Spirit-filled, great visionary, loving, and dedicated are all words that adequately describe this great man of God, Bishop William Sheals. Papa, as he’s affectionately known by his flock. He has served as senior pastor of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Norcross, Georgia for the past 36 years.
Bishop Sheals, a Lakeland, Florida native, came to Hopewell in May 1980. Under his direction and leadership Hopewell grew from a small rural church to a suburban mega church. Bishop Sheals is extremely grateful to God for blessing this union of pastor and church for so many years, which is rarely heard of in today’s religious communities.
In 1990, God gave Bishop Sheals the great vision of transforming a 32 acre junkyard, into the beautiful edifice and multi-functioning complex it is today. The campus of Hopewell houses a Child Development Center, Youth Center, Senior Citizen Center, Adult Fitness Center, a Mall, and the fully accredited North Metro Academy of Performing Arts; educating students from grades 5-8.
In Habakkuk 2:2 the Lord said to write the vision and make it plain so that all who hear it may run with it; and that’s exactly what Bishop Sheals has done. Because of his zeal, generosity of spirit and inspiration the vision has manifested continues to develop into not only a sanctuary of worship, but it lives up to the aptly named “City of Hope”.
In 2013 Bishop Sheals penned the book The Shepherd Must Smell Like The Sheep. Always leading by example, under his dynamic and effective tutelage, he’s shepherded and trained scores of sons and daughters in the faith, 12 of which now pastor their own congregations. He lives by the mandate that a good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Because of this we know, and it is evident, that he has found favor with both God and man. He is a respected and renowned orator nationally and internationally in both the Christian and non-Christian sect.
In his lifetime, Bishop Sheals has received numerous awards and honors such as the Presidential Special Citizens Award for Founding Director of Ministers Against Drugs in 1989, Founding president of the North Metro 100 Black Men in 1993, recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award in 1999, and Who’s Who in Black America in 2002, and most recently Bishop Sheals received the Gwinnett County NCCAP Lifetime Achievement Award. He currently serves as Ambassador of Reconciliation and Goodwill for Israel and is also acknowledged in History Maker’s African American History Archive. He is also the founder and CEO of 500 Men of Valor LLC and The International spokesmen for the Global Peace Movement.
In 2011 Bishop Sheals began work on the award winning film Sunday Morning Rapture. He oversaw the project as Executive Producer and Director. To date the movie has been translated in both Spanish and Korean. In 2013 the movie was honored by the International Christian Film Festival, and received the BEST Feature Award at the Capital City Black Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Incredibly in 2016 there is still industry buzz surrounding this venture, and it does not yet appear what will become of the ministry that Bishop Sheals has taken beyond the walls of the church and captured with such intensity on screen. His prayer and ultimate goal is that 100,000 souls, if not more, will be drawn to the knowledge and saving grace of Jesus Christ through this celluloid wonder.
Even with all of the great things that Bishop Sheals has accomplished, his desire, just as Jesus commissioned, is that no man should perish. He has and will continue to do his part to win souls for the kingdom.
“After 36 years in the ministry it is still my honor to serve God’s people. I don’t take that lightly. And should the Lord tarry it will be my honor to serve God and His people for many more years to come as I continue to give God my best self.” –Bishop William L Sheals