1st Lady Strode Pic

            Sister Shelby G. Strode is a native of Lexington, Kentucky. She attended Fayette County Schools, and is a graduate of Henry Clay High School and Midway College, where she studied vocal music performance and drama. She continued educational opportunities in classical training under Dr. Meredith Bechtel, University of Kentucky. She is a retiree of Kentucky State University.

Sister Shelby is the daughter of the late Reverends Richard W. Harris and Savannah B. Harris. Her mother served as a pastor in the Kentucky Conference nearly 50 years, and was one of Lexington’s first African American entrepreneurs.

For forty-five years, she has been blissfully married to the Reverend Doctor Robert A. Strode, pastor of the Historic St. Paul AME Church, Lexington, Kentucky.

On August 21, 1999, Sister Shelby followed in her parent’s footsteps by answering her call to ministry. She serves under her husband’s pastorate as a licensed Exhorter. Her anointed, “Down-to-earth/Tell-it-like-it is!” style of exhorting and speaking has garnered a magnitude of engagements. Among her engagements, she was chosen by the Kentucky State University Staff Council as the keynote speaker for Professional Employees Day at KSU.

Sister Shelby has organized numerous women’s ministry organizations, ministering to the special needs of women in God’s vineyard.

She has served as President of the Minister’s Spouses Organization,

(M-SWAWO+PK’s) in several Conferences, and presently serves as Director of Worship for the Kentucky Conference Minister's Spouses.

Sister Shelby has performed concerts in Kentucky and Tennessee. She was a featured soloist for The Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) Chattanooga Chapter, under the direction of Grammy nominee, Minister James Bignon, Atlanta, Georgia. She was chosen by Dr. Dennis Dickerson, former Historiographer of the Connectional AMEC to perform at the AME Historical Symposium, Philadelphia, PA. Also, she was chosen by Mrs. Susie Thomas, former Episcopal Supervisor, to represent the Thirteenth Episcopal District in a Connectional play, “We are Family,” Columbia, SC. Sister Shelby performs for numerous civic and religious organizations.

Sister Shelby was a featured soloist in, “Food for the Soul,” a production consisting of narratives intertwined with spirituals, at the Interpreting Slavery in Historic Houses Conference for the Kentucky Historical Society, held at the Kentucky History Center, Frankfort, Ky.

Sister Shelby served as Director of the East Tennessee Conference Choir and has organized choirs throughout various churches under her husband’s administration.

She is humbled to have received the following awards:

  • The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Outstanding Service to the Community, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Excellent Service to the Thirteenth Episcopal District YPD, while serving as the Kentucky Conference YPD Director.
  • Outstanding Music Award by the Philos, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Torch Bearer of the Kentucky Annual Conference WMS for outstanding service.
  • Outstanding Employee of Kentucky State University, and Employee of the Month (Twice)
  • Outstanding Workshop Facilitator for Women’s Ministry, St. Paul AME Church, Versailles, KY.

Being one of Kentucky’s first Plus-sized Professional Runway models for Images Modeling Agency, Lexington, Kentucky, she has conducted many workshops regarding, “Inward Grace and Outward Beauty.” She believes that we should be health conscience, but our self worth is not determined by how much we weigh; beauty come in all sizes. She has modeled for numerous civic organizations, as well as several “high-end” stores. Also, she is a fashion show director, organizer, and commentator.

Sister Shelby is a mentor to numerous “adopted children”. She was honored to have been chosen by Miss Elisabeth Martin, the first non-traditional Miss Kentucky State University as her Advisor and Coronation Director. Sister Shelby strongly believes in building character and self-esteem in others, especially young women.

Sister Shelby is loved for her keen sense of humor and effervescent personality, she never meets a stranger. Her hobbies are; singing, acting, reading, writing poetry, floral design, interior decorating, creating greeting cards, designing hats, clothing, and make-up artistry.

Her favorite motto is, “Whatever situation is placed before you, weigh it in the balances of life and if it does not affect the outcome of eternity, let it go, because you are too blessed to be stressed!’

One of her favorite scriptures is Psalm 27, “The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” (NIV)