The Rev. Era Shirley Ferrell
Baltimore church goers of the 50’s and before remember a time when women weren’t so welcome into many pulpits of the city. So what to do when Women’s Days rolled around? Pastors from all denominations called for the Rev. Era Shirley Ferrell from Emmanuel Christian Community Church in West Baltimore to bring the word to the women on their special day. And she’d show up, clothed as an angel in white from head to toe. One wonders how she built such a trusting relationship, but she did. So much so that when the Rev. Wilbur Waters died in 1956, Rev. Ferrell served as interim pastor until the appointment of the late Rev. Sidney Daniels, well known for his leadership in and beyond the church.
As the AFRO archive article shows, Emmanuel worshipers had to rush to church on Sundays to get a seat during her temporary tenure. The week after this article ran, Louella Green, in a letter to the editor, expressing her hope that Rev. Ferrell’s “sex will not interfere with her getting the credit that she deserves as a minister preaching the love of Christ.” Whether or not she received credit, she continued to minister with joy because, as she put it, “I simply love people and love working with them.”
This article appeared in the Baltimore AFRO, March 9. 1957.
On July 11, Rev. Ferrell, at the age of 99, went on “from labor to reward,” and the faith community will gather to celebrate her life and ministry and to give her some of that credit for the hard work she’s done.
Public viewing begins 8:30 a.m., July 18 at March Funeral Home West, 4300 Wabash Avenue. The family will receive friends 10 a.m., July 19, with the service of celebration immediately following at 11 a.m. at Greater Hope Church of God in Christ, 800 N. Carrollton Avenue in West Baltimore. The Rev. Stephen A. Jones is pastor of Greater Hope COGIC that now occupies the building that for many years was Emmanuel C.C. Church, as Baltimoreans called it.