Good Shepherd originated from a school that was
established by Mabel Plaisted in the 1890ís to educate the African-American
children of the Tryon area. Deacon
Milnor Jones, who founded the Episcopal church in Polk County, constructed a log
chapel near Holy Cross Episcopal Church to accommodate the students as well as
to serve as a place for worship for their families.
In 1905, the log building was sold and a new school and chapel, called the Tryon
Industrial Colored School, were built at the current location on Markham Road.
The land and the new building were generously funded by Edmund Embury, a
member of Holy Cross. By 1907, the
school was serving more than 100 students, and in 1908, it was officially
received as a missionary chapel of the Episcopal Missionary District of
Asheville (Diocese of Western North Carolina).
It was re-named Good Shepherd Mission School.
In the 1920ís, the school began to board students that lived too far
away to commute each day. It housed
the principalís home, dormitory, classrooms, sewing room, science room and
chapel. Children were taught the
skills needed for them to be employable. Boys
were taught trades, such as bricklaying, farming and carpentry while girls were
taught sewing and cooking. The
school was closed in 1936 as African-American children were then permitted to
attend public schools, however the members of the church still used the
facilities for worship.
By the late 1940ís, the building was falling into disrepair, and the congregation needed to find a new chapel. It just so happened that there was an empty chapel built by Franklin Coxe for slaves who lived in the Green River area. This chapel, St. Andrews, was on the Coxe Plantation in Green Creek, and was built around the turn of the century. The members of Good Shepherd began discussing with the diocese the idea of bringing St. Andrews to Tryon as a replacement for the dilapidated building. It was a perfect match since the members of Good Shepherd didnít have a building, and St. Andrews had a building but no members.
In 1955, the abandoned chapel was
moved in four sections to its present location. The first worship service in the ďnewĒ Good Shepherd was
held in June of that year. Being a
missionary church, it was subsidized by the diocese and was lead by several
different priests-in-charge over the years.
The church became a full parish in 2003, meaning it became a
self-supporting entity. As a
result, Good Shepherd rejoiced when it welcomed its first Rector (a priest in
charge of a parish), Father Walter Bryan, in October of that year.
As the church evolved, so did the congregation. Although the original church was comprised solely of African-Americans, today you will find a church with members from many different ethnic backgrounds, of differing ages, and from all corners of the world. The parishioners of Good Shepherd are very friendly and the warmth they exude to visitors and each other is contagious. It is a place where all of Godís children can come together to worship Him in a warm and welcoming environment.