Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – The First 50 Years
The Rev. Gordon M. Labuhn, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran, Loogootee, was instrumental in holding Sunday School in Washington at the urging of several of their members who lived in Washington. The first worship service was held on October 1, 1961, in the YMCA of Washington, IN. St. John’s Lutheran Church of Loogootee, IN gave full approval to a resolution which established the Washington organization as its infant. The first planning meeting was held at the home of Ed & Marcella Humbarger on October 20, 1961. From this beginning, things fell into place to form a new congregation with its own permanent place of worship, fellowship, outreach, and study.
During the formative period, the cooperation and assistance of the Board of American Missions of The American Lutheran Church were sought. In June of 1962 Washington was designated as a “Mission Package” site. By July of 1962, the property on which the church is built was purchased and an option to buy the large adjacent white house and property was obtained. In January of 1963, this property was purchased as a permanent home for the pastor. August of 1962 saw the dedication of the land and the election of temporary officers which became the first church council, with Mr. Edgar Humbarger as president. Joe Haldiman served as vice president, Rudolph Wuepper as secretary, Wallace LeClaire as treasurer, Jane Sumner as financial secretary, Mary Haldiman as assistant secretary, Ray Sumner, Robert Wichmann, and Cecil Cannon as deacons. Trustees were Kent Humbarger, Arthur Lobeck, and John Wallace.
Under the auspices of the Illinois District Mission Committee and the Regional Director of American Missions, a letter of call to serve as full-time pastor of Good Shepherd was extended to The Rev. John Tangman. He accepted the Call, moving with his family to Washington in November of 1962. His salary was $5000 plus $550 car allowance. Groundbreaking for the worship/education unit was held on November 11, 1962.
The Rev. Dr. Elmer Nelson, President of the Illinois District of The American Lutheran Church, incorporated and officially organized Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on January 6, 1963. The Rev. John Tangman was also installed as pastor on that date. Forty-seven baptized members, thirty-two of whom were confirmed, were received into membership. One of the current members, Kay Walker, and her mother, Evelyn Wallace, were credited with naming the new church.
The first worship service in the new building was held on May 12, 1963, in the education wing. On June 2, the sanctuary was used for worship, during which the first confirmation class was confirmed. On June 9, 1963, the building was officially dedicated. One of the members, Joe Haldiman, built all of the wood furnishings…the large cross behind the altar, the altar, the baptismal font, the altar rail, the pulpit and the reader’s stand. One of our early year organists was Sandra Sumner who was 12 years old when she started.
The Rev. John Tangman was needed to start another mission and accepted the call and left on April 19, 1964. On June 28, 1964, The Rev. Orlyn G. Huwe was installed at Good Shepherd. It was his first call after graduating from The Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. The proposed budget for 1965 was $15,108.44; $5000 of which was for the pastor’s salary. Pastor Huwe accepted a call to Bolingbrook, IL to start a new mission congregation and left on September 1, 1969. The Rev. Ken Doden became the 3rd pastor of Good Shepherd on October 19, 1969. The Rev. Norman Johnson was installed as our 4th pastor on November 18, 1971.
The Rev. Don Johnson, Director of Church Mission, stated that a portion of the church debt would be canceled if and when Good Shepherd could show the ability to be self-supporting and pay off a portion of the debt from a local loan. The response was so great that on June 3, 1973, Good Shepherd celebrated with all former pastors present, our becoming a self-supporting church.
In 1975 a new Thomas organ was purchased from Lee Hamm Music and used first on Easter of 1975.
The Rev Norman Johnson accepted a call and left in July of 1975. The Rev. Leland Uden accepted our call to be the 5th pastor and was installed on October 25, 1975.
Due to high maintenance costs of the large white parsonage, it was sold in January 1978. A new parsonage was built on the northwest corner of the property and dedicated on November 18, 1979, at a cost of $58,600. In December of 1978, The Rev Donald Doerzbacher accepted our call to be our 6th pastor. Their family was the first to live in the new parsonage. Pastor Doerzbacher accepted a call and left in February of 1984. On June 3, 1984, The Rev. Gabriel Baumgardner was installed as our 7th pastor and left on June 10, 1990. A preschool was held at Good Shepherd from 1986 to March of 1999. In 1987 the new educational unit was built at a cost of $40,703.
Since 1990 we have been served by several part-time pastors. Rev, John Pavelka served us well for many years until his eyesight prevented him from driving from his home in Jasper. Under his leadership the entire sanctuary was redecorated, including new pew pads, the baby grand piano was purchased and the Wick organ was purchased from St. Peters, Montgomery. New cabinetry was installed in the fellowship hall and the church offices were remodeled.
In 2005-06 there was growing unrest with the lack of pastoral leadership so we searched for a way to obtain a full-time pastor. After a search of the website of LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ), Rev Bill Sullivan came to Good Shepherd and explained the LCMC program which seemed to fit our small group better than the ELCA. The ELCA required two votes to leave, 90 days apart. The votes were affirmative to leave the ELCA and we became the first congregation in Indiana to become members of LCMC. Since LCMC does not have bishops, each congregation does their own negotiation with pastors. Pastor George Qualley noted on the LCMC website that we were looking for a pastor and after a visit, a call was extended to him and he became our pastor in April 2007. Under Pastor Qualley’s leadership, we have become well known in the community. In 2012 the bell tower was installed and a time capsule under the bell tower will be opened at the 100th anniversary. Also in 2012, the landscaping on the east side of the church was planted and underground pipe laid for watering; adding much to the beauty of the grounds and the view from the highway.
Pastor George Qualley served faithfully until July 26, 2015, and in August of 2015 the congregation voted to call the Rev. Christopher Byars and on September 1, 2015, the official tenure of Pastor Chris Byars began being installed September 13, 2015, by congregational president Dawn Barron and with the laying of hands of the congregation.