The Garden of the Good Shepherd is a special place of remembrance located amid the bustling activities of the Church by the Sea. Here, the cremated remains of family, friends and even strangers are interred for perpetual care under the careful supervision of the Garden Committee, a service arm of the Board of Trustees.
The Garden of the Good Shepherd was opened in 1979 with the use of polyvinyl chloride vaults that were buried in rows across the grass-covered area. Through the end of 2004, the ashes of 114 individuals had been placed there.
In 2004 an above-ground columbaria was constructed with a meditation area providing a quiet environment for family and friends to remember those who are interred there. A stone waterfall with the gentle cascade of water recalls the peaceful promise of the “still waters” of Psalm 23.
The Good Shepherd Statue
Much of the original design of the garden was developed by Pastor John Pickens, George Wittenbeck and William Stoner, who devised and recorded the plan for interment. Some type of permanent marker was preferred. George and Maxine Wittenbeck, who owned Florida Bronze and Granite Company, selected the Good Shepherd statue from a catalog supplied by Latteri and Son Monument Company of Tampa.
The marble statue was created and then shipped from Italy to Tampa on a Russian freighter and hauled to Madeira Beach on a flat bed truck. Its delivery was briefly delayed because of an embargo on Russian ships placed by the Port of Tampa. A crane with a crew of men was required to erect the statue.
Members and friends wishing to secure a place for interment in the garden should contact the church office at 727-391-7706 to make arrangements.