Great Stuff — ULC – Of Woundedness, Trials, Trust and Faith

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By Oliver Young – a perspective from a long-time member of University Lutheran Chapel 


A quick Google search will reveal that woundedness is ‘The quality or state of being wounded.’ That very simple, succinct definition leaves a lot out of what it means to be wounded.

Our society has become increasingly aware of this concept of woundedness. We see service men and women returning from active duty to ‘regular’ civilian life. This transition is hard and wearing, not only on the service person but also family, friends, employers, and broader society. While external wounds are visible, tangible, and often horrific, they can be directly addressed. What is more difficult and far more complex are the wounds we do not, and cannot see. It is these wounds that are harder to address and care for, and which require a different level of compassion and understanding.

Woundedness exist in other places as well. I work for a healthcare system in the Twin Cities, MN, and our president has a passion for patient care and the patient experience. In a recent blog, he commented on Carl Jung’s archetypical “wounded healer,” where the healer needs to be in touch with his or her own woundedness in order to be effective. The wounded healer is vulnerable and open to that which causes woundedness, and in so doing, is enriched as a healer.

These examples of woundedness are powerful, yet they pale in comparison to the woundedness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Nailed to the tree, He suffered not only horrific physical wounds to His hands, feet and side, but more so, and more importantly for us, He suffered the weight of our sin cast upon Him for the sake of our justification and salvation. Not only does He absorb and take on every aspect of filth and enmity that is our sin, but also in rising triumphant and glorious, in having defeated death and the devil, He heals us and opens the way for us to eternity with Him in Heaven. The darkness that is our lot in this life is cast out by the gracious, healing gift that is undeservedly ours through the suffering and victory of our Lord. We look to Him, His Word, and His body and blood for comfort in our present life, and finally, we look to that most glorious day when we will be with Him in paradise.

crucifix-300x114Woundedness also relates to University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) in Minneapolis. ULC is one of the oldest campus ministries in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. A bastion and oasis of truth, certainty and comfort on the campus of a very large (48,000 enrollment), secular, liberal, public university. ULC has ministered to Lutheran students at the University of Minnesota (U of MN), Twin Cities, and surrounding colleges, for over 80 years and has sent many young men on to seminary. ULC has been, and continues to be, a center of faithful preaching, teaching and learning, a beacon of bright light in a sea of darkness. Our students and our members cling to ULC for what it provides to us in absolute truth and certainty, and we are truly blessed to have as our shepherd the Rev. David Kind. Pastor Kind was one of those young men who attended ULC while a student at the U of MN; he went on to be a seminarian at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN, and to become an LCMS pastor. He is a pastor that is faithful and dedicated, that respects and embraces the beauty of our confession, doctrine, and historic liturgy, and he preaches and teaches with a clarity and purity that is often hard to find.

This all sounds wonderful and it really is, but ULC is a wounded congregation, and Pastor Kind is a wounded pastor. The wounds of ULC and Pastor Kind are not the visible, tangible kind, but are below the surface, simmering, complex and painful. The following, from ULC’s website, will be familiar to many…

”In September of 2011, after failed attempts to do so in the 1980s and 1990s and again in 2008, the Minnesota South District Board of Directors sold the chapel property to Doran Construction who demolished the chapel and parsonage in order to build luxury student apartments. This action was the culmination of three decades of strife with the district over ULC’s confessional and liturgical approach to doctrine and worship.”

In the darkness and despair of being cast out by our own district, something wonderful happened. At the 2012 district convention, enough other faithful MN South pastors and laity took affront to the deceitful and underhanded way in which the district leadership had dealt with ULC, and managed to secure $2 million (two thirds of the sale funds) from the district to help ULC relocate. We had lost our beloved home and now we had funds to help us move forward, but what next?

Having funds to relocate was wonderful and deeply appreciated, but the storm clouds swirled and darkened our doorstep: we had no worship space of our own, we had no home, and our own district had exiled us.

It is not hard to see how ULC became a wounded congregation. External forces battered and tossed us about, and Satan rejoiced. Not only external forces, but internal forces as well. Having received monies from the MN South district, our formal relationship with the district changed, we are now no different from any other congregation in the district, though we may be a little more ignored. This was freeing and uplifting for us, but it also meant we no longer had a common external enemy; Satan’s tentacles crept insidiously in to the hearts of ULC. Questions and doubts about our future appeared; we had no worship space, we differed in our ideas for what to do next, we differed in our ideas for what to do with $2 million dollars, our unity and friendships became strained and fractured, we became our own enemy.

These wounds are not only pain points anchored in specific events and time, but also ongoing trials that test both Pastor Kind’s and ULC’s resolve, relationships, attitudes and approaches to each other and the future. Sadly there appears to be little support and understanding of what this woundedness does to a congregation and her pastor.

