OUR HISTORY


 

     Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of South Hills is the daughter, by merger, of two long-establisthed congregations, First St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church on the South Side of Pittsburgh (founded in 1849) and Bethany Lutheran Church of Pleasant Hills (founded in 1937). The two merged in 1960 following a generous gift of land.

 

     In 1960, the congregation of Good Shepherd called Rev. Theodore Boernhoeft as its first pastor, and services began in Baldwin High School. Ground was broken for a new building in 1962, and the Education Wing was dedicated later that year. Rev. Melvin Pingel was installed as Good Shepherd's second pastor in 1969, the same year the sanctuary was dedicated. The Memoiral Tower, which houses bells that were cast for First St. Paul's in 1866, was dedicated in 1970. The baptismal font at the front of the church is also from First St. Paul's.

 

     After Pastor Pingel's retirement, Rev. Paul Doellinger became Good Shepherd's pastor in 1988 and led the congregation for 11 years. During a vacancy period, the congregation was led by lay leaders and interim pastor, and the next called pastor was Rev. Daniel Strussenberg from 2001 until 2015. After another vacancy period of self-study and evaluation, Rev. Tim Bickel was installed as Good Shepherd's current pastor in 2017.

 

     Aside from the pastoral staffing, in 1983, the congregation voted to focus on its ministry to youth and called David Noll as a Director of Christian Education. After he followed another call, Scottt Nagy was called as the Director of Christian Youth and Outreach in 1991. When Scott also accepted another call, the congregation decided to explore teh benefits of hosting a vicarage. Rev. Zirl Yek served as vicar 1997-98, and Rev. Chris Davis served 1998-99. A focus on youth ministry was renewed in 2009 when the congregation called Jamie Knopf as Director of Youth Ministries, a position which evolved into Director of Family Life Ministry. After Jamie's departure for another call, the congregation is again evaluating its needs for staffing and spiritual growth.

 

     When the church began, there was a Nursery School and Kindergarten on site, followed by a Head Start program. In 1993, the Good Shepherd Christian Preschool was established which has grown consistently in students and staff, serving the needs of the community and establishing the basis for an education of faith in young children.

 

     The congregation is now exploring its future in services and outreach and looks forward to the challenges and joys ahead.