Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church has a rich history of outreach and mission. First worship services were held in 1983 and the congregation formally organized in 1987.
1981: Several Lutheran lay persons approach their pastors concerning the lack of a Lutheran congregation in the St. John area.
1982: The Lutheran Council, USA, approves St. John as a mission site.
1983: (October 23rd) – The first worship service is conducted on a Saturday night at the St. John Town Hall.
1984: The American Lutheran Church certifies the ministry for development.
1985: The Rev. Barry Chaffee begins his service as the congregation’s first pastor, and worship services are moved to Sunday mornings at Lake Central High School.
1986: Pastor Chaffee leaves, and the Rev. Stephen Koch becomes the congregation’s second pastor; the congregation is named Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church.
1987: (May 10) – Illinois District Bishop Ehme Ostebur officially organizes Holy Shepherd as a congregation of the American Lutheran Church.
1988: The American Lutheran Church becomes a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Pastor Koch leaves.
1989: The ELCA purchases the church site at the corner of 97th Lane and Keilman Street.
1990: The Rev. Mark Vance becomes the congregation’s third pastor, and Sandra DeValk is hired as the congregation’s first Music Director.
1991: The congregation conducts the first of five annual telemarketing evangelism campaigns.
1992: Holy Shepherd becomes financially self-supporting, is declared “ready to build” by the ELCA, and conducts a capital funds drive that results in pledges totaling $84,174 over a two-year period.
1993: (April 18) – Ground is broken for the church’s initial 6,200-square-foot facility, which is constructed with the assistance of Mission Builders and volunteers from the congregation. Sandra DeValk resigns as Music Director and is replaced by Rachelle Kreykes.
1994: (May 1) – Indiana-Kentucky Synod Bishop Ralph Kempski dedicates the congregation’s first building. The congregation begins holding two worship services every week, Janet Bates becomes Holy Shepherd’s Custodian, a successful mortgage reduction campaign is held, the first photographic directory is produced, and the first Vacation Bible School is held.
1995: Saturday evening worship services are offered for the first time during the summer months; due to a special “Miracle Sunday” effort, the full $25,325 needed for a new Allen organ is raised; and Holy Shepherd is awarded a special ELCA grant to add a full-time professional staff member.
1996: Deaconess Christine Bauer begins work as Congregational Involvement Coordinator, and Rochelle Kreykes resigns as Music Director and is replaced by Suzanne Gruoner.
1997: Spiritual gifts inventories and stepping stones are introduced, Jane Russell begins work as Secretary, and a contemporary Saturday evening worship service is offered year-round.
1998: Summer schedule adjusted to allow for Wednesday night services; Jane Russell resigns as Secretary, and Nancy Kramer replaces her with title of Administrator; small group format for Confirmation Program is introduced; KIDS in Action begins; first congregational web page is designed; and Suzanne Gruoner resigns as Music Director and is replaced by two people-Music Director Sally DuBois and Celebration Director Ruthann Russel.
1999: Gene Hoemann becomes the congregation’s voluntary Bookkeeper, Pastor Vance goes on a three-month sabbatical funded by the Lilly Foundation while the Rev. Don Bravin serves as Interim Pastor, outdoor sign is installed, mentoring is introduced to Confirmation Program, and Couples’ Group begins.
2000: Heather McCulloch becomes the first member of Holy Shepherd to be ordained as a pastor, a contemporary worship service is added to the Sunday morning schedule, youth and adult Sunday School classes are moved to Elmwood Chapel Funeral Home for four years, paid nursery attendants are on duty all Sunday morning, and the congregation’s library begins.
2001: Nancy Kramer serves briefly as Congregational Life Director, Nancy Bright is hired as Administrative Assistant, Sharon Dudzik is hired as Office Aide, Jim Winiecki begins as Director of Children’s Ministries-a position later upgraded to full time and renamed Congregational Life Director, Prayer Ventures and evening adult education series begin, and Holy Shepherd is one of 6,000 congregations participating in the “U.S. Congregational Life Survey.”
2002: Caregivers Team and Marriage Mentoring are introduced, Ministry Mobilization Team is started, Junior and Senior BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) groups are launched, and planning for an expanded building begins.
2003: Holy Shepherd teens begin participating in Lutheran Youth Encounter’s Youth Quake and Youth Congress; two annual major mission projects funded entirely through designated giving are introduced; a marriage renewal service is offered; capital funds appeal raises $1 million over three years in commitments for church expansion; Men’s Group is launched; and Sally DuBois resigns as Music Director, and Ruthann Russel assumes responsibility for entire music program-a position later upgraded to full time and renamed Worship and Arts Director.
2004: Groundbreaking for 10,000-plus-square-foot building expansion held on 04-04-04. Congregation holds first annual major Lenten experience involving everyone reading and discussing the same book at the same time; youth participate for first time in World Vision’s “30-Hour Famine;” Deaconess Christine Bauer leaves, and Sharon Dudzik’s position is renamed Involvement and Care Coordinator; Kate Knoerzer works briefly as Administrative Aide then as Executive Assistant; Congregational Nurse Program begins.
