On March 5th, 1984, what was to become Shepherd of the Hills Christian Church came into being.
The very first meeting was held in Angus Valley in the home of Walter and Evelyn Case, who were members of Pecan Springs Christian Church. David Allred, who was a former House of Representative Legislator from Wichita Falls, and whose father was a Texas Governor in the late 1930s, convened the meeting. People present were from University Christian Church and Community Christian Church. It was agreed upon that night that a section of northwest Austin could support a new congregation. There were twenty-six people at the meeting who agreed to this, and sat down together in small groups to figure out how it could be accomplished.
We agreed to be a church, but we didn’t have a place to meet or even a name. We decided our target area was to be somewhere between Town Lake, Mopac, Hwy. 183 and Loop 360. We did have a minister willing to lead us. Rod Coleman was one of the twenty-six willing members to be the new church minister.
It was significant that our first meeting as a new church start was a fellowship and volleyball gathering at Bull Creek Park. Our first Worship Service was on April 1, 1984 at the Chapel at Camp Mabry. Subsequently, we met in various places over the next several months: Rod’s home, Triumphant Love Lutheran Church (at 4:00 pm), and a time or two at the chapel of Camp Mabry.
During this time the Steering Committee was meeting almost weekly in a medical office conference room sponsored by Bob Tate. There we hammered out the beginning of the church we were to become. Then Rod was able to secure for us Hines Hall at St. Stephens Episcopal School off of Bunny Run behind the River Bend Church. This was to be our home for the next five years.
It was charming and challenging. During the week it served as an auditorium for the school for the performance of theatrical productions. The walls had various colors and props throughout the years. At times we met without heat, and/or lights. On occasion, a dog wandered in through the open doors. Once our service was interrupted by a Life Flight Helicopter landing in the parking lot to take the father of our choir director to the hospital for emergency care.
We had wonderful memories at St. Stephens. Each Sunday we had to set up our hymnals and communion service supplies which, most of the time, were in the trunks of Rod’s and Diane Roberson’s cars. We had no storage at Hines Hall. We were growing and still looking for a permanent place. As we found out, the area of our search in northwest Austin held some the highest priced real estate in Austin.
Then, one wonderful Sunday, 12/22/1985, following our worship in the fellowship circle that we still have today, Tom Smith asked to make an announcement. Through some background work, and in answer to our prayers, Joe and Cherry Gray, whose home is on the top of Shepherd Mountain, agreed to make a donation of a portion of their land on which to build a church. They donated just over four acres to SHCC for the construction of a future church building. Now we had land! This moved us years ahead in our quest. We now had a location where we would build a church on Shepherd Mountain.
On 07/16/89 we had our groundbreaking ceremony out where our driveway is now. And on our fifth anniversary, 04/02/89, we buried a time capsule with memorabilia near our sign. It contained items of who we were at that time.
Our last Sunday in Hines Hall was 01/21/90. By 02/04/90 a multi-purpose building, including Gray Hall, our worship area, was constructed and we held our first worship service. It has served us well.
We wanted to construct a sanctuary, but our educational needs were growing fast. Children were everywhere. We had to rent portable trailers to serve as classrooms. We rented one, then another, and finally had three trailers on site. At one time we had between eighty and ninety children participating in our activities in church. We had to make a decision about the future. It was decided that we needed educational space right away. A sanctuary would have to wait. Work was started; finances collected and pledged. Thus, on 01/09/1994 we dedicated our Educational Building.
In February, 2010, we gratefully celebrated the expansion of Gray Hall into this our new Sanctuary. This is our history of twenty-seven years…thus far.
~Billy Tumlinson, Founding Member