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.
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!