ULC to Get Urban Missionary!

International students on graduation day at the U of M.

Exciting things continue to happen at University Lutheran Chapel! Not only are we preparing to build a new chapel at the U of M, but we are also launching a new project in campus outreach. ULC will be the first campus ministry to have its own domestic/urban missionary to help us reach out to international and domestic students.

Domestic missionaries (sometimes called urban missionaries, sometimes national missionaries) are LCMS missionaries working in the USA but after a foreign missionary model. This is a brand new venture in the LCMS under the Office of National Mission (ONM) called “Mission Field: USA”. Currently there are two domestic missionaries serving in US cities, one in Toledo Ohio and one in Philadelphia. Ours will be the first sent to do mission work exclusively on a US campus! (To read more about the LCMS domestic missionary program click here.)

This opportunity came to us rather quickly through my work on the District’s campus ministry committee (the committee that was charged with coming up with a plan for the use of the funds held by the MNS District from the sale of the old ULC chapel and the chapel at Mankato State.) The committee needed to have the plan ready to present to the Board of Directors by May 3rd, so there wasn’t any time to be wasted. I suggested that, among other things, a good use of district monies would be to help pay for domestic missionaries to work at our various campuses around the state in conjunction with the campus ministries already in place. At first this was not pursued by the committee; and, frankly, I was a little afraid of pushing the idea considering the size of the grant we were already requesting to help rebuild the chapel. But the District President, in a letter to the committee, strongly encouraged them to look at having a domestic missionary assigned exclusively to the U of M. So the plan went forward!

I met several times with the District Missions Exec, Rev. Dr. William Utech, and spoke on the phone with Rev. Steve Schave, LCMS Director of Urban and Inner City Mission, to discuss our work at ULC and to work out arrangements for a potential missionary position at ULC. I also discussed the potential missionary position with ULC’s board of elders and chapel council, both of which groups were extremely supportive of the proposal. With President Nadasdy’s encouragement ULC applied for and will receive a grant of $150,000 to be distributed at $30,000/year for five years for the support of a domestic missionary. (This is in addition to the $500,000 grant for the Build-it-Back fund.)

Here are the details thus far:

  • The domestic missionary position at the U of M will be supported by a three-way partnership among ULC, the MNS District, and the LCMS Office of National Mission.
  • ULC is the “calling” congregation – this means that ULC gets to choose the missionary, who will then be vetted by the ONM.
  • ULC will determine the mission plan – this means that the work of the missionary will be under direction and day-to-day supervision of ULC’s campus pastor.
  • ULC will provide financial support to the missionary (¼ of the total salary and benefits package)
  • MNS District will provide $30,000/year financial support for five years
  • The ONM will provide missionary training
  • The ONM will provide material support
  • The ONM will assist the missionary with fundraising in support of the position.

We have chosen to hire a missionary who is not an ordained pastor. All preaching, teaching and liturgical leadership will remain the sole job of the campus pastor. (Why duplicate a skill set we already have?) Rather the missionary will be responsible for building bridges to the international community on campus, especially the Chinese students (there are over 2600 Chinese currently studying at the Twin Cities campus!), for conducting outreach to international and domestic students on campus, and for building relationships rooted in Christ with, among, and between students. Our specific mission strategy is still in the works.

On Sunday, May 22, ULC’s Voters Assembly approved moving forward with the project and approved the hiring of our missionary (to be revealed in our next post, so be sure to watch for it!).

This is truly an exciting opportunity for us and will add immensely to our efforts to bring the Gospel to the students of the U of M. Thanks be to God for His grace toward our congregation, for the new spirit of support and cooperation on the part of the MNS District leadership, and for this tremendous opportunity.

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