What we Believe

Lutherans are Christians who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Lutheranism had its beginnings 500 years ago in 1517, when Martin Luther publicly called for correction of errors in the medieval church, a period in history known as the Reformation.

Luther taught that a person is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (called justification by faith). Lutherans believe that the teachings presented by Luther are faithful to the words and truths of Holy Scripture. Those who followed his teachings were called Lutherans, and the name stuck.

The teachings of Luther and the reformers (and followers today) can be summarized in four short phrases: Grace alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, Faith alone.

*Grace alone- God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.

*Scripture alone- The Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.

*Christ alone–It is Christ alone who died and rose again for us.  It is He who saves us from sin, death, and the devil.  Through Christ alone our sins are forgiven, and we are made children of God the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As Jesus Himself says, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life - no one comes to the Father but by Me.

*Faith alone- By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus Christ purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for all.  Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.

Attendance at worship services and involvement in activities are open to everyone.  We are a family here at Good Shepherd sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows and supporting each other in our walk with Jesus Christ and the events of daily living.  The most important desire of our heart is to see you come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  If you already know Him, then we wish to share in your growth.

Membership may be entered into through a transfer from another Lutheran congregation or by attending a series of informational sessions on the Christian faith and life.  These sessions focus on the Bible and include orientation on the Lutheran Church and Good Shepherd Congregation.

Membership involves a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and baptism for those who have not been baptized in the Christian church.

Come, be a part of a new generation of Christian worship this year as we celebrate over 500 years of Lutheranism and the unending belief in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Our Mission Statement:

Sharing Christ, Feeding Sheep

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Tacoma, Washington is a supporting congregation of Little Lambs Preschool and Concordia Christian Academy. We belong to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and enjoy a rich history in Christ with the community beginning in 1950 when Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was first founded as Concordia Lutheran Mission.

History

A nearly completed Concordia Lutheran School building, a developing area of new homes, a vision to sense a fertile mission field, eager volunteers, and a Vacation Bible School all meshed together in the summer of 1950 to form the beginnings of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Because the response and attendance to the Vacation Bible School program was encouraging, a plan to start a new mission congregation was put into motion.

Under the direction of Pastors Arthur W. Schelp of Zion Lutheran Church and Winfred A. Schroeder of Grace Lutheran Church, both congregations voted to approve this new mission. A small nucleus of 35 members from Grace and Zion were released to work in this area.

The first worship service was held on the first Sunday in September of 1950. It was followed by Sunday School. Pastor A. W. Schelp conducted the service. They met in the basement of the school.

Praying for God’s guidance and direction, little did that small group, then calling itself the Concordia Lutheran Mission, realize how abundantly God would bless this mission. 

A call was sent and accepted by Pastor Harold G. Johnson, who grew up at Zion, Tacoma. He was called from Coffeyville, Kansas, and was installed as the first resident Pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in 1951. He and his wife, Maxine, with their two small sons, supplied the youthful enthusiasm for God’s Kingdom to grow. Slowly, the congregation grew. Sunday School, Christmas pageants, fellowship and family nights, picnics, and a strawberry festival, helped this growth. The Lord blessed the Johnsons with the birth of a daughter during their stay at Good Shepherd.

In 1953, the congregation of Redeemer Lutheran Church, located at Harrison and East “G” Streets was without a pastor. At that time, the decision was made to merge with Concordia. This merging increased the membership and brought new and dedicated workers to the area. The merger also brought additional children for the Sunday School. The joint membership voted to change the name of the congregation to The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. 

Looking ahead, the congregation purchased the present site of the corner of East 56th and “B” Streets, with the dream of a future permanent church home. Ground was broken on June 7, 1953, for a facility that would also include a parsonage. Soon, the cornerstone was put in place. On June 6, 1954, the building was ready for dedication.

