Bedrock community church celebrates 100 years

The Church of the Good Shepherd, located in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, recently celebrated its centennial anniversary with an ecumenical service and anniversary dinner dance.

Having overcome all odds over its 100 years of existence, the church continues to thrive and looks towards new growth and capital expansion.

The church began with six individuals, including Herbert McCallion, its founder and first lay reader, who congregated in their homes for worship,

A piece of real estate located on East 238th Street (now called Nereid Avenue) and White Plains Road was initially eyed as home for the Church home of the Good Shepherd, and the cornerstone of the current structure was laid September 1915.

The physical chapel was dedicated on Dec. 25, 1915, and on Feb. 8, 1924, the Church of the Good Shepherd was incorporated and received by the Convention to the Diocese of New York as a parish. The Rev. Francis Sandborn was called as the first rector. It was at such time the foundation of the rectory was laid, along with a basement to facilitate Sunday School, and the lengthening of the nave.

In the 1930s, the church faced a very challenging time during the depression and the tenure of the second pastor, Chester Alexander Porteus, was shortlived as the church amassed more debts. It was under the leadership of the third rector, the Rev. Herbert Stevenson, who served from 1933 to 1952, that the church was able to pay off its building debts. Even so, the parish’s growth remain stunted.

A new day dawned upon the arrival of the charismatic Rev. Alfred Montalto in 1986 when he accepted a call to revive the dying parish, and under his leadership it fastest growing parish in the Bronx and the Diocese with 204 members. He served faithfully for the next nine years and was also recognized for the celebrations of two masses on Palm Sunday and Easter Day to accommodate parishioners and visitors.

The Rev. Canon C. McIntyre accepted the call as the church’s 10th rector on Feb. 19, 1998. and has been serving faithfully since.

Under his tenure the church boasts: continued membership growth and stewardship; introduction of a youth ministry; community outreach to seniors and, HIV/Aids victims; preparing men for the ministry — a collaborative effort that spans West Africa and health and other empowerment programs.

“I am very passionate about my ministry and I’m proud especially of the growth and achievement in reaching the young and most vulnerable in my parish,” Rev. McIntyre said.

“We have invested a lot in the music ministry and to date have added a four-Baldwin organ, a midi-grand piano and keyboard, formed a hand-bell choir and a youth steel an orchestra,” he added.

Fr. McIntyre has now set his sights on the physical and capital expansion of the church, which is earmarked to begin in the next to years.

Parishioners have accolades for the leadership and continued growth of the bedrock community church. They see it as a beacon of hope and empowerment not only to Wakefield area of the Bronx, but as far reaching to the other end of the world, Africa.

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