This feels like a school!” That was the reaction of a Lutheran Brethren Seminary board member when touring the new seminary building in March. It was still under construction then. He should see it now. The Lord has gifted the seminary with an amazing space.
It’s not that we were desperate for a new building. The building where LBS had lived for over 40 years was completely adequate. But the need of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy for a new cafeteria set in motion this whole process.
The result is a new building with larger classrooms. We have significantly more large-group meeting space. We should now be able to comfortably accommodate 125 people in a J-Term setting, a 30% increase. We have greatly improved technology for distance education. Now distance students will be able to see both the professor and the classroom. New monitors have replaced the aging video projectors. New teaching stations make it easier for faculty to use the technology. We have a beautiful chapel setting. For the first time in many decades the seminary has a chapel that is more than just a classroom.
Finally, the move takes LBS from an island location in the middle of the HLA campus and places us next door to the CLB synod offices. We immediately experienced the value of daily interaction with other CLB leaders, which facilitates conversation and collaboration.
The funding of this project amazes me almost more than the building. The Church of the Lutheran Brethren built this structure for us without having to raise any outside capital donations. The sale of the old building to Hillcrest and a parking lot to Bethel Lutheran Church, together with a few providentially-provided estate gifts, covered most of the costs. The balance will be covered by an LBS endowment which we will replenish with future estate gifts. Thus, all donations to Lutheran Brethren Seminary directly support the preparation of the next generation of pastors, missionaries and leaders for the Church.
The effort and expertise of a few individuals made this all happen. The Finance Committee of the CLB appointed LaWayne Rogness to lead this project. Dr. Eugene Boe and his assistant, Kathy Garvin, led the building committee on the LBS side. They all invested many hours in planning, decision-making, and oversight. The result is a building completed on time that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. We all have benefited from their careful work.
Of course there was important work done behind the scene. In his book titled Prayer, O. Hallesby tells the story of the intercession of a Christian businessman during construction of a new church building in Oslo. This man left home a few minutes early each day in order to stop at the site and pray for the workers and the future preaching of the Word in that place. I am grateful for those who prayed during the LBS construction process. They prayed for the workers and their relationships, for their safety and care in construction, and especially for the faithful teaching of God’s Word in the coming generations in this place.
The Lord Jesus Christ has given us a beautiful place in which to study and to teach. But just as the Old Testament temple paled in comparison to the annual meeting that took place between the Lord and the people at the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies, the greatest beauty of this school building is still the subject that we teach. All of our courses can be summarized by the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is ultimately both Teacher and Subject. God’s mercy to sinners; the incarnation, substitutionary death and resurrection of the Son of God; and the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in pursuing us, convicting us of sin and pointing us to the cross: this is what we teach.
Dr. David Veum is President of Lutheran Brethren Seminary in Fergus Falls, MN.