive, but campus ministry effectiveness is immeasurably assisted by the presence
    of such a church location; therefore be it

    Resolved, That the LCMS thank the congregation and pastor of
    University Lutheran Chapel–Minneapolis for their service to our students and to the broader Church; and be it further
    Resolved, That the LCMS grant this congregation $1,250,000 to
    assist them in building a replacement campus chapel and to more
    justly compensate them for their loss; and be it further
    Resolved, That the LCMS express our sincere thanks to God and
    to all of the campus congregations and pastors of the Synod for their
    service to the Church and particularly for their service to students
    who are blessed to attend universities that have them; and be it finally
    Resolved,That the LCMS encourage the title holders of existing
    campus ministry chapels to regard these properties as sacred trusts
    on behalf of the Church at large and to retain them for posterity to
    the glory of God.

  3. @Pastor Thomas Clark #1
    What was the difference between the two?

    In Minneapolis, confessional Lutheran Pastors provided a ministry which sent numerous men on to seminary, usually Fort Wayne. 🙂

    In Mankato, “not so much”. 🙁

  4. To answer the pastor’s question a bit more accurately – the CLC was worth much less than the ULC – and the local congregation which bought Mankato’s CLC site not only continues campus ministry, but has planted a church for that area using our building.

    As for the other comment – We actually had 2 men who attended the CLC at one time who went to seminary during my 13 plus years. But to further explain – seminary recruitment was never the primary or even secondary aim for campus ministry at MSU-Mankato. I don’t know what the ULC demographics are/were, but we estimated that 85%+ of the students were functionally un-churched. We were very busy just trying to get the message of the Gospel out.

    I think you would agree that this goal is important for campus ministry, right?

    Thanks for your time.

  5. Several days after I read this I was struck by something that didn’t quite click before. Nadasdy gave the usual beauracratic junk talk about how “healing and reconciliation will continue”.

    All due respect, but where has there been reconciliation? Did the district apologize for this travesty? Did Seitz and company offer public repentance for this public sin? Have they attempted to make amends not only for stealing this church’s building, but for also recommending to the convention last summer not to give ULC any monies for relocation?

    Healing will continue, yes, because ULC rests in Christ and is cared for and sustained by the Holy Spirit. But reconciliation cannot, in my opinion, even begin to happen until the district takes a step to reconcile. Until then any talk of “continuing reconciliation” is just added insult.

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