shep3In the fall of 1984, Westside Church of the Nazarene sent a group of volunteers down to Central Nazarene Church to do a Thanksgiving meal. In February 1985, that meal blossomed into an organization, formally organizing as Central Nazarene Mission.

In just a few short years the name was changed to Shepherd Community Center. Rev. Dean Cowles became the founding director and served as such for Shepherd’s first four years. Then, Rev. John Hay, Jr. served for the next few years. Following Hay’s departure, Cowles came back and served yet another four years. After a few years of transition, Rev. Jay Height was named Executive Director in 1998 and continues to serve today.

Through the years many programs have come and gone. So have many cherished staff members, volunteers, and family, each giving a part of themselves to another. The focus of Shepherd Community continues to be on serving the neighborhood on the near Eastside of Indianapolis. Today, many great partners continue to be a part of reaching our neighborhood. Each is working to make an impact in our community.

Shepherd Timeline

Westside Church of the Nazarene sponsors Thanksgiving Dinner at the century-old Central Church of the Nazarene at 1625 E. Washington Street.




Westside commissions Dean Cowles and twelve members to begin compassionate ministry in the old Central Church, offering food and clothing. Name changes to Central Nazarene Mission.




Name changes to Shepherd Community Center and Shepherd purchases warehouse building next door, adding 14,000 square feet.




Shepherd and Indianapolis Homeless Network partner to open the Day Center serving homeless men. Shepherd also starts summer “day camps” for children with 48 kids.




Jay Height named Executive Director after years as Director of Development. He is also named “Crime Fighter of the Year” by the Indianapolis Police Department.




Land behind facilities acquired. Playground, garden, and park installed.




Indianapolis Day Center for homeless men splits off. Shepherd concentrates on work with children and families.




Shepherd Academy launches with first Kindergarten class of 12 students.




Shepherd moves to present location at 4107 E. Washington Street, renovating the former Sahara Grotto.




shepherd_womens_group12007 Continuum of Care introduced; a 25-year plan designed to break the cycle of poverty in the second generation. The Continuum of Care is a full set of programs that allow us to be continuously engaged in the lives of neighborhood children, teens, and their parents. It is designed to help our families overcome the challenges they may be facing in all areas of life: physical, emotional, spiritual, and academic.




More than 550 women and children join Shepherd when a local ministry suspends family programs. Shepherd merges with Jireh Sports and Area Youth Ministry.




Shepherd celebrates 30 years of serving on the near Eastside of Indianapolis.