Biography
Rev. Dr. Horace Wesley Sheppard Sr. was born August 4, 1926 to the late Nathan and Henrietta Sheppard and was raised in a home where Christ was first.  Horace was the youngest son of ten children.  All of his siblings preceded him in death.  Just like Hannah gave Samuel to the Lord prior to his birth, so did Mother Sheppard give Horace to the Lord.

As a child he had an unusual ability to learn quickly.  He also loved the spotlight.  Consequently, for school programs he was often given long poems to memorize, which he recited verbatim while smiling.  And when he was finished, he'd take a bow.

Horace received his education in the public school system of Philadelphia, PA.  In junior high school, a teacher noticed that he had a flair for acting.  So he was given the starring role in the school's play.  The teacher was pleased with Horace's performance, but also quite puzzled because she barely recognized the script.  Someone had altered it by adding in some funny lines.  Yes, Horace was the culprit!  The teacher said, "Young man, you're going to Hollywood.  I'll see to that!" Indeed, Horace was a natural born comedian and actor.  And growing up in the era of zoot suits, wide brim hats, and watches on long chains, he aspired to become "the next Eddie Rochester." But God (and Mother Sheppard) had another idea!

One Sunday morning, while Emma Stevens was preaching, the Lord convicted him and he surrendered his life to the Lord.  He was tutored in the way of the Lord under the ministry of his pastor and uncle, Rev. Charles Watkins.  He was also heavily influenced by the powerful prayer ministry of Mother Elizabeth Dabney who taught him much about the power of prayer, fasting, and living a life of holiness and surrender to God.

As a teenager, Horace became one of just a few young black radio announcers, broadcasting each week from one of the largest holiness churches in Philadelphia, The Garden of Prayer.  It was while walking home from an all night prayer meeting at this church that he received and accepted his call to preach at the age of 17.

Before long, his humorous style of preaching and the anointing of the Holy Spirit caused many doors to be opened for him.  He conducted revivals and spoke for camp meetings far and near, becoming known as the Boy Wonder, the Atomic Bomb, the Little Preacher, and the Express, and various other nicknames.

In March 1953, Rev. Sheppard accepted the pastorate of North Philadelphia Church of God.  The Lord blessed the congregation to outgrow their building on York Street and eventually led them to purchase a larger church facility in Germantown.  On May 2, 1953, he married Peggy Patterson in Chicago, IL and moved her to Philadelphia.  Five children were born.  Years later, after resigning as pastor of High Street Church of God, Rev. Sheppard founded a congregation which eventually moved to 69th and Ogontz Avenue and became known as West Oak Lane Church of God.  It was at this location that West Oak Lane Day Care Center was established.

By the late 70s, the congregation had grown to the point of needing yet a larger facility, and under Pastor Sheppard's visionary leadership, the church purchased and moved into a larger former synagogue at 7401 Limekiln Pike.  It was in this location that Pastor Sheppard saw one of his dreams fulfilled - the founding of a Christian school (West Oak Lane Christian Academy).

After a pastoral career that spanned 45 years, Rev. Sheppard retired in 1998 and remained a member of West Oak Lane Church of God, honored with the title of "Pastor Emeritus" until his death.

From his teens until declining health no longer allowed him to preach, Pastor Sheppard served the Church of God and the body of Christ at large with distinction and was indeed one of America's greatest preachers.  He received various honorary degrees from seminaries and Bible colleges.  He was a prolific soul winner, leading untold thousands to Christ.  He was a loving pastor who served his members with genuine care and humility.  He was also a bishop before the title was popular, serving as a mentor for literally hundreds of young men and women who went on to become significant pastors and evangelists in their own right.  In fact, a list of those who were pastored, counseled, or heavily influenced by Rev. Sheppard would read like a "Who's Who" list of Christian leaders.

Pastor Sheppard finished his course with joy and went home to be with the Lord on Friday evening, February 22, 2008.

He leaves cherish his memory; his beloved wife of 54 years, Peggy; five adult children and their spouses: Horace Jr. (Linda), Patricia, Paul (Meredith), Gwendolyn (Newton), and Kenneth (Valerie); thirteen grandchildren: Brian, Adrienne, Nathaniel, Alicia, Joshua, Christian, Aaron, Charity, Chanel, Chase, Kennedy, Kaelyn, and Julian; and seven great grandchildren: Jade, Brianna, Micah, Roman, Samantha, and Samuel; cousins, godchildren, spiritual sons and daughters, three spiritual sisters, Frettie Fontenot, Ardell Thurman, Vermell Marchall, and one life-long friend, Preston Ham.  Pastor Sheppard was the last of ten children and among the host of his nieces and nephews, from his siblings, leaves to cherish his memory, Melvin, Stephen, Albert Jr., Priscilla, Eugene, Renee, Elizabeth, Delores, Michael, and Vanessa.