Shepherd History

  Shepherd History  

The History of Shepherd Lutheran Church

     A congregation without a place to meet and worship the Lord is hardly a congregation.  It is good, then, to show how God, in his grace, has provided places for this congregation to meet. 

     ....the congregation began meeting in the Hospitality Room of the Albuquerque National Bank, 4401 Central NE on September 18, 1966.  When the group began meeting twice a month, the services were moved to the Fern Chapel at the Strong-Thorn Mortuary on Coal SE.  On occasion, the chapel was not available on a Sunday evening.  At such times, the group would meet in member's homes.

     Pastor Hugh Reaume served the congregation in the exploratory phase.  He flew from Winslow, Arizona every other Sunday and then every Sunday for two years.  It meant living out of a suitcase while serving the needs of the congregation.  He served with a missionary's zeal from 1966-1968. 

     After Pastor Siegler arrived (September 15, 1968), the congregation felt it was advisable to find a new place to worship, where the facilities could be used during the week as well as on Sunday.  After some searching, a storefront was rented at 116 San Pedro SE.  The first service was held there on Ash Wednesday, 1969.  The storefront chapel was used until a permanent church was built. 

     Shortly after the beginning of services, the exploratory group chose the name Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church.  In order to carry out matters in an orderly fashion, officers were chosen.  

     Toward the end of 1968, the General Board of Home Missions granted the congregation permission to purchase land for a chapel site.  In 1969, the congregation purchase 2.16 acres of land at the present site, 3900 Wyoming NE.  This purchase was funded by a loan from the Synod's Church Extension Fund. 

     By the time the land was purchased, planning was already underway for the church building.  The Synod architect was engaged to develop a site plan and a suitable design.  When those items were approved by the congregation, work proceeded on the structure.  Groundbreaking took place on June 28,  1970.  Work was completed in late winter of 1971 with dedication on March 21, 1971.  In February 1971, a contract was signed to build a parsonage. 

     In the dedication booklet for the present building, mention is made of the fact that Shepherd was the first WELS church in New Mexico.  The booklet then continues, "It is our prayer that the Lord would enable us to become a mother church for an expanding mission outreach in New Mexico."  Under God's frace that prayer has become a realty. 

    In the early years of the congregation, it was not unusual for members to drive two hours to worship.  Many of these people came from the Santa Fe - Los Alamos area.   In 1975, Pastor Wayne Vogt began exploratory services in Santa Fe, which were later moved to White Rock, NM.  By 1976, the group in White Rock formed a daughter congregation with a dozen members of Shepherd serving as a nucleus.  Messiah Lutheran is the result of those efforts.  In the summer of 1976, Pastor George Swanson was assigned to serve Messiah. 

     In the 1980's the name of the church was changed from Good Shepherd to Shepherd.  Confusion with another institution in the city that also went by the name Good Shepherd created many difficulties.  

     In the early 1980's, Rio Rancho began to prosper as a western suburb of Albuquerque.  A number of families who joined Shepherd settled in that area.  It was time for Shepherd to  serve as a mother once more.  In the fall of 1983, Pastor Steve Wilkens arrived to begin work in Rio Rancho and the west mesa area of Albuquerque.  Again, about a dozen members of Shepherd served as a nucleus for what is now the flourishing congregation we know as Peace Lutheran. 

     If there is another word that identifies Shepherd, it is the word "educator."  In 1982, plans were drawn up for beginning a Lutheran elementary school.  In the spring of that year, Mr. James Hahn was assigned to serve as the first teacher of Shepherd Lutheran School.  In July of 1982, he was installed to teach all eight grades.  Shepherd Lutheran School opened its doors on September 3, 1982.