The ‘Ship’ has sailed on to Heaven

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

received a text message last week about 2 o’clock in the morning informing me that my pastor, the Rev. Jerome Shipman, transitioned from this world and ascended to heaven to be with our Lord. I knew that he had been ill for several years, but I was still shocked by the notification of his death. To those who knew him, he was fondly called the “Ship.” The name fit him perfectly. If a ship is designed to carry people and cargo over smooth and rough seas, Shipman was certainly worthy of everything the name embodies.

I first met him when he pastored the New Macedonia church outside of the city limits of LaGrange. He was a pastor to my father and most of my relatives. It was after the church moved into the city limits that I joined New Macedonia under his leadership and ministry. The Rev. Shipman paralleled the specifications and demands, essential for being a servant of God. At his funeral this past weekend, one of the pastors indicated that the Rev. Shipman did not meet a stranger and that he had done more than any individual he knew in LaGrange to promote positive, race relations. In fact, his going home services were not held at the church he had pastored for more than 20 years, it was held at First Baptist Church in downtown LaGrange. This was a very good decision. Several hundred people from all walks of life took time from their schedules to honor the “Ship.” Comments were shared by many concerning how he had been an inspiration to them as they developed in their faith.

Although it is obvious that he will be sadly missed, especially by his loving wife, Peggy, his going home ceremonies were more of a celebration than a day of sadness. There were so many people in attendance that one minister was moved to say, in honor of Shipman, that he told his wife that the only way to get as many people to show up at his funeral would be to host a barbeque.

True to his nickname, he weathered many medical storms that would’ve devastated most of us.

I remember specifically, his falling ill more than 15 years ago. When I went to visit him in the hospital, he had been placed in a medically induced coma. My worldly observation of him that day caused me to believe that my pastor would not leave the hospital alive. He shocked everyone. He came out of the coma a stronger person in health and in his faith. Shipman would go on and have many other episodes, but his work was done on earth and God decided that he needed the “Ship” to be by his side in Heaven.