On the night of October 21, 1956, seventeen persons gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene P. Lasartemay in Berkeley Ca, and voted to organize a church. The initial group soon grew to forty- two, all former members of Beth Eden Baptist Church of Oakland. They took the name of “Progressive Religious Workers.” Within three months, the group became known as the Church of the Good Shepherd.
On February 24, 1957, the Church held its first Sunday morning worship service at the Oakland Jewish Community Center. The Rev. Henry H. Mitchell served as Interim Minister. On march 10, 1957, the Church was officially organized by the Rev. W.C. Sample, Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, San Mateo, Assisted by Rev, Mitchell. The Women’s Missionary Society was also organized in March, 1957, with Ida O. Pleasants as its first president. Mrs. Ruthella Pollard was elected first vice-president, Mrs. Exie McDonald, secretary, Mrs. Alice Thomas, treasurer, and Mrs. Emma B. Dupree was elected President of the Business and Professional Women’s Circle.
On September 10, 1957 Rev. Mitchell and the first Board of Trustees, chaired by Eugene P. Lasartemay, began negotiating for the purchase of our present site at 52nd and West Street, and the Church ultimately purchased the property for 30,000. The first worship service in our present home, both morning and evening services, were held in the basement on October 27, 1957.
On June 1, 1958, Rev. James H. Stewart was installed as Pastor. During Rev. Stewart’s tenure, the Church acquired its first piece of property, today known as the cottage, located next door to the main building. Rev Stewarts resigned in August, 1967, to take up administrative and community responsibilities for the Ecumenical Ministry of Seattle, Washington.
For approximately thirty-three months, the Church labored without a full-time Pastor. Rev. W.C. Sample served as Interim Minister from November 5, 1967 to August 24, 1969. In March, 1970 a call to the pastorate was extended to Rev. Paul F. Thompson of Providence, Rhode Island. Rev. Thompson’s tenure with the Church commenced on May 31, 1970. On May 25, 1972, however, he returned East to take up the Challenge of urban ministry for the American Baptist Churches of New York State.
On October 1, 1972, the Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Patterson of Pennsylvania was called to the pastorate, and he has continued to Lead our flock for almost fifteen years. When he commenced his tenure, the Church had a modest budget and was struggling to regain momentum following the loss of Rev. Thompson. Under Rev. Patterson’s Leadership, the Church has acquired three more pieces of property, extending its ownership down the entire block on West Street to 47th Street. Rev. Patterson has been very concerned with the development of young people, and like Rev. Stewart before him, vigorously promoted the development of a youth ministry. Under his leadership, the church has looked outward and lent its support to the community through the development of an Adult Education Program, the creation of a Trauma Center at Children’s Hospital, and became the site for successive child care centers. Rev. Patterson also sensed the need for expanded parking and has moved the Church to the verge of achieving this long-held goal.