50 YEARS OF FAITH IN ACTION
This remembrance will be included in the program at the Indiana Kentucky Synod Assembly, recognizing the congregation’s 50th anniversary this year.
In 1963, Shepherd of the Hills congregation charter members came from Emanuel Lutheran Church in Evansville to form a new ALC congregation. Their first called pastor was Rev. Elwyn D. Goodsell, and the first worship service was held on Easter Sunday of that year. At first, the services were held at a rented location that required cleaning up after Saturday night parties before setting up for Sunday worship. So, members were delighted to help with constructing a new church building which was dedicated on May 24, 1964.
The mission of Shepherd of the Hills is “to proclaim and to be God’s love in the world.” The congregation nurtures that love in their life together, through such ongoing ministries as the children’s choir, which meets weekly for practice and fun learning activities. Many children have parents who grew up singing together in this choir. Older grade-schoolers mentor the younger ones, and they are active in service projects throughout the year.
The congregation has found many ways to “be God’s love in the world.” Recently, they have begun selling Free Trade coffee, tea & chocolates. For many decades, the congregation was a key supporter for Lutheran Community Action, a pan-Lutheran group which helped support a chaplain at the Evansville State Hospital. Congregation members have been at the core of the Lutherans for Habitat crew, which has built 23 houses in Evansville. From 1970 to 1995 the congregation provided a well-regarded nursery school. For many years, a weekly sewing group has provided blankets and other supplies to Lutheran World Relief and local needs. The congregation has an ongoing relationship with the Ishe Anesu project in Zimbabwe, a ministry providing education and help with the basics for children in need.
In 2006 the congregation completed an expansion adding classrooms, a second larger kitchen, and a large multi-use room. It is well-used, both for community events and groups like the model railroad show for the public, Boy Scouts, and TOPS, as well as congregational fellowship events and VBS. The annual rummage sale and Holly Mart events have expanded to fill up the space.
To mark the 50th anniversary, a life-long member has written a new hymn, “Shepherd Faithful.” This joins her other hymns, “Forward in Faith” for the 25th and “United in Faith” for the 40th anniversary. These hymns recognize and celebrate how the Spirit has faithfully shepherded this gathering of the family of God throughout the years.