The Rev. Benjamin E. Sheldon, President Emeritus of Presbyterians Pro-Life went home to be with his Creator and Savior on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. He was 83. We are saddened by the loss of a dear friend and a tireless voice on behalf of the unborn.
Ben attended countless General Assemblies in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to speak out against denomination policies that condoned abortion, because "it is the right thing to do." I was privileged to work closely with Ben in producing Daily Delivery, PPL's GA newsletter in my first years as a volunteer for PPL. In those hours of editing to meet a deadline, I had opportunity to observe Ben's gentle patience and servant leadership. His faith in God was authentic and the fruits of the Holy Spirit were evident in his life. Ben was a mentor and pastor to many on the PPL Board and the GA team as he provided leadership during years of explosive growth in the scope and work of PPL.
In letters to friends and supporters of PPL, Ben shared his understanding of the organization's purpose:
"...We are calling our church to turn back to her historical stand for the sanctity of human life; to once again let her voice become a declaration of God's truth and a revelation of God's mercy." (April, 1987)
Ben was unwavering in his conviction that we must take a stand to defend the sanctity of human life:
"PPL is carrying on this profoundly important and righteous work of bringing change to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and educating our fellow Presbyterians to understand and uphold the basic value of every single person in the eyes of God, including the precious, innocent, defenseless unborn." (Christmas 1987)
He set an example of unfailing commitment to the work of PPL by his own tireless service and years of leadership.
"PPL's work is not finished. Our beloved church still officially supports a view that permits abortion for virtually any reason, and does very little to protect innocent human life, whether unborn, handicapped, infirm, or aged. We believe that view must change, and that the Presbyterian Church (USA) must become a leader in the move to respect all human life whatever the problems or difficulties may be."(Dec 1986)
One of the highlights of Ben's tenure as President of PPL was hosting Mother Teresa for a PPL banquet at the General Assembly in 1988. He found encouragement and patience for his many years of pro-life work in her words: "God doesn't call us to succeed. He calls us to be faithful." We are witnesses that Ben was indeed faithful to God's call in his life.
Ben was a member of PPL's Board of Directors almost continuously from 1982 until the present. He served for eleven years as President of PPL, a post now filled by the Rev. John Sheldon, one of Ben's sons. Of his dad's death, John wrote, "My mother and extended family are grieving but not without hope since we believe that Jesus died and rose again and will bring with him our dear dad on that great Day." To that we say, "Amen!"
PPL extends our condolences to Amy, Ben's wife of 57 years and the entire Sheldon family: his children (and spouses), Rex (Susan) Sheldon, John (Laurie) Sheldon, Janet (Paul) Crikelair, Robert (Sunmi) Sheldon, Daniel (Debbie) Sheldon, Susan (Dan) Obenschain, and Sarah (Dave) Feiser; 37 grandchildren and four grandchildren-in-law; four great-grandchildren; and his siblings, the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon and Mrs. Betty J. Wright.
His funeral service will be this coming Saturday, September 22, at 10 a.m. at the Forks of the Brandywine Presbyterian Church, 1648 Horseshoe Pike, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania 19343.
There will be a time for visitation for family and friends the evening before at the Labs Funeral Home, 141 Pequea Avenue, Honey Brook, PA 19344.
Further information about Ben's life can be found in his obituary posted here.