For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
I’m writing today to let you know of the decision to sell the Trinity apartments and townhouses on the north side of Main Street, across from the main seminary building. While the final decision was made by Capital University’s Board of Trustees, I was a member of the facilities task force that endorsed this recommendation. Proceeds from the sale of the property will be held in a separate fund for future capital improvement needs for the campus.
The seminary residential complex was built in 1979. Our current projection is that the property would require $10.5 million worth of improvements and maintenance over the next 10 years to bring it up to date. That’s not a wise investment for a facility that no longer serves our needs. Instead, we are focusing on capital improvements to the main seminary building, so that this beautiful space for teaching and learning and worship will continue to serve our needs well into the future.
Very few seminary students will be affected by this decision. Since Trinity became part of Capital in 2018, the majority of residential seminary students have lived in apartments and houses on Sheridan Avenue. I still remember the excitement of a young seminarian when he was able to move his family from a two-bedroom apartment on Main to a two-bedroom house on Sheridan with hard wood floors and a backyard! While we don’t know the timeline for the sale, we don’t anticipate that anyone will need to relocate before December 2023, by which time several of the seminary students still living across the street will have graduated or will be preparing to head out on internship.
Some alumni have told me of fond memories of living in the Trinity apartment complex. Friendships were formed. Families were begun. Community was fostered. Those things will still happen, but they will happen south of Main Street and in residential facilities that are in better condition than the property we will be selling.
To put this in a broader context, in recent years several other ELCA seminaries have sold parts of their campus that no longer meet their needs. One of our sister schools, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, sold their entire campus several years ago and now rents campus space in Berkeley. Another, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, is selling their campus to the University of Chicago and will be moving to rented space this summer.
Theological education has never been about the buildings but about the mission. In response to God’s call, students, faculty, and staff come together to teach and to learn and to be sent out to serve. I believe that this decision will allow us to invest more in our mission and less in maintaining physical structures that no longer serve that mission.
The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.