Pastor Claude E. Shelby, Sr.
Pastor Claude E. Shelby Sr. was also known as The Reverend Doctor. He was a native of Brooklyn, Illinois, where he was baptized at the age of 11 at Southern Tabernacle Baptist Church under the pastorate of the Reverend M.S. Sykes.
Pastor Shelby was licensed to preach on April 13, 1958 at the same church he was baptized at, under the pastorate The Reverend Dr. E. Stanley Howlett. He was pastor of the following churches: Providence Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri from 1961 to1965, Second Baptist Church in Carlyle, Illinois from 1965 to 1966, and Bridgeton Baptist Church from 1966 to 1981. Following these, he began serving as pastor of Salem Baptist Church, the oldest African American Baptist Church in Champaign, in September of 1981.
His elementary and secondary education was received through the public Schools of Brooklyn, Illinois. He attended McKendree College of Lebanon, Illinois, and received a bachelor of liberal studies from St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri. He was awarded a diploma in theology through American Baptist College.
He also attended the St. Louis Theological Consortium, comprised of Eden Theological Seminary, Kenrick Seminary, and St. Louis University School of Divinity. He received a master of science in education from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville, Illinois, with majors in counseling and behavioral science. He received his doctor of divinity from New World Bible Institute, Hayti Missouri (Now Anchor Theological Seminary and Bible Institute of Edinburg, Texas).
Dr. Shelby gave extensive service throughout the various communities that he lived. He served on the Board of Education, Brooklyn School District 188 for over 23 years, 12 years as board president, several terms as secretary, and two terms as treasurer. He served as chairman of the Joint Agreement Board for Special Education, Districts 188 (Brooklyn) and 189 (East St. Louis). He served on the board of directors of the St. Clair County American Cancer Society, advisory council on campus development for State Community College. He was a member of board of advisors for Black Church Leadership Program of St. Louis University, Metropolitan College. He served two terms as president of the Ministerial Alliance of Champaign-Urbana and Vicinity. He has also served as a member of the Planning and Implementation Committee for Champaign Unit 4 School District. He was appointed to the board of directors of Canaan Credit Union of Urbana, Illinois.
On February 4, 2004, Pastor Shelby was recognized with a Crown of Peace Award by the Inter-religious and International Peace Council for exemplary leadership in reconciliation and peacemaking. He was one among others honored as ambassadors for peace who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to promoting reconciliation and unity beyond the boundaries of race, religion, and culture toward a new era of peace for all humanity. The Co-Chairs for the event were: The Honorable Danny K. Davis, U. S. House of Representatives and Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of the Council.
The Reverend Dr. Claude E. Shelby, Sr. organized the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Advocacy for Justice Committee in 1985, and had the honor of serving as this group's president at its inception and beyond. This organization sponsors the area's annual observance of the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They also foster the Living the Dream Scholarship Program, which usually awards up to 16 one-thousand-dollar scholarships each year for up to four years. These scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors of Centennial and Central High Schools of Champaign, and Urbana High School of Urbana. The thousand dollars are matched for those attending the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus or Tougoloo College of Mississippi. Since coming to Salem, Pastor Shelby did much to build up the body of Christ and to advance His Kingdom. Further, he led his congregation to construct a new sanctuary and educational facilities, including a community room where various community meetings are held.
Dr. Shelby has served as moderator of Wood River Baptist District Association, which is comprised of fifty-four churches across Illinois. It is the oldest continuing African American association of churches in the nation. He has also served Wood River District in the past as President of the Congress of Christian Education, and as dean of this educational organization. He has taught in the East St. Louis Extension of American Baptist College of Nashville, Tennessee and has been Director of the American Baptist College Extension of Champaign/Danville, Illinois. He has served as director of the Scholarship Commission of Baptist General State Convention of Illinois, which awards five one-thousand-dollar scholarships each year to graduating seniors of members of churches of the convention.
The Reverend Doctor passed away on December 8, 2012. His lovely wife, Montrula, was an ardent supporter of his service to humanity through his ministry. Together, they were the parents of six children: two sons and four daughters.