by Paul Baxter
Many pastors have climbed the heights of real and admirable ministry. The late Jerome Shipman was one of them.
I have never seen so many ministers seated down front nor scattered throughout the audience as at his memorial service last August, nor a processional that lasted perhaps 10 minutes, as did the one for this dynamic African American leader in our community. It may well have been the largest such service in the history of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange, Ga.
First Baptist pastor Cade Farris noted in his comments a spirit of unity at the heartwarming and soul-stirring service that included music, Scripture readings and testimonies.
Aaron McCullough, director of missions for the local Troup Baptist Association, brought the eulogy in a historic “white church” that on this Saturday enjoyed a congregation more black than white — yet was ever so joined together in our Lord and Savior in grief and love for this “man of God: Rev. Jerome Shipman.”
Aaron talked about how he had first met Jerome and what had transpired since. Aaron’s brother had invited Jerome to attend the Monday morning pastors’ prayer fellowship. Jerome indeed came to the fellowship, but didn’t know anyone.
As only Aaron could tell it: “Pastor Shipman walked into the church, dressed to the nines, sharp as a tack…. He said: ‘My name is Jerome Shipman!'”
From that moment on, his presence made a dramatic difference.
“God used pastor Jerome Shipman to singlehandedly do more to pull down the racial walls that divide us than anybody I know,” Aaron once recounted. “He led the New Macedonia Baptist Church to become the first African American church to join the [Baptist] association. Time after time he would have a joint worship service with a white church [in which] he would preach and his choir would sing. Because of him, there are now seven African American churches in the association.”
Aaron shared a dream with Jerome that “one day there will no longer be a black church and a white church — that there will just simply be The Church.”
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Source: Baptist Press