The Reverend Joan Adams Shelton, 86, of Washington, DC, died at home on November 15th surrounded by family.
The daughter of the late John C. Adams and Alice Murray Adams, and the sister of the late Murray C. Adams, Joan was born September 12th, 1932, in Ithaca, NY. She graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor's degree in Art History (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude) in 1954.
After college she worked at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where she met Murray N. Shelton, Jr., and they were married on November 22nd, 1958.
They first resided in Washington, DC, where she worked at the Corcoran Gallery. They settled in Bethlehem, PA, raising their family and many pets.
Ever intellectually curious, she was always reading and educating herself about her many interests-geology, jazz, history, and many other topics. She inspired in her children the same curiosity, and the desire "look it up." She also inspired her children with the idea that most things are possible with determination, application, and perseverance-as she demonstrated to them with her then-pioneering career choice.
With the support of her husband, she began to actively pursue her life-long calling to the Episcopal Church. In March, 1977, she became one of the first women ordained as an Episcopal priest.
She received her Master's of Divinity degree (Summa Cum Laude Award in Theology) from Moravian Theological Seminary in 1979, and a master's degree in Elementary Education from Lehigh University in 1979.
Joan served many churches in the Northeast, including in Rhode Island, Syracuse, southeastern Pennsylvania, southern Maryland, and in the DC area. She also became a member of the Franciscan Third Order, where she found a community of spiritual and intellectual fellowship and made enduring friendships.
After her husband died in 1986, and with her children launching lives of their own, in 1995 she traveled to Haiti. There she was able to pursue a life-long dream: missionary work teaching at the Episcopal Seminary in Haiti. She loved Haiti and its people, making lasting friendships among her students, who still refer to her as their "Mother." It gave her great joy to continue to be a part of their lives and support them as they began to lead parishes of their own.
After she "retired," Joan moved to Washington, DC to be near her grandchildren, but with no desire to ever "retire." She joined St. Stephen and the Incarnation and there found another loving community that embraced her as she embraced them. Joan continued to serve the church there until her final illness prevented it.
She also enjoyed life, in particular her adored cats, French food, and staying current by reading the New York Times every day. As recently as 2017, she was able to fulfill a life-long desire that combined many of her greatest joys, travelling to see the Ghent Altar Piece with her daughter Alison and granddaughter Sophia.
She is survived by her two daughters, Alison and Eleanor Shelton, and her two grandchildren, Sophia and Kenneth Hill.
A Memorial Service will held Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 10:30 in the morning, at
St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church,1525 Newton St., NW, Washington, DC, 20010.
In lieu of flowers, Mother wanted donations to assist the people of Haiti,
especially in the areas of providing nutrition and education. Below are
three organizations that were close to her heart, should you wish to donate.
St. Vincent’s Center for Children with Disabilities in Haiti
https://stvincentshaiti.org/. https://stvincentshaiti.org/ is an
organization serving approximately 200 children with disabilities each
year. Mother’s friend, Rev. Frantz “Fanfan” Cole, helps manage its daily
activities, and is its spiritual director. To donate, follow this link:
The Episcopal-run Bishop Tharp Technology Institute
https://www.bti-haiti.org/ focuses on
providing college-level education in the fields of Computing, Business, and Accounting, thus fostering economic development and helping build Haiti’s future. Her friend, Rev. Dr. Kesner Ajax, is the Dean. To donate, follow
this link: https://www.bti-haiti.org/giving
The National Association of Episcopal Schools
https://www.episcopalschools.org/library/articles/2012/03/15/priorities-for-episcopal-schools-in-the-diocese-of-haiti runs a variety of programs including school food programs. To donate,
follow this link: