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Service honors late pastor Shackleford
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The Canary Harmonizers sang songs of praise Monday at Saint Paul High Street Baptist Church at a memorial service for the late Rev. William A. Shackleford Sr. (Bulletin photo by Ben R. Williams)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The late Rev. William A. Shackleford Sr. was remembered Monday evening not only as a spiritual leader, but also a civic leader in the community.

The memorial service, which was sponsored by the Martinsville-Henry County Ministerial Association, was held at Saint Paul High Street Baptist Church in Martinsville.

Shackleford, 66, had served as pastor at the church for 27 years before moving to Hampton with his wife, Rebecca Shackleford, in February 2013 in order to be closer to their two children and grandchildren.

Shackleford died June 18.

“We’re very thankful for the effectiveness and the productivity of his pastoral assignment that included ... the St. Paul High Street Baptist Church,” Bishop James C. Richardson said. “We’re grateful that this servant embodied a vision of ministry that was outside of these four walls and beyond the parishioners of this congregation.”

Richardson listed many of the civic responsibilities that Shackleford had held. He was a chairman of the Martinsville School Board; a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge Board; an Advisory Council member of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministries; a past president and current chairman of the board of the Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress of Virginia; and past president of the Virginia One Church One Child Minority Adoption Program, among other accomplishments.

“Thank you, Lord, for a soldier in the army of the Lord, who never saw retirement until You said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant,’” Richardson said. “Our mourning has been changed to rejoicing over the life, the service and the ministries of William A. Shackleford.”

“It’s appropriate that we gather for Rev. Shackleford, our brother ... who poured so much into this community,” the Rev. Tyler Millner said. “Rev. Shackleford had the distinct honor of being the first Afro-American to be the chairman of the Martinsville School Board. Bishop Richardson is continuing that tradition of service (on the board) as well ... but there can be just one first.”

Bishop John Campbell Jr. expressed thanks for Shackleford’s works and deeds, saying that he was a man who embraced — and was embraced by — all who met him.

“He was concerned for all,” Campbell said. “No race, no creed, no origin was discriminatory against him. Lord, we thank you tonight for every kind deed that he has done for our community. Every board, every committee, every organization that he participated in. Thank you for the impact he made on our lives, in our churches, in our communities, in our schools, even in our own homes. Lord, we will never forget this servant of God. May his work speak for him.”

Rev. Bonnylee Witt, a 12-year member of the Ministerial Association, said she always was happy to see Shackleford at the organization’s meetings.

“I always felt so comforted when he arrived at the Ministerial Association every month,” she said. “Just to see him walk in, his presence, and to know all the wonderful ministries that he was involved in.”

Witt also directed gratitude toward Rebecca Shackleford, who attended Monday’s service.

“She is just instrumental to us all,” Witt said. “Her beautiful face just glows with God’s spirit anytime you need her. Her heart is filled with compassion and mercy for her community.”

“We give thanks to you, oh God,” an emotional Witt said, “for sharing with us your beloved disciple William A. Shackleford, forever etched in our hearts.”

Other speakers at the event included Rev. James R. Rudd, Rev. Theodore Foster and Minister Lardenia Campbell.

Music was performed by The Canary Harmonizers, Rev. G. Joseph Carter and Shirley Marsh.

Rev. Jane Johnson, president of the Ministerial Association, was slated to speak but was unable to attend due to illness.


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