The Dedication of ULC

It was a rainy, yet glorious day in Minneapolis on Sunday, September 8th.  The end of seven years of exile for a faithful congregation.  By the Lord’s mighty hand the congregation at University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) in Minneapolis finally has a new building to call home.

The new chapel for University Lutheran Chapel at University of Minnesota. Courtesy of Kurt Weber.

I had the distinct privilege to attend the opening, which had especial import for me as I am an alumnus of this faithful parish along with many pastors and lay leaders in the LCMS.  It was a place of growth in the faith for me during my time in graduate school.  Under the tutelage of Pastor Kind and the devout men and women at ULC I learned to love the liturgy and Lutheran confessions like never before.  I can safely say that without the congregation at ULC I would not be the man I am today.

Thus with great joy I got to witness the dedication of the building that through seven years of blood, sweat, and tears has been raised to the glory of God.  The day was stunning with all the best of orthodox practice and teaching.  While we sang Psalm 137 in bitterness at the closing of the old chapel, we sang Psalm 126 with joy and gladness for God had worked to give us a new home.  The hymn “Built on the Rock” (LSB 645) which was sung amidst tears of great sadness to close the old building was now sung with new fervor; for we had seen that no church is permanent but rather it is the congregation as a house of living stones that makes up the Church.  The air was shrouded in incense recalling the glory cloud of the Lord descending on Solomon’s Temple at its dedication.  All was good and right with the world, and there was much joy for God truly dwelt with His people.  Yes the walls may be bare of decoration, the altar rail not in place, the windows devoid of most stained glass, yet the most precious thing in all creation was here: The Word of God rightly taught, and His sacraments rightly administered.

For those who say that the orthodox way of practice and teaching cannot work in our urban centers or universities and that the era of us building new churches is done, I challenge you to look at ULC.  For as long as I have known this blessed congregation they have taught and practiced rightly and the Lord has blessed them.  It may be hard, the numbers may not look good at times but faithfulness to the Word of God always bears fruit.  The Gospel is needed by these students, young professionals, families, and all those who live in the cities.  We need not water down our doctrine and practice to succeed, only do what the Lord has commanded of us with zeal and excellence and the Lord will give the growth.  We do not need to be anything but who we are, men and women committed to the Word of God, confessing the Book of Concord, and engaged in the practices of the church catholic.  To simply be Lutheran.

As an alumni of ULC I would like to thank all those who made this day possible.  To all the faithful congregations and individual men and women throughout the world who prayed for this day and gave to support the cause.  To the congregation at ULC, whom I love dearly, for being faithful in spite of trial and tribulation.  To Pastor David Kind for being a good undershepherd in exile.  Finally to Almighty God for being so generous to us with His abundant gifts, for it is not any human hand that raised this new church building but rather the work and the will of God to not let His people be with out His voice.

Finally please continue to support ULC with your prayers and donations.  While the building is up, the true work is now begun to make this chapel a home of the Lord’s Word and work.  ULC still has a mortgage to pay, a pastor to support, a sanctuary to beautify, a pipe organ to build, and a people in need of the Gospel right next door at the University of Minnesota.  In addition please prayerfully support the faithful campus ministries across our great land.  They are in trying situations at the brunt of the spiritual warfare of our day. If your congregation is near a college or university, I urge you to reach out to these places with the Gospel.  Not only do the children of our church go to these institutions of high education but also those on campus need to learn of the robust faith that is given by true Christian doctrine and practice as found in the Book of Concord.  The formation received in these ministries lasts a lifetime and raises up the next generation of pastors and lay leaders in the Lord’s church.

God has not and will not abandon His people.  O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever!   To God alone be all the glory, for He has done marvelous things!

About Dr. Paul Edmon

Dr. Paul Edmon is from Seattle, Washington and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He is professional staff at Harvard University and acts as liaison between Center for Astrophysics and Research Computing. A life long Lutheran, he is formerly a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle and University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis. He now attends First Lutheran Church (FLC) of Boston where he teaches Lutheran Essentials. He sings bass in the FLC choir and Canto Armonico. He was elected to the Concordia Seminary St. Louis Board of Regents in 2016. He is single and among his manifold interests are scotch, football, anime, board games, mythology, history, philosophy, and general nerdiness. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent Harvard University or Concordia Seminary. Twitter: @pauledmon

Comments

The Dedication of ULC — 13 Comments

  1. Thank you for being there and for writing this! A comment- you mentioned numbers “not looking good at times”- not sure if you are referring to campus ministry in general or ULC specifically or attendence, membership, or which other numbers. So I just wanted to make sure to offer a clarification for readers- while ULC is small in comparison to many congregations and to some campus ministry groups, we’re still quite healthy in that our net membership has actually grown while in exile to about 150 souls in spite of many students and families passing through as their life situation changes, and still has the highest weekly attendance-to-membership ratio of any congregation I have ever been a part of. I think we had about 10 infant baptisms in the space of a year recently. I’m open to correction on exact numbers but I think I’m pretty close. So while not setting any world records, still healthy and thriving.

  2. Amen!

    A heavenly day, full of victory, gratitude, and hope. God has blessed ULC richly, and has blessed all of us through ULC. Their example of faithfulness and righteousness under the most extreme of pressures, as well as their campus ministry to students from all over, enriches our whole church. God be praised!

