Bishop Samuel McDowell Shelton
Church of the Lord Jesus Christ
1929 ~ 1991
Bishop S. McDowell Shelton , a Philadelphia native was born on April 18, 1929, he was the youngest of his siblings and was raised by his maternal grandparents, Elder A.D. and Mother Ada McDowell. He was educated in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, school system and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from Rutgers University. He did graduate work at the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor o Divinity by Bethune-Cookman College, in Datona Beach, Florida.
In 1962, during the church's National and International Convention, he was elevated to the helm of the organization. His ordination came more than a year after the death of Bishop S.C. Johnson and lengthy court battles that were prompted from within the organization. Brother Shelton was elevated to Bishop and General Overseer of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith at age 33.
Prior to assuming the top leadership role of the church, he was prominent and heavily involved in the initial development of the administrative structure of the organization. Bishop Shelton is credited for bringing the church to a "debt-free" status, paying off enormous debt from investments made by the previous administration. His formal education, worldwide pilgrimages, and his ability to communicate effectively with all levels of mankind brought a new level of respect and dignity to the church organization. Bishop Shelton was granted audience with a myraid of global leaders, including Heads of State, such as His Majesty, King Hussein of Jordan; His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor Haille Selassie of Ethiopia; His Eminence Pope VI at the Vatican in Rome; Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, and countless others.
Bishop Shelton was a staunch supporter of education and as former president of the National Young People's Department, he founded and dedicated the Apostolic Institute in 1967, as well as the Apostolic Summer Youth Work program. He was very dedicated to his ministry and always looked for avenues to enlarge the church's name in the community. While gaining the respect of communities across the United States and in target foreign lands, he also engaged his members in tasks that kept them productive and striving for personal excellence. As a means of support for our senior citizens, Apostolic Village was built in 1971; it is a 32-unit independent living apartment complex that was built by the membership and stands today as a vital part of Apostolic square. Under Bishop Shelton's leadership and with the skill and talent of the members exclusively, new churches were built in Newark, New Jersey, and Ellendale, Delaware. Many other existing buildings and properties were both purchased and renovated under his dynamic leadership.
Having had no biological children of his own, Bishop Shelton legally adopted individuals from upstanding Apostolic families which he trained and groomed many for the priesthood, although familial ties are not a pre-requisite to assuming leadership in the church organization. Among his careful selection of those who were adopted, was the church's current General Overseer, Bishop Omega, youngest of eight legal adoptions.
The decade of the 1980's was quite tumultuous for Bishop Shelton and his congregation, largely due to an ensuing illness. However, he remained quite charismatic, keenly perceptive, and faithful to his church as his travel schedule and personal appearences gradually declined. During Bishop Shelton's administration, the membership gained a higher level of self-confidence, a greater awareness of the world around them, and the desire to enhance their personal development. Many of these attributes were acquired during such memorable sermons as "Miracles Like Success Seldom Just Happen, You Must Help Them To Come To Pass," "Why Pray?" "The Past Is Already Gone, The Future Is Not Yet," and "It Can Be Done!"
Bishop Shelton passed away at home in Philadelphia on October 13, 1991, after a long battle with complications related to diabetes.