The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously voted to designate the Church of the Good Shepherd as a landmark listed in the Beverly Hills Register of Historic Properties at its regular council meeting Oct. 3.
The church is the oldest religious building in the city and will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Dec. 12.
“I’m very humbled and honored to be the pastor at this time,” Good Shepherd’s Fr. Ed Benioff told the Courier during a brief interview this week. “Everybody in the council has been so gracious, so supportive, so warm and friendly. And I’m just proud of our church and of our city.”
Good Shepherd is the only Catholic church in Beverly Hills and has served as the house of worship for numerous celebrities over the years. It has also hosted the funerals of Alfred Hitchcock, Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and many other iconic names in entertainment.
“While it’s true that we’ve seen some celebrities pass through, one way or another, through that church, that doesn’t begin to account for the thousands of people, make that tens of thousands of people, who have found solace and comfort and joy and everything else you find, for all those hundred years,” Mayor Dr. Julian Gold said during the City Council meeting.
Over the past century, Good Shepherd has been a source of community and support for the rich and the poor in the neighborhood that sprang up around it. And when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted livelihoods across the globe, the church redoubled its efforts to help those experiencing hardship. At that time, lockdowns prohibited the church from hosting what had been a weekly soup kitchen. So instead, parishioners and friends of the congregation began packaging meals and distributing those to the homeless seven days a week. That charitable work didn’t just continue after restrictions were lifted, Benioff said. It expanded to include a food truck bringing meals to people living on the street.
“A church is there to help people in their need,” Benioff said. “In a global pandemic, there’s a lot of need going around. So we sprang into action. And I’m proud of the way our community came together for this common cause.”
That outreach is just one example of how the church has fostered bonds between those who live and work in the neighborhood. Good Shepherd partners closely with its neighbors, Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church and All Saints Episcopal Church, to host community events and promote interfaith exchange, Benioff said.