Robert Pierce Shuler
1880 – 1965
Robert Shuler was born August 4, 1880, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. At the age of nine, kneeling between his mother and his uncle, who was the preacher in the “meetin’ house” at Comer’s Rock, he received Christ as his Lord and Saviour. His primary education consisted of a three-month school where he mastered the “McGuffey’s Readers.” In 1897 he entered Emory and Henry College as a sub-freshman and graduated in 1903. Two years later he married Nelle Reeves, and the same year he entered the Holston Conference of the Methodist Church.
Endowed with a good mind and sharp wit, Shuler was an excellent extemporaneous speaker. He was in demand as an evangelistic speaker throughout the South. In addition, his great courage, coupled with his conservative theology and evangelistic fervor, prompted him to preach with the altar call in view.
In 1920 he became pastor of the Trinity Methodist Church of Los Angeles, a position he occupied until his death. He began with a depleted congregation and saw it grow to five thousand members in the 1930s. The basis for growth was a dynamic pulpit ministry in which he thundered against the sin he saw around him. In 1929 he was given a radio station which was housed in the tower of his church. It became a strong voice against crime and corruption in southern California.
Shuler’s church growth paralleled the growth of the population on the West Coast with its “rootless” people from all parts of America. These masses found in him a “champion of the common man,” for Shuler’s cry against corruption was the complaint of the masses. The politicians hated Shuler and tried every means to silence his preaching. His life was threatened, his church was bombed, he was sued and finally put in jail.
He ran for United States Senator on the Probibition Ticket in 1932 and lost by only fifty thousand votes. His writings included: The Methodist Challenge, What New Doctrine Is This?, Some Dogs I Have Known, and I Met Them on the Trail. Three of his sons followed him in the ministry.