Stub Hall at Luther Seminary

Last Sunday, I lifted up an example of the Holy Spirit at work among our partners in ministry at Luther Seminary.  As an alum, I was proud to describe a recent decision by the seminary to enter into the lease of an unused dormitory that they had been hoping to sell.  Ramsey County and a non-profit social service provider were planning to operate a housing facility for the homeless of St. Paul.  Then on Monday, the seminary issued an update to their prior announcement.

“After receiving feedback from its neighbors, Luther Seminary has decided to cease its negotiations with Ramsey County. Stub Hall will remain vacant as the Seminary continues its plans to sell the property.”

I, along with many others, received this news with surprise and disappointment.  While previously, it felt like the seminary was modeling a creative response to a truly compelling need in our community, now it feels like a shameful retreat from the Christian witness that makes real the gospel in our lives.  Of course, we don’t know the whole story and don’t fully understand how the seminary arrived at its decision.  I wish we knew more.

Prince of Peace knows firsthand what it’s like to worry what the neighbors might think.  In the discernment of our own emerging ministry in service to the poor and homeless of Roseville, we had to confront the leaders at City Hall and invite our immediate neighbors into our story.  Fortunately for us, we were able to demonstrate the commitments we were making and found the support of partners considering how our efforts might inspire others across the state to follow our lead.  And we had neighbors that stood up in support of our efforts, far more then raised opposition.

The work of God’s spirit in the world will always be a catalyst for change.  Perhaps our role, as people who hold onto the faith this God has instilled in us, is to continue encouraging others, even big established institutions like seminaries and city halls, to trust in the winds of change.

I’m grateful to be caught up in these winds with you.  -Pastor Peter