A fast-growing Southern Maryland church will soon be welcoming its second pastor. A special service will be held at Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church on Sunday Oct. 18 at 4:30 p.m. for the installation of Pastor Josh Olson.
Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church is located at 9463 H. G. Trueman Road in Lusby, with a congregation that is split 50/50 between residents of Calvert and St. Mary’s counties. The church held its grand opening on Sept. 10, 2000. The congregation met originally in St. Mary’s County and then moved to a temporary location at Dowell Elementary School in 1999.
Well before the grand opening the Southern Maryland Lutheran Fellowship, consisting of many of the church’s founders, began in 1997 holding bible studies in Leonardtown. Pastor Bruce Weitzke, his wife and five of their seven children, moved to Southern Maryland in 1998 to help establish the church. Pastor Weitzke, who came to the area from a church in Wisconsin, remained until he received a call earlier this year from a church in Wisconsin and accepted that call.
Pastor Weitzke led the congregation in a major undertaking, the building of a permanent new church. The striking blue and white church sits at the intersection of H. G. Trueman Road and Routes 2/4 and is visible from that busy route. Services began there in January, 2011 with the building’s dedication.
The congregation at Shepherd of the Bay (SOTB) Lutheran Church has been blessed to recently have the services of a retired vacancy pastor, Rev. Keith Kuschel. He will be attending the installation of new Pastor Olson, whose brother David will be delivering the sermon for the special occasion.
Pastor Olson comes from Peace Lutheran Church in Otsego, MI, where he has served for five years. Pastor Olson attended high school at Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, WI (class of 2000). He studied for the pastoral ministry at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN (Class of 2004) where he received a BA in the Pastoral Ministry. He attended graduate school at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, WI and graduated with a Masters in Divinity in 2010.
Pastor Olson has begun the move to his new home in Lusby with his wife Rachel and son Josiah. In his letter to the Shepherd of the Bay congregation in accepting their call to have him as their pastor, Olson said, ““I am excited to begin my work among you! The work you are asking me to do is challenging and exciting. There is so much we can learn about God’s love for us in Christ. There are so many opportunities for the congregation to reach out to the Southern Maryland area with the Word of God. I am confident that the Lord will use his Word and Sacraments to lead is to grow spiritually. I am confident that the Lord will use our efforts to bring others to the faith.”
Pastor Olson recently got his first look at the area and his new church during a furniture move to his new home. He said of that experience, “My first impression is that this is a beautiful and growing community that I’m excited to be a part of. I was overall impressed with the church building – what a beautiful, inviting, organized space.”
“I’m looking forward to working alongside people who are fired up about ministry. It seems as though the leaders and members of SOTB are working hard to spread the gospel and have a positive presence in the community,” Pastor Olson said.
In Michigan Pastor Olson enjoyed his free time playing tennis and building things in his garage. He is excited about the recreational opportunities available in Southern Maryland. “I’m going to love it! I can’t wait to try out all the great outdoor activities the area has to offer,” he said.
One of Pastor Olson’s attributes that attracted the interest of the Shepherd of the Bay congregation was his interest in youth activities. But, he said that won’t be his only focus. “Regardless of age, my goal is to help people grow closer to Christ through study of the Word, and closer to each other through fellowship opportunities, etc. Once I get to know everyone – young people included- I’ll have a better grasp of what areas we’ll want to focus on and grow in.’
The church has a number of annual community outreach events, including an Easter Sunrise Service at Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, and Spring Fest and Trunk-or-Treat at the church. This year the Halloween Trunk or Treat, in which vehicles line the church parking lot and their trunks are filled with goodies, is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 30, 6:30-8 p.m.
Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church is part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Sunday services are at 10:30 a.m. For more information about the church go to http://www.shepherdofthebay.com/