The Rev. Gareth Evans’s institution as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Acton was a celebration that reached far beyond the walls of the church. In addition to celebrating the institution at the Nov. 20 service, Good Shepherd spotlighted its ministry and partnerships, and offered gifts in honor of Bishop Tom Shaw, who plans to retire next year.
Good Shepherd is donating a washing machine to the Lowell Transitional Living Center, and 500 Thanksgiving dinners to the food pantry at St. Mary’s Church in Dorchester. The church also collected 101 pillows for the Lowell Transitional Living Center.
“We just had this huge outpouring of gifts in celebration of my institution as rector, our ministry as a parish and Bishop Tom’s ministry in the diocese,” said Evans.
The Church of the Good Shepherd wanted to honor Evans’s institution and Shaw’s episcopacy by giving practical gifts where they were needed most.
“As part of my institution and in celebration of shared ministry in the parish, we wanted to honor Bishop Tom and these partner ministries we have longstanding relationships with,” said Evans. “What inspired us was Bishop Tom’s commitment to spiritual contemplation and social justice. We see that as part of his lasting legacy to the whole diocese, and we wanted to join with him in that legacy as part of this celebration.”
Good Shepherd has been doing an annual collection of socks and underwear—playfully called “Undies Sunday”—for the Lowell Transitional Living Center for 17 years. This year, Good Shepherd hosted the Rev. Tom Barrington, the center’s chaplain and the former rector of All Saints' Church in Chelmsford. Barrington spoke at Good Shepherd on the day the parish gathered in the socks and underwear for the center.
“It became apparent to us that one of the things they needed was a washing machine, so we decided to donate one in honor of Bishop Tom,” Evans said, “It’s a gift that recognizes his commitment to those who are most vulnerable in society.”
The Church of the Good Shepherd has had a relationship with St. Mary’s in Dorchester since the 1980s. This year, the parish decided to make a gift of 500 Thanksgiving dinners for Dorchester residents, to be provided through the food pantry at St. Mary’s.
“We’re doing that in celebration of our ministry as a parish, of Tom’s ministry in the diocese and in recognition of St. Mary’s and their amazing outreach,” said Evans.
Shaw officiated at the Nov. 20 institution service. According to Evans, Shaw said that it was the first time someone had donated a washing machine in his honor, and joked that his mother would be proud that he had been honored with such a practical gift.
“I intend to get a plaque made for the washing machine, so folks will know that Bishop Tom had a hand in making sure that they have clean clothes to wear,” said Evans. “It was fantastic to have him join us for the institution, it made the occasion really memorable.”