Located within the Navajo Reservation in Fort Defiance, Arizona, the Good Shepherd Mission and Church of the Good Shepherd are an integral part of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland.
The first Episcopal service was conducted in Fort Defiance in 1889 by Bishop John Miles Kendrick. Intermittent Episcopal mission efforts continued until 1894, when Miss Eliza Thakara accepted the appointment as superintendent of a hospital mission at Fort Defiance. The hospital, the first serving the Dine' (Navajo), was completed in 1897.
When the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) built a new hospital, the Good Shepherd Hospital specialized in treating trachoma and eventually became an orphanage and boarding school for rural students attending the public schools. The building still stands and now serves the community as The Rev. Margaret Hardy Parish Hall.
The first separate church building was completed in 1908. It was replaced in 1955 for structural and space reasons by a church which is considered an architectural gem. Designed by renowned southwest architect John Gah Meem, whose works surround the Santa Fe Plaza in New Mexico, the church incorporates Navajo craftsmanship and symbolism. Services are conducted in both Navajo and English and seek to honor the richness of the Dine' religious traditions.
The Mission compound covers 48 acres and includes more than a dozen historic buildings. Meeting facilities are available as well as limited private housing. The Hozho' Retreat Center (a retreat/pilgrimage center which can host up to 16 individuals) and the Hummingbird Gallery provide opportunities for community outreach and development. The Mission is also home to several artists' studios, private residences, business offices, social service programs and a greenhouse/gardening program.