Dedication at Good Shepherd, Tucson
On Sunday, October 27, the members of Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tucson, Arizona, assembled at the entrance of their new church building to celebrate its completion and to dedicate it to the glory of God. They were joined by a sizeable contingent of visitors from far and near, inasmuch as the congregation was about to host the annual fall meeting of the pastors of the Concordia Lutheran Conference. After a brief devotion and dedicatory ceremony at the door conducted by the congregation’s pastor of thirty years, the Rev. David G. Redlin, the sanctuary was all but filled to capacity for the festive worship service that followed.
Pastor Redlin served as liturgist, and the sermon was delivered by the Rev. E. R. Stallings of Windcrest, Texas, current Conference president, who had been instrumental in facilitating Good Shepherd’s contact with our Conference back in 1991. He preached on Psalm 26:8, taking as his theme, “God’s House: It Most Surely Is a Place to Love,” and dividing it into two parts: I. God’s House is a place where God Himself dwells in and through His Word, and II. God’s House is where His honor dwells. The service was specially beautified by an anthem entitled, “Sing to the Lord of Harvest,” offered by the congregation’s choir; and the assembled members and their brethren from afar raised their voices in hymns of praise to the Lord of the Church for His continued never-failing grace toward them.
Good Shepherd was formally organized as a congregation in 1949 and shortly thereafter joined the Wisconsin Synod. It built its original sanctuary in 1950 and two years later expanded its plant with classroom space and established a Christian day school which it maintained for thirty-three years. However, the cost of fully supporting the school finally took a financial toll on the congregation, particularly when enrollment decreased substantially in 1985; and the church reluctantly decided to close it. But that decision also resulted in membership losses since it apparently had been the school and not the faithful ministry of the Word and sacraments that had been the chief attraction for quite a few families. The smaller congregation soon found it unfeasible to maintain the large physical plant in a rapidly deteriorating area and decided to relocate to suburban acreage on Melpomene Way; and when officials of the Wisconsin Synod attempted to interfere in the congregation and to lay blame for its situation on its faithful pastor, Pastor Redlin was expelled from the synod; and his faithful congregation followed him, choosing rather to be independent than submit to synodical tyranny. Only six years later, after coming to know the Concordia Lutheran Conference and carefully examining its position in doctrine and practice, did the little congregation again consider a synodical affiliation. Pastor Redlin was colloquized in 1991, and the congregation was received into the membership of the Conference in 1992.
For over ten years, the congregation tried unsuccessfully to erect a church building on its acreage. Local requirements made it difficult to erect a “public” building in a “residential” area, arrangements to swap acreage for construction services fell through when difficulties were encountered in re-zoning the property, and eventually seven acres were sold to finance the building project. Construction finally began in the spring of 2002, and the building was completed in October. The effectual fervent prayers of the congregation and of their Conference brethren had been answered in the Lord’s own good time according to His promise, and the members joyfully celebrated the dedication of their new house of worship filled with humble gratitude for His abiding gracious blessings. We join them in their thanksgiving.