The Episcopal Church in Hilltown, PA

Parish Profile

Parish Profile

 

We are located in the Diocese of Pennsylvania where the Anglican and Protestant Episcopal Church of America had its North American birth.  The Diocese has been, and continues to be, at the forefront in discerning and responding to God’s will in the world.  The current bishop, The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutierrez, is energized to continue that heritage for the Diocese.

Good Shepherd is one hour north of Philadelphia, midway between Baltimore and New York City, in historically rich Bucks County.  Our environment ranges from a suburban “look” to a rural area seeking to preserve its pastoral farmland that was the bedrock of the area’s economy for so long.  This area of Bucks County has always been considered beautiful to many and a mecca for weekend getaways from the large industrial cities of the northeast. Vigorous efforts are successfully underway to preserve open space and natural resource locations that are the habitat for many forms of wildlife.  Among the favored locations to enjoy the outdoors are the Delaware River, several state parks and wildlife refuges in our area.

There is an abundance of educational and cultural opportunities.   Primary and secondary schools are superb.  We are close to the Philadelphia “Big Five” (Temple, La Salle, University of Pennsylvania, St. Joseph’s and Villanova). Nearby are Lehigh University, Lafayette College, Delaware Valley University and DeSales University.  Local museums and those in bigger cities have excellent attractions.

The residents of this section of Bucks County are primarily middle class to very affluent.  The needy exist but are not always apparent.  The population is “churched” with a healthy diversity that includes a strong Mennonite community that settled much of the area in the 18th and 19th centuries, a strong mainline Protestant legacy and a burgeoning Roman Catholic population.   

Our congregation includes members for whom Good Shepherd has been their spiritual “home” for nearly all of its existence as well as the most recent visitors. We do find there is turnover, thereby creating an opportunity to better understand why and to respond appropriately. The core congregation is senior in age and loyal to Good Shepherd.  The proximity of other Episcopal parishes is such that choices exist.  Our worship service on Sunday is attended by an average of 45-50 persons. Services are Rite II of the Prayer Book and are “informal and relaxed”.

Good Shepherd began among acquaintances who met in the living room of a young mother.  They wanted a mission, and eventually, a parish in the area.  Once established and guided by the Spirit and hard work, a mission was born.  In the 1950’s, when Pennsylvania’s one room school houses were auctioned to help fund bigger schools in newly formed school districts, the Good Shepherd Mission acquired a schoolhouse.  The congregation grew, the schoolhouse was expanded, and Good Shepherd became a parish in 1969.

With additions to the schoolhouse, and an early 1980’s building program, the physical plant is functional to the congregation and used by other organizations. 

From the time Good Shepherd became a parish in 1969, there have been seven rectors. Our current Rector was called in October 2019.  Some rectors have lived in a comfortable large two story colonial home on the church grounds.  

The personality of Good Shepherd could be described as caring, informal, a congregation wanting to grow, with everyone on his or her own spiritual journey. We always seem to be struggling for a larger budget and a better understanding of all facets of stewardship. We look for guidance to make our goals and ambitions a reality and are confident God’s will for Good Shepherd’s future will serve His needs in the community.

Our Rector will help to maintain the cohesiveness of our church community, encourage new members by fostering inclusiveness, strengthen our faith through Christian education and preaching and increase our compassion for the needs of congregants and all others.  Nonetheless, our in-house and outside outreach is formidable. Spontaneous responses to those known to be in need are noteworthy.  The parish’s outreach committee is an important conduit for these activities.

Currently the salaried staff consists of a 12+ hours per week Administrative Assistant/Secretary, a contract maintenance person and an organist. There are also a number of hardworking faithful volunteers.  The liturgy is supported by adults who serve as acolytes, readers and chalice bearers. Usually there are 2 lay persons vested along with ushers and greeters at each service.   Lay Eucharistic Ministers have an important role at Good Shepherd.  The number of volunteers for these and other endeavors can be increased.

Our goals and objectives are ambitious.  They are, and will be, supported by current and future members of the congregation.  An active parish family will support them with enthusiasm generated by our Rector. That enthusiasm will present itself by increased giving of time to volunteer for programs and activities, talent that is now undiscovered or unused and treasure that may still be waiting to fiscally support all of our challenges.  

Our mortgage-free church building and rectory are surrounded by 17 partially wooded acres with unlimited opportunities for expansion and growth. We have the indoor and outdoor facilities and space to accommodate activities.  Our Rector can be instrumental in helping us meet this challenge.

This is the place!  With the help of our Lord, we envision only great things for our future.  We want to share that future with our Rector who will help guide the way.