Shepherd’s theological journey keeps expanding

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Tish Hodson Shepherd is proud of another accomplishment, her doctorate that has made her the Rev. Dr. Tish Hodson Shepherd. (Courtesy photo)

ARCANUM – A local woman has earned her doctorate degree in Biblical Studies from Liberty University; thus, she is now the Rev. Dr. Tisha Hodson Shepherd.

She received her doctorate at home via the postal service on March 4. And weeks later, her latest writings, “Shepherd Bible Story Book,” a children’s Bible, was published, and now available on eBay, Amazon, and Kindle.

Shepherd is attending the First Presbyterian Church in Greenville and serves as its worship leader a couple of times a month, and she will preach in April at the Brethren Retirement Community.

Those who know her also know she is a singer and has done a lot of that throughout the years at different venues, and now even sings during her worship services. Singing since a child, she began her career at the age of 14, entertaining audiences in Darke County and other places, including the Great Darke County Fair.

She sings gospel as well as current songs, and right now is still singing full-time.

Her plans were not to become a preacher.

“I never thought I would have ever gone to a seminary or a church but this is a blessing in my life and my family life,” she said. “I’d like to be a professor and teach at a university. I have an advantage.”

She is a 1990 graduate of Tri-Village High School, where she was in FFA, performed with the choir and band, and played clarinet.

“I had always wanted to play an instrument,” she said. ” I have been taking piano lessons.”

When she sings at the Presbyterian Church, she is accompanied in her performances; by the pastor, the Rev. Andy Gilman, on guitar, and Terri Fryman on piano.

“My singing has always been a staple for me,” said Tish, who belonged to the local EUM Church before transferring to the Presbyterian Church.

She also likes it there.

“Everyone is so friendly,” she said. “They have nice children’s and young adult programs. I will be leading worship at the Presbyterian Church on Easter Sunday.”

Her secret to success? “I leave sprinkles of Jesus everywhere I go. It’s my job to plant them,” she replied.

Shepherd first studied at Purdue in homeland security, seeking a master’s degree but couldn’t finish because students cannot get less than a B average, according to her.
“I ended up getting a ‘C’ in a class, so they put me on probation. The next semester, I got a ‘C’ again and got a call from the school saying they put me on academic dismissal. I only had five more classes to go,” she said.

However, someone from Liberty University in Virginia called her that same day and invited her to take part in their online learning program, and she obliged.

“They offered me free books and many doors opened up,” said Shepherd, who earned her master’s in 2021 in the middle of COVID.

In her studies at Liberty, she said she had so much to learn and loved a teacher from Guatemala.

Here is a close-up of the degree that Tish Hodson Shepherd received recently. (Courtesy photo)

“l had the same theology but a different learning curve, and I liked that,” she said. “The Old Testament was hard for me. The professors made it exciting. They would call me at home. It is bigger than Wright State University. I’ve never visited Liberty, but I’ve seen photos, and it is beautiful. The school gave us teaching tools  I learned more  They help you fix your mistakes.”

The daughter of Connie Buemi Hodson and the late Paul Hodson, she said all of this interest in religion started in 2016 when she became saved.

She was invited to the Heavy Metal Church, which was in Greenville at the time, to listen to an old friend play guitar.

“I walked in and was overwhelmed by what I know now as the Holy Spirit,” she remarked in an early interview. “Every time I went, I cried. Pastor Mike Fisher made me see it was the Holy Spirit and that I’d come back home. I couldn’t get enough of the word of God. I am forever grateful to Mike and Misti Fisher. The people there were loving and giving and treating people like family.”

According to Tish, who finished her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Indiana East in Richmond, she preaches differently than some people.

“I use music,” she pointed out. “As I go through the message, I sometimes find people learn audibly and visually. I preach my message straight from the Bible. If I speak on redemption, I’ll sing a song about redemption. I started doing that at Trinity in Beavercreek, and they loved it.”

Her musical gigs over the years had her booked almost every weekend, and, at one point, she was singing with her sister, Tammy Mendenhall.

Tish has worked at Oakley Place in Greenville and still sings there for the residents. She said she also gives communion to specific people at that facility.

She has also been a chaplain at Upper Valley Medical Center, Troy, for several years.

Her 25-year-old son, Paul Hodson, is attending Wright State and is in his last year.

“He should have his teaching certificate as he is a music major,” she said. “He wants to teach music for grades 6-12 and be a general music/band teacher. He loves marching.”

He is happy for her.

“We have different theologies,” Tish said. We keep each other humble. He’s very spiritual, and has gone through some spiritual growth the last couple of years.”

Another great supporter in her life, in addition to her family members, is Samuel Shepherd, whom she married in 2013, she said. This past November, they bought a home in Arcanum.

“I couldn’t have done this without him,” she said. “He supported me 100 percent and still is.”

Where her mother, Connie, used to travel with her on singing engagements, her husband Sam, has taken over. Her mother, though, is still handling her bookings and calls just as she did when Tisha was so much younger.

When Tish is not singing, leading a worship service, or writing, she loves working with her hands.

“I make jewelry and wreaths,” she said. “And, I write. I have written about my journey and other children’s books.”