Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

LSTC >> Voices >> Stories
Many Voices, One Story

Read more about LSTC's first 50 years.

See the calendar of special 50th anniversary events for details of other 50th Anniversary events.


How the LSTC Undercroft Chapel came to be

George Detweiler, 1974, M.Div.

Original Chapel Auditorium, 1967

From the beginning of LSTC, there was much grumbling among students about the chapel auditorium as a worship space.

The musical acoustics were dreadful, the "organ" sounded like an amplified sewing machine, and it was difficult to feel or create a sense of community.

In the fall of 1971, Frank Showers and I were members of the worship committee, along with Jeanne Sittler and Acting President Art Arnold. (There was no chaplain or worship professor.)

The problem of holding daily chapel in the chapel auditorium was discussed several times.

It was noted that the undercroft was more intimate and better acoustically, but President Arnold was reluctant to make changes. Frank and I decided it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

On St. Andrew's Day (Nov. 30) Frank was responsible for the daily chapel service. The week before, we decided we would hold it in the undercroft and we asked Jeanne Sittler to play the piano for that service.

The day before, Frank and I moved about 80 of the chapel chairs out of the Homiletics "chapel" on the third floor, down the elevator and across the plaza into the undercroft. It took us about two hours, with a brief pause during the time between classes when someone from the administration might have seen what we were up to.


Above: Mark Bangert presides at the Undercroft Decommissioning Serivce Nov. 15, 2001.

When people arrived for chapel on St. Andrew's Day, they were told to continue through the Chapel Auditorium into the undercroft.

The chairs had been set in two sections at a 90 degree angle to each other, facing into the northwest corner, so people could see each other and look through the windows into the courtyard.

Jeanne played the Myra Hess arrangement of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" as the prelude.

President Arnold was unhappy about the surprise, but did nothing to change what we had done. From that point on, only the Holy Communion services were held in the Chapel Auditorium, and the prayer and preaching services were in the undercroft.

Many Voices, One Story: LSTC’s First Fifty Years

LSTC’s Alumni Board recently reiterated the role students have played in shaping life at LSTC. How did you or your class do that? Send stories to Jan Boden

Listen to stories from LSTC’s first 20 years

Emeritus faculty members James Scherer, Wilhelm Linss and Phil Hefner shared their memories of LSTC’s first 20 years in a special forum on Oct. 18. Dr. Scherer called it a “chaotic but cheerful” time and Dr. Hefner told how LSTC participated in the Civil Rights Movement. Listen to the podcast here.


Page last modified Mar 24, 2016