Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is with deep sadness that I write to share the news that Rev Allan Edwin Shephard passed away on Wednesday 30 May, 2018, at 88 years of age.
Allan was a key leader in bringing the structures and polity of the Uniting Church vision into the South Australian context. His ministry extended across three states in Australia, and was marked by pastoral sensitivity in bringing together people from diverse backgrounds, and by effective church administration.
Allan was a statesman of the Congregational Church, but his vision for the Christian Church was always wider, and eventually found expression in the establishment of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Originally from New South Wales, Allan became an accredited Methodist lay preacher at 18 years of age. At 19, he began a two year residential course at the Sydney Missionary and Bible College, while maintaining pastoral oversight of a Mission Hall congregation for 12 months. Allan spent the next two years as minister's assistant in the Revesby group of Congregational Churches, and later became an honorary pastor of Mayfield West Congregational Church in Newcastle.
In 1955, two years after marrying his wife, Val, he became the student minister at Mayfield West, attended Newcastle University College and read for the Melbourne College of Divinity. He was ordained at Cessnock in the Hunter Valley on 9 December, 1960.
In 1963, Allan accepted an invitation from the Congregational Union to go to the United Church in North Australia to share in a church development project at Nightcliff in Darwin. Nightcliff meant beginning in the dust, dirt and mosquitoes, but the congregation were young and enthusiastic, and the new church was established in three years.
With his growing family of six children, Allan and Val moved to War Memorial Church in Darwin. While there, he was instrumental in merging the Methodist Overseas Missions in Darwin with the United Church in North Australia.
In 1969, Allan came to South Australia where he spent seven years as minister at Clayton Congregational Church. During this time, members of the Wesley Methodist Church were invited to form a new combined congregation (now Clayton-Wesley Uniting Church). He also undertook significant leadership roles with the boards involved with the wider mission of the Congregational Union.
Allan was a key figure in South Australia’s preparation for Church Union, serving as a member of the Executive of the Council for World Mission of the Assembly, and on the National Mission and Evangelism Committee of the Assembly Commission for Mission.
He spent three years as a Field Officer for the Uniting Church Synod of South Australia, where he played a significant role in smoothly transitioning the merging congregations into the new Uniting Church. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Presbyteries in South Australia.
Allan returned to parish ministry in 1980 at Mitcham in the Urrbrae parish, before taking on the role of Planning Officer at the SA Synod in 1984. Travelling extensively, he served as a key resource person for churches and canvassed a diverse array of issues. His vast experience of local church administration helped to improve the Synod’s planning and decision-making, and the Adelaide College of Divinity asked him to prepare a course in "local church administration" for theological students.
Allan and Val were part of two overseas exchange ministries – an Assembly cultural exchange to the Madras Diocese of the Church of South India, and an exchange with a Methodist minister in a North Yorkshire country circuit.
Allan also served on several “Homes for the Aged” boards and a number of ecumenical committees.
In 1991, Allan concluded 20 years of service on national committees, boards, councils and meetings of the Assembly. His special gifts of humour, clarity and wisdom were deeply appreciated.
In retirement, he published a volume of prayers entitled “Prayers on Parade”. Allan’s final years were spent at Clayton Church Homes. He was an active member of Clayton-Wesley Uniting Church until his death.
The Uniting Church owes much of its life to the work of this passionate and faithful servant of the Gospel.
Let us hold Allan's family members – Margaret, Jennifer, Heather, Lynette, Warwick, Catherine and their families – in our prayers, as together they journey through this time of grief and loss. Pray, too, for the members of the Clayton-Wesley congregation as they grieve the loss of a former minister and inspiring member.
A memorial service for Rev Allan Shephard will be held at Clayton-Wesley Uniting Church at 10.30am on Friday 28 June, 2018.
In Christian love,
Rev Sue Ellis
Uniting Church SA