Pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Church Susan Gaeta talks about the churches move from Groton to their new Ayer home in the Federated Church. NASHOBA
Pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Church Susan Gaeta talks about the churches move from Groton to their new Ayer home in the Federated Church. NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE/JOHN LOVE

AYER -- Shepherd of the Valley Church of Groton is settling into its new home behind the purple doors of the Federated Church in Ayer.

The two churches will share the building on Washington Street.

"It's a big thing to share space that's been so important to them and so sacred," said Shepherd of the Valley Pastor Susan Gaeta.

The church had been holding services at the Grange Hall for about 18 years. There were efforts to buy a building or find a partnership for a more permanent space, but those did not pan out. When the pastor of the Federated Church heard about the situation, she offered the Groton church a place to worship.

Shepherd of the Valley began Lutheran services at the Federated Church on Jan. 28.

Pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Church Susan Gaeta talks about the churches move from Groton to their new Ayer home in the Federated Church.
Pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Church Susan Gaeta talks about the churches move from Groton to their new Ayer home in the Federated Church.

It worships in the sanctuary on the second floor and the Federated church holds United Methodist services in the parish on the first floor.

"It's a dance of finding out how to share this space together," Gaeta said. "We call each other 'church mates.'"

Moving in has been a slow process. Storage from Groton has been brought over. The church's electronic piano that is used for services was moved to the sanctuary. Gaeta is in the process of getting an office in the building.

Before the move, Shepherd of the Valley held a baptism and a Reformation Sunday service at the Federated Church. Giving members a chance to see the building beforehand helped when the decision came to relocate, she said.


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Members of the church come from Shirley, Ayer, and Groton.

Gaeta, who became pastor of the church in 2016, previously worked in Washington D.C. for the Lutheran Volunteer Corps on social justice service projects.

The move to Massachusetts and the church's relocation to Ayer were the result of God's hand, she said.

Gaeta was also interested in coming to Ayer because it is a growing town. She looks forward to welcoming more worshipers by hanging a Shepherd of the Valley banner outside the building.

Some of the events the church had in Groton will continue in Ayer, Gaeta said. There will be Easter services and an egg hunt that tells the Biblical story about the day. In the summer, the church will host its vacation bible school.

While Shepherd of the Valley is grateful to share the space, Gaeta said staying at the Federated Church isn't permanent. They have an agreement that will likely be on a year-to-year basis.

In the mean time, Gaeta hopes the two churches forge a partnership.

"We're building each other up," she said.