Thank you to everyone who has been supporting the Build-it-Back project for the new chapel at the U of M. I am pleased to report that in December ULC received nearly $100,000 toward the project ($97,576). Around $60K of this was monies received in fulfillment of previous pledges. The rest was comprised of new gifts, several from first-time supporters of the project.
We had set an ambitious goal of raising $500K in pledges and gifts in 2016. We fell a little short of that goal, but are so very thankful for the generous support of all of our friends, alumni, members and other donors. Our fundraising total for 2016 was $346,670. Of that amount, $200,665 was received outright, the rest being pledges that will be fulfilled over the next 2-3 years. These amounts do not include the $500,000 district grant which was also presented to us in December.
You can keep up with the chapel project and funding by visiting the ulcmn.com Construction Update page. And again, thank you for your prayers for and contributions toward the new chapel!
You can now follow our progress more closely online. In addition to our blog posts here, there will be a monthly update on Build-it-Back fundraising and on the construction of the new chapel at the regular ULC website, ulcmn.org. There is also a direct link to the progress report page at right on this blog, just under the Martin Luther Donation button. We hope this will help everyone supporting the new chapel project have a better idea of just where things stand as we get ever closer to making the chapel plans reality!
It has been in the works for a while, but we are excited to announce that last week the Minnesota South District Board of Directors approved a campus ministry grant of $500,000.00 to ULC to help us build the new chapel at the U of M. The motion to approve the grant, which was part of a larger campus ministry plan for the entire District, passed unanimously at the May 3rd meeting. What a difference four years and having new, supportive District leadership can make!
(I know many of you will ask, so I’ll say this up front: this is a no-strings-attached grant to help us build. ULC will still be the sole owner of the property.)
The $500K grant that ULC will receive is a portion of the monies the MNS District has been holding for the sake of campus ministry since the sale of the old ULC chapel and the campus chapel at Mankato State University. With no campus ministry plan passed at the 2012 convention, and a complete change of leadership with the retirement of former DP Lane Seitz and the election of Rev. Dean Nadasdy at the same 2012 convention, the question of what to do with the money loomed large at the 2015 district convention. You may recall that a resolution was passed (with overwhelming support) directing the District leadership to come up with a comprehensive plan for campus ministry for the entire District, but with special emphasis on the ministries at the U of M (ULC), Mankato State, and Concordia St. Paul, and with attention to ULC’s need for a permanent place of worship. A campus ministry committee was formed of campus pastors and other campus workers, and then a smaller working committee, of which I was a part.
A plan was drafted by that smaller working committee and, with the support of President Nadasdy and our MNS mission exec, Rev. William Utech, went before the missions committee, and then up the chain to the Board of Directors, where it was approved! This campus ministry plan will be a help to many campuses in our District, and especially to ULC as we look to break ground on the new chapel later in 2016 (God willing!). For this we give thanks to Christ, who continues to so very graciously care for His flock at ULC and to uphold the mission of bringing the Gospel to the students of the U of M.
If you’ve taken the time to look over our new Build-it-Back Prospectus you will see that this $500K grant is but one part of the funding needed to make the new chapel a reality (its listed as “requested grants” under Sources of Additional Funding). But this grant puts us on the home stretch. We hope you will consider supporting the Build-it-Back project by making a pledge today. ULC Pledge card You can also contribute online by clicking the “Donate Now” Luther picture on this page.
The new chapel is finally within reach! By God’s grace and with your help it will happen.
A newly updated Prospectus is now available. In it you will find information, much of it new or updated, about our plan to build a new chapel at the U of M, including information on:
ULC’s campus ministry and its impact on the Church at large
The location of the new chapel
Chapel architecture, design and drawings
Progress on our fundraising
Statistics about the health of ULC
Ways to support the project
Please take a few minutes to download and peruse!
We also humbly ask you to consider contributing to the new chapel project by making a pledge of support over the next three years. (ULC Pledge card). By gathering pledges we can more easily secure a building loan and move the project along more quickly.
Of course contributions of any kind or size are welcome! You can give directly by clicking the “Donate Now” Luther picture on this page. Thank you for your consideration and support!
