Young, energetic and personable, the Rev. Robin J. Dugall is just what the congregation ordered. He has been the senior pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sandy for two months now, and will be formally installed Sept. 11 by the Rev. Dick Magnus of the Rocky Mountain Synod.
The Rev. Dugall is no newcomer to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. For almost four years he has been the associate pastor there.In an interview Thursday, he explained how a Lutheran pastor is selected. The congregation, he said, has the power to hire and to fire pastors.
When members are looking for a new pastor, they select a committee. It is the responsibility of that committee to put together a profile listing the needs of the congregation. The committee then interviews candidates, comes to a consensus, and presents the name of the person they have selected to the congregation. A vote is then taken.
The Rev. Dugall said that in his case, he was the first person interviewed by the committee. After that first and only interview, the committee decided on him.
When he sent in his resume four years ago for the position of associate pastor, though, things were different. He found he was competing with some 30 to 40 applicants.
In looking over his flock, the new shepherd of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church said, "There are about 1,500 members in the congregation here. We have about 700 people attending services every Sunday, and half of them are children." He said the nursery is large, but the group from 5 to 13 years old is much larger.
The new pastor identifies well with these youth groups. While studying to be a pastor, he was involved in youth, camping and music ministries. He also worked for a national youth organization, traveling and speaking at retreats.
He also loves music. He plays the guitar in a nine-member Christian music group called "Chenanian." The group performs about twice a month and has performed extensively throughout Utah and other western states.
Two programs a month is about all he can handle, he said. "My job at church is pretty time-consuming." He described the group's music as "mellow" and very appropriate for Christian worship.
The Rev. Dugall said he first thought about being a minister when he was in the third grade.
"I recall my pastor talking about people going and serving God. He pointed his finger at the congregation and said, `You are called to be a minister of the gospel.' I thought he was pointing at me. From that point on, I thought it was a serious call from God."
After graduating from high school, the Rev. Dugall spent four years at California Lutheran College; then, after four more years of graduate work at the Pacific Lutheran Seminary, he graduated as a minister of divinity.
The Rev. Dugall, his wife Cheri, and their two children, ages 8 and 5, moved to Utah four years ago from California.
"My wife and I have been married for almost 14 years. She is an artist, photographer and calligrapher. She has her own business and works out of our home."
They arrived at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in time to help with building the new church. It graces the corner of 86th South and Seventh East and, said the pastor, is a "real eye-catcher." Designed by Brixen & Christopher Architects, it was completed in 1986. Since then, it has become a landmark in Sandy.
The church holds two worship services every Sunday - at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. In between, at 9:30 a.m., Sunday School classes are held.
An evening service is held Wednesdays where the Bible is taught. Communion is offered every Wednesday, as well as once a month on Sunday.
The Rev. Dugall said membership classes are held four times a year for people interested in joining the church. The classes deal with various aspects of the church. New members are then "received" during a Sunday service.
One of the church's goals is proselyting - that is, an outreach to the community by members of the congregation.
"Our slogan is, `That others might know him,' " the pastor said. "We would like to have every member who calls himself a Christian bring Jesus to those who don't have a relationship with God."
Another goal is to remain financially solvent. To achieve this, members are asked to pay tithing, make pledges, and/or make donations. "We like to consider 10 percent tithe as a minimum - a place to begin."
A third goal is "to tie up loose ends on our staff." Right now the church has only five staff members - a secretary, an administrator, a youth minister, a music minister, and the Rev. Dugall. He is anxious to increase that number to about eight, including a new associate pastor.
A fourth goal is to establish a sense of closeness among the large congregation. "We will be working during the next year with small group programs," he said.
"Our programs are open to everyone. We are Christians first, then Lutherans."