In Apr. 19 issue, Russell County News
By Derek Aaron
Russell County News Editor
Reverend Louis W. and Lois Cooper Shepherd have been remarkable towers of inner power as they have worked with conviction in the Russell County Baptist Association, according to friend Betty Wheat, and are deservedly honored as this week's "Russell County Heroes."
They have promoted the Women's Missionary Union and their work for many years and still continue to do so after their retirement, Wheat said. Wheat nominated the Shepherds for this week's honor.
Louis is a native Adair Countian and a veteran of World War II where he served in the European Theater Operation in the 1940's with the eighth Air Force. It was during this time that he received his call to preach the gospel.
"I was in Europe when I had an experience and really didn't feel up to doing it," he said. "I went to visit the Chaplin in the service … and I don't think he really felt like I was a candidate for the ministry," Louis said. He said the Chaplin overwhelmed him with the thoughts of high school, college and seminary but he said he was bound and determined to prove the Chaplin wrong.
After the war ended, he soon decided to go to school and prepare for the ministry. He took and passed the GED exam and then enrolled at Lindsey Wilson Junior College. It was there where he met Lois. The year was 1948.
"Lindsey Wilson means a lot to us," Lois, who was a decorated student in high school and college, said.
They began dating and both entered Georgetown College after Lindsey and completed their degrees in 1950.
In the early 50s, Louis pastured Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Russell County and Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Christian County as well as several other churches, where he would travel on the weekends to minister.
"The traveling sure filled up the time," he said. Lois said he made $15 a week for student-pastoring these churches.
In 1954, Shepherd graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
In the meantime, Lois earned her Master's degree from the University of Louisville and taught for a brief period of time in Jefferson County. In all, she taught 37 years with the last 14 being at Jamestown Elementary.
Along with her busy teaching career, Lois always found time to be at the side of Louis, helping and supporting his ministry, according to Wheat. "She is to be commended for her support."
In 1956, the Shepherds moved to Glasgow where Louis began a 35-year career as an Associational Director of Missions which included Liberty, Pulaski County, Wayne County, Russell County and Freedom associations.
From 1962-1975, Louis served a director of missions in Pulaski County. In 1975-78 he served in the same capacity in the Liberty association and from 1978-90, he served the Freedom, Wayne and Russell County associations as director of missions.
"He was an encourager to pastors and his philosophy is that a call to preach is a call to prepare," said Wheat. "Therefore, he believed in education for pastors and certainly encouraged them to attend school in preparation for the ministry."
In 1985, his peers selected him as DOM of the year. In 1984, Lois was instrumental in the development of a clothing center ministry in Russell County. Through the WMU, the center opened 24 years ago and still operates out of the same location on Main St. in Russell Springs.
Upon retiring in July 1990, Shepherd was called to pastor Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. He served as pastor for more than eight years.
"During his pastorate, the first Discipleship Training Program was established at Mt. Vernon," Wheat said. "The church also grew in membership during those years.
From 1993 through 1999, Shepherd served as interim director of admissions for Russell County. From 2000 until March 2004, he served that capacity full-time.
"We give him much praise and honor for his years of service in this capacity," Wheat said.
The Shepherds had three children, Stephen, who resides in Nashville, Sherri, who lives in Louisville and the late Samuel Shepherd.
They currently attend Friendship Baptist Church in Russell Springs, where they were married more than 60 years ago. The church is also the one Bro. Louis was ordained and baptized in.
"I would be the first among many to say that the history they started 60 years ago has been a wonderful history," Wheat said. "A history to be proud of, a history that family and friends will revel and reminisce about for years to come."
Wheat said their priorities were easy to see, "their church, family, friends and community."
She said all of their priorities were guided by their religious faith and philosophy of life.
"Knowing them has been a joy and blessing," she said.
On April 1, the Russell County Woman’s Missionary Union’s auxiliary to the Russell County Baptist Association honored Bro. Louis and Lois for their many years of faithful service to mission causes in Russell County.
The event at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church was capped off by a tribute to the Shepherds by Wheat. Director of the Russell County WMU Patricia Richards presented them with a plaque honoring their service.
Richards thanked the Shepherds for a recent $1,000 donation to the Kentucky WMU Heritage Fund in their honor.
Bro. Shepherd said he appreciates the WMU more than they know.
“When you have the WMU in your church, you have a stronger church and you know you’re going to make it,” he said.
The presentations at Mt. Vernon were followed by Kim Foster’s rendering of a special hymn, “Thank you for giving to the Lord.”
Several in attendance also expressed their appreciation to the Shepherd’s service to the county.
Shepherd said his love for Russell County and the people here was undying and said that the county meant very much to him and his wife.
Wednesday afternoon, as they glassed across their acres of farmland where Lois was raised, they reminisced on the past.
“Time sure does fly by,”Lois said. Over their years of service to the area the Shepherds have made countless friends, friends that have lasted a lifetime.