Pastor Kind has been deeply wounded by his own district leadership, supposed brothers and sisters in Christ, who worked against him and ULC. Ostensibly of a common confession and yet no mercy or kindness was shown by district leaders. Our district is broken, but this is just a reflection of our Synod. Synodical leaders did not step up and publicly and forthrightly defend their brother and his congregation; they did not respond to and answer the call of pastors and laity for help. They, as is so often the case these days, relied not on what is right and proper, but on a constitution, by-laws, rules and other man made devices, and said their hands were tied. Pastor Kind, a man who stands in the stead of Christ and feeds ULC the Lord’s gifts of Word, body and blood, has been cast adrift, and the lot of him and his congregation has become but a recollection, a distant memory, and a victim to the fickleness of human attention.

I can only imagine what it feels like for Pastor Kind; the sense of loss and failure in the duty and responsibility to care and provide for ULC must be crushing. The sense of abandonment, of loneliness, of not knowing where to turn for help, even if help exists. How to answer questions, concerns, and challenges within the congregation? The impact on family and friendships. Who to talk to, who to confide in, where to cast burdens and fears and insecurities, how to face this darkness? These wounds are deep and long lasting and it will take time for scars to diminish, but will they ever truly disappear? By the grace and mercy of our Savior, these things will ease and Christ Himself will guide, comfort, and provide for Pastor Kind.

However, who ministers to a hurting pastor? Who provides him with the all-healing gifts of Christ? Who lifts him up and supports him? I am sure that the fidelity of the ULC members is a comfort and reassurance to Pastor Kind. ULC is a well-catechized, engaged, faithful and supportive congregation, and we are blessed to have a gifted man as our shepherd. But what else? Doubtless fellow pastors, near and far, have reached out to offer words of comfort and support. Is this enough? Is it sustained? These trials are ongoing and pervasive, and the sense of hurt and separation is undoubtedly enduring. Pastor Kind, as Christ’s servant, continues tobring and share with ULC, and our students, the very life and salvation won for us on the cross by our Lord and Savior. Surely, there is no greater calling than to share these undeserved gifts.

The congregation’s wounds are deep as well. We have historically been a congregation of unityand closeness, but this time in the life of ULC is testing us and has beset us with schisms, doubts,and uncertainties. There are questions and differences of opinion about how to proceed, about how, where, and when to spend money. We have challenges with openness, collaboration, and communication. There is a coldness amongst us and friendships have become strained. We have not graciously listened and considered different perspectives. We have shown a lack of love, empathy and compassion. We have not been considerate of each other’s fears, doubts, and uncertainties.

Some people, struggling to understand this woundedness, have left us. Thankfully, they have not left the church. Others have joined ULC having heard of the faithfulness of the congregation and her pastor. Even with our inner turmoil and woundedness, Pastor Kind has maintained a consistency in presenting us with the beauty of His Word, His body and His blood, with gifted preaching and teaching that engages, challenges, and that is truly wonderful.

Despite the dark clouds that continue to swirl around ULC, there are shafts of brilliant, glorious light that shine down on us:

  • The ELCA’s Luther Seminary provides us with a space to worship, albeit a heterodox worship space. It is not ideal and it has forced us to forgo some of the richness and beauty of our liturgical practice, but it allows us to gather to receive Christ’s gifts. Our own Concordia University, in St Paul, MN couldn’t even do that.
  • We have Luther House, a wonderful building that brings us back on campus, back to being able to serve the students of the U of MN. What a blessing this has been.
  • We have purchased a building next to Luther House and now have the land needed for us to be able to build a new chapel; what we need now is funds to complete the task.
  • New families and students seek us out and join us in worship of Him who provides all things.

Ahead of us is no easy journey; land around the U of MN campus is very expensive (just consider the $3 million that MN South got for our old property) and has consumed much of our funds, and securing land is no guarantee that a new building will rise. Timing has thus far been fortuitous, but now as we finalize plans for what will be the new chapel, the expense of rebuilding becomes ever clearer.

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For the sake of this congregation, one of the oldest campus ministries in the LCMS, for the sake of our sons and daughters, for the sake of liturgical, confessional, and biblical theology, ULC needs your help. The task of raising funds to build a new chapel is truly daunting, especially for a small, exiled congregation. We have earmarked funds for a new building, but we anticipate needing about $500,000 in additional funding before we can build. With your help and support for the desperate importance and need for this campus ministry to rise once again, we will succeed and you can take pride in knowing that you have sustained and supported a vital ministry of the church.

ULC and Pastor Kind are the epitome of the campus ministry that we need to focus on, build up, and grow across the Synod. We need campus ministry to support and nurture our young people through their journey from home congregation and high school, through the bewildering, challenging, and sometimes adversarial experience of college, and on in to their life’s vocation. These are the future members and leaders of our church. We want and need our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and beyond to know the depth, richness, beauty and unequalled joy that is ours in the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The day that ULC can move past our immediate necessary focus on fundraising for a permanent worship space, is the day we can refocus our efforts and energy into helping to lead, support and teach others for the sake of campus ministry throughout the LCMS. So, I ask you to pray for our pastor, our members and all who worship at ULC. I most earnestly ask you, your family, friends, and congregations to spread the word of ULC’s plight, to challenge our church leaders to do the right thing, and most especially, to financially support ULC in building a new chapel as speedily as possible.

Please help us make a new University Lutheran Chapel a reality. Please help us build it back.

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