Dunedin FL 34698 (727)733-4125
The History of The Church of
the Good Shepherd
This will be an ongoing history of the church by records and input from
members of the Parish and the Community. In time a History in Pictures
will scroll on this page about the history both in the beginning and
current at Good Shepherd.
incorporated as a City in 1899. The earliest settlers there are records
of began arriving in this area in 1850. When enough settlers arrived,
trade began to develop as supplies had to be brought in and produce
sent out. Most of this was by coastal Schooners and Steamers. Dunedin,
which claims to be the oldest town on the West Coast of Florida south
of Cedar Key, had a good harbor, fresh water and a dock.
The first Episcopal services in
Dunedin, marking the beginning of our Good Shepherd congregation, were
held in December 1886. Our first congregation numbered about 16
persons. The Right Reverend Edwin G. Weed, consecrated in August as
Bishop of Florida, visited the community during the Christmas season,
preached, confirmed four persons, and celebrated the Holy Eucharist.
Following that visit the little congregation petitioned the Bishop for
missionary oversight, having raised $340 toward support of the work.
The Dunedin congregation was soon put
under the charge of the Reverend William H. Noyle, a priest of the
ancient Diocese of Winchester in England. Formal organization as a
mission of the Diocese of Florida was undertaken at a meeting in March
1887. The congregation took the name of the Good Shepherd from Bishop
Weed's former parish, The Church of the Good Shepherd in Summerville,
now a part of Augusta, Georgia.
The church was
built on what is now the corner of Edgewater Drive and Albert Street,
on land purchased from William H. Simpson. Building began in the summer
of 1887. Mr. Osborne was the builder, using lumber cut at Simpson's
sawmill in Sutherland, now Palm Harbor. The altar, lectern, and
original clergy chairs and pews were built by James R. Brumby of the
Brumby Chair Company in Marietta, Georgia, during a stay in Dunedin.
Two ladies, Mrs. William Simpson, wife
of the gentleman who deeded the present site of the church, and Mrs.
George L. Jones, sister of the Bishop of New Orleans, sparked the drive
to build. Construction lagged before "cupid" intervened in the lives of
two bachelor Englishmen. One was Father Noyle, who was pining away for
his beloved Amy Florence Thompson in England, and the other was the
widowed Duke of Sutherland, who wanted to marry his companion Caroline
Mitchell Blair. Father Noyle changed into his work clothes and used his
skills as a carpenter and cabinet maker to speed the project along.
Bishop Weed consecrated the newly finished church building just in time
for the marriage of both of these gentlemen by Bishop Weed on March 4,
1889. It is easy to confirm the miracles that can take place when the
power of women and romance take over!
Our Early Worship....
returned to England in 1892, as did many of the English residents here
and through-out central Florida as severe freezes devastated the citrus
industry in which they were engaged. This withdrawal of much of the
core of our membership, together with economic conditions generally,
caused severe retrenchment in the work of the Episcopal Church
throughout peninsular Florida. A number of early churches closed
permanently. Good Shepherd for many years was served by many different
clergy, often on an occasional basis, and generally in connection with
other nearby Episcopal congregations. It was often without regular
services for a considerable period of time. Into the 1940's the small
congregations at Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, New Port Richy, and
Dunedin were served by a single priest or, at times, a seminarian.
In 1947 a
temporary wartime barracks building was brought from Safety Harbor to
become our first parish house, and a vicarage was built. The Reverend
Charles Folsom-Jones came in 1953 as Good Shepherd's first full-time
priest. Under his leadership the congregation attained parish status in
the Diocese of South Florida in 1955. In 1956 a rectory was purchased
and the church enlarged. in 1958 land was purchased to provide for
future expansion and the church was moved to its present site and
further enlarged. The west wing, completing our parish house, was built
The 1960's brought the establishment of
a daughter congregation, St. Alfred's, Palm Harbor, and also marked the
transition of Good Shepherd from a period of rapid growth in a
developing area to its present posture as a mature congregation solidly
rooted in the heritage of the Episcopal Church, offering Ministry in
many forms to a largely developed urban area and also contributing
leadership in the establishment of the Diocese of Southwest Florida in
With the coming of the Reverend Terrell
T. Kirk as Rector in 1968, the parish turned attention to the expansion
of lay ministries, liturgical development, consolidation of resources
and modernization of facilities in order to meet changing needs.
Stewardship education programs led to early retirement of parish debt
and provided for purchase of additional property across Albert Street,
installation of a pipe organ, and extensive renovation and remodeling
of the church and parish house. Father Kirk retired in April 1991, and
Father Randall K. Hehr was instituted as Rector on January 25, 1992.
The parish family expanded and we acquired new properties. Property to
the south of the church was purchased and a few months later, a home,
the Lilliott House, adjoining the parish house became available and was
Father Hehr left Good Shepherd in 1998
and was replaced by Father Patrick Ward, who continued as Rector until
Williams came in 2003 to serve as Rector. Father Bob Williams retired
The Church of the Good Shepherd and ministry on May 23rd, 2010.
Becky Robbins-Penniman began as Priest in Charge on September 1, 2010.
Becky became Rector of The Church of the Good Shepherd on June
2nd, 2011. Her history with The Church of the Good Shepherd is just
beginning. Before Father Bob retired God had already picked a new
Priest for Good Shepherd, now we know who it is.