About Our Rector...

On December 26, 2002, the Vestry called the Rev. Fr. Martini Shaw to be the seventeenth Rector of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Overbrook and immediately went to work expanding and continuing the momentum of the Church’s mission. Father Shaw’s vision of spiritual growth and community involvement recalls the legacy of our founders and promises as a continuance of outstanding St. Thomas leadership.

Fr. Shaw was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He attended public school and Wayne State University in Detroit. He earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and biology.

Fr. Shaw earned a Master of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary located in Chicago, Il.  That same year, he earned a Certificate in Anglican Studies from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Il. He became the recipient of the Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation, with coursework from Oxford University, (Oxford, England) on May 2, 2008.

Fr. Shaw was ordained an Episcopal Priest in 1988 and became Curate at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Flossmoor, Il.  In 1990, he was called as Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Chicago, Il. Fr. Shaw served as Dean of the South Deanery of the Diocese of Chicago, and as Secretary of the Diocesan Convention.

In addition to pastoral care, much of Fr. Shaw's work has focused on interfaith, ecumenical and outreach relationships.  He has worked with numerous religious faiths and denominations.  Under Fr. Shaw's leadership as President, four churches formed a non-profit development initiative, T.R.C.(The Renaissance Corporation) which transformed the former Chicago Wabash Y.M.C.A. into a modern facility, complete with affordable housing for the homeless population.  Other outreach efforts include: a Day Care Center, G.E.D. Program, Food Pantry, Scholarship Fund, A Safe Home for at-risk families. 

Fr. Shaw has been active in the community and was appointed by the Mayor to key boards.  One, the Community Development Advisory Commission, advises policy makers as to the disbursement of millions of federal dollars awarded through the Community Development Block Grants Program.  Fr. Shaw was also appointed to, and served as Chair of the Monitoring Commission for Desegregation Implementation for the Chicago Board of Education.  Other organizations with which Fr. Shaw has participated are:  Chase House Early Learning Centers, Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation, Chicago Human Relations Commission, The Episcopal Diocese's Commission on Affordable Housing, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the NAACP.

Fr. Shaw has been very active in the political arena. In 2002, he was a democratic candidate for the Illinois 3rd Legislative Senate District.  He continues to embrace and hold a passion for the political process.

Fr. Shaw presently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, Advisory Board for Black Ministries of the Episcopal Church, Advisory Board for Recruitment, Training and Deployment of the Episcopal Church, a member of the Phildelphia Cathedral Chapter. And recently served as Dean of the 2008 Union of Black Episcopalians National Conference, Co-Dean of the 2008 8th Triennial Black Clergy Conference, and Board of Directors of the African American Museum of Philadelphia.

Among his proud accomplishments was the establishment and total restoration of the Absalom Jones House - adjacent to the church - in 2009, which houses administrative offices, ministry program space, as well as, state of the art facilities for filing/exhibition of historical records and artifacts of the parish.

It is Fr. Shaw's belief that a Rector should have a vision; and for him, that vision embraces and promotes stewardship, church growth, christian formation, youth and young adult development and being a Christ-centered and love-centered community of faith.  Fr. Shaw describes his leadership style as one that encourages and empowers lay commitment. It maintains prayer as the foundation of all decisions.

Fr. Shaw is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, N.A.A.C.P. and the Union League Club of Philadelphia.

Pictures of Father Shaw | The Rector's Report 2013 | Rector's Welcome Message