Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church was organized as Bethlehem Lutheran Church in 1904. Its membership consisted of Germans who had immigrated from the Volga region of Russia. They first met in homes in Andersonville area and then in a remodeled schoolhouse on what is now San Christo Avenue. In 1914 a church was built on the corner of Olive and Whedbee streets. The building remains standing and its worshipping community today is Grace Presbyterian Church.
In the spring of 1959, Bethlehem Lutheran Church began negotiations with the Central district Mission board, to relocate as a new mission congregation. A contract to purchase our present property at 1200 South Taft Hill Road was signed on June 25, 1959, and plans for a new building were started under the leadership of Pastor R. Belanger, Congregational President Charles Ahlbrandt and Building Chairperson Jackson Brooks.
On April 30, 1960, the members of Bethlehem voted to become a new mission of the American Lutheran Church, in effect bringing to an end and a new beginning the ministry that had begun with the German-Russian immigrants in 1904. The congregation retained the name of Bethlehem until January of 1962 at which time the present name, “Shepherd of the Hills”, was adopted.
On June 10, 1960, the congregation voted to hire Vic Deines as the contractor for the construction of the new church building. The first unit was dedicated on December 11, 1960. As the congregation grew, more room was needed and in 1976 an educational wing was added to the north of the existing building by Vic Deines and his sons Stewart and Robert.
During 1975-1981, the congregation was busy helping resettle refugees. In February of 1981, during Sunday worship, 27 Vietnamese refugees were baptized by Pastor Lowell Hemken. The sponsors at the baptismal service were Allan and Luella Oberg.
In January of 1994, the congregation voted to build the long awaited sanctuary and an addition to the educational wing. Ground breaking ceremonies took place in March of 1995 being led by Pastor Gary McCluskey-Senior Pastor, Rich Larson-Building Committee Chair, Charles Oster-Congregational President. The building dedication was celebrated on November 26, 1995 with Bishop Allan Bjornberg preaching.
Throughout the years, many groups have been organized: Youth Groups, Adult Fellowship, Bible Fitness, Silver Singles, Stephen Ministry, Hand Bell Choir, Adult Choir, Shepherd’s Song, Bluegrass Band, Re:Group, Women’s Circles and Prayer Shawl Ministry are just a few of the many interests and organizations this community of God serves.