Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Fitchburg, MA

The Church of the Good Shepherd in (West) Fitchburg, MA will hold its final service on Sunday May 30th 2010. After that its’ folks will be folded into Christ Church on Main St. in Fitchburg.

There is a sad inevitability about this. Many changes in demographics and in life styles have led to the decline of what had once been a lively blue-collar/working class congregation.

I salute and affirm the decision of the leadership at CGS to fold their tent in West Fitchburg, and move a few miles to be part of a larger congregation. Earlier today I had a lovely ‘phone conversation with the Priest at CGS – the Revd. Karen Campbell. I told her that I rejoiced in her leadership, and that I was grateful for the faith and courage which has led to this new chapter in the life of a small congregation.

I was Deacon-in-Charge, then Priest-in-Charge, and then Rector at CGS between 1976 and 1980.

Here are my memories of three liturgies there.

11th July 1976

This was my first Sunday as CGS as a newly minted Deacon. (I had been made Deacon in Bristol Cathedral, England on 27th June in that year). On that first Sunday at CGS I made some kind of mistake in the Liturgy. I grinned, and said to the congregation “well, I have goofed up on my first Sunday here”.

They laughed out loud, and from that very moment we knew that “all would be well”.

17th December 1976

On that day I was ordained as Priest (by Bishop Alexander D. Stewart) at CGS, using the English 1662 rite. A friend, the Revd. Paul W. Goranson, was the preacher.

Many of the good people at CGS had (secretly) contributed to a fund so that my mother, Evelyn Povey could be present. It was joy upon joy to have her there.

When we got back to my apartment Mum said “I wish that your Dad could have been there”. (Dad died in 1974). I replied with genuine conviction - “his spirit was here”.

Mum made 7 subsequent visits to see me in the USA.

April 6th 1980 (Easter Day)

This was my last day as Rector at CGS.

Bishop Alexander D. Stewart had invited me to be one of his Diocesan staff members with responsibility for evangelism, and to be Priest-in-charge at St. Christopher’s in Chicopee, MA 

. He had made me an offer which I could not refuse!

I went “over the top” as I planned this final Eucharist, including asking a friend, Sarah Moran Smith, to sing Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate (which she did!).

There was the inevitable and welcome “reception” after that Eucharist. One by one the parishioners left, until there were just about ten of us in the parish hall. Then I “lost it”. I began to sob my heart out. I cried and cried at the thought of leaving these good people. (It was so stupid of me to choose Easter Day as my final CGS Sunday!)

These are holy memories and through them I express my gratitude, and my high hopes for the live of CGS folks as they continue their journeys at Christ Church.


  1. A GOOD Church with GOOD People. You didn't mention the wonderful visit in Decenber 2001 to celebrate your 25 years in the Ministry, another "Full House" I seem to remember.

    Bro M

  2. Nanajanet321@yahoo.com22 June 2011 at 14:16

    It has been a very long time since I have visited The Church of the Good Shepherd, although I think of it often, as I was baptized there by Mr. Frederick Sleep, married there by Mr. Wrenn (in what was the first time he officiated at a wedding as Rector of his own parish). I was a child of Waites Corner, but moved "downtown" at the age of 15 and became a member of Christ Church. Still, in my heart I was still bonded with The Church of the Good Shepherd - four of our children were baptized there. As our family got older we became more and more involved with Christ Church, especially during the years with Father Goodness and Father Whistler as Rector. Our boys sang in the choir, we were advisors to the EYC and Christ Church became home to us. But, as so often happens when one reaches this time in their lives, (our 3rd great-grandchild was born last night) as we sat on our porch today reflecting on our lives together, my husband somehow got on the subject of "wonder whatever happened to Christ Church Camp", so I got on my IPad and so it goes ........... An afternoon of reminiscing, and gratitude for all the good things in our lives and how we have worked through the unbearable times because of the influence some remarkable people we met starting with the Church of the Good Shepherd. We are living in Maine now and I'm sorry to say have not established a relationship with a church here. I will continue to follow your site.