Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church-WELS, Las Vegas, NV
Shepherd of the Hills is a mission outreach congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and was formed in May of 2008. The goal was to find a permanent home in the growing northwest neighborhoods of Las Vegas and to share the saving love of Jesus with the people there.
For the first 9 years, Shepherd of the Hills worshiped and carried out ministry in an office building, alongside two insurance agencies. Worship was often accompanied by computerized music and recorded hymns. Volunteers prepared the services on computer and accompanied the singing by midi files.
In June of 2016, Pastor Tom Unke arrived to serve as the pastor of the mission congregation which had just begun planning a new worship and education building. Pastor Unke’s wife, Jackie, and his son, Zach, began to accompany worship on a simple Yamaha clavinova connected to the sound system. While plans were being made for the new worship center, a piano was purchased and the search for a suitable organ began. There simply was not much money in the budget to purchase a high priced instrument. The worship furnishings committee called several organ dealers in Las Vegas and even kept their eyes on Craigslist, hoping to find a diamond in the rough—a great used organ at a low price.
Robert Tall and Associates came to Pastor Unke with a proposal about the new Rodgers Inspire series that was not yet released. Bob thought it might be the perfect organ for the new, smaller worship building. At their first meeting, they had to talk over the sound of hammers and power tools as the construction had just begun. The timing could not have been more perfect. “The Lord had a wonderful plan for us to be able to build our new worship facility and to be able to enjoy a great worship instrument in this new organ,” said Pastor Unke.
When the people of Shepherd of the Hills heard about the opportunity to get this brand new organ, one donor stepped up and offered to pay for the organ herself. As the first Inspire organs were being created, the new facility in Las Vegas was approaching completion. Bob Tall and his assistant installed the brand-new organ in the church on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
Jackie Unke, an organist for more than 25 years, was asked to play the organ for the first time the following day. “I never thought our new church would have a wonderful instrument like this in it. This organ has amazing sound and easily fills the entire space with wonderful music. It feels so comfortable to play. The features that are included on this organ are far more than I ever thought we’d be able to have with our budget. We’re so thankful to have this organ to lead our music and singing. What a precious blessing!” Needless to say, Mrs. Unke loves the organ.
Shepherd of the Hills is planning to begin worshiping in their new facility in June and will have its dedication on August 19, 2018. “We know that we will put this amazing organ to good use over the years to come—serving many people with the ministry of music and singing,” said Pastor Unke. “We really like the fact that as our congregation grows, we have an excellent organ that can grow with us and continue to be a centerpiece of our worship services. All the glory goes to Jesus.”
The new church will also feature a preschool beginning in the fall of 2018.
Check out Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran’s website at www.sothlv.org