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Concordia Lutheran Mission held its first service at the school in September of 1950

A nearly completed Concordia Lutheran School building, a developing area of new homes, a vision to sense a fertile mission field, eager volunteers, and a Vacation Bible School all meshed together in the summer of 1950 to form the beginnings of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Because the response and attendance to the Vacation Bible School program was encouraging, a plan to start a new mission congregation was put into motion.

Under the direction of Pastors Arthur W. Schelp of Zion Lutheran Church and Winfred A. Schroeder of Grace Lutheran Church, both congregations voted to approve this new mission. A small nucleus of 35 members from Grace and Zion were released to work in this area.

The first worship service was held on the first Sunday in September of 1950. It was followed by Sunday School. Pastor A. W. Schelp conducted the service. They met in the basement of the school. 

Praying for God’s guidance and direction, little did that small group, then calling itself the Concordia Lutheran Mission, realize how abundantly God would bless this mission.

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First Official Photograph of the Congregation of Concordia Lutheran Church

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A call was sent and accepted by Pastor Harold G. Johnson, who grew up at Zion, Tacoma. He was called from Coffeyville, Kansas, and was installed as the first resident Pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in 1951. He and his wife, Maxine, with their two small sons, supplied the youthful enthusiasm for God’s Kingdom to grow. Slowly, the congregation grew. Sunday School, Christmas pageants, fellowship and family nights, picnics, and a strawberry festival, helped this growth. The Lord blessed the Johnsons with the birth of a daughter during their stay at Good Shepherd.

In 1953, the congregation of Redeemer Lutheran Church, located at Harrison and East “G” Streets was without a pastor. At that time, the decision was made to merge with Concordia. This merging increased the membership and brought new and dedicated workers to the area. The merger also brought additional children for the Sunday School. The joint membership voted to change the name of the congregation to The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.

Looking ahead, the congregation purchased the present site of the corner of East 56th and “B” Streets, with the dream of a future permanent church home. Ground was broken on June 7, 1953, for a facility that would also include a parsonage. Soon, the cornerstone was put in place. On June 6, 1954, the building was ready for dedication.

On November 13, 1955, Pastor Johnson accepted a Call to Bellevue to help with a mission established in that area.

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A Call was then sent to Pastor Harold J. Gieseke, who accepted and was installed as the second pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. He, with his wife, Irma, and three daughters lived in the chapel church-parsonage. Under his guidance, growth continued both spiritually and physically.

The Concordia School building was again used for additional Sunday School rooms. At this time, a group of members was released to begin work in the Summit area. As the church continued to grow, so did Pastor Gieseke’s family, as the Lord blessed them with another daughter and a son. In 1962, Pastor Gieseke accepted a Call to Eugene, Oregon.

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The third pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd was Delbert C. Schroeder, who was installed on Sunday, September 9, 1962. He and his wife, Thelma, with their four daughters and son, came to us from Kennewick, Washington. It was during Pastor Schroeder’s ministry that the congregation began to feel the need for more space. A three-phase building program was outlined to meet the congregation’s future needs. The first phase was the construction of a new parsonage. This was completed and occupied by the Schroeder family in November of 1965. The old parsonage space was then used for Sunday School classes.

The next phase of the expansion program had to be delayed when Pastor Schroeder accepted a Call to serve as the Executive Secretary of the LCMS Northwest District in Portland, OR. He departed Tacoma on June 18, 1967. The vacancy was partly lessened by the coming of the first of the vicars employed by the congregation. Vicar Terrance Borchard and his wife, Kathy, occupied the former parsonage rooms and helped the congregation during the vacancy period.

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A Call was extended to Pastor Roland A. Koch of Spokane, WA, who accepted the Call and was installed as the congregation’s fourth pastor on November 26, 1967. Pastor Koch was joined by his wife, Hilda, and their three children. Pastor Koch was immediately confronted with the congregation’s desire to proceed with its expansion program with the construction of a new house of worship.

