Rev. Era Shirley Ferrell was born in Douglassville, Ga., fifth of eleven children reared by two devoted Christian parents, the late Edward Aaron and Bessie L. Ferrell. The family moved to Baltimore in 1923, to the 1500 block of W. Lexington Street where Rev. Ferrell lived for over 75 years.
The family joined Allen AME Church under the leadership of the late Rev. Robert Soloman Stansbury. Rev. Ferrell graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and continued her education at Cortez Peters Business School and Coppin Teachers College. She was also an honor student at the Baltimore College of the Bible.Out of her own public relations office at 1530 W. Lexington Street, she provided services for the community that, in her words, were “not measured in terms of dollars and cents. The joy and satisfaction derived from faithfully serving the community are far greater than financial rewards.”
She served as a notary public, an elections judge and volunteered as a substitute teacher for more than 20 years. For nearly 20 years, she conducted a neighborhood Bible school out of her home for children and anyone who shared a desire to learn the word of God.
Her service extended to Emmanuel Christian Community Church where she was selected to be Sunday School Superintendent for 15 years. For 13 years, she was president of their Christian Endeavor League and for two years she led the junior church.
She preached her trial sermon in October, 1952, under the leadership of Dr. Wilbur H. Waters and was ordained at the Progressive Christian Community Church at a convention in the same year After years of proven dedication to God and the church, Rev. Ferrell was asked to serve in the main assembly and upon Rev. Waters’ death, she served as minister pro tem for 21 months until Rev. Dr. Sidney Daniels was called to Emmanuel’s pulpit.
No sacrifice was too great for her to make on behalf of her family and community. Without a doubt, she has left her footprints in the sands of time. Her survivors include her sister, Rev. Dr. Clyde F. Leadum, nieces: Peggy L. Ferrell, Melanie S. Dunbar, Corenthia Waller, Josephine Storrs, Adrienne Melcher, Adrienne Witherspoon and Juliet Ferrell; nephews: James K. Melcher, Carlos Price, Steven Ferrell, Charles Ferrell and a host of other relatives and friends.