  3. Dear Dr. Edmon,

    Thanks for a fine report about the dedication of the chapel of University Lutheran Chapel. Thanks for your support in the past 8 years that helped bring about the rebirth of ULC in its new location!

    It has been a long haul, but faithful Lutherans are in it for the long haul!!

    We need to give some credit here to the Brothers of John the Steadfast (hereafter BJS) and its supporters for helping bring about the rebirth of ULC. Some of the BJS readers today know the story, because they were part of the story, or watched it happen. Other BJS readers might wonder how it started.

    Dissent to the decisions of the Minnesota South Board of Directors in the sale of the old chapel was first expressed, to the national public, here at BJS. Norm posted a brief news article in July 11th, 2011; then the Editor, the Rev. Tim Rossow, published an in-depth analysis in September 2011 here:
    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2011/09/what-price-do-you-put-on-the-gospel-minnesota-south-district-treasurer-encourages-board-to-sell-the-ulc-property-by-pr-rossow/comment-page-1/#comments

    If you read the first hundred comments or so of Pastor Rossow’s article, you will see these familiar names immediately coming to the aid and support of ULC:
    Joshua Scheer
    Noreen Linke
    Sandra Ostapowich
    Joshua Schroeder
    Ralph Dean
    Tim Schenks
    Matthew Mills
    Paul McCain
    David Mueller
    T.R. Halvorson
    Matthew Wood
    Michael Anderson
    Eric Browne
    Matthew Lorfeld

    Other BJS commenters, in the first 100 comments, who supported ULC without their full name included:
    mbw
    Old Time St. John’s
    Jason
    Helen
    Dutch

    And that was just the first article on the subject by Pastor Rossow! Many more articles were posted here (just use the search function and type in “ULC”). Many more, probably hundreds, commented in support. That produced many more dissenters at the MNS district convention (where Rev. Klemet Preus gave a brilliant speech), and elsewhere, to save the ULC congregation.

    This shows us all how the real “grass roots” of the LCMS CAN BE EFFECTIVE in opposing ill-considered (or just plain stupid) ideas and actions of church leaders.

    Thanks to ALL of you who chimed in, who wrote a check, or did something to help save the ULC congregation, for the sake of our college students, their friends, and their invited acquaintances at the U of MN!

    May God bless the ministry of ULC and bless all of our campus ministries as they see returning students, and new faces, this month!

    And many, many thanks to the board and editors and writers at BJS for all their work!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  4. While in college I attended an LCMS campus ministry in a neighboring state, and attended a few study weekends at ULC. You do not understate the truth of their benefits, and will attest that such a ministry is invaluable. Were it not for these places, I doubt I would’ve left college as a Christian.

    I attended both the closing of the old chapel and the opening of the new one. The latter was a truly joyful occasion.

  5. @Sarah Rose Battles #1

    Thanks for the stats. For the record over 250 people attended both the opening Divine Service and Vespers. Certainly even in my time at ULC (2004-2010) the congregation was small but growing. However, the reason for my comment there was to make it less about the numbers and more about faithfulness. It is always the Lord who gives the growth, and even if we don’t see it with our eyes or even see a contraction that doesn’t mean we are doing anything wrong. Instead we are called to be faithful and trust the Lord. I am over joyed by the growth that ULC has seen in its years in exile, it is truly a miracle and just goes to show that it is the Word that does it all. ULC is a healthy and thriving congregation with a great demographic and now a new sanctuary. The Lord has truly blessed this parish in so many and it is a wonder to see.

  6. @Martin Noland #4

    Thank you for this recounting! Part of the reason I wanted to post this was to personally thank all the BJS editors, authors, and readers for their support and prayers. As a alumni of ULC and Congregational President in 2007-2009, I saw first hand what happened and was intimately involved with the goings on. I can say with out a doubt that the work of BJS on this was critical. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  7. From the picture, I’m thrilled to see the exact same altar we worshipped around 60 years ago. It must have been salvaged from the old chapel.

    I’m also grateful to BJS for keeping us informed of the remarkable tenacity of ULC-MN.

    – John
    Gamma Delta 58-61

  8. @St. Stephen #8

    To me at least a great demographic for a church is a flat demographic. Namely you have all age groups represented roughly equally. It means that you church is reaching all people and is not pigeonholed as a old church or family church or young church. It also helps to resist nonsense moves like childrens church or contemporary services, as the liturgy reaches all ages. That to me is a great demographic. Now naturally at campus ministries you will skew toward students, as is appropriate. However ULC is a town and gown ministry which means there is a full time parish there, which is great for a campus ministry as it gives a sense of normalcy.

    As noted before though demographics are never really the goal. Faithfulness is. However in my time in the church I have seen that the healthiest churches tend to be churches with a flat demographic in terms of age. That’s not to disparage any churches that don’t have that demographic, it is more of a fruit following good preaching and practices than a cause of it.

  9. @John Rixe #9

    Yeah, I was so happy that they saved it. The members who saved it, and the stained glass, did so at the last hour right before demolition. We are all the benefactors of that work. The altar was reconsecrated and anointed at the opening service thus it is back in action and I know that we are all happy to see that.

  10. @Dr. Paul Edmon #10
    Thank you. I wonder sometimes about the effectiveness of campus ministries, especially if they are actually on campus property. Proximity is of course very important for many students.

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