About once a week I eat lunch at the Purple Onion Cafe in Dinkytown, just a few blocks away from Luther House. Its a great place, filled with students and profs and other university types. When I go to the Onion I always bring along something to read – something theological – something that doesn’t have anything to do with the class I’m teaching or the sermon I’m working on – something to be read for its own sake. Lately that something has been Hermann Sasse’s Letters to Lutheran Pastors.
Today I was reading a letter Sasse, who had left Germany and was then serving as a professor of theology in Australia, wrote in 1950 entitled Ecclesia Migrans, “the wandering Church.” In this letter Sasse makes the point that all Christians are wanderers: “wandering through countries and continents, through nations and races, through civilizations and eras of human history” (Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Vol. 1, p.200). History, he argues, has shown this to be true. The Church thrives for a while in one locale, then migrates to another never to return to the first. And this, Sasse says, is not strange, but helps to illustrate the nature of the Church as a heavenly, rather than merely an earthly institution. He gets this concept of the wandering Church from the New Testament which describes the Church and her Christians as sojourners, as pilgrims, as citizens of another realm – “In the world, yet not of the world,” our Lord says.
And yet, because the Church is in the world, she puts down roots, albeit temporary roots, in it. How can the Church influence the world without doing so? While she has no abiding city (Heb. 13:14), she still is active in and dwells in the earthly city, and as long as faith abides in that city, remains there. One thing Sasse said struck me in particular in light of the trends of today that argue that Churches do not need to be attached to a particular place, or have property and buildings and such, in order to fulfill their mission (being “missional” is the current catch phrase). He said: “Nothing more clearly reveals the earnestness with which the Church of Christ carries out its commission to go ‘into the world’ and to work ‘in the world’ than the tenacity with which the Church endeavors to strike roots in a given district, nation, or locality. What a temptation it must have been for the primitive church, with its keen awareness of being the wandering people of God, to roam nomadically about the world and quickly pass on the Gospel to all people” (p.205).
And yet it was not a temptation to which the Church succumbed. The apostles went into the world and established congregations in the cities and locales they visited. Those congregations remained in place so long as faith in the Word and grace of Christ remained in those places. They received or purchased land. They built buildings – great buildings even! Sasse says: “the Church already in ancient times becomes possessed of landed interests. In the eyes of men, landed property becomes the most valued earthly possession of the Church. It is more than an aftereffect of a late-ancient and medieval framework of economy that churches today are still property owners; also that they make every effort to compensate for the great losses which they have suffered in this respect… Underlying this is not merely a lust for power but also the realization… that the Church can influence the world only when she actually enters into the world, as her Lord and Master did and as He expects His church to do…” (p.205-206). In other words, it is important for the church to claim a piece of this world to call her own, even if only for a while, to lay down shallow roots, to be landed and to build. Why? Because she has been put in the world to bring the grace of Christ into the world through her preaching and her liturgical and sacramental life in the world. Claiming a place is a natural part of bringing the Gospel to that place. And that mission is accomplished more easily when there is a particular place from which the Church can do it, and to which people may be drawn. The Church is meant to wander in place. Until that place will have her no more.
The place where ULC wanders in place is Dinkytown USA, adjacent to the University of Minnesota. Like the Purple Onion cafe, Dinkytown itself is a place full of students – not just Minnesotans, but students from all around the world – and full of profs and other university types too. It is a place where the students, the pastors, and the members of ULC, have confessed the Gospel since 1925. It is where we have chosen to lay down our roots while we wander this earth.
Sasse also says: “we are reminded that it was a great misunderstanding to suppose that our churches and our congregations would necessarily maintain their status quo unto Judgment Day. To be “in the world” certainly means to stand where God has placed us and to maintain our stand to the very end. But it does not mean that God could not allow the place were we stand to be smashed to bits” (p.208)
How well we know it!
And yet we do not for a minute believe that we have reached “the very end” of our stand in Dinkytown and at the University of Minnesota. What God has allowed to be smashed to bits, He is also, it appears, allowing to be rebuilt. The roots have been shifted only 1 ½ blocks away. Our wandering in this place is not quite over yet.
As we are nearing ground-breaking (likely this Fall!), I ask you to help us lay the roots a little deeper and Build-it-Back.
