In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne,
high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Also I heard the
voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then
said I, here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:1 & 8
The Rev. Dr. J. Sherman Pelt was a person who knew, without a doubt, his
purpose in life. He dedicated and committed his entire adult life to
ministry and received joy unspeakable from doing the Lord’s work. Filled
with the Holy Spirit, he preached powerful, piercing and passionate sermons.
A willing instrument through whom God ministered to a world in need of
salvation, he used his God-given preaching, teaching and leadership skills to
the glory of God. He generously shared his time, talents and resources. He
was an extraordinary, yet humble, Pastor, Preacher, Shepherd, Teacher, Leader,
Mentor, Counselor, Motivator, Encourager, Intercessor, and Friend who made a
positive difference in the lives of countless men, women, boys & girls from all
walks of life.
Dr. J. Sherman Pelt was born on May 25, 1955 in Forkland, Alabama. He
was the third child born to the late John Sherman and Addie Mary Montgomery
Pelt. He spent most of his childhood in Clinton, Alabama and was greatly
influenced by his maternal grandfather, Mr. George Montgomery (affectionately
known as Gramps). Dr. Pelt accepted the call to preach the Gospel in
May 1973 and was licensed in August 1973. Under the pastorate of Rev. Finest
Gandy, he was ordained by the St. Matthew Baptist Church in Clinton, Alabama in
Dr. Pelt graduated from Paramount High School in Boligee, Alabama. He was
President of the Class of 1974. He earned his A. A. Degree from Selma
University in Selma, Alabama; his B. S. Degree in Secondary Education from
Livingston University (now the Univ. of West Alabama), Livingston, Alabama; his Masters of Divinity in Church
History from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC)/Morehouse School
of Religion in Atlanta, Georgia; and his Doctor of Ministry Degree in Christian
Education from Emory University/Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia.
From 1975 to 1979, Dr. Pelt served as the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church
in Boligee, Alabama. During that time he was actively involved in the Mount
Olive Baptist Association as a member and officer. He was also active in the
Youth Department of the Alabama State Convention.
Dr. Pelt pastored the Hill First Baptist Church of Athens, Georgia from 1985
to 1991. While in Athens he was involved in numerous religious and social
organizations to include the Northeast Baptist Ministerial Union, the Metro
Athens Ministerial Association, the African American Fellowship, the Northwest
Baptist Sunday School Congress of Christian Education, the City of Athens
Library Board, the Morning Optimist, the Athens Pastoral Counseling Committee,
the OIC Board, the People for People Organization and Lincoln Lodge No. 62,
Prince Hall, Free and Accepted Masons.
Dr. Pelt served as president of both the Northeast Baptist Ministerial Union
(1987-1991) and the Metro Athens Ministerial Alliance (1990-1991).
From 1991-2013, he served as pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Atlanta,
Georgia. While there he received several new and returning members;
reorganized the Sunday School, Wednesday Night Bible Study, Music Ministry,
Trustee Ministry and the Youth Ministry; instituted a Sunday School Teachers
Certification Program and new members class; established a Thursday Morning
Bible Class for Seniors and a Saturday Bible Class emphasizing evangelism;
expanded the Homeless Ministry to include a time of prayer and worship;
licensed, ordained and mentored a large number of ministers – both male and
female; ordained several new deacons, including the 1st female deacon; organized
a Ministry in Context Program to mentor Morehouse School of Religion students
and other ministers; provided the leadership in creating the Praise Dance
Ministry and the Health & Wellness Ministry; initiated an early morning worship
service, Summer Enrichment and Community Outreach Program; and started an Open
Forum and Leadership Council to keep the members informed. Additionally, as led
by God, Pastor Pelt was responsible for bringing forth the vision and
providing the leadership for building the new church on the original site to
accommodate the needs of a growing church and community. The entrance to this
new place of worship, learning and service was Father’s Day 2007.
Dr. Pelt was involved in several civic and religious organizations. These
include the Atlanta Baptist Association (former Moderator); the Atlanta Baptist
Minister’s Union (former President); Capital Ministries where he served as a
board member of Holy Smoke; Concerned Black Clergy; Atlantans Building
Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE); and Habitat for Humanity where he worked in
partnership with several other churches to build homes.
He was an active member of the New Era State Convention and the Progressive
National Baptist Convention. He lectured on a variety of subjects at various
local, state, regional and national associations and conventions. On the
National level he taught courses for Youth Ministers & Workers and Trustees. On
the state level, he taught Baptist Doctrine and African American Worship in
the Christian Church. Dr. Pelt served as 2nd and 1st Vice President &
President (1998 – 2002) of the New Era State Convention Congress of Christian
Education. His leadership was instrumental in the successful transition of the
annual Congress from Toccoa to the New Era Convention Center in Griffin.
Dr. Pelt was also involved in the academic life of the Atlanta
University Center. For twenty years he was on the faculty of the
Interdenominational Theological Center as an instructor of Baptist History and
Polity at Morehouse School of Religion. In addition to serving as President of
the Morehouse School of Religion Alumni Association; for several years he served
as an executive board member of the Morehouse School of Religion Alumni
Association. He also served as a Mentor (Professor & Mentor) in the Doctoral
Program at United Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio from January 2003 – May
2008. Fourteen (14) students received Doctor of Ministry degrees under his
On August 7, 2009, Dr. Pelt completed his sixth unit of Clinical Pastoral
Education (CPE) at Emory University Hospital. He was strengthened greatly
by this program which allowed him the opportunity to share freely his illness
challenges. He occasionally served as an “on call” Chaplain at Emory Mid-town.
Down through the years, Dr. Pelt received numerous honors, awards and recognitions.
Posthumously his honors include:
- The renaming of the Liberty Baptist Church Christian Education Wing to The J. Sherman Pelt Christian Educational Wing
- The naming of one of Atlanta’s Meals on Wheels Routes to The Dr. J. Sherman Pelt Meal Route
- The receipt of The Gardner C. Taylor Preaching Award from the Morehouse School of Religion at The Interdenominational Theological Center.
Dr. Pelt married his high school sweetheart, Mary Outland, on August 19, 1978
at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Boligee, Alabama. To this 35 year union two
sons were born – Sherman Tyrone and John Nicklaus. The Pelts were blessed
to share this earthly journey of life together in service to the Most High God.
Dr. J. Sherman Pelt passed from labor to reward on Thursday, October 31, 2013.
He shall forever remain in the hearts and memories of his loving wife, Mary; his
devoted sons & daughters-in-law, Sherman Tyrone & Cherline and John Nicklaus &
Chailoea; grandchildren, Andrew Tyler, Amber Tiffany, Johnathan Alexander & Christopher Sherman; four brothers, George Pelt (Sandra), Raymond Pelt (Deborah), Nathaniel Pelt (Jackie), Fredrick Pelt (Alena); one sister, Juanita Pelt Winters; two brothers-in-law, Curtis Biffle (Ruby), Phillip Ward (Cynthia); aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, colleagues, associates, students, former parishioners, and the Liberty Baptist Church Family. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. AMEN!