James Allen Shiflett
September 20, 1930-December 16, 2019
Jim was born in Dallas, Texas and graduated from from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He was the Pastor of several churches throughout the Chicago area and suburbs, always bringing his love, passion and energy to his parishioners. He later earned his Doctorate of Divinity at the age of 77.
In 1965, after participating in workshops led by improvisation pioneer Viola Spolin, Jim left the pastorate to create a community arts center. He was interested in the power of the arts to create connection and healing of divisions in society. He was instrumental in helping change laws that prohibited theatres from operating out of storefronts, thus changing the landscape of the Chicago theatre scene, and paving the way for a renaissance of small upstart theatre companies. His community arts center became the legendary Body Politic Theatre. He went on to create The Dream Theatre which ran for several years, culminating in a tour of New York city, Baltimore, and several other US locations.
Jim saw the world not as it was, but as it could be, and was active in the Civil Rights movement during the 1960’s. He was one of 43 northern clergymen who joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Albany, Georgia to protest discriminatory Jim Crow laws.
In 1979, he met the love of his life, Jean. They were married in 1980 and were together over 40 years. He dedicated much of his retirement attending his grandchildren’s many activities and events. He and Jean moved to South Carolina in 2011, where he became very active at St Giles Presbyterian Church.
Jim was a mesmerizing storyteller. At family gatherings he would often be found with an audience of intent listeners, embroiled in stories from the bible, politics and family history.
A gentle, strong, and loving man, Jim had a powerful impact on thousands of lives, and will be greatly missed by all whom he touched.
Jim died peacefully with his beloved wife Jean and children by his side.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children and their spouses, and one grandson.