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the Build-It-Back effort this December. As you know, we had received an offer to match up to $55,000 in contributions during the month. Thanks to your generosity and sacrifices we exceeded that goal by just over $10,000! The total amount raised during the month (including the match) was $120,178.30! This brings us significantly closer to our goal of an October, 2017 dedication of the new chapel.
On a related note, please pray for ULC and for campus ministry in the MN South District, as the district’s campus ministry subcommittee will have its first meeting this Saturday (January 16). Among the items to be discussed are the building plans for ULC and a potential District contribution to the cost of the project.
A big thank you to everyone who has generously contributed to the Build-it-Back Fund so far this December. For those of you who haven’t done so yet, there is still time to take advantage of the matching funds offer ($55K total). Please contribute today and help us meet our goal of receiving the entire $55K that has been offered. All gifts received online before midnight on the 31st (or postmarked December 31 if mailed) will be eligible for the match. To donate online, please click the Martin Luther “Donate Now” image at right.
Back at the end of March we compiled data on the health of ULC as a congregation for inclusion in the Build-It-Back Prospectus. One of the charts we included showed the average weekly attendance at ULC services over the past 20 years (see below).
This chart shows the 2015 attendance through March. As anyone who has been involved in campus ministry knows, attendance in summer tends to drop precipitously as there are far fewer students in church, no midweek services to attend, and sparser participation by local members of the congregation too. And even during the school year attendance can dip and spike from semester to semester.
So, as we approach the end of the calendar year, I thought it would be interesting to see where ULC’s average weekly attendance for 2015 is at now, and to break that down by semester. Here’s what we have so far this year based on the records we’ve kept:
When you combine all of these figures together our average attendance throughout the year is currently at about 124/week. But our average weekly attendance this semester is 144/week. Imagine how many more might come to church once Sunday worship is made more accessible to students at the new chapel!
Now is a great time to help make that new chapel a reality and help us welcome students to church. As you probably have heard already – all contributions received in December will be matched up to a total of $55,000. Please give, or pledge to give, as generously as you are able.
When I began attending the University Lutheran Chapel in 2010 as a University of Minnesota freshman, I not only found a congregation which became my on-campus family, but a solid Christ-centered foundation in the midst of the large public university. It was a great encouragement to meet other confessional Lutheran students, and I was pleased to see students, families, young adults, teens, and older members of the congregation all united together in Word and Sacrament. When our chapel building was senselessly sold and demolished in August 2012, I was one of many students who stayed, knowing that without a strong student presence we could not make a case to raise support for rebuilding the chapel. Now, three years later, we are back on campus with the Luther House, where students and recent graduates are living and growing together, and the Word is being faithfully preached in weekly Bible studies and prayer services. It is an island of wholesome faith in an ocean of secularism. However, as wonderful as it is, a social place like Luther House is no substitute for a church building. A house blends in with all the other houses on the block, but a church stands as a bold witness of faith, proclaiming that here the Gospel is still preached and the Sacrament is still administered, in spite of the raging foes of secularism and unbelief all around.
The on-campus location of the proposed new University Lutheran Chapel is crucial to reach out to university students, who are often reluctant to travel to our current rented worship space at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul. Construction of the chapel is projected to cost $2.1 million. As of November 30, 2015 the Build it Back fund had reached $422k, plus an additional $420k earmarked from various ULC funds. Furthermore, we are in a healthy position to service a planned $400k loan from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, which brings the total currently available construction funding to $1.24 million. The remaining $858 thousand must be covered in gifts and pledges before beginning construction. While we hope that a portion of this funding will come from continued Minnesota South District financial support, we are still heavily reliant on pledges and gifts to the Build it Back fund.
As recently announced, two generous donors have offered to match a total of $55,000 in donations to the Build it Back fund through the end of December 2015. The full $110,000, if successfully raised, will be a huge step toward breaking ground, perhaps even sooner than originally hoped.
While exhorting the multitudes to leave everything behind and follow Him, Jesus made a practical financial analogy, saying, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” (Luke 14:28-30, NKJV). Nevertheless, we trust that Christ will not allow a project begun in his name to go unfinished, because this place of worship is necessary to reach students by restoring regular preaching and sacramental worship to the campus. Therefore, we pray that God will continue to bless this work so much that we will become like the people of Israel in Exodus, who had to be restrained from bringing freewill offerings for the construction of the tabernacle because the craftsmen already had more than enough.