Our History

Our Shepherd Lutheran Church • School • Childcare became a congregation in October of 1949. Since then we have remained committed to bringing the good news of Jesus Christ into this community of Birmingham, Royal Oak, Troy, and surrounding communities.

God's Beautiful Blessings In Our Early Years

The story began when E. T. Bernthal, pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Detroit, told young Pastor Howard Allwardt to go for a drive north of Woodward Avenue to a growing area. He said it would be a region ready for harvest and growth. Howard drove to farmlands at 14 Mile Road and Woodward. Howard and Audrey, his wife, saw a little mission church come to reality and experienced the thrill of starting a mission church. Throughout the summer of 1949 a group of 25 pastors and vicars canvassed the Royal Oak-Birmingham community east of Woodward Avenue. Survey results revealed the need for a church and Sunday school. The nucleus of the church in that first year was 14 communicant members from Epiphany.

1950s

Membership increased by the end of 1950 to 16 and 228 within three years, with almost half entering via adult membership classes instead of simply transfers from other Lutheran congregations. The first permanent building was dedicated in 1951. A great deal of effort was undertaken to grow the Sunday school which soon had close to 600 members. In 1956 we opened a Christian day school with three teachers and 55 students. By 1959 the congregation had swelled to 800 communicant members and 700 plus Sunday school children.

1960s

In 1961 a building committee began work with Glen Paulsen and Associates to produce plans for future expansion. In 1964 the congregation celebrated its 15th anniversary with clear signs of the new sanctuary and school becoming more visible. The new sanctuary was dedicated on January 21, 1966, along with classrooms, and offices. The church celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1969, numbers were growing in the community and in the congregation.

1970s

A number of social endeavors began in this era. The congregation joined the high school association and supported the Lutheran School for the Deaf. new artwork began to adorn the sanctuary. During the 25th anniversary of the congregation a collection was taken to support new mission work in India. By 1979 the school served 222 children, and daily the message of salvation was being shared in our community.

1980s

Members considered onsite expansion to handle the projected church growth. God had other plans. In 1982 the church bought Torrey Elementary School property on E. Lincoln. In 1982 we began the preschool. This was a decade when many of the people involved in the beginning of the congregation successfully mentored new people into positions of leadership. The Rev. Howard Allwardt served the congregation from its beginning until his retirement on December 31, 1987. He was called to his eternal home on November 30, 1988.

1990s

The school gym was constructed and dedicated in 1996. Childcare and Latch Key Programs began to be offered. Seniors and Singles both had groups develop to support their needs. A contemporary worship service on Saturday evenings began in 1995. This decade was defined by the congregation developing the resources to meet each individual with their unique needs.

2000s

The congregation expanded the Narthex to support the friendships and conversations that take place between services. The school, community service, facilities, family life and congregation activities all find a regular rhythm of openly sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

2010's

The congregation continues to focus on reaching out to the community with central focus that Our Shepherd gathers, nurtures, and serves because Jesus loves.

 

Latest Blog

Latest Sermon

Meeting God on the Road

Pastor Steve Woodfin | July 14, 2019

It seems that everyone knows the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s certainly a good morality story, and a “how-to” guide for those who seek to be like Jesus to those around them. But why did Jesus choose a Samaritan – an outcast, someone whom the Jews despised – to model the love of Christ to the wounded traveler? Perhaps Jesus intended to show his audience, and all of us, that God very often arrives and acts where we least expect God to be. Whether it’s in the selfless act of the Good Samaritan, or the overwhelmingly loving act of God’s glory arriving through the disgrace of the cross of Christ, the message is clear: no one is beyond the reach of God’s love. No one! As we meet God on the road this weekend, we’ll talk about some of the shocking and surprising ways He surrounds us with His love and fills us with the confidence of our salvation and citizenship in His Kingdom.

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