The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
7800 W. McCarthy Road
Palos Heights, IL 60463
“By Grace, Through Faith”
In Celebration of 50 years as a Church Family
The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Palos Heights, Illinois
The founding of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd was initiated by a group of dedicated people whose persistence led the Mission Board of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to inaugurate worship services in the Palos area. In the small group of “founders” are two individuals who continue to be members of our church family, Lillian Kuhr and Jane Gibson. Jane was also a member of the very first confirmation class in 1953.
Three months of trial services began in October 1952, conducted by Jack Ruff of LaGrange Park. As the attendance averaged more than the required 40, the Mission Board authorized the establishment of an official mission. On February 4, 1953 The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Palos Park, Illinois was officially organized. Many others in the community began to make Good Shepherd their church home. By the end of 1953 a core of committed people, including these present members, became charter members: Alan Bigelow, Bob Dinkmeyer, Donna Dinkmeyer, Keith Williams, Arlise Williams, and Judy Williams Stenstrom.
Morning worship at Palos East School became possible when the Rev. Harry Huxhold of Lutheran Child Welfare was able to serve as supply Pastor. Several months later the Mission Board authorized the calling of a full time Pastor. Rev. Huxhold accepted that call and was installed with great joy on May 24, 1953.
Significant dates in the ensuing years included the ground breaking for the new church on April 17, 1955; the cornerstone laying on September 25, 1955 and the dedication of the original sanctuary on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 1956. The original indebtedness for the church and the parsonage, at 12032 S. 69th Avenue in Palos Heights, was $202,000. This was a courageous step of faith and commitment to God’s love. The current parsonage next to the church site was built in 1965 for a cost of $40,000.
In January of 1960 Pastor Huxhold accepted a call to the student ministry at the University of Minnesota. The Rev. Victor L. Brandt, formerly of suburban Buffalo, New York, was installed at Good Shepherd on June 5, 1960. Pastor Brandt, after serving faithfully for 26 years, would retire from the parish ministry and serve as Bishop of the English Synod. Rev. Dr. Wayne A. Basch, who had been serving as Associate Pastor for 9 years, would then be called as Senior Pastor in October of 1986.
In the mid 1970’s, faced with a growing controversy in the Missouri Synod, the members after great prayer and debate, would determine to help in the formation of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. In time, this church would initiate talks with the already existing Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church which would result in the formation of what we know today as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. With this difficult decision behind them, and with a bold “Leap of Faith,” the congregation set their sights for the future and expanded the facilities with additional classrooms, meeting areas, washrooms, offices, and a “Family Life Center.” The $400,000 project was vital in moving the congregation forward.
The past few years have also been very exciting in the life of our congregation. A new building campaign, “Growing Together in Christ,” was undertaken with a vision for the future. On March 17, 2002, a new sanctuary and remodeled facility were dedicated with great joy and anticipation. The $3,000,000 program was paid in full, thanks to the faithful and consistent support of the dedicated congregation.
A major blessing in the 50 years of our congregational life has been the strong and faithful leadership on the part of our laity. Congregational chairpersons over the 50 years have been,
Richard Mills, Herman Wilz, Robert Dinkmeyer, Rodney McConnell, Max Clark, Edward Wagner, Richard Janzow, William Krumske, Edward Majeske, Elving Johnson, Edwin VanSyckle, Edward Poe, Warren Jacobek, Len Fieroh, Allen Meyers, Charles LaToza, Allen Kremske, Matt Rawot, Wayne Rabold, Judy Lang, Thomas Courtney, Roger Rusk, Marj Hultquist, Larry Hupe, Roger Rosenquist, Sherry Tellefsen, and Dann Lobsinger. These dedicated individuals, along with literally hundreds of other faithful members, have formed the core of faithful discipleship on the part of the Good Shepherd family.
Over the years Good Shepherd has also been blessed with many staff people, who with great love and faithfulness, have supported the mission and ministry of the congregation carrying on a wonderful tradition in music, worship, youth, and Sunday School. They have also provided a high quality of office assistance and custodial care. Today a very capable and enthusiastic staff compliments the ministry of Pastor Basch leading us into the future as disciples of Christ’s love.
At the close of 1953, Good Shepherd's membership numbered 109 children and adults. Today the congregation numbers 1,669 baptized members with 1,285 communicant members. Over the 50 years the records indicate that 5,148 individuals have held membership in our community of faith. We have celebrated 1,393 baptisms, 1,397 confirmations, 817 marriages and observed 740 funerals, 275 of which have been for members. The gift and blessing of God’s Spirit continues to shine bright in the life of this church family, which has been brought together by grace and sustained through faith. We look forward to the future, are thankful for the past, and hopeful for tomorrow.
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