Bishop Beverly Shamana – In Memoriam

Nov. 4, 1939 – Aug. 1, 2021

Presiding Bishop’s schedules are such that securing a date for a visit to one’s church takes months if not a year of planning. By sheer coincidence, Northern California-Nevada’s Bishop Beverly Shamana was scheduled to preach at Los Altos UMC on September 16, 2001. The Sunday following 9/11. The church was packed, standing room only, as the community flocked for a word of comfort and meaning in the face of the horrific terrorist attacks. This happened in churches across the country. Bishop delivered a powerful sermon at all three morning services. She helped us grieve. She warned us of the pull of vengeance and anger, asking “how many would be lost” in the fever of revenge. As she left exhausted, she was accosted in the parking lot by a reporter from the San Jose Mercury News, asking for a comment on her sermon. She replied, twice, “there will be blood on our hands”. Now, twenty years later, following the debacle of violence in our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, her words were certainly prophetic.

It was my privilege to be Senior Pastor of LAUMC on that day and to serve as the chairperson of the Episcopacy Committee during her eight-year tenure. With the announcement of her death, Bishop Shamana will be remembered and honored for her pastoral care, her commitment to justice, and her passion for art and spirituality.  She loved that one of her pastors was an active potter and we traded pieces; one of my raku sculptures for one of her decorated gourds, for which she is famous. Her gentle strength will be missed in our denomination. May God grant her family and friends grace and peace in her passing.  For those of us who go on, may her example remind us to listen to the voice of blessed peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) in real-time rather than in hindsight. 

– Pastor Emeritus Mark Bollwinkel