Dec. 8, 1841 - 1918
|The Rev. J. L. P. Sheppard was born near Montgomery, Alabama, on the 8th of December, 1841; and was named for one of the most eminent clergymen of that day; Bishop Lovic Pierce.
The early years of his life were spent in the opening of the great forests of the country for cultivation and laying the foundations of the industrial life he lived to see. It was also given him in his young manhood to have a part in that great struggle where Greek met Greek and out of which came the unconquered men of the Lost Cause to take up burdens made doubly heavy during the days of Reconstruction.
We of today think we have labored and suffered much; but in our judgment history will record no fairer page of devotion to a cause nor deeds of. more heroic and spotless figures than of those both North and South whose sons and grandsons fight under the same banner now.
Brother Sheppard was converted in early boyhood, was ordained deacon in our church in 1876, admitted into full connection in the Louisiana Conference in 1880 and ordained elder in 1882. From the time of his entering the ministry until his superannuation in 1909 he served the following appointments: Rapides Circuit, Pineville, Ringgold, Vernon, Athens, Homer, Mansfield, Keatchie, Coushatta, Presiding Elder of Arcadia District four years, Alexandria District two years, Shreveport District four years.
Fidelity to his family, to his friends, to his comrades in arms, to his brethren in the ministry, to his church and its institutions, to his Master and Lord seems to have been the most noticeable and admired trait of his character. No task was so small but that in the doing of it he made it fine; nor so hard or heavy but he made it a joy.
Personally he was a man whom men loved and trusted in social life, in business; and even more so as a minister in spiritual things. Educationally he was a man who had no early advantages of school and college, but like so many other men of his day the compensation for the disadvantages came in assiduous private study, in breadth of reading in the choicest fields of literature. In the last few years of his life when infirmities kept him within, he was wont to read his Bible through in less time than a year; and in addition, the church papers, the daily papers, the best magazines and much of fiction. Socially he was a man of courteous bearing„ easily making trite and lasting friends, enjoying the company and conversation of congenial spirits of culture and refinement, but was none the less able to enter the homes of the humble and illiterate and find the point of happy contact and gladden their lives with his genial humor and helpful spirit.
As a preacher Brother Sheppard was ever painstaking in preparation, logical in presentation, pure in diction; lucid in exposition; warm and winning in exhortation; and when "Liberty" came in answer to fervent prayer sinners surrendered to his Lord and saints shouted for joy.
Along with Thweatt who founded Mansfield College and Keener who saved it from sale; and with many other great souls who have done much for the Institution must come the name of J. L. P. Sheppard. In the. hour of seeming disaster his faith never wavered; and he attested it by pledging his own property and word to save the College from closing its doors and from loss to the church he loved. Personally he solicited funds to repair and build and personally he directed every detail of the labor required. Wherever he went he sought patronage and encouraged the brethren in their endeavors to keep the college on the heart of the church as a vitally necessary institution in this part of Methodism. It is inspiring to us to-day that we have the example of his unswerving devotion and it was one of the delights of his last years that he could live near the college and see with his own eyes the fruition of his trying experiences in its behalf.
For several months Brother Sheppard was a great but patient sufferer; and the writer will ever hold in sweet remembrance the Sunday afternoon visits when he let "fond recollection" bring to view the days of his boyhood, the years in war, the days of reconstruction, the incidents of his early ministry, the recollections of the splendid men and saintly women whom he had known and with whom he had served. On memory's walls he hung no sombre pictures; in his flower garden he planted no thorns; in the cup of the wine of life he found no bitter; at the close of day there was light from the eternal day; and he entered in through the gates into the city.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1918, page 55-56, by. R. E. Bobbitt and Jno. F. Foster|