A good 50 years at Good Shepherd

By Karin Elton


From a handful of families to a congregation of about 400 baptized members, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has grown in many ways.

Good Shepherd, a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, is celebrating its 50th anniversary Sunday.

In 1964, the church began with charter members Don Zierke, Ed and Darla Schulte, Ann Paradis, Martin and Phyllis Augustine and Harland and Joanne Christoffer, said Joanne Christoffer of Marshall.

With the addition of families such as the Timms, the Petrichs and Behnes “the church grew in a hurry,” said Christoffer.

“The Petrichs had seven children, we had five boys, the Timms had five children,” said Christoffer. “And the Behnes had I think four – they weren’t here very long.

“We would have progressive suppers,” Christoffer said, “and potlucks up above the Legion.”

The church’s first pastor was Carleton Zahn, who happens to have a famous actor son, “little Stevie Zahn,” Christoffer said.

Soon worship services were conducted at East Side Elementary School (now Marshall Area Christian School) on East College Drive.

The current building alongside Minnesota Highway 23 was completed in 1966. The church received a bell which originally rang at Faith Lutheran Church in Tracy in 1996. Many members of Faith Lutheran helped to establish Good Shepherd in its early beginnings.

When Faith Lutheran closed its doors members felt it was appropriate for the bell to continue to ring at its sister church in Marshall.

Church services took place in the fellowship hall for years, said the Rev. James Stefanic, who is the current pastor.

The congregation added a sanctuary mid-90s.

“Groundbreaking was in 1993,” Stefanic said.

A volunteer group, Laborers for Christ, helped build the sanctuary,” Christoffer said. “They came from all over.”

The addition of the sanctuary freed up the fellowship hall to be used solely for that purpose, Stefanic said, “and gave us a bigger worship space.”

Stefanic, who is from Milwaukee, Wis., has been with Good Shepherd for “just under a year,” he said. “I was ordained and installed Aug. 25, 2013.”

“We are blessed with a wonderful pastor,” said Christoffer. “He’s made a big difference to the church.”

A cookbook has been compiled with recipes from all Good Shepherd members, both present and past and will be available for purchase at the anniversary celebration.

Schedule for Sunday:

8:15 a.m. Church service

9:15 a.m. Fellowship

9:45 a.m. Bible study

11 a.m. Church service

2 p.m. Anniversary program, dedication of Bell Tower with light meal to follow