Good Shepherd began in the spring of 1951, upon the move of Trinity Lutheran Church to a new location on Capital Hill. After prayerful consideration, the Northwest District of the
Missouri Synod began a mission program to establish a new interrracial congregation in the vacated building.
Even at this early date, Good Shepherd began responding to the needs of the community. Working with the NAACP, the Urban League, and CORE, we were instrumental in abolishing the race designation on driver licenses. Also during this period we had a parish school with an enrollment of 18 pupils.
In the 1960s Good Shepherd expanded to meet the needs of the community. The social hall was used by the Ryther Center and Seattle Public Schools as an accredited school for dropouts; a Brotherhood Fund was established to help the needy; a scholarship program was initiated; cooperation with the Neighborhood Food Bank was established; Black Youth Unlimited was organized; a Summer youth program with an enrollment of over 80 students was
initiated; and weekly meetings of the first Alcoholics Anonymous group in the Central Area met here. By 1971, the handful of members had grown to over 209 communicant members.
In the early 1970s our church become independent from the Northwest District subsidy program. The Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL) became active at Good Shepherd. We not only had several children attending Concordia Lutheran School in north Seattle, but also had four of our members teaching there; Rhonda Konkel, Roselyn Newton, Willie Pugh, and Pat Mowbray.
In the 1980s we experienced one of our largest Vacation Bible School programs ever peaking at over 100 students enrolled under the leadership of Audrey Carter and the canvassing
efforts of Jean and Clato Barnes.
The 1990s were an exciting period for Good Shepherd. The Lutheran Women’s Missionary Leagues Silver Advent Tea continued to draw large crowds, and a thriving Vacation Bible School averaged 60-80 students yearly. In the summer of 1999 we welcomed the Crescent School to Good Shepherd. The school served some twenty pre-school age children from our neighborhood. After ten years of planning we broke ground for our new community center on July 13, 1997. The new building was completed by the Laborers For Christ and a team of congregation members, and dedicated on September 26, 1999.
The 2000s brought us a new pastor and wife, Rev. Steven Olsen and Mrs. Brenda Olsen. His commitment to community outreach has created many new partnerships for Good Shepherd. HYCAN (Healthy Youth Central Area Network) had offices in our center for several years. Our homeless outreach began with Nicklesville and in 2015 we partnered with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) to create the first tiny house village in the Puget Sound area. With pastor Olsen's guidance a new Lutheran Ethiopian mission church was started and relocated to Beacon Hill.
Our community outreach continued in the 2010s as we welcomed an Ethiopian Adventist congregation into our building that meets on Saturdays. One of Seattle's Alcohol Anonymous groups, Practice These Principles, relocated to our building and meets six days a week in the mornings. We also have two weekly Al-Anon group that meet in the evenings. Our most recent addition is an Ethiopian Lutheran congregation that meets on Sunday afternoons.
Our partners with our mission outreach, the Low Income Housing Institute, is now in the midst of creating a new low income seven story housing projecton on our property. It will have 85 units, all for formerly homeless and displaced members of our community. And will also include a 3 bedroom apartment that will replace our old parsonage house. Construction began January 2023, and we are on schedule to open by the summer of 2024.
We are committed to a vision of the future that lies in our changing diverse community. The more opportunities we can create by opening our doors to neighbors, old and new, the better stewards we will be of the precious gifts God has blessed us with.