WASHINGTON, DC – The end of an era has come! One of the senior pastors of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Rev. Dr. Vernon Antonio Shannon, has officially retired from over 55 years in service to our denomination as a beloved pastor and elder statesman.
On Sunday, May 21, 2017, Rev. Malcolm Byrd, Zion’s Chief of Protocol and Pastor of Jackson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Hempstead, New York, was the worship leader at Dr. Shannon’s final service as Pastor of John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church. Rev. Dr. Anthony Witherspoon, the President of the International Ministers and Lay Association and Pastor of Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in St. Louis, Missouri, delivered a profound sermon.
The service was celebratory and many were in attendance. All church organizations were represented in formal fashion. Members of the church presented the Shannons with a gift of twenty-five thousand dollars and the Board of Stewards planned a fantastic purple and gold reception that followed the morning service. If you were not in attendance, you have another opportunity in the near future.
On November 3, 2018, Dr. Christopher Zacharias, the present pastor of John Wesley, along with the members of the congregation, will pay homage to Dr. Shannon’s years of service with a spectacular recognition luncheon at the Martin’s Crosswinds Conference Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. We hope many in our denomination will be in attendance for this auspicious event as we recognize such a modest and compassionate man.
Although Dr. Shannon became the pastorate of one of Zion’s flagship churches, his childhood consisted of impoverishment, which never allowed him to forget the virtue of humility. Although his family was poor economically, they were rich in love.
In a town called Weeksville, near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Vernon was born the seventh of eight children to Hattie and James Shannon, a family of sharecroppers. As a boy, he worked in the fields from the rising to the setting of the sun. Because a mule killed his father when Vernon was two years old, his A.M.E. Zion church family saw to it that he and his siblings were treated with care and given provisions to sustain them. It was that same church family at Rebecca A.M.E. Zion Church, who scraped money together to send him to Livingstone College where his love for Zion deepened.
Young Vernon, a member of the Lambda Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, graduated from Livingstone in 1960 with a degree in Sociology. He continued his education at Hood Theological Seminary where he earned the Master of Divinity degree in 1963.
His ministry commenced during his years as a student at the Hood Theological Seminary where he filled various ministerial service roles; one of which was as a migrant minister for the Virginia Council of Churches in the state of Virginia.
He served as pastor of several churches in the Western North Carolina Conference: Ellem Wood, Piney Grove, Rocky Creek and Moore’s Chapel A.M.E. Zion Churches. While a Pastor at Moore’s Chapel, he led the congregation in building a new parsonage and the Zion Hill Apartments, a 50-unit housing development for low and moderate-income families.
Rev. Shannon has been an adjunct instructor of Religion at Livingstone College and Chaplain at the Veteran’s Hospital, Salisbury, NC.
In 1972, he was assigned to pastor St. Catherine A.M.E. Zion Church in New Rochelle, New York by the late Bishop Herbert Bell Shaw, where he served for 25 years. Many accomplishments are noted during his tenure: two of which were burning the mortgage in ten years and building a senior citizens’ housing complex named the Joseph Evans Towers.
Dr. Shannon is the recipient of over fifty honors and citations for community service. Community service for which he has been recognized includes: Co-Founder of New Rochelle Coalition for Mutual Respect, NAACP Board member, elected by the city of New Rochelle to a five year term to the Board of Education, and served for four years as Trustee to the College of New Rochelle. The College of New Rochelle also awarded Pastor Shannon the Doctor of Humane Letters Degree in 1993.
In February 1997, the late Bishop Milton Williams assigned Dr. Shannon to John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church, the National Church of Zion Methodism, in Washington, D.C.
Of his accomplishments at John Wesley, two of which were the purchase of commercial property in 2009, and completion of a major church renovation project in 2011.
In addition to his ministry at John Wesley, he has represented this church in the continental United States, as well as Europe, India, South America, and Africa.
During his tenure, he has served on many connectional boards in Zion as well as in the community. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the District of Columbia Branch of the NAACP and a member of the Advisory Council to the Mayor of Washington, DC. He served as a member of the Inter-Faith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, DC; the Washington Downtown Cluster of Churches, and Board Member of the Washington DC Hall of Fame.
Rev. Shannon has been a board member for Church World Service, and is a former member of the Trustee Board for his beloved Livingstone College.
Due to his affiliation with Livingstone, he was inducted into its Alumni Hall of Fame sponsored by the United Negro College Fund. He has served as the President of the Livingstone College National Alumni Association, and was honored by the Washington Area Chapter as an Exemplary Servant Leader.
In May, 2017, at the end of his pastoral career, Dr. Shannon was appointed as the Ecumenical and Governmental Liaison for the Philadelphia and Baltimore Conference of the Mid-Atlantic District by Bishop W. Darin Moore.
Dr. Shannon and his wife Mildred Foster Shannon of Mocksville, NC are the proud parents of three children: Lisa Shannon-Brown, Vernon, Jr. (deceased), and Bryan. They have three grandchildren: Shannon, Lauren, Kelsea; and one great-grandchild, Arianna.
As Longfellow stated in his poem, “A Psalm of Life,” “Lives of great men all remind us, we should make our lives sublime; and departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.” Rev. Dr. Vernon A. Shannon, a fatherless son, spent his life honoring the members of his home church in Weeksville, by serving Zion well. The end of an era has truly come, and he has definitely left his footprints in the hearts and minds of many. For this, he shall not be forgotten. Help us celebrate!
Please consider attending the Golden Anniversary Luncheon, or by sending letters of commendation, or gratitude to be placed in a special keepsake book for him.
For more information, contact Mrs. Marjorie Kinard at firstname.lastname@example.org.