At their April 2013 meeting in Winnipeg the General Council of LWML–Canada approved payment of a grant of $1,000 to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Airdrie, Alberta, from the Mission Opportunity Fund. A group of Lutherans began meeting in Airdrie, a community just outside Calgary, about five years ago. Several vicars served them in partnership with Redeemer, Didsbury. A congregation was formed and received into membership at the most recent LCC convention in Hamilton. Last year Shepherd of the Hills called a candidate and received graduate Rev. Darren Dressler who had previously served them as vicar.
Recently God brought an amazing opportunity to their doorstep. In Alberta schools with a religious emphasis are accepted within the public school system. There are two Christian schools within the Rocky View School Division, Cochrane Christian Academy in Cochrane, Alberta, and Prince of Peace Lutheran School in Calgary. The school division has been happy with these schools and wanted to have a Christian school/program in Airdrie. They asked Shepherd of the Valley if it would head this up. The long and the short of it is that the congregation is able to run a Christian school (at present it is a Christian program within one of the division’s regular public schools) without have any of the costs associated with such a school. Pastor Dressler serves as school chaplain. It is similar to French immersion in that all the courses taught to registered students incorporate Christian beliefs.
This school/program is just being organized and 50 registrations have already been received for a fall beginning. While the usual school expenses are covered, there are extra things the congregation wishes to do to connect the children participating with the congregation as not all of them will be Lutheran, or even Christian. This grant from LWML–Canada will provide “welcome packages” containing a variety of Christian items such as Bibles, “The Story of Jesus” DVDs, personal prayer books, invitations to Sunday school and vacation Bible school, and other appropriate material.
As Pastor Dressler says, “This becomes an incredible avenue for outreach” and he thanks LWML–Canada for its generosity.