On the morning of January 4, 2022, Rev. Dr. Robert P. Shine, longtime pastor of Berachah Baptist Church in West Oak Lane, made transition at the age of 83 after a short illness with cancer that had been in remission.
Shine was one of 16 children born to his parents, Benjamin and Estelle Shine. Educated in Philadelphia Public Schools, he graduated from Germantown High School in 1958.
At the tender age of 8, young Robert started preaching. But, still so small, he had to stand on a milk crate to deliver his message. In 1971, Shine was ordained by the late George Lyshon, at which time he accepted the pastorate at the New Umbria Baptist Church, where he served for 15 years. During that time, Shine established a church in Kingston, Jamaica.
On May 27, 1985, he assembled a group of 27 believers, who met at the home of Delores and Diane Shine, for the purpose of organizing a church. That’s when Berachah Baptist Church was born. Their first church service was held Sunday, June 16, 1985 at the Manna Bible Institute chapel.
Berachah Baptist Church was officially recognized as a Christian Baptist Church on Sunday, September 26, 1985. The service was held at Philippian Baptist Church under the late Rev. Dr. A. Amos Brackeen. Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode delivered the greetings. Over his years of pastoring, Shine ordained and licensed over 30 men and women into the ministry.
Throughout his life, Shine pursued higher education. He attended Philadelphia Community College, La Salle University, the Center for Urban Theological Studies, now Lancaster Bible College, and Antioch College. He graduated from Manna Bible Institute in 1971.
An honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree was bestowed upon him in 1993 from Martha’s Vineyard University. He was a member of numerous organizations, too many to list.
In his private life, Shine was employed for years by Prudential Insurance Company and then later by Merck.
The eldest daughter of Rev. Shine, Minister Robin Shine Maddox, reflected on her father’s life.
“There were many causes that my dad attached himself to,” she said. “One of the things he stood up against was institutional corporate racism in America. He stood up for a better quality Christian education. He was big on getting information out to the African American community about HIV/AIDS, and on clean needle programs for those addicted to drugs. While he served on many boards and was part of a long list of organizations that do good work in the community and in the church, one of his favorite organizations he served with was the West Oak Lane Community Improvement organization’s board of directors. I guess he was so fond of that group because he lived in the Germantown and West Oak Lane areas of the city all his life.
He was also very passionate about his position on the board of directors for the Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence.”
“Some years ago, when I was very ill — I’ll never forget — it was Rev. Shine that was the first pastor who came to see me and pray with me,” recalled Rev. John Roberts, pastor emeritus of the Garden of Prayer World Center. “After that he kept calling me — even once I was released from the hospital — to pray with me and make sure I was recovering. That touched my heart.It was because of Rev. Shine that I became active with the Black Clergy organization. There’s a number of clergy organizations in our city and they all serve a purpose. I was pretty active in a couple of the other clergy organizations, so people didn’t see me at Black Clergy meetings although I always supported them. Once Shine became president, that was it. Shine let me know in no uncertain terms, he needed me on board not just as a member, but to do some work. I’m going to miss my friend.”
“To read Rev. Dr. Robert Shine’s obituary is like reading the story of a man who was large and in charge,” said current president of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, Rev. Robert Collier, Sr. “Dr. Shine was a very close friend of mine.
He was the reason I first joined the Black Clergy organization. I trusted his leadership. I admired his work and his preaching. I appreciate all that he did to help lift up our African American community in Philadelphia.
As I look back over the last 12 months, I am so glad that Dr. Shine was able to join Black Clergy when we hosted an anniversary celebration for our organization. We had almost all of the Black Clergy past presidents who are still with us join us on a Zoom call as we painted a picture on Zoom of the history of our organization and some of the many concerns that we have tackled over the years not only in Philadelphia, but across Pennsylvania, in some instances.”
“Rev. Shine and I were very close.” said Rev. James Fordham, a longtime member of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.Whenever he would call and say, ‘Fordham, I need you to ride with me to Harrisburg, or I need you to ride with me down to the Progressive National Baptist Convention,’ my answer was always yes, without hesitation. Why? Because Rev. Shine never led me the wrong way. If he said we as Black Clergy members needed to address an issue that was impacting our community in a negative way, he’d be all over that issue and I’d be right there with him.”
“The work Dr. Shine did carried him beyond the pulpit,” said Dr. James Perkins, a past president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. “He was regarded by many of his contemporaries as a perceptive and determined advocate for justice, public education, advocate for ex-offender rights, [an] avid labor supporter, for voter registration and participation, and for equality for all races.”
“My dad sought to serve, rather than to be successful,” Robin Shine said. “You know how people strive to be successful? My dad was all about serving the people.“My dad pastored, preached, and continued to serve the people up to the time of his passing. He never stopped. His life certainly reflects the words to his favorite song, “I am on the battlefield for my Lord, and I promised him that I will serve him ‘till I die, I am on the battlefield for my Lord.””
Shine was married to Barbara Shine. They had four children together. There was a public viewing for Shine at his home church, Berachah Baptist Church.