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.