Sam Shoemaker Biography


Born: 1893

Born In: Maryland

Samuel Moor Shoemaker was a renowned priest who lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A rector of the Episcopal Church, Samuel’s sermon were relayed through the electronic media such as radio and tape. As a graduate student he had a keen interest in the political scenario which probably stemmed from his admiration of President Woodrow Wilson and was against brainwashing students with righteousness of war and military training in educational institutes. A sensitive individual, he rather preferred being involved in missionary work. He started his evangelistic career in China where he went as a part of the Princeton in China Program. He was later taken under the guidance of Frank Buchman, who was associated with the Oxford Group. His association of the Episcopal Church began when he was ordained as deacon of the institution. He then reinvented the Calvary Church of Manhattan where he served as the rector for a span of eleven years. The ‘Faith at Work’ movement later emerged as the Moral Re-Armament movement. Samuel’s ideas later laid the foundation of ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’. He also authored several books on religion and philosophy throughout his life and many of them became followers of the Oxford Group and New York. Read on to know more about his life and works.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Samuel M. Shoemaker

Died At Age: 70

Priests American Men

Died on: 1963

U.S. State: Maryland

More Facts

education: Princeton University

Childhood & Early Life
Born to parents of Protestant faith, on December 27, 1893, Shoemaker spent the first two years of his life in Baltimore Maryland.
In 1895, the family left their rented apartment and shifted to their ancestral home ‘Burnside’.
He attended the ‘St. George’s prep school’ in Rhode Island. Away from family, he was forlorn and home sick in the initial days and faced problems adjusting with the students. Falling in line with his father’s footsteps he joined the ‘Princeton University’ in 1912.
Following his undergrad year he embarked on a tour of the European continent. This was the time when he was introduced to the concept of Ecumenism through ‘World Student Christian Federation’. The organisation worked to propagate the idea of a unified church among students.
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By 1917, he had turned out to be a firm believer of the concept of Ecumenism and as a part of the student exchange program of the ‘Princeton University’ he went to China. Apart from imparting lectures on business to pupils he also made efforts to establish a wing of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association).
During his stay in China, though he failed to garner any significant converts, he made acquaintance with Frank Buchman, founder of the ‘Oxford Group’. It was under his able guidance that Sam followed the path of the almighty. Upon his return to Princeton in 1919, he took the post of leader of the ‘Philadelphian Society’.
He was nominated into the ‘Episcopal Church’, in 1920, as a deacon, under the guidance of Bishop Murray, a post he held for the next two years.
Throughout the academic year 1922-23, he resumed his position as the head of ‘Philadelphian Society’, in Princeton. All this while, he maintained extensive correspondence with Buchman, who paid several visits to the university. By this time the ‘Oxford Group’ had gathered a faithful group of patrons as well as opposition.
After completing his education from Princeton he went to New York. There he enrolled at the ‘General Theological Seminary’. During the final year at the theological school, he worked part-time under bishop Charles Louis Slattery, in the Manhattan based ‘Grace Church’.
After graduating from the divinity school, he went on a tour of Europe and Middle-East. Around the same time the ‘Calvary Church’ extended an invitation to Samuel for presiding over the church. He accepted the offer and was instituted as the rector.
During his tenure of eleven years he made many efforts to reprise the church by attracting more patrons and parishioners. He also propagated the ideals of ‘Oxford Group’ among the regular church goers.
While some of the sects accepted his ideas he faced opposition from a few of them. He also faced some heat when he sold a fraction of the church land to renovate his rectory.
From 1926 through 1941, he remained deeply involved with the mission ‘Faith at Work’, he co-founded with Frank Buchman. Initially Samuel used the premises of ‘Calvary Church’ to run the mission but later the ministry opposed this practice.
His repute as a Reverend increased and he began delivering his sermons through the ‘WJZ radio station’, in 1946, so that they could reach a wider audience.
On 25th anniversary of his priesthood in the ‘Calvary Church’, he got invited by the Pittsburgh premises of the church to serve as a rector there. On much insistence he agreed and in 1955 started the ‘Pittsburgh Experiment’.
Suffering from ill-health he retired from the ministry and found solace in his residence at Burnside. But he continued to deliver sermons over the radio.
Major Works
His ideas laid the founding stone for development of ‘Alcoholic Anonymous’, which eventually became a world renowned organisation for counselling and treatment of alcohol addicts and their families.
Awards & Achievements
His name was included in the ten best preachers of the country by ‘Newsweek’ in 1955. The following year he was honoured as the ‘Man of the Year’ by the ‘Pittsburgh Jaycees’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Samuel was married to Helen Smith Shoemaker, in 1925, and they had two daughters. The couple met each other while studying at the ‘Princeton University’.
The eminent evangelist breathed his last on October 31, 1963. After his demise he was laid to rest in the ‘St. Thomas Churchyard’ in Baltimore.

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