History of the Church of the Good Shepherd
Just prior to July 4, 1943, a tent was stretched out on the corner of Beecher and Oak St. with the idea of beginning a new church. Rev. Reuben Short, of the Archbold Evangelical Mennonite Church, had a dream. Vacation Bible School was the method. Andy Rupp, Lodema Short, and Lucille Rupp were the designers. Meetings continued for four weeks. By October, a small E.U.B. church on French St. was rented for Sunday afternoons. Andy Rupp went to Taylor University and interrupted his effort of church planting, but began anew the next summer with the help of Esther King, Alice Rupp, and Phyllis Steiner. In the fall of 1944, services were relocated to a storefront room on Beecher St.
A little house on the southeast corner of James and Beecher served as the church home in October of 1945. By this time, Alice Rupp has assumed charge of the church and a young Adrian resident (Iola Perkins) assisted in the ministry. Together they moved to 512 French St. where a home, purchased by Orville Short (Archbold, O.), became a small house of God and parsonage. July 17, 1946 was the date of the first service there, but plans were in process for a better place.
On June 12, 1947, construction began at the corner of James and Beecher St. Dedication of the basement church was Nov. 6, 1947 and Andy Rupp was the speaker. Rev. Reuben Cantrell, of the Grabill, Ind. E.M.C., came for evangelistic services and started a radio program on WABJ. After steady growth, Rev. Gaylord Gerig became pastor in 1949. Under his leadership, blueprints for a church sanctuary were drawn, but the superstructure was not complete while he remained.
As you see the acronym, E.M.C. you may be wondering what that has to do either with the Mennonite or Amish tradition. This small denomination came originally from the Amish tradition, which had come from the Anabaptist tradition of the Protestant movement in Europe. Menno Simons was one of the leaders, and people of the day began calling Ana-Baptists “Mennonites” in their disgust. It is also insightful to know that “Ana-Baptist” is a term from two Greek words meaning, “baptized again”, as the converted priests of the 1500’s re-baptized all those who confessed faith in Jesus Christ with an intelligent decision and not the will of concerned parents. From such a tradition Amish congregations were struck with the necessity of trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior and not depending on works for their salvation. Thus in 1865 several church departed from their Amish tradition to become Mennonite, but more appropriately, Christian.
Rev. Virgil Oyer began his ministry in September of 1953. He oversaw the building program and remodeled the parsonage. The church could seat 200, had a small nursery and a little C.E. space. This was dedicated on Dec. 2, 1956 by Rev. H.E. Bertsche, of the Archbold E.M.C. Later, Mr. Willie Hunter would serve as youth intern here, followed still later by Rev. Bob Hall. Rev. Oyer served 18 years until resigning to work in the probation department in Adrian. Rev. Hall took over for the next couple years before going to the missionfield in Japan.
On July 21, 1974, Rev. Harry Hyde pastored the church, fulfilling his internship for the missionfield in the Dominican Republic. In the next two years, the church was redecorated, and organ, carpet and hymnals were purchased. By-laws were written and a church growth survey was made.
The next eight years saw the ministry of Michael Seibeck, interim Nate Lehman, and Rev. James Swindle. The ministry slowed down a bit in this time, not for lack of good teaching, but just seemed to hit a snag. The neighborhood was changing into a depressed area and some folks were losing enthusiasm to be faithful.
A fellow student with Harry Hyde and Jim Swindle at Trinity Seminary (Deerfield) was Michael Goble. He served ten years in youth ministry before being called from Archbold, Ohio. He began serving on July 1, 1984 and has remained to the present. Miss Iola Perkins, a retired school teacher/ principal, who was still serving faithfully in whatever manner she could, became Administrative Asst. in July of 1991, having earned the trust of the people. Some remodeling has been done, and the church has more than doubled in size. It has realized a valid interest in missions, both at home and abroad. Often people come back to fellowship with the Lord or become Christians and remain for a year before being invited away to a larger church.
One of the first things Michael did was to locate inactive members and bring them back into fellowship. Then he had another church-growth evaluation by Dr. Kent Hunter. His major in-put was that we reposition to a better place, away from industry and completely away from the most deprived area of the city--22,000 population. At about 1990 and only six years later, it seemed natural to look for a Spanish speaking assistant who could help grow another church (at a different time but same location). In 1993 the 50th Anniversary was celebrated with hopes to gain some neighborhood attendees. We had a pig-roast and Andy and Esther Rupp were on hand for the great festivity.
In all this time, Pastor Goble was doing jail and prison ministry and was voluntary chaplain at Bixby Hospital, something he helped to pioneer in the late 80’s. Incidentally, he became the chaplain at Maurice Spear Campus in the year 2000, working about 4 hours a week there and keeping up with his other ministries.
In late 1998 and beginning of the following year the local state representative of 7 terms (and former pastor in the area) asked the church if we were willing to do a special project on the east side of Adrian that would enhance the community and raise the style of life. We dubbed it the “James Project” and wrote up a mission, goals, short-range plan and began using $10,000 that a local businessman promised for this work. The church was unafraid to try different methods to encourage growth, but the bottom line is, "building the church" is the business of God's Holy Spirit and the will of dedicated people. The church continues to pray and work towards that end.
We praise God for His goodness and mercy and trust Him for future and genuine growth.