ULC Minneapolis — Build it Back

ULC NEW CHAPELReaders of BJS should be very familiar of the situation with University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis.  They have currently purchased property and called “Luther House” which serves many of the teaching, hospitality, and social needs of the congregation.  They still need a new chapel, and as such they have begun a campaign called “Build it Back” to build a new chapel on their new property only a block away from their previous location.

A giving opportunity has come up to double your money given in support of ULC.  ULC has been offered $10,000 to match gifts received through the end of December to the Build-It-Back fund. Now is a great time to give and see your gift doubled through the matching funds! You can donate in the regular offering plate, online, in person, or through the mail. Simply label your gift “Build-It-Back”.

Go to hear to find out more.

Watch this video to summarize the history and the plans for the future of the ministry at the University of Minnesota by the folks of University Lutheran Chapel.



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.


ULC Minneapolis — Build it Back — 16 Comments

  1. I thought it was interesting to hear “they need a chapel.” And it was interesting to see the design being the big windowed, church building with tower.

    I’m sure there are some state laws that work around religious buildings, and places of worship (fire hazard stuff.) It just seemed kinda strange, yet expected, to have that design, but it really makes me curious as to why. It seems very impractical.

  2. @Quasicelsus #3
    Not sure where you’re going with this one. Are you suggesting a pre-fab aluminum barn to save money (perhaps w/ the 25′ stained glass panels salvaged from the destruction of their old chapel mounted horizontally)? I’m a very small bit surprised that they aren’t going w/ red brick and a design more similar to the chapel that was taken from them, but perhaps that would be a reminder of their loss rather than a way forward.

    I’ll tell you what I told Pastor’s Fondow and Harrison when this terrible thing started: “the University Lutheran Chapel has been a blessing to generations of your District’s young men and women. It has served them not only as a place of worship, but a place of refuge and comfort in a large and anti-Christian environment; forming and maturing their faith. Though today ULC costs nothing to either district, it still stands as the tangible symbol of the value which both Minnesota Districts have put on their children’s spiritual life and formation. Generations of Minnesota Lutherans have said: our children are worth the expense of this beautiful and functional place of worship.”

    I say “build it back.” My donation goes out tonight, and I would hope that the BJS folks who helped to raise the hue and cry when MNS began to craftily seek to get ULC’s inheritance by a show of right, will join me and be of service to the ULC in keeping it.

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills, ULC Class of ’85

  3. There was a time when I would think that the appearance and amenities of a church building are of no importance – until I experienced myself how the meeting facilities of a particular congregation were so unpleasant and uncomfortable that it for a long time kept me from pursuing any contact with this particular congregation – until God Himself, years later, led me to take up contact with the church body to which this congregation belong, and actually join this particular congregation, and bear with the awkwardness. On a side note, the congregation has since then, after I left the country, obtained a beautiful and functional church building.
    I have also since then learned that even the appearance of a church building, and particularly whether it is ostentatious or invisible, can actually have an impact on whether or not people are aware of it and drawn to it.
    Of course, as my own experience illustrates, God can and will work through this and bring His good will about. And one can even come to love the sight of one’s church despite its appearance. But still …

  4. @Quasicelsus #3
    but it really makes me curious as to why. It seems very impractical.

    What was “impractical” was tearing down the old chapel!

    A church near a university campus has to be readily identifiable as a church. It should be distinguishable from the Mormons (who were building while MN So was tearing down) and all others. Nothing “impractical” about that.

    I hope the cross on the top will end up being a little more prominent.
    God bless the work, and may the chapel stand for many generations to come!

  5. @helen #6

    thank you (and matt and jais) for responding. i’m definitely on the side that is still at a loss for understanding why/how the old building got sold/destroyed – and that is terrible to say the least.

    so building a new church building on campus. I’m not pitting gothic cathedral against a pole barn or a storefront. i mostly just want/wanted to hear the rationale spoken concerning the choices. i do think about what images set it apart (sacred space, visible cross, not mormon, etc) and what can be done about other things (utility bills, room for growth/shrinkage, available parking). i don’t think a parking lot is more valuable than a worship space – but i’m curious how it’s going to play out. is there space IN luther house for a chapel. does it fit the needs of the community? what ARE the needs of the community? – i’m not asking for an answer for those last two, just thinking. i do understand that the community needs the gospel – word and sacrament ministry – and a space that supports word and sacrament ministry.

  6. @Quasicelsus #7
    … and the way I see it, it is by no means wrong of you or of anyone else, when considering a project like this , to do some thinking, not only as to what is and is not necessary, and what would be the most responsible use of resources – as well as what would serve the purposes best, even if it is not necessary in some metaphysically absolute sense.

  7. ULC strikes me as uniquely active during the week, with more regularly planned activities than most other congregations without dayschools, and also, since they are a campus ministry, a lot more opportunities for drop in ministry to students than most churches.

    But when I have visited there, I have been struck by the focus and centrality of the divine services in their congregation, which is pretty extraordinary as well. Despite their many other involvements, that is the clear priority. That being so, it is all the more important that they have an appropriate sanctuary for worship.

    I have seen the Luther House, and it is very nice, but it’s no church. It’s no chapel, either. And I cannot imagine making regular use of it for divine services–the layout and proportions are just wrong for that, IMO. Additionally my understanding is that their parking there is deemed insufficient for that use, per the city’s ordinances.

