University Lutheran Church (ULu) received final approval for its much-anticipated relocation to the heart of Purdue University’s campus, directly across from the Engineering Mall. On Feb. 6, the West Lafayette City Council granted the rezoning necessary for ULu to move into the former Exponent building at 460 Northwestern Ave. The city council’s vote marks the final step in the initial approval process, clearing the way for #ULuOnTheMove to progress according to schedule. (Read more about the project timeline here.)
According to the Rev. Justin Herman, ULu pastor, “the hope is that the move will greatly increase student contacts, both with our Lutheran students and with those who have never heard of Jesus at all.”
Steve Strauch, Lutheran Church Extension Fund district vice president, agrees. “For years,” Strauch says, “campus ministry at ULu has not been on campus. The move to the former Exponent building means that we will be right there for people to touch and feel and understand what University Lutheran is. This, in turn, will create more contacts and a more robust campus ministry. “The hope is for this ministry at ULu to be one of the most dynamic Lutheran campus ministries in the nation, and this move helps ULu to meet this challenge.”
Students aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the move. According to Susan Linson, ULu building committee chair, the new location will open doors to people with disabilities as well. “One of the problems with our Chauncey Hill location is that it isn’t wheelchair accessible,” Linson says. “With the new location, we’ll have an elevator to the sanctuary, and all kinds of people who might not have come to our church because of accessibility issues can come now.”
John Maylath, University Lutheran Church member and retired educator, is excited about other potential ministries in the new location as well. “The central location of the Exponent building lends itself to opportunities for expansion of current ministries and new partnerships,” he says,
citing the potential for a community literacy outreach and other activities involving Purdue’s international population.
Indeed, the three-story building (plus basement) will provide more than just a new sanctuary for the University Lutheran congregation. With multiple-use spaces for campus ministry and community outreach, including a coffee shop, meeting spaces and church offices, the new building is slated to create a highly visible, diversified and strengthened outreach to Purdue students and the community at large.
As the project moves forward, please make plans now to join ULu in a celebration service on Commencement Sunday, May 14, as it honors the ministry at Chauncey Hill and celebrates all God has in store for ULu in years to come. This special weekend kicks off with an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, followed by worship services on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m., to accommodate Purdue’s commencement program. The services will be followed by a brief reception for people to reminisce with ULu family and friends.
“We appreciate the legacy at our Chauncey Hill location,” Herman says. “It was a great chapter, and many lives were touched. With the move, we are hoping to build on that legacy by touching many more people with the Gospel of Jesus. That’s really what the mission of University Lutheran has always been about.”
The goal is to pursue the projected move carefully but quickly, and formally launch the new University Lutheran this fall, just in time for the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. Your earnest prayers and continued support for this exciting new phase of University Lutheran ministry are appreciated.
Originally published in the April edition of the Lutheran Witness