Remembering 42 Years at Good Shepherd
David V. Young
May 9, 2005
When Barbara and I moved into the neighborhood in the fall of 1963 I thought that I could be a Christmas and Easter Christian as I had been in the other places where we had lived. While this was neither the first nor the last time that I was wrong it turned out to be wishful thinking on my part. Good Shepherd has an inoffensive way of becoming a major influence on members’ lives.
We arrived with three children between 2 and 5 years of age. When the fourth arrived a few years later it seemed logical for her to be baptized here. A few short years later the oldest three were ready for confirmation, two on premises and one at the Cathedral. After that came one wedding, one funeral and eventually the baptism of five of our eight grandchildren.
Good Shepherd kept me busy too, starting with serving on a small building committee in 1968 to be followed by being an assistant for a Boy Scout troop in 1970. At some time in the late 70s I was asked to be a counter and when the head counter retired I had more experience than anyone else and inherited that job. Since I had been a computer guru since the early 50s, and also knew the counting procedures, when the time was ripe to computerize the pledge recording and membership records it seemed logical for that to fall to me. Probably the most rewarding effort was chairing the search committee that recommended engaging Patty Downing as our Rector. Of course her enthusiasm resulted in the need for a new Sanctuary so I served on the Building Committee as well as a term on the Vestry and since I knew all the computer systems it made sense for me to be the Financial Secretary of the Capital Campaign.
Barbara also was active at Good Shepherd. She served as a Sunday School teacher and as a member of the Altar Guild, and was the newsletter editor for seven years. At one time Good Shepherd had a Women’s Club which she joined and she has functioned as the consignment chair of the Fig Tree for more years than I care to count, as well as belonging to the Chimes Choir and the Book Group. Together we still usher and participate in the Lunch Bunch. At one time Good Shepherd had a couples bridge group which we enjoyed once a month for about 10 to 12 years.
Physically Good Shepherd has changed quite a bit over the years. When first constructed the building ended beside the stairs where there is now a door to the office wing. That wing was constructed during 1963 and the paint was still wet when we arrived. There was no parish hall either; that was not built until 1972. Prior to that time the door beside the kitchen was the exit out to the gravel parking lot. The kitchen itself had windows to the outside and a pass-through into what is now the undercroft. Now we have a new sanctuary and other rooms which were completed in 2002.
Many of the rectors are worthy of comment. Dick Faxon was here in 1963; he was the second clergyman to be appointed as vicar. The thing I remember most about him was his enormous hands, pro basketball player sized and very expressive. When Good Shepherd was upgraded from a Mission to a Parish in 1964, the first rector called by the Vestry was Al Livesay. He was a likeable man who had served as a marine during WWII, but his forte was education and counseling rather than being a Parish Priest. He was succeeded by Andy Keady. Andy was a retired D.C. cop, who, in that capacity, was the tough guy they sent in to drag the bad guys out of hiding. You didn’t miss many Sundays during Andy’s tenure as he would show up at your house and at best make you feel guilty. He started the Pentecost picnics and participated in softball games which put traffic on University Boulevard and houses on the other side at risk. Andy left for California due to his wife’s health problems. Al Livesay returned as an interim and was shortly followed by Jack Chamblin who served at Good Shepherd for 17 years. During that period we became acquainted with Shrinemont for wonderful retreats. And with Shrinemont came two organizations that have since ceased to exist. These were the Good Shepherd Players, a small dramatic group, and the “Un-Choir,” a well-named collection of folks with great senses of humor. Also, for several years during this period, the Parish took part in progressive dinners which were a great way to get everyone acquainted with each other. Another occasional event during the Chamblin years was a folk mass, usually led by Charlie Sumner who played the guitar and came up from Atlanta to be with us. When Jack retired, we called Linda Poindexter as an interim. Her husband, John, was undergoing trials and tribulations due to the Iran-contra affair. Next was Doug Simmons who stayed only four years but involved the elementary school age group in the services with his guitar playing. After Doug, we had two interim rectors: Ron Swanson, who was only with us for 3 or 4 months, and then Lynn Lundelius, who stayed about 18 months until Patty Downing was called in 1998.
Those not involved in the search process were sure that the committee and the Vestry had lost their collective minds. What on earth were we thinking by selecting a woman, in her early 30s, to be our leader. It only took one or two services for the doubters to come around, and now we have growth, particularly of young families, that is envied by most other congregations. Old-young, rich-poor, white-black, straight-gay, it makes no difference, not now, and not for the 42 years we’ve been here.