History and Community Involvement
In August of 1951, Reverend Milford Brelje, a young seminary graduate, was sent to Gilroy to establish a Lutheran presence in the community. Under his leadership, the first Lutheran worship service was held in Gilroy, in a renovated funeral chapel purchased from the Habing Family Funeral Home. This facility, now Tasso's Old House Restaurant, served as the church for 18 years, during which time the congregation grew steadily.
Pastor Brelje served the Good Shepherd congregation until 1955, when he moved on to another position. He was succeeded by Reverend William Schreyers, who served until 1970, and then Reverend William Anderson, who served until 1978. Since then, the present pastor, Reverend Ronald E. Koch, has ministered continuously to the congregation.
In 1969, the congregation built its current church and social hall buildings on land that had been purchased at the west edge of Gilroy. In 1982, the church built a classroom building to house the Vineyard Christian Preschool, which had been using the social hall for classes. The preschool, established in 1975, has a reputation for being the highest quality program in the community, with an impressive yearly enrollment and long term teachers.
Under Reverend Koch's leadership, the congregation has become involved in many social ministry areas in the community. They have worked with St. Joseph's Family Center Ministry in Gilroy, and Lutheran Campus Ministry at UC Santa Cruz and Cal State University at Monterey Bay. Most recently the Church and Preschool adopted a Give Back Bin which raised over $2500 in new toys to benefit the children of Rebekah Children's Services in 2022.