Wareham pastor, homeless advocate says farewell after 16 years

Dec 3, 2018

For Pastor David Shaw, moving is a routine occurrence. 

He began his career as a youth pastor in Nashua, New Hampshire, and from there he moved to Warren, Pennsylvania. His next assignments would take him to cities and towns all over Maryland before bringing him to Wareham in 2002 with his wife, Lynn.

As the lead pastor at the Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene, Shaw dedicated the next 16 years of his life to serving his congregation and Wareham’s most vulnerable.

In November, he received a new assignment that will take him back to New Hampshire just days before Christmas. But no matter how many times he moves, Shaw said the goodbyes never get any easier. 

“Wareham was the first place where I felt I was genuinely a part of the community,” he said. “People knew me outside of my church, and there’s a sense of unity here I don’t think you could find anywhere else.”

A strong advocate for the homeless, Shaw has helped countless families and individuals find shelter.

Together with the Wareham Area Clergy Association, Shaw helped develop the town’s “Nights of Hospitality” program back in 2009. 

“We had a really cold winter that year,” Shaw said. “And after months of talking about how we could help the homeless, we decided it was time to actually try and do something.”

Together with three other churches, the Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene opened its doors to anyone in need of a warm place to sleep. The small program started out serving two to three individuals each night, steadily growing in the years that followed.

“We serve about 95 people each winter now,” Shaw said. “And they come from all kinds of backgrounds.”

During his time as Pastor, Shaw also worked to shift the Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene away from its education-based mission toward one that was more service oriented. Under Shaw, the church formed several missional communities, each dedicated to a cause.

“We have people who work with single mothers and another group that works with addiction recovery,” he said. “Our biggest goal is to reach beyond the four walls of this church.”

In line with that philosophy, Shaw also opened the doors of his church to nonprofit organizations in need of office space, including Turning Point and Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

Turning Point, a Wareham-based nonprofit, provides services to the homeless and near-homeless. Father Bill’s & MainSpring is a Brockton-based homeless advocacy group.

A public farewell service for Shaw will be held on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at the Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene, 6 Rogers Ave.