On February 11, 1969, the congregation voted to proceed with the building of the new church as soon as possible. A little over a year later, during the week of March 8-15, 1970, the new church was dedicated. At this time, the name of the congregation was officially changed to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

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Groundbreaking Ceremony June 8, 1969

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Dedication March 8, 1970

Pastor Koch retired from the full-time ministry and served as Visitation Pastor for a number of years to follow.

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Pastor Robert E. Banken from Grants Pass, OR, was installed as the fifth pastor on August 22, 1982. Pastor Banken, his wife Gloria, and their four children were warmly welcomed.

On January 17, 1996, Pastor Banken accepted a Call and was commissioned to serve as Pastor of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd in Beijing, China and to serve as a “Missionary at Large” to the expatriates living there.

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On September 9, 1984 Pastor Virgil R. White was installed as Associate Pastor. He and his wife, Marsha, had three children.

Pastor White accepted a Call to Abbotsford, B.C., leaving in January of 1994.

Operation Thanks-Giving

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In November 1985, our “Operation Thanks-Giving” program was started. Operation Thanks-Giving is a FREE hot meal program which reaches out into the community providing food, clothing, and spiritual direction to many.

November of 2015 celebrated the 30th anniversary of Operation Thanks-Giving which is still serving hot delicious meals all year round, every Tuesday at 6PM.

Richard D. Johnson was called to serve as Minister of Education, Youth and Families in the fall of 1994. He was installed in November of that year. This position was retitled Director of Christian Education (DCE). He joined us with his wife, Tierney, and their two daughters.
In 2003, Richard resigned his position in order to enter the Seminary and train for the office of the holy ministry.

In May of 1996, ground was broken for a new addition to the church building. The new space provided two classrooms, a larger narthex, a nursery, member mail boxes, and a coffee station. It was dedicated on November 13, 1996.

Pastor Daniel J. Gerken, who was serving in Walla Walla, WA, became the seventh pastor to serve at Good Shepherd. He was installed on January 19, 1997. He and his wife, Ruth, and son, were welcomed at a reception.

In early 2016, Pastor Gerken announced his retirement effective late January, 2017 after serving in the ministry for 40 years. He served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for an outstanding 20 years! During his time with us, 254 souls have been baptized, 204 confirmed, 61 marriages performed, and 207 souls laid to rest.

His final Sermon as our church Pastor was on Sunday, January 29th, 2017 with a reception afterword. He was further celebrated with a surprise dinner and get together the previous Saturday evening.

His ministry is not coming to an end. He will still be available in our circuits for vacation fill-ins and such.

Thank You Pastor Gerken: Well Done Good Servant, Well Done!

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On September 24, 2000, a sculpture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd was dedicated and placed on the north side of the church building exterior. The sculpture was carved by local master carver, Don Church, and assisted by Art McKellips.

(For the complete story, see "The Good Shepherd and Lamb Carving Story" below.)

In July of 2005, Ken Norton was installed as the new Director of Christian Education (DCE). He served in that position until the end of 2009.

At the beginning of September of 2005, we opened the doors to our Accredited Little Lambs Preschool for the first time. On September 11, 2005, we dedicated the preschool to our Lord and Savior with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Bonnie Jean Huset is the Preschool Director.

All three & four year olds are welcome as church membership is not a requirement!

Please visit www.littlelambstacoma.com for more information.

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On June 13, 2010, the  Rev. Bradley Varvil (center) was installed as an Assistant Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran. This was a part-time position since he was still employed full-time in a secular job. Pastor Varvil worked with the youth groups and preached once a month. He also regularly led the Sunday 5pm Casual Chapel discussions. He was welcomed along with his wife Melissa and their daughters.

Rev. Varvil served Good Shepherd and the community faithfully until July, 2015 when his secular job was transferred to Saint Louis, Missouri. A Farewell Pot Blessing was held in his honor June 28, 2015.

He and his wonderful family have been truly missed!

