Church of the Good Shepherd
The Racism Steering Committee honors the people of Good Shepherd, Athens in 1994 for faithful witness to the possibility of a non-racist Society. But Good Shepherd could win the award any year: this parish quietly, firmly, and lovingly provides an unwavering example by living the Baptismal vows.
They welcome people of color as neighbors and fellow parishioners, they firmly and clearly show the way of health when racism reappears in the body politic.
Three ongoing ministries in the past few years vividly illustrate this sane and holy companionship. For many years Good Shepherd has been a home away from home for African students at Ohio University. They are welcomed here with delight, and play a cherished role in the intellectual and spiritual life of the parish. And that hospitality is extended to people even more different from the average parishioner.
In January of 1992, Good Shepherd became the first Episcopal church in the Diocese and one of the first of any denomination in Ohio to give refuge to Haitian people fleeing the violent repression of the Cedras regime. With virtually no infrastructure in the surrounding community to help with refugee resettlement, Good Shepherd spearheaded an ecumenical coalition to aid four young Haitians who arrived with no English and no relevant job skills. With a severe housing shortage in the area, they had to be housed for months in the rectory. Athens County was in the grips of high unemployment, but Good Shepherd helped the newcomers surmount the challenge. Within a year, all had gained the knowledge and confidence to support themselves in Columbus.
Overt racism evokes a steady, informed, and visible rebuff from the people of Good Shepherd. Parishioners keep informed of problems through their work with peace and justice groups in the area. In the last three years, the Ku Klux Klan has staged or tried to hold rallies in Gallipolis, Pomeroy, and Athens. Good Shepherd uses the deanery network to alert people in the pews and call on them to act according to their Christian principles.
Human, direct, and constant, this parish's life exemplifies faithful
witness against racism and for brotherhood.