It began with an invitation to join the choir in the early 1990s. Dr. Lori Bates was a medical student at the time.
New to Rochester, she was looking for ways to connect with people in the community. Then a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church encouraged her to join the choir. The congregation became an integral part of Bates' life from that point forward.
Bates is now a family physician, and she and her husband have two teenage children. When asked about the core values of the Good Shepherd community, she reflected on the congregation's inclusiveness, responsiveness to community needs and commitment to "fostering of a sense of curiosity."
The church's official mission statement is: "Gathered, empowered and sent to share the love of Christ with all people." Bates said the congregation's pastors, the Rev. Charlie Leonard and the Rev. Carl-Eric Gentes, and members seek to live out this mission inside and outside the church building.
Finding ways to meet community needs is important to the people of Good Shepherd, and it has been since the church was formed in the 1960s. At that time, members gathered in the 4-H building on the Olmsted County Fairgrounds.
These days, volunteers from the congregation help regularly at the Dorothy Day House. Members also provide space in their building to a variety of community organizations such as Boy Scouts and Al-Anon. On Sunday afternoons, another faith community, Iglesia Cristo El Rey, uses the space.
Music is an important means through which the people of Good Shepherd proclaim their faith. There are a variety of choirs and musical groups for people of all ages and levels of experience. Some of Bates' fondest memories of the congregation relate to the times she participated in church musicals. She expressed appreciation for what the last 30 years of membership have meant to her.
"Good Shepherd has been an outlet for my nonmedical skills, and it's been a home for my family," she said.
When asked what she most wants people to know about Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Bates reflected, "We'll do what we can to make sure everyone knows this can be a home for them."
She said the congregation's "resilience and relationships" are at the core of the community. Church members have been through significant ups and downs through the years; through them, they persevere in their desire to share the love of Christ. Bates shared that members like to laugh and enjoy fellowship together.
The congregation offers Sunday school and adult education opportunities on Sunday mornings beginning about 9:15 or 9:30 a.m., and everyone is welcome to participate.
Worship services are held on Saturday evenings at 5:30 p.m. and Sundays at 8:15 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. Communion is celebrated weekly at every service.
Good Shepherd is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) denomination. The church is at 559 20th St. SW. To learn more about Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, visit their "I'm New" page at goodshepherdchurch.net/im-new.