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Our History

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of South Hills, is the daughter, by merger, of two long-established congregations.

First St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church on the South Side in Pittsburgh was founded in 1849 as First German Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of East Birmingham. In 1957, First St. Paul's found that its membership was shrinking, and conducted a study of its history, and the opportunities available. The study, which was finished in 1959, showed that a large portion of the members had moved from the South Side to areas further from the Monongahela River and concluded that the future of the church lay in these outer areas.

Meanwhile, Bethany Lutheran Church of Pleasant Hills, was founded in 1937 as Faith Lutheran Church. In 1950, Bethany became a self-supporting congregation. In 1958, Bethany began to raise funds to enlarge the church facility, and add an education wing.

Around this time, Louise Elizabeth Colteryahn, a former member, offered to give First St. Paul's a tract of land in Whitehall, in memory of her late husband, William Carl Colteryahn, as the site for a new church. First St. Paul's invited Bethany to consider a merger, since the property was not far from Pleasant Hills. In December 1959, First St. Paul's voted to accept the gift and to formally invite Bethany to merge. Bethany accepted the invitation in February 1960, and the merger became effective on April 3, 1960, and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of South Hills was born.

The name 'Good Shepherd' was chosen by referendum vote, and was announced at the first joint service on April 3. The new congregation called Reverend  Theodore P. Bornhoeft of Basking Ridge, New Jersey to be its first pastor on May 25, 1960. Good Shepherd began regular services in Baldwin High School on July 10, 1960, and also received court approval of the merger on July 15. Pastor Bornhoeft was installed in a special service on August 21, 1960.

The contract for the new building was signed in December 1961, and ground was broken on April 22, 1962. The cornerstone was laid on August 12, 1962. The Education Wing was dedicated on November 18, 1962, in memory of William Carl Colteryahn.

Reverend Melvin E. Pingel was installed as Good Shepherd's second pastor on March 23, 1969.The Church Sanctuary was dedicated at a special 11 am service on September 21, 1969, after completing a ten-year building program. The Memorial Tower which houses the bells that were cast at First St. Paul's in 1866, was dedicated in December 1970. While at First St. Paul's the bells rang in a'swinging' motion. When they were installed at Good Shepherd, they were wired to ring by 'tapping' them. The baptismal font is also from First St. Paul's. Pastor Pingel retired from active parish ministry on April 26, 1987 after 42 years of faithful service to the Lord.

Reverend Paul D. Doellinger was became Good Shepherd's third pastor on November 20, 1988. In 1993, a Christian Preschool was established. Pastor Doellinger was called to a congregation in New York in 1999.

Following a 2-year vacancy, during which the lay leadership, and interim pastors took care of the pastoral duties of the congregation, Reverend Daniel P. Strussenberg was installed on August 19, 2001.

We also have an active Youth Ministry. The first Youth Group was organized in September 1958, and the first Young Peoples Coordinator was appointed in April 1962. However from 1962- 1983, there was little progress or activity recorded by the Youth Commission. In 1976, the Board of Elders discussed calling a full time Director of Christian Education, but no action was taken. David C. Noll was called to fill the position of Director of Christian Education on July 1, 1983. David Noll accepted a call to Redeemer Lutheran Church in Spokane, Washington in October 1990. Scott Nagy was called as Directior of Christian Outreach and Youth in July 1991. He later accepted a call to St. Matthew Lutheran in May 1995. Reverend Zirl Yek served his vicarage at Good Shepherd from September 1997 through August 1998, and Reverend Chris M. Davis served his vicarage from August 1998 through August 1999. We then had a hiatus on the Youth Ministry for about 5 years, but it was reformed over the last 2 years. Jamie Knopf was recently called as our Director of Youth Ministries in May 2009 and was commissioned and installed on Rally Day, September 13, 2009.