Concerning the Sale of University Lutheran Chapel
Friday, September 30, 2011
Dear Friends in Christ,
In the course of the September meeting of the Council of Presidents, Minnesota North President Don Fondow and I requested of President Lane Seitz a meeting with himself and the Minnesota South District Board of Directors. Of the several concerns raised by the then-impending sale of the University Lutheran Chapel property, President Fondow and I were in agreement that it was unwise to disregard the resolution of the joint pastors’ conference requesting that any decision to sell the property be made at the Minnesota South District Convention. We were seeking to share this and other information directly with the board. President Seitz quickly offered us options for the meeting and was polling his board for an agreeable date. However, President Seitz later informed me that the individual authorized by the Board to sell the property had signed documents to that end at very nearly the same time as President Seitz was working to find an agreeable date for us to meet with the board.
The Life Together which we enjoy is fragile and often fractured. This action makes it even more so. There is no question that the Board had the right to do what it did with the property. Unfortunately, this action is difficult, even impossible to separate from ongoing dissensus in the district about what it means to be Lutheran, very similar to our larger challenges as a Synod. We have a long way to go in this regard. God help us.
I wish to state my hearty thankfulness for ULC. I have met more delightful and engaged Lutherans from this campus ministry around the country than any other. They are occupied in all manner of professions and active in church. We need many more campus ministries just like ULC. The army of clergy and now deaconesses who have come through ULC is astounding.
I would urge that all who are concerned about ULC turn away from judging motives, as difficult as that may be. This action comes as no surprise to anyone close to the situation. It’s time to turn toward ULC’s future, a future I support.
It is also time to have more brotherly conversations around the Word of God and to implore the Lord of the Church to grant greater harmony in what it means to be Lutheran. Together, let us hear and heed the apostolic word: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:9–10).
Pastor Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod