Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Church of the Good Shepherd, Fort Wayne (defunct)

In May of 1869, a group of Trinity Episcopal Church parishioners circulated a petition for an Episcopal church on the eastern side of Fort Wayne. It included a statement on the part of proponents that "in our judgment the interest of the Church within the present limits of said parish will be promoted by the organization of another Parish therein for the convenience and accomadation of people residing east of Calhoun Street ..."

The new church was born out of a wave of evangelism that swept both the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations after the Civil War. The election of Bishop Joseph C. Talbot as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Indiana in 1864 had signaled the beginning of a new evangelical force within the diocese. Talbot was strongly committed to the establishment of new missions and had railed against the fact that 67 counties in the state were without an Episcopal church. There was also a growing sense of the so-called Social Gospel Movement at this time, a belief that the growing numbers of impoverished people and the mounting sanitation problems faced by cities after the war required an ordered religious response for the sake of the public good. By addressing the needs of the transient classes, churches would help elevate moral standards and head off some of the social evils that were rampant.

The response of Trinity Episcopal Church was the creation of a mission called the Church of the Good Shepherd, which was recognized as a parish at the diocesan convention in 1869, Jared D. Bond and William H. Jones, two members, were seated as lay delegates. A meeting at the Allen County Courthouse led to the election of John Ryall, an Irishman and city engineer, as senior warden, and James H. Rowe, a machinist, as junior warden. With the help of members of Trinity, the leaders of the new parish purchased a wood-frame chapel on Holman Street near the railroad shops formerly occupied by Third Presbyterian Church, which had moved to a larger building. In order to raise money for the building fund, the women of the parish had sponsored a strawberry festival in 1869 that attracted attendants from the Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges.

Church of the Good Shepherd offered free seating and free musical instruction to its members. In 1870, the building was valued at only $1,000. The first rector was the Rev. John Lenoir Gay, elected in 1869. He left in 1871, when the Rev. Walter Scott of Ohio was elected. Scott declared that under his care between 1871 and 1875, the congregation increased five-fold.The Sunday School grew to 60 scholars in only four years. Financial support remained meager, however, and when Scott left in 1875. the parish did not have the funds to call another rector, and it closed its doors in 1879. The building was used for Temperance Society meetings until 1887, when it was finally sold.

The records of this parish have been digitized and are housed with Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Wayne.

Church of the Good Shepherd Parish Register, 1869-1875


John Lenoir Gay, 1869-1871
Walter Scott, 1871-1875

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