    It was impressive to me that ULC purchased the Luther House, evidencing their commitment to the campus ministry that they have offered so superbly for so many decades. If they had moved away from campus, they might have been able to get a church in a more reasonably priced area–who knows for sure? But they kept their longterm commitment to the students by staying close to the campus.

    And now, in my view, it is time for us to keep our longterm commitment to them, and get them that church that they need to have a complete ministry and to have a true church home for their congregation and for the students of the present and future. After all, campus ministry serves all of us. Our students look far beyond their parishes for universities to attend. And they typically don’t have the financial resources that adult laypeople do, so it has always been our job and our privilege to help campus ministries financially.

  8. @Carol Broome #9
    Additionally my understanding is that their parking there is deemed insufficient for that use, per the city’s ordinances.

    Next question: where is the parking space for the church going to be, if, as I would guess, they are proposing to build it in the present parking lot? Is there additional space to purchase?

    After all, campus ministry serves all of us.

    Apparently it also serves graduates and families in the area, since liturgical Lutheran services are said to be hard to find.

  9. @Quasicelsus #7
    Please don’t focus on the chapel plans themselves. They are just drawings. They are the vision of what could be given the right circumstances. They are subject to modification. The questions you ask have been addressed over and over in this battle. Please think about the wounded. When we ask the sorts of questions you are asking we actually hurt them more. They are the ones who have lived this, and suffered, and are still suffering, trying to repair the damage that was done to them. No one knows exactly how it will play out, but what we do know is that they need a little more land and then they need a chapel.

    University Lutheran Chapel exists because long ago faithful Lutherans had a vision to plant a mission for students at the doorstep of what has become one of the largest secular universities in the nation. And they gave SACRIFICIALLY for this to become a reality, and it did. It was a paid for property, ‘almost’ completely self-supporting. The Minnesota South District, charged with holding the title in trust, succumbed instead to the devil’s temptation to convert what had become a valuable piece of real estate to their own financial coffers.

    I thank God for the faithful ones at the District Convention who tried very hard to save the title, and when that failed to do the next best thing and try to get some amount of restitution for ULC, which they did accomplish. That was the amount that has enabled ULC to purchase Luther House, the beginning of building it back. But Luther House is not a chapel, as Carol has pointed out, and can not be legally. They must purchase a larger footprint, and then raise the money for the chapel itself, no small task.

    When our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer, the whole Church suffers. We have an obligation out of love to do everything in our power to help restore them to the place they were in before ‘show of right’ entered the picture. ULC has been a model for campus ministry for decades, they have been faithful to our Lord and to His Church, and they have delivered His gifts of Word and Sacrament through times of blessing and times of trial. Let us not forget them.

  10. >>I’m sure there are some state laws that work around religious buildings, and places of worship (fire hazard stuff.)

    I’ve been pastor of two congregations that built new sanctuaries and I can assure you that the relevant authorities NEVER “work around” such things as “fire hazard stuff” for “places of worship.” Our sanctuary addition at Holy Cross in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota was designed under Sioux City, Iowa codes because we were on the border–just a few hundred feet from Sioux City–and all the contractors were from Iowa. My new study was about 20′ x 20′ and under Iowa codes was required to have TWO fire alarm horns/strobes, the bottom of which had to be precisely at 84″, 1/2 inch BELOW my bookcases I already owned which had to go on those walls. There could not be even the slightest variation under Sioux City codes–we were told without those two horns/strobes at precisely 84″ (not 84 1/2′) there would be “dead zones” in a 20′ x 20′ room where the alarm would not be heard or seen. I replied that two of those horns/strobes in a room that size would WAKE the dead. Fortunately we had the option of following South Dakota codes which allowed for one horn/strobe at 84 1/2″. But if our church had actually been in Sioux City believe me not even the slighted variation would have been allowed.

  11. Minnesota has very strict laws also. That is one of the reasons that ULC has to acquire more land, etc. This has all been factored in and all of that will be (and has been) addressed. This still misses the basic point that ULC has been harmed, they are on their way to building it back, but they need our help, a lot of it. And that help right now comes primarily in the form of money. As good stewards we have the opportunity to see our money be matched dollar for dollar up to $10K through the end of December. Seems like a no-brainer to me. My check went in the mail on Thursday.

  12. @Noreen Linke #14
    Thanks Noreen!
    I’ve made this comparison before, but the front page of the Reporter I got last week was full of a pair of congregations who lost their churches to tornadoes recently, and the Synod support they were receiving. That is as it should be, and I begrudge these dear Christians in their shattered towns nothing, but how much worse to lose your sanctuary to your own district over-shepherd’s “vision” for college ministry and to have to fight for publicity w/in your own Synod.
    BJS folks, please put some money where your electrons are, it would be a shame to leave any of the $10K in matching funds on the table at the end of the year.
    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  13. What a wonderful idea! The construction of a beautiful new chapel near the U of M would be a stunning example of God bringing good from evil.

    I, for one, encourage the congregation to build the most beautiful, fitting, Lutheran chapel possible. Those concept drawings are exactly what I would have in mind. I have heard that, contrary to what most people think, traditional architecture is no more expensive than contemporary. It looks like a happy coincidence that “Luther House” evokes the Reformation Era with its architecture.

    While I cannot contribute now, I hope I can in the future. I’m very excited about this project and eager to see how it works out.

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