The New Chapel

The original University Lutheran Chapel was built in the 1950s, an era of unprecedented growth both in membership of American churches and in church construction. The designers looked to create a spiritual home for students that included a chapel and large areas for classes, recreation, and fellowship with other students. They wisely chose a simple, modern design for the chapel that was relatively austere yet functional, and allowed for eventual beautification as finances and gifts came in. It served campus ministry for over 60 years.

The recent acquisition of the Luther House student center provides wonderful space for classes, recreation, and living quarters for students. But what is lacking is a chapel — the center of spiritual life for students and congregation.

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A street-level rendering of the proposed chapel

Our plan is to build a neo-Gothic structure whose design complements the adjoining Luther House and stands in fraternity with the best of Lutheran church architecture. Like the old chapel, the new design’s beauty is achieved through proportion, materials, and key architectural focal points rather than a host of costly ornamentation. The two main emphases of the stucco-clad exterior are the beautiful stained-glass window on the chancel façade facing busy 4th St. and the entrance pylon with solid oak doors framed by an elegant pointed arch.

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A concept drawing for the chapel interior (drawn prior to receiving the gift of furnishings from Lamb of God Lutheran.)

Inside, the worshipers enter, remembering their baptism as they pass the font into a space that gives a sense of God’s transcendence with its graceful upward curve, balanced by an awareness of Christ’s immanence in Word and Sacrament. The rhythm of the wooden rafters, vertical windows, and center aisle point to the chancel. Here the Word is preached without the need for amplification from a prominent pulpit, and prayers are spoken and the Lord’s Supper celebrated upon the marble altar saved from demolition, framed by a carved wooden backdrop crowned by an image of the Crucified. The communion rail surrounds the altar and brings people face to face with one another, expressing the unity of faith given in the Sacrament.

To the rear, the choir loft provides space and optimal acoustic for voices, organ and other instruments to glorify God and lead the worshipers in praise and proclamation, giving voice to a full, rich expression of liturgy that comforts, confronts and shapes the spiritual lives of both long-time members and students.

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Site plan showing the relation of the new construction to Luther House

After receiving God’s gifts, worshipers exit the nave into a roomy narthex, whose space flows freely into the fellowship hall and fireside room/library of Luther House. Here, students and members young and old can socialize and form the relationships so vital to a church on campus. A large, on-site parking lot eases the challenge of parking for students and congregation.

This new chapel will provide a time-tested and beautiful setting for confessional Lutheran worship to return to campus. It will complete and crown the efforts of rebuilding University Lutheran Chapel’s presence on campus and serve the proclamation of Christ for years to come.

Mr. Jeff Brueske, Building Committee

This piece is from our project Prospectus. To see the entire Prospectus please click UNIVERSITY LUTHERAN CHAPEL_411814. If you would like several printed copies of the Prospectus to be mailed to you for distribution at your congregation or among others whom you think would be interested in supporting the Build-It-Back project, please send a note to

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A birds-eye rendering of the proposed chapel

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