A SLICE OF LIFE IN THE CLC
Snapshots of congregations from around the Church of the Lutheran Confession
The Black Hills have always drawn people to them. The Lakota Indians migrated there from Minnesota in the 1800’s. Gold discovered by General Custer in 1874 drew miners by the wagon-full. These miners started many towns, including Rapid City. It was here in Rapid City that the Dakota School of Mines was formed in 1885. This outstanding school of engineering drew many bright minds to the area. In the last few decades, it has drawn quite a few CLC members. These hills also drew a famous sculptor named Gutzon Borglum; between 1927 and 1941 he carved the faces of the four most famous presidents into Mount Rushmore.
These Black Hills still draw people today. They come to see Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, the Badlands, and many other spectacles. Every year in August the Sturgis motorcycle rally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. There is much to see and do here, a fact that has brought many of you to come worship with us during the summer months. Several times we have had to copy more bulletins because we get many visitors from other CLC congregations who are in the area for vacation. We are delighted to have you. But this city has drawn more than tourists. Many CLC members moved to this wonderful area, including some from our sister congregation in Lemmon, South Dakota.
“My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow Me.” (John 10:27) While it was the beauty of the hills that drew many people to this area, it was the beauty of God’s Word that led a group of believers to gather for regular worship as early as 1967. These services continued off and on in the years that followed. But it was not until 1985 that Jesus’ sheep in the Rapid City area finally organized as Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. They called seminary graduate James Albrecht as their first pastor. This group met for a couple of years in members’ homes and hotel rooms. But in 1987, they broke ground on a church/parsonage building. The Good Shepherd had provided them with a place of their own to hear His voice and know Him better. For thirty-three years that voice has led them and given life and salvation, and for thirty-three years the Good Shepherd has heard the voices of His sheep, raised in thanksgiving for all His gifts.
The Good Shepherd provided a new under-shepherd in February 1992 with the coming of Pastor Mike Wilke. There was heard in those days the bleating of many little lambs, and the Good Shepherd provided in that time for the establishment of a day school for those lambs. The Black Hills continued to be a great resource, as there were many church outings into the hills. There were youth group outings, a Bible Camp that brought CLC members from all over, and an annual outing to cut down a Christmas tree for church.
There was a long period in the early 2000’s when the congregation did not have a pastor. But the members continued faithfully holding lay services and trusting that the Good Shepherd would care for them (after all, He gave His life for them!). Their prayers were answered in 2003 with the coming of Pastor John Klatt. When Pastor Klatt retired in 2014, Pastor Aaron Ude was called, accepted the call, and moved that same year. Looking back over the years, members have said that they can see clearly how the Good Shepherd has always provided just the right under-shepherd for them.
So what’s going on now at Good Shepherd? The bleating of many young sheep is again being heard in our church services, and we have prayed that someday in the not-too-distant future we may be able to open a Christian day school again. We are also working on some building projects to make the facility more accessible to those who are physically challenged and to meet code needed for opening an after-school program and/or a day school. We also are delighted with the opportunity God has given us to reach troubled children. The Black Hills host one of two children’s homes in South Dakota designed for young people who are unable to be at home because they have been orphaned or because of behavioral problems on the part of the children or their parents. We go to the home one Saturday every month to hold a Sunday school with them. In the last fifteen years that Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has been doing this, we have been able to tell approximately 1,400 children about their Good Shepherd, Jesus. Many of them had never heard of Him before.
The congregation also takes great pride in hosting a Bible Camp in the Black Hills. The congregation really goes all out, and greatly enjoys getting CLC members from all over to come join them in discovering the beauties of the Black Hills—and the far greater beauties of God’s Word!
Aaron Ude is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rapid City, South Dakota.