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Dr. William J. Shaw, 1999-2009


Dr. William J. Shaw
Biographical Sketch

William J. Shaw was born in Marshall, Texas, the youngest of six children. At a young age, he dedicated his life to serving God. He was baptized at age seven and preached his trial sermon by age eleven. Growing in faith, he served as supply pastor to his home church at the age of fifteen and was ordained as Pastor of the Oak Hill Baptist Church in Harrison County, Texas at seventeen.

He attended Bishop College graduating Summa cum laude at age nineteen with a major in Philosophy and Religion and a minor in World History. Dr. Shaw received his Bachelor of Divinity Degree (now known as the Master of Divinity) from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1957. He earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York in 1975 with an emphasis on Biblical Interpretation from the Black Perspective. A Doctor of Human Letters was conferred upon him in 2000 from Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina.

Dr. Shaw was called to serve as Pastor of the White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia in 1956. He considers his work as Pastor his highest calling. He has led White Rock through a period of strong growth with the establishment of several outreach ministries, including a science and math after school program, and a substance abuse ministry.

In addition to his work as Pastor of the White Rock Baptist Church, Dr. Shaw is a recognized leader in Pennsylvania and across the nation. He serves as Chairman of the Trustee Board for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and is a member ex officio on the Board of Penn Medicine.. His other civic affiliations include a seat on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement of Delaware Valley, Inc., and membership in the Philadelphia Rotary; Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows in Black Church Studies; Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and the Airport Advisory Board. Dr. Shaw has also served as Executive Director of the Opportunities Industrialization Center.

Dr. Shaw has been a religious leader on the local, state and national levels. He served as President of the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention, Inc.; Dr. Shaw has also served as President of The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity, The Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia, and Union Theological Seminary National Alumni Association. From 1981 through 1994, Dr. Shaw served as Director of the Ministers’ Division of the National Congress of Christian Education. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including most recently, the Unitas Award, given by the Alumni Association of the Union Theological Seminary and the T. B. Maston Foundation Christian Ethics Award from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

On September 9, 1999, Dr. Shaw was elected the sixteenth President of The National Baptist Convention, USA. Inc. During his first term, he led the Convention to become a more Christ Centered body. With Dr. Shaw’s focus on Vision, Integrity, Structure, and Accountability (VISA), the convention reached several milestones including burning the mortgage on the Baptist World Center, paying more than $1.125 million dollars of inherited debt, implementing a retirement plan for Pastors and church workers, establishing fiscal accountability and increasing the role of technology in the Convention. Dr. Shaw was re-elected to the Convention presidency in September 2004.  Dr. Shaw completed his second term as President of the Convention in 2009.

In 2009, President Barack H. Obama appointed Dr. Shaw to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and, in 2010 appointed him as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Dr. Shaw was reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2013 to serve a second term as a Commissioner on the USCIRF Committee, where he currently serves as Vice President. 

Dr. Shaw is married to Camellia L. Shaw. They are parents to one son—Timothy, grandparents to two granddaughters—Lillian and Brittany, and great-grandparents to two great-granddaughters — Zanaira and Nyela.

Contact Information:

Dr. William J. Shaw, Pastor
White Rock Baptist Church
5240 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA  19139
Phone:  (215) 474-1738
Email (webform):
Administrative Assistant:  Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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VISA Principles

President Shaw defined the guidelines for how the Convention will conduct itself.  These guidelines have become known as the VISA Principles, an acronym for Vision, Integrity, Structure, and Accountability.  These principles are biblically-based and focused on enabling the Convention to live out its purpose and mission.

A Convention focused on Christ, affirming that we are Christ’s people commissioned to do His work in the world.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do...” John 14:12

A Convention where all operations, finances, and programs meet the high standards of Christ.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven...” Matthew 5:16

A Convention with the infrastructure to carry out Christ’s mission in a manner that is inclusive, accessible and responsive to the local church and the total body.

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting...” Titus 1:5

A Convention accountable to its members and to God.

”Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful...” I Corinthians 4:1-2