By Beth David, Editor
The Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopalian church in Fairhaven is closing its doors for good. The last service will be this Sunday, 9/24. Along with the end of services, the closure means the last chance for the public to be able to marvel at the Good Shepherd fresco.
The dramatic depiction of a shepherd with his flock fills the width of the back wall of the little church, stretching down about 10 feet and across about 20 feet.
Fresco is an art form that uses water colors on fresh plaster. That means the piece cannot be removed, and will go with the building. The vestry voted to close the little church due to finances. The last book cafe will be on Saturday, 9/23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the last worship service will be at 10 a.m. on Sunday, 9/24, both in the church building, 357 Main Street, Fairhaven.
The Fresco was created by Robert W. Bruce of Rangeley, ME, and finished on February 25, 1972. According to research done by Richard T. Clark of Fairhaven for an article a few years ago, Mr. Bruce wrote to ten churches named “Good Shepherd” offering his fresco at no cost, just a cot to sleep on while he worked.
Only the little church in Fairhaven answered him.
Mr. Bruce had been unhappy with the depictions, although few, of the Good Shepherd that he had seen. He felt they were not rugged enough for a man he imagined slept outside with his flock. He believed the shepherd was a rugged character, both strong and gentle.
Having helped his father take care of 1,200 sheep, Mr. Bruce felt he knew what a shepherd looked like.
The result of his hard work is a labor of love that is truly unique.
After the church closes, the building will return to the diocese, which will, no doubt, sell it.
Senior Warden Debbie Roderick said she did not know what would happen to the fresco.
Several members of the church will most likely gravitate to the Trinity Lutheran Church in Fairhaven, which often lends its pastor to the Good Shepherd, which does not have its own pastor.
“We have a close relationship with them,” said Ms. Roderick. “So we feel good about that.”
“It’s sad that it has to close,” said Junior Warden Lori Roderick Hadfield. “But I feel God will lead us where we need to be.”
She said she would be willing to keep the book cafe going if the new owners want her to.
“Again, it’s up to God.”
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