Local Church Celebrates 125 Year Anniversary
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church celebrated their 125th anniversary on Dec. 9, 2018. Though the name of the church has changed over the years for various reasons, it has continued to be the same church. On Dec. 4, 1893, First United Methodist held their first worship service in Winningkoff School House. On Apr. 22, 1896, they held their first worship service at Blythe Chapel Methodist Church at Winningkoff. Blythe Chapel was the first building the church built. Longtime member of Good Shepherd, Jeri Crowley describes this building, “The building was 30 by 50 ft. and named after the donor, Dr. Ellsworth S. Blythe, who gave the land for the building in 1895.” She also provides a glimpse into the community, “Winningkoff was its own little farming community. It had a blacksmith, a school and a drugstore. The church was a part of the community. It was a one-room, white wooden building.” In 1895, there were 27 members of the church and it was pastored by a circuit pastor. The church was formed to meet the need of Sunday School classes for adults and children.
In the 1920’s, a second church was built. In the 1930’s and 40’s, people went to this church by horse and buggy down a dirt road. In 1967, the church was moved to Lucas as First United Methodist Church of Lucas. The reason the church was moved was because the road to the other location would get muddy when it rained. The new location would be more visible and the land had been donated. The bridge on Winningkoff was not wide enough for the church to cross, so they had to roll it along on logs down a creek bed and then back up to the road.
On Apr. 13, 1980, they met for the first time in the sanctuary that is still used today located at 750 W. Lucas Rd. in Lucas. The name was changed from First United Methodist of Lucas to Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in 2007. The decision to change the name was twofold. They wanted the name to reflect that congregation members were not just from Lucas, but from surrounding areas and that all were welcome. They also shared a zip code with First United Methodist Allen and had been receiving each other’s mail.
Over the years, this church has seen the community shift from rural to suburban as well as cultural and generational shifts. Longtime church administrator, Cheryl Massey said that some of the children who grew up in this church are still here. The longest current members are Hazel Stehlin and Cindy Miller who both joined in 1983.
Brian McPherson became the pastor of Good Shepherd in 2017. He provides comparisons and similarities of the congregation of 125 years ago to that of today. “Then everyone lived their lives with the cycles of the harvest. It was an agricultural/rural church. Church was more important for religious and social activities. There wasn’t as much competition since there were not as many churches in the area. Now everyone can drive. Some of our members live miles away and think nothing of driving 30 minutes to come here.” Similarities are found in that the congregation of then and now both share the ups and downs of their church family.
Lovejoy parent and Seis Lagos resident, Jim Peters, has been a member of Good Shepherd for five years and serves as the Trustee Chairperson. He believes the church has survived 125 years because it is welcoming of the community, “People can sit here and talk.”
Massey has been a member of Good Shepherd since 2000 and the church administrator since 2007. She has lived in Lucas since 1993. She believes the church has withstood the test of time because of the faith of its people, “Once you’re here, you don’t want to leave. You want to see the church continue to grow.”
Crowley has been a member of Good Shepherd for 22 years. She has lived in Lucas since 1989. She helped gather information for the 125th anniversary celebration. She also maintains the website. She believes Good Shepherd has continued for over a century because of the faith of the community. “I’ve known those who have passed who were devoted to the church through giving and serving, that inspires me to do the same.”
Regarding what he thinks the next 125 years might look like for Good Shepherd, McPherson said, “Our task of making disciples for Jesus Christ is timeless. We are part of the ancient church. The only thing that changes is how we do it. We rolled our church over a creek bed on logs, now we’re on the internet. We practice hospitality and embrace all walks of life.”