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Dr. James P. Tillman, Sr., Organizer

“For I have given you an example, that you also should
do as I have done to you.” John 13:15

Dr. James Phillip Tillman, Sr. was born in Joliet, IL on July 28, 1929 to the late John and Priscilla Tillman. He was the thirteenth of fourteen children. GOD sent him on vacation on January 15, 1995 when he was suddenly called home to be with the Lord while enroute to the Mid-Winter Board Meeting of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Tampa, Florida.

He confessed a hope in Christ in an early age, and in 1948, he joined Calvary Temple Baptist Church and was baptized under the leadership of the late Rev. Robert Eddington. A month later, he married his “God chosen wife”, Berve Theresa Davis Shannon. He always said “be fruitful and multiply”, and was blessed with three sons: James Jr., Andre, John, and one daughter, Teresa.

Dr. Tillman served as Pastor of the Third Christian Church in Bloomington, IL in 1951 and as Assistant Pastor of Park Manor Christian Church from 1951 to 1957. Lady Berve Tillman said in a quote on January 8, 2006 that they were in the basement apartment at 5141 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago where they lived when Rev. Tillman told her he had received a revelation. He organized Memorial Missionary Baptist Church on September 1, 1957 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Denard. Our church history traces the steps of Memorial throughout the years.

Dr. Tillman attended Du Sable High School where he ran track and played football. He graduated from Wilson College and was an honor graduate of the Chicago Baptist Institute. He received his doctorate from St. Stephen College in Los Angeles, CA in 1977.

Dr. Tillman became an instrumental servant of God in all of his civic and religious duties. He served as President of Chicago Baptist Institute for thirteen years and is largely responsible for initiating the major restoration of the original site located at 5120 S. King Drive, which began in September of 1992. He was chaplain of Cage Memorial Chapel; a member of the executive committee of the Counsel of Religious Leaders, member of the executive committee of the Church Federation of Greater Chicago, treasurer of the Ministers’ Southwest Fellowship, board member of the Chicago Bible Society; member of the State and National Progressive Baptist Conventions; member of the Interfaith Counsel; and lifetime member of the NAACP.

Dr. Tillman also served on several committees including the following: Chairman of the Home Mission Board; Moderator of the Fellowship Baptist District Association; Transportation and Planning Chairman for the Progressive Baptist State Convention; Director/Dean of the Leadership Institute; Coordinator of the Chaplains for Provident Hospital; Chaplain of Cook County Hospital; Chaplain of Statesville Correctional Facility; trustee of St. Stephen College in Los Angeles, CA; and the Assistant Supervisor of the Mission Division of the Congress of Christian Education.

Dr. James P. Tillman, Sr. dedicated his life to helping and serving mankind. He wanted Memorial to be a reminder of the faithfulness of God to His people and a reminder of his work as a servant of God. Dr. Tillman’s love and devotion to the cause of mission sent him on many travels and journeys to such places as the Holy Land, Africa, Japan, Jamaica, London, Hawaii, Bahamas, Korea, Mexico, and throughout the United States.

The 8600-8700 block of Justine Street in Chicago was renamed in honor of his outstanding leadership throughout the community in October of 1992. His daughter Teresa said “He loved to joke. He was organized and loved kids. He was a strong role model for everyone. He believed in family unity”.

Our beloved organizing pastor was called home to be with the Lord on January 16, 1995.

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Dr. Nathan L. Schaffer, Jr., Pastor

"The Pastor With a Shepherd's Heart."

Dr. Nathan Luther Schaffer, Jr. is the second pastor of the Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, “The Church With A Mission”, celebrating 67 years of ministry in November 2024. He has served as pastor since June 1996.


He was baptized at his home church, Berean Baptist Church in Chicago, by Dr. C.D.L. Bradshaw, Pastor. He accepted his call to the ministry in June of 1981 and was ordained in December of 1981 at the Vernon Baptist Church in Chicago by the late Rev. Earl Cannon, where he served as Minister of Music for 14 years. He also served as the Minister of Music at the historic Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago for 20 years under the late Dr. W.N. Daniel.

Pastor Schaffer retired from the Chicago Public School System after 30 continuous years at the DuSable High School. He has served as the Dean of Students for the Chicago Baptist Institute, a Trustee, and Adjunct Professor of Christian Ethics and Public Speaking. He is the Past Chairman of the Board of Education and Publication for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. He is an instructor in the Regional and National Congress of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

Pastor Schaffer is a member of numerous boards and civic organizations, both locally and nationally.

He is married to the former Patricia Dotson of Carson, California and the father of John (deceased), Lyndsey and Minister Jonathan.

Pastor Schaffer is known as "The Pastor With a Shepherd's Heart".

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