Church of the Good Shepherd in Wareham celebrates 150 years

Oct 17, 2018

For its 150th anniversary, the Church of the Good Shepherd will celebrate the deep, generational ties it has with Wareham while keeping an eye on the future. 

Started on April 26, 1868, the Episcopal church has members today with ancestors who helped found the church.

That history has helped forge a strong, faith-based community that remains welcoming to all, said Pastor Dan Bernier.

“We take Jesus’ commandment to love and we take it seriously,” said Bernier, who has been the church’s pastor for eight years. “We come here to be supportive not only of one another, but for the entire community. It’s what we’re called to do.”

The celebration will be held this weekend with a anniversary service on Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. in the church, located at 74 High St. A banquet will follow. On Oct. 20, a free concert will be held in the church at 4 p.m. Musicians and choir from the church will perform, led by Music Director Jeane Wallace.

“Music is a huge part of the community,” said Wallace, who was part of the church’s 100th anniversary as an infant.

On April, 26, 1968, Wallace, along with Edmund Wayne Cattabriga and Helen Elizabeth Nyman, were all baptized – to the hour – on the 100th anniversary of the church’s founding.

Wallace is the great-great-niece of William Wallace Griffith, one of the Wareham Methodist Church trustees who first gave permission for the Episcopal Society to use the Methodist Church for services. The Church of the Good Shepherd didn’t have a building to call home until 1883. Parishioners consecrated the current church building on Sept. 20, 1883.

Bernier said the church is an active one focused on the community with several projects ongoing now.

Two years ago, church members surveyed residents, asking what issues they feel are negatively impacting Wareham the most. Responses showed people were concerned about children and the opioid crisis.

Bernier said church members took that information and launched the Wareham Fighting Against Addiction Drop-In Center. Held once a month, the center provides many resources for those battling addiction or friends and family of those struggling with the disease.

Recently, church members have also launched “Homework Heroes.” The volunteer program aims to help students living in one of the town’s affordable housing complexes to improve their grades.

“We want our community to be strong, healthy and engaged,” said Bernier.

Church members also look to one another in times of trouble, said Maurice Parkonen, a fourth generation member of the church.

“We speak about our families and then we speak about our church family,” said Parkonen, a member of the church’s leadership council. “Each and every one of us is very, very important to each other, just like a family.”