Rev. Dwight Shanley
The Reverend Dwight Jess “Skip” Shanley, 76, associate pastor of Crossroads Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, Arkansas (Arkansas Presbytery), died January 11, 2021, of COVID-19. Dwight was born May 8, 1944 in Rome, New York to Dwight Ralph and Alma Rosland Shanley and was raised in Hillside, New York, in the United Methodist Church. He graduated from Central High School in Boonville, New York, in 1962, and then served in the U.S. Navy. In 1966, Dwight married Martha Nestle.
Trained in electrical engineering in high school, Dwight worked for 30 years for AT&T as an installer. The Shanley family moved to Arkansas in 1976. Dwight called the relocation “dramatic.” There they attended a Cumberland Presbyterian Church where Dwight became an elder. Dwight struggled with and resisted a call to ministry beginning in his teens. Relocation to Arkansas provided the impetus to accept the call. Dwight was received as a candidate by Ewing-Burrow Presbytery in Arkansas in 1980 and began taking courses at Memphis Theological Seminary. He was licensed in October 1982, and, having complete the Cumberland Presbyterian home study course, ordained March 11, 1984.
Proud to be a “tent maker” during the early years of his ordination and drawn to small rural churches, Dwight looked on part time ministry as a way to help struggling congregations without placing them under undue financial responsibility. Still, he looked forward to devoting all of his time to ministry. He left AT&T for full-time ministry in 1995. He came to love Arkansas and spent his entire ministry in the bounds of what is now Arkansas Presbytery.
He served Little Rock, Arkansas, First Cumberland Presbyterian Church as associate pastor and director of Christian education under the Reverend Dr. Ed Hollenbeck before returning to the church as interim pastor. He was then called to an interim pastorate for Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Cumberland Presbyterian Church which turned into a full-time pastorate. Dwight served the Campground Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Hampton, Arkansas, for several years before being called to shepherd a new church development in Bryant, Arkansas.
Dwight took leadership of what was initially called the Benton/Bryant Fellowship in March 2008. The fellowship became the Crossroads Cumberland Presbyterian Church. There he served until his semi-retirement. After the Reverend James Ryan was called to the pastorate in 2016, Dwight served as associate. He also wrote poems. At the time of his death, Dwight was still serving the Crossroads congregation.
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