2005: Expanded building dedicated by Indiana-Kentucky Synod Bishop Jim Stuck on 05-05-05. Consultation with Living Discipleship Ministries begins; congregation celebrates the 25th anniversary of Pastor Vance’s ordination; Holy Shepherd Preschool begins operating with Teacher Michelle Pociask and Aide Jackie Sterling; Nancy Bright resigns, and Kate Knoerzer is hired as full-time Administrative Assistant; and Gene Hoemann retirees as Bookkeeper and is replaced by Phyllis Caldwell as Financial Assistant.
2006: Living Discipleship Ministries concludes with capital gifts campaign; Sharon Dudzik and Phyllis Caldwell resign, and Sue Neilson is hired as Clerical Assistant; Preschool expands to five days with Holly Smolinski as Teacher/Director and Marge Kosaris and Jackie Sterling as Aides; congregation celebrates 50th anniversary of ordination of Pastor Don Bravin; playground equipment set up on property; stained glass windows installed in sanctuary.
2007: Children’s and Youth Safety Policy implemented; Natural Church Development consultation starts; Vicar Andrea Roske-Metcalfe begins year of seminary internship; Preschool classes held for third year with Jackie Sterling as Teacher and Kerri Hess as Aide; “Walk thru the Old Testament” seminar held.
2008: Green Team formed to make the congregation more eco-friendly; ten members go to Guatemala on mission trip with Hearts in Motion; Preschool classes held for fourth year with Val Solan as Teacher and Sandy Munday as Aide; Mike Zurek ordained and installed as Associate Pastor (November 22); Jim Winiecki’s job title changed to Director of Missions, Children’s Ministries, and Fellowship; Cross Fire group from Lutheran Youth Encounter presents concert.
2009: Weekly evening Bible studies begin; regular workdays at Su Casa in Chicago and at Hopkins Park, Illinois organized; first Financial Peace University classes offered; Crown Point preaching point started; first Community Thanksgiving Dinner served; hand bells. purchased.
2010: New constitution adopted that organizes ministry in teams; first group graduates from Diakonia adult education program; Ruthann Russel retires; Bob Benne begins as Worship and Arts Director; Rotation Model Sunday School starts; Operation Big Ears listening campaign conducted.
2011: Older Adults Team begins offering programs specifically for senior citizens; Pastor Mike Zurek’s call is extended for three more years; monthly alternative worship services begin; Jim Winiecki resigns as Director of Missions, Children’s Ministries, and Fellowship; Carlene Benne is hired as Children’s Ministries Director; a Community Open House identifies options for expanding outreach ministries.
2012: Shepherd’s Suppers for community begin, 25th Anniversary celebrated, teens go to ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans, Pastor Vance goes on sabbatical and the Rev. Freda Scales serves as Interim Lead Pastor, Kids Hope USA mentoring program at Kolling School begins.
2013: The Rev. Michael Zurek left to become Associate Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Visalia, California; Carlene Benne became full-time Director of Congregational Life; Deaconess Nancy Walter assisted with some pastoral care responsibilities; Office Manager Kate Knoerzer resigned and was replaced by Office Manager Wendy Bartlett and Bookkeeper Phyllis Caldwell; a $30,000 Technology and Ministry Grant made computer and audio-visual upgrades possible.
2014: Clerical Assistant Sue Neilson resigned and was replaced by Arlene Tomsovic. Bookkeeper Phyllis Caldwell resigned and was replaced by Lisa Gabe. Intergenerational events continue to be introduced, the latest a Cell Phone Expo, where teen experts taught adults how to use their smart phones. A portion of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary dislodged from their foundation, requiring repairs that expected to take place next year.
2015: The congregation honors and celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Pastor Mark Vance as pastor at Holy Shepherd. A three year Capital Fund Drive, “Enhancing Our Vision,” has established new monies of $290,000 designated for sanctuary seating, repairing the parking lot and reducing our debt. Prayer Bears and Activity Bags ministries are established. After much discussion and an open forum, the Congregation Council decided to change the First Communion age from Fifth Grade to Third Grade.
2016: A Youth Renovation Team is established to provide goals, values and structure for a sustainable future for our youth ministry. June’s parking lot replacement is the first completed Capital Fund Drive project. Pastor Mark Vance and Deaconess Nancy Walter retired effective July 1, 2016 and Vancacy Pastor, Pastor Christine Schrey began her work with HSLC soon after. Interim Pastor John Kost joined the staff August 16, 2016, on a full time basis.
2017: A Welcoming Ministry was established spearheaded by Wendy Bartlett, with other members Dave Bartlett, Bob Benne, Ruth Carmichael and Terry Greinke. A new Welcome Center and Hospitality Center were added to the lobby. The Call Committee was chosen to find a new pastor consisting of chair, Mike LIsac, Karen Dietrich, Kriss Byquist-Miller, Mikey Kracht, Dave Greinke and Laura Pritchard. New parking lot lighting was installed.
2018: New pews arrived early January. The congregation extended a Call to Pastor Eric Schlichting to become Holy Shepherd’s new pastor and was installed on May 19.