SHEPHERD OF THE SEA, GARDEN CITY
A survey of the Surfside area, which was conducted by the LCA in 1973, revealed the need for a Lutheran congregation. In September of 1974 the Rev. Bob Tutas began his work as mission developer. A small storefront site was rented in Pavilack Square, and a small group of people began planning for the future congregation.
The first service of Shepherd of the Sea was held on February 2, 1975, with 102 persons in attendance. The congregation was officially organized on November 30, 1975. The church grew quickly and the need for a building was urgent. Property originally purchased in Surfside for a building site was traded for a lot in Garden City in order to take advantage of projected growth in that area.
Groundbreaking for the new church home took place on Palm Sunday, March 19, 1978.
Pastor Tutas resigned in May of 1978, but construction continued. Pastor Barrel D. Golnitz began his work with the congregation in December of 1978 and served until 1986.
In January 1979, Shepherd of the Sea began worshiping in the fellowship hall of its new building and then in the new sanctuary. The women of the church made the paraments. In 1982, a new six-and-a-half-rank organ was built, and its installation was marked with concerts by leading organists.
In the period from 1980 to 1984, the church continued to grow, with many young families joining the congregation, and it became necessary to expand facilities for Christian education and community service. Construction began in August of 1983, and the newly completed building was dedicated on February 5, 1984.
The church continues to minister to its people. A Vacation Church School was begun in 1979, and Word and Witness classes in 1980. Communion has been offered weekly since 1981. The first youth retreat program was held in 1984.
Shepherd of the Sea is involved in many ecumenical and community activities. It helped to organize the Ecumenical Clothes Closet and Mobile Meals of Surfside Beach and Garden City. The congregation has participated in a joint communion service with the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection. The women of the church send items to Lutheran World Relief and to the residents of Lowman Home.
In 1985, Shepherd of the Sea was pleased to celebrate its tenth mu. The Rev. Ruben H. Olawsky became its pastor January 1, 1987.
In 1992, the church faced an unexpected loss of Pastor Cobb. For the interim, Pastor Carl Grossman filled in until Pastor Gary Loadholdt accepted the call as pastor in 1993.
Shepherd of the Sea’s very first bell choir was started in 1993. Under the direction of our music and choir director, it has since blossomed into an accomplished musical resource. We even have a special Christmas concert, featuring the bell choir.
Under the guidance of Nan Loadholdt, (approx. 1995) our congregation developed a program called “Nan’s Closet”. It was intended to assist those in need from Williamsburg and Georgetown Counties. This program has since developed into our “Hopewell Ministry” project.
The congregation was happy to celebrate the ground breaking of a new sanctuary on 10/11/98. Two years later the dedication service for the new church was held on 10/22/2000.
“Mostly Mature”, our social group, developed for the older generation in our congregation, was started in 2000. This group shares luncheons, local trips and group activities. It gives those needing a social outlet a chance to mingle and make new friends, as well as learn new and interesting facts about our area.
From 2002 until 2010, Pastor Richard Webber was called to serve as pastor of Shepherd of the Sea. During this time Shepherd of the Sea became involved in many ministries to the homeless. One of our ministries provided housing for a local homeless gentleman until his death in 2011. Our food pantry was established in 2008. This ministry, in conjunction with Mobile Meals and South Strand Helping Hand, provides needed food and supplies for those in our local community. It expands our presence and availability to the community in general.
A large playground and dedicated outdoor area for children was added to our church facilities in 2007 as we began to intentionally expand our ministry to children and families. We added our first part-time nursery attendant in 2006. Since then, the demand for similar services has grown and a full time position for a Youth & Family Coordinator was approved in 2015. Mrs. Jennifer Hirsh was hired as our part time Director of Youth and Family Ministries. With the growth of youth ministries, and seeing the need to reach out more intentionally, we expanded this to a full-time position with benefits in July of 2015.
As the church has grown, so has the need to keep an accurate and up to date history of our facility. As a result the Archives Committee was created in 2010. The archives room was recently relocated and remodeled to accommodate the special requirements for archival record keeping. This was completed in August 2015.
In July 2011, Shepherd of the Sea called Pastor Brad Bellah to serve as the pastor. We began a season of growth and renewal of the congregation and again welcomed many new members. Wonderful Wednesday meals and education program began in 2013. The Congregation sponsored two missionary trips for two of our members to Tanzania in 2014 and we hope to sponsor more in the future. As a result of our efforts, we formed our “Commission on Missions” to provide funding support for missionary work from our congregation members in the future.
In 2011, we installed a new sound system in the sanctuary and began to incorporate technology into our worship services. Members began to participate in Via de Cristo retreats, committee structures were reorganized and our monthly committee nights began. The congregation also began intentionally visioning for the future of the congregation by partnering with Pinnacle Leadership Associates to formulate a long-range plan. This plan is to be presented to the congregation in 2015 in time for our 40th Anniversary Celebration in November.
In 2012, our Finance committee re-financed our church mortgage. Considerable monies were saved, portions which have been directed to the Benevolence Fund Contributions. We also began semi-annual drives to reduce our mortgage debt on the sanctuary. These drives were very successful in helping to significantly reduce the mortgage debt.
We thank God for His grace and faithfulness to this gathering of disciples and look with anticipation to all that God has in store for us in the future. Thanks be to God!