Good Shepherd Anglican Church is located located at Freeling Street, Tunapuna. It is one the oldest building in the town of Tunapuna, having being originally consecrated in November, 1886. For over 130 years, Good Shepherd Anglican Church has played a prominent role in the community of Tunapuna. Indeed, C.L.R James in his famous book on West Indian cricket, Beyond a Boundary credits the Good Shepherd Anglican Church as being fundamental in instilling and shaping the values. In his book he recalls that it was at the Church of the Good Shepherd:
…where I memorised the chapters and verses of the lessons so as to look the up in the Bible, where the last rites were said for my father. - C.L.R James Beyond a Boundary p 246
Other prominent members of the congregation at Good Shepherd have included:
- Winifred Atwell - pianist who sold over 20 million records.
- Lloyd Best - Prominent Caribbean Economist.
- Sir Courtenay Hannays (QC) - Distinguished Barrister
- Ann Wilhelmina Murray “Teacher Thynnie” - Author and Educator
- Dean Knolly Clarke- Chairman of the Inter Religious Organisation, Former Dean, Trinity Cathedral Trinidad.
- Carlyle Henry - Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago
- Reynold Cooper - Former Head of the Trinidad Public Service
Architecturally, the outstanding feature of the Church is its towering steel belfry and bells which could be heard as far away as St Augustine. The Church building has been identified for inclusion on the list of national heritage sites by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.
Origins of The Church
Prior to 1886, the only church that existed between St Joseph and Tacarigua was the St Mary’s Anglican Church. Rev. Alfred Ramsden was responsible for this vast area so meetings were held with influential Anglicans such as the Paseas of Pasea, the Greens, Mr Rose Augustine, Mr Cumberbatch, Mr Springer, Mr William Henry, Mr John Payne, Mr Mc Lean, Mr Joseph Warner and many others. Tunapuna was considered the ideal location for constructing a church building. The land was acquired from the government, plans were drawn up and both rich and poor contributed in their own way to the building of The Church. The initial building was made of timber and was in the shape of a cross consisting of a long central rectangular hall with no wings. Church was consecrated on St Andrew’s Day 30 November, 1886 by the Lord Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago, the Right Rev. Richard Rawle.
Over the years there have been a number of changes and improvements to the Church. The pipe organ, was installed in the 1890s and is still functional today. It was etensively refurbished in 2012. Our famous belfry was actually a gift from Mr. John Payne in memory of his wife. It was originally wooden and was later replaced by a steel structure donated by the Orange Grove Sugar Estate. This structure, which towers over the surrounding buildings was restored in 2015. The southern wing of the church adjoining the organ chamber was added in early 1900s and the northern wing, west of the Lady Chapel was added some time later. Both these extensions were timber. The wooden building was replaced by masonry finished with lime mortar in the 1920s. The Lady Chapel was added in the 1930s, the current main altar was installed along with new stained glass windows. Unfortunately these have been damaged to the extent that only the “Good Shepherd” stained glass panel remains intact
Restoration works on the church began in 2015 with the refurbishment of the bell tower. The second phase involved renewing our roof which after many years leaked profusely, and this was completed in 2017. The third phase of the restoration involved the restoration of the interior and exterior walls; church building repainted and the electrical system upgraded; installation of 14 new light fixtures; refurbishment and finishing of the 7 entry doors; upgrade of the ventilation system; refurbishment of the 22 secondary stained-glass windows and church pews. This work commenced in June 2018 and was completed in November 2018. This committee consisting of vestry members and other parishioners led by our resident expert, engineer Danielle Steele managed the entire process. During the time of construction mass was celebrated November under a “big” tents that was placed in the church yard.
The work on the church is not quite yet finished. Phase IV will address the ceiling of the Church, inspection and elimination of wood lice/termites, and the refurbishment of the elaborate stained glass above the Altar. We are confident that this work will come to fruition, as our parishioners continue with the Fund raising.
This rededication culminated months of renovations to the structure that has stood as a beacon of a hope and a light to the community of Tunapuna and environs for over 100 years. As one of the oldest buildings in Tunapuna, the church has withstood the elements, subject to the vagaries of the weather and climate. The church service was held on December 02, 2018 which was the first Sunday in Advent. his rededication service began firstly with the commissioning of a new foundation stone, and blessings and prayers at the threshold at the main door of the church.
All church doors were closed and our Lord Bishop knocked his staff on the door three (3) times, after which the service began with singing of hymns and psalms. Prayers for the consecration of the church were followed by the blessing of the font, the lectern and the pulpit. It was indeed a solemn yet celebratory service. The church was filled with well wishers, guests, parishioners, church groups, lay ministers, vestry and visiting priests. Many were thanking God for the ability to worship in the refurbished structure where the community can regularly gather to hear the word of God, to pray together, to receive the sacraments, and to celebrate the eucharist. The service ended with the congregation lustily singing the recessional hymn “The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord”. For all things we give thanks