Friends, family, and clergy filled the pews at Israel Baptist Church where they praised the pastor of 29 years for making a difference in Ward 5. They came to say farewell to the Rev. Morris L. Shearin Sr., 77, a stalwart in the faith community, who died on Nov. 18 following an extended illness.
A native of Garysburg, North Carolina, Shearin graduated from Shaw University and later earned his Doctorate of Ministry from Howard University School of Divinity. After pastoring in several churches in North Carolina, he later became the ninth pastor of Israel Baptist Church, located at 1251 Saratoga Ave., NE where he served since 1988.
His extensive biblical studies, international travel, calm leadership and deep commitment to community service were highlighted throughout the service by political leaders, clergy and those he mentored including community activist, radio talk show host and fellow clergyman Mark Thompson.
He was praised by his fellow clergy in the District and North Carolina for his numerous awards and accomplishments that included: the establishment of a child development center at Israel Baptist Church, a STEM Ministry (Stewardship, Training, Evangelism, and Missions) and as a lover of music and a talented singer, the revitalization of the Music Ministry. He also built a 47-unit senior housing facility greatly needed by his parishioners and the residents of the ward and a state-of-the-art Community Life Center, named after him, that offers health care services provided by Unity HealthCare.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson nominated Shearin to the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission where he served for the past nine years and he served as past president of the Washington, DC Chapter of the NAACP.
Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie called him “a giant who meant everything to his community,” and thanked him for always keeping the doors to the church open to community organizations and events. A recipient of several DC Council resolutions, McDuffie said he was glad to also introduce a resolution naming the 1200 block of Saratoga Avenue, in front of the church as Israel Baptist Church Way, and another resolution declaring Dec. 11, 2017, as Bishop Morris Shearin Day in honor of his 77th birthday.
Mayor Muriel Bowser referred to him as “the builder of families and people, the restorer of hope and peace in this community, and the leaver of a legacy.” She described him as a “moral voice in city, political and civic life.”
Following the service at Israel, a second service was held on Wednesday in his home state at Cool Spring Baptist Church in Galveston, North Carolina.
Shearin leaves his wife, the former Bertha M. Cotton of Northampton County, NC. They have two children, Felicia and Morris Jr. and two granddaughters, Morgan and Alana. Pastor Shearin is also the father of Carolyn and the grandfather of Jualia and Jamel.