Update: In February, 2017, Rev. Varvil's secular job was transferred back to the Puget Sound area. Welcome back to Washington Rev. Varvil and family!

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On September 26th, 2010 the congregation celebrated the Ordination of Rev. Shauen Thomas Trump (front row, third from right) our LCMS Missionary in East Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. www.thetrumps.org

Rev. Trump along with his wife Krista and their three young children serve with The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Please pray for the Trumps as they serve throughout a substantial area of Africa.

The year 2000, marked our 50th anniversary as a congregation. September 12, 2010, celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first Sunday worship service held back in 1950.

In 2011, the sculpture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd a.k.a. the "Good Shepherd and Lamb" carving", located on the north side of the church exterior was in need of extensive repairs. Representatives from the original carving team totally refurbished the sculpture and in March of 2012 it was permanently installed at the base of the spiral staircase inside the church for all to enjoy.

The "Good Shepherd and Lamb" Carving Story

The Good Shepherd and Lamb Carving was created by Don Church for Dr. Phil Hutson, in memory of his parents Lloyd and Sarah Hutson. Don Church is a fairly well know carver. He has a carving of the State Seal on display in Olympia and did some work for Mr. Weyerhaeuser, among other things.

It took him two years to complete the work on the Shepherd and the Lamb. It was carved from Bass Wood planks laminated together, imported from Germany. Don Church is a retired Colonel from the US Army and had made some connections that enabled him to procure the wood from Germany. It was mounted on the front of the church and dedicated in 2000. 

Over the years it became very weathered and rot and mildew had started to take a hold. In 2011 it was removed for restoration. The restoration was financed by Dr. Phil Hutson. Hal McEwen undertook the restoration of the carving in 2011. It took him about six months to complete the work. The whole surface was weathered and discolored. The Bass wood planks had become separated. There was a great deal of mildew on the surface and between the planks. Hal had to blast it with crushed walnut shells to remove as much of the damaged surface as possible. He then used acid baths and finally bleach baths to kill the mildew that had infected the wood. The Bass wood boards that made up the carving then had to be re-glued together. Part of the face and hands were severely rotted and needed to be filled and re-carved. The statue when completed was then coated in a wood preservative, a light colored coat of paint and finally a gloss sealant. Hal McEwen created a lovely curved base on which to mount both the Shepherd and the Lamb.

In March of 2012 it was permanently put on display at the bottom of the curved staircase at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Washington.

In August of 2015, after much diligent work, our Little Lambs Preschool earned accreditation by the National Lutheran Schools Accreditation (NLSA) Program.

Starting back when we opened our doors in 2005, everyone involved with our preschool has worked diligently to attain this recognition as one-of-the-best preschools in the nation.

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2017 and Beyond...

In our search for a new Pastor after Rev. Daniel Gerken retired in early 2017, we entered a period of self searching and reorganization. To help us during this period we welcomed our Intentional Interim Pastor, Rev. Toby Joeckel. Pastor Joeckel held meetings to discuss the future of Good Shepherd Luthern and was with us to January 14, 2018.

Pastor Noel Koss replaced Rev. Joeckel on a part-time basis until our search for a new Pastor is completed.

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Rev. Noel Koss, Interim Minister

Pastor Koss was born at Everett, Washington and raised in Seattle. He met his wife, Linda, at Concordia College, Portland, Oregon and they have been married 51 plus years. They have four children, one of whom, Eric, is now in heaven. Pastor Koss has served congregations in Wisconsin, Washington, Iowa and at Jackson, Wyoming. He likes sporting events, walking, and reading.  He has been guest minister at Wittenberg, Germany, participated in medical missions event in Kenya, Africa, and served as interim minister to congregations in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho the past 10 years.

As we look ahead to the future, there are still many challenges and opportunities that face us. We continue to seek to share the life-changing and life-saving message of Jesus, our Good Shepherd:

“I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)