History of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

St. John's has been around for over 130 years. In this section, you can learn about our past.

Brief Timeline

List of Priests

History of Church of Our Saviour

On a Sunday evening, August 28, 1859, a small group of men met at a house near the comer of West Main and North Washington Streets to prepare a list of names of people interested in forming "a Protestant Episcopal Society." Encouraged by the Rev. E. Livingston Wells, who became the first rector, the group sent a copy of the list to the Bishop of Connecticut, and the society became known as the Church of Our Saviour.

On September 2nd following, the wardens, vestrymen, and other officers were elected, and a church committee appointed. Construction was begun, and on April 10, 1860 the church was consecrated by Assistant Bishop John Williams. By this time approximately U3 families were on the roll, and the young church maintained a "Sunday School" of 73 pupils. In June, the "Ladies Mite Society," the forerunner of our Womens' Service Guild was organized.

The Rev. Mr. Wells soon moved on, and was succeeded to the present by 20 rectors and a number of clergymen, layreaders and divinity students who were placed in charge of the parish at various times. The longest rectorships were served by the Rev. Walter A. Debboli, 25 years; the Rev. Lincoln E. Frye, 20 years; the Rev. Robert H. Burton, 18 years; the Rev. Nicholas J. Seely and the Rev. Gordon W. Weeman, 10 years.

Chronologically, the more important changes or additions were made as follows:

1883 - Oaken re redoes and choir pews were carved and presented by the Rev. Charles W. Kelley.

1893 - Rectory built next to the church, the original one on Canal Street having been sold to the Castle family.

1893 - A chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew was installed; it was reactivated in 1955

1907 - The womens' organization, then known as the "St. Agnes Guild" purchased a bam from the Eaton estate across the street from the church, and had it moved to the rear of the church where it was remodeled to become our first parish house.

1911 - The present altar was given by friends and communicants of the parish. 1918 - A pipe organ was obtained from St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Cheshire,and installed in memory of the first rector. This instrument replaced a reed organ which had served since

1881; prior to 1881 a small pipe organ, the gift of St. Mark's Church, New Britain, was used.

1928 - A Young Peoples' Fellowship group was established.

19146 - Members of the Episcopal Sportmen's Club, which was organized ten years earlier, renovated the cellar under the old parish house and built what was popularly termed "the fireplace room” because of the gift of a fireplace by the late John B. Minor, Sr. This room served as a meeting place for the club and for other church purposes.

1951 - An electric organ was presented to the parish by Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Washburn as a memorial to Lt. Henry Stevenson Washburn, Jr., U. S. N. B. who died in the service of his country, in World War II.

19514. - The bell tower room was converted into a baptistry, a memorial to "The Glory of God and in memory of all those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country on the field of battle.”

1955 - A building campaign was started for the erection of a new parish house. The rectory as well as the old parish house was razed, necessitating the purchase of another rectory, and subsequently, the property on Strong Court was obtained. Construction was started on the parish house in 1957 and it was dedicated on

June 11, 1959 by the Et. Bev. John H. Eaquirol, Suffragan Bishop of Connecticut.

1968 - A new rectory was constructed on Hollyberry Lane. The Blessing of the new rectory by the Et. Bev. John H. Esquirol, Suffragan Bishop, took place on September l5, 1968.

1981 - A two manual Wurlitzer organ. Model 1800, built approximately $19k, was given to the greater honor and glory of Almighty God in memory of Jack West by his wife, Verona West.