Modern American ministers have their hands full trying to cope with all the problems that are cropping up among their flocks, says the Rev. Robin J. Dugall, associate pastor of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 8575 S. Seventh East, Sandy.
The Rev. Dugall joined the Good Shepherd Church in October 1984, and since the church's pastor, the Rev. Tom Ashbrook, left for another assignment April 24 the Rev. Dugall has been in charge of the church's ministry. He is assisted by Tom Anderson, who is the church's youth minister.Good Shepherd Church, with a congregation of 1,600, is the largest Protestant church in Utah. More than 700 people regularly attend Sunday worship services.
"Our congregation includes 750 or more youths under 18, so you can see we put a great deal of emphasis on young people," the Rev. Dugall said.
One of his problems is trying to visit all of his congregation. "There are just too many to make personal visits to everyone. I depend on our church's lay members to help me in our youth ministry, teach classes, visit shut-ins, work in rescue missions and do prison and hospital visits. There are just not enough hours in a day to do all that is really needed."
The Rev. Dugall said he personally visits as many families as he can in a year and regularly visits those with special problems or who are ill.
"We have many families in crisis, many people who need counseling and who are facing a variety of problems and we deal with these people first, of course.
"I encourage our lay members to get as involved as possible in the church's activities. I feel like a shepherd, a motivator and a coordinator and I want all the volunteers I can get and I appreciate all that they do. I feel it is my responsibility to help people serve God."
He said Sandy is in many respects a transient community. People are always moving into the city and moving out. "We always have a lot of newcomers and we try to make them feel welcome in our church.
"I'm afraid a lot of new residents feel they are minorities and discriminated against in this highly Mormon community, and we try to show them friendship and fellowship. There is a great deal of diversity in our community and lots of different religions represented.
"I view my ministry here as reaching out to the community. The theme `That Others Might Know Him' is uppermost in my mind. I hope to build a relationship between the members of our congregation and God.
"Our programs are open to everyone. We are Christians first, then Lutherans," the Rev. Dugall said.
The problems of a large congregation and a transient community are only compounded by the complex modern American society that, the Rev. Dugall said, is growing more permissive, more promiscuous and more individualistic.
"It's really becoming a `me' society. People are out for what they can get for themselves and they don't worry about other people. This goes for companies, too, these days.
"More and more businesses are changing hands, merging with other firms or going out of business. Workers who have spent much of their lives working for one company suddenly find themselves out of a job and their companies don't seem to care what happens to the workers.
"But companies, on the other hand, seem to demand more and more allegiance and want their workers to be dedicated.
"One analogy might be that companies want workers to give two weeks or a month or more notice when they are going to quit, but will fire an employer today and expect him to clean out his desk and be gone in a few hours."
All this emphasis on "what's in it for me," the Rev. Dugall said, has made many Americans lonely people who don't want to give any of their time, energy or money to help others.
Paying too much attention to materialism, money, career advancement and pleasure has undermined many people's psychological foundation. "They have forgotten about God. God has little or no place in their lives and when they lose their jobs or their marriage partners or undergo some other crisis, they are shattered.
"People need to learn that God is their security and their rock, something to tie up to in a storm and a base from which to venture forth."
The Rev. Dugall said he is encouraged by a growing attitude in some areas of society that science and materialism are not the whole answer. People are beginning to feel that science has not and cannot solve all of man's problems and that, ultimately, spirituality may be more important for man's survival than science.
Sunday services at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church are held at 8:30 and 11 a.m. and Sunday school for everyone is held at 9:45 a.m. A variety of programs are held throughout each week. For information about the church's activities call 255-8181.