Remembering Farella Shaka

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Remembering Farella Shaka

North Central community pays memory to long-term faculty member

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Ron Jewett, interim dean of the college of arts and sciences, gives a faculty eulogy at Farella Shaka’s chapel memorial service. 

On October 5, the North Central community gathered together to remember Farella Shaka, a long-time member of the faculty body.

Shaka passed away in May after years of combatting severe brain tumors. She was 66 years old.

Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, Shaka had a deep academic background. She possessed a bachelor’s in science from Sierra Leone’s Fourah Bay College, a masters of science in education in physics, and a doctorate of education in curriculum and instructional science education.

Farella Shaka was also a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God. Alongside her husband, Richard Shaka, she held crusades and took many North Central teams to Sierra Leone. The Shakas founded All Nations Christian Assembly, an international church in Minneapolis, and co-pastored the congregation for 17 years.

In a commemorative address given by Ron Jewett, interim dean of the college of arts and sciences, he said that Shaka was a leader who lived her ministry in the science lab as well as the sanctuary. In her application to teach at North Central, she stated her scientific education had only brought her closer to the Lord.

“My study of science has put me on a platform where I stand in awe and wonder at the omniscience and omnipotence of God,” Shaka wrote. “My belief in God deepens as I study the intricate balance of ecosystems, the genius in the design of the human body, the physical dynamic of the universe and the effects of the interactions of matter and energy on earth. I find it more difficult to believe that all these phenomena occurred by chance or mere coincidence rather than by the design of a divine creator.”

Shaka had a significant impact in many students’ lives during her tenure at North Central. Anissa Godfrey, senior English major, shared memories of Shaka speaking into her life and encouraging her to pursue her calling to ministry.

“Dr. Shaka quickly became like a mother to me during a time full of grief,” Godfrey shared. “She truly brought joy into my life. She encouraged me to keep going even when things seemed desolate. She prayed for me daily. We’d cry together and pray together. It was an honor to have her as a mother figure in my life.”

Others in the North Central community are taking time to remember Farella Shaka online. Joanne Kersten, who has taught in the music department for over 20 years, wrote on Facebook that Shaka was always open to talking about difficult topics.

“I appreciated her willingness to be transparent with me about racial issues,” Kersten said. “I asked her to make me aware of things that I or others would say or do that would offend or hurt her, for I don’t enjoy being clueless but truly do not want to hurt my dear black friends, whom I love. She taught me so much, and we had many good times in serious conversation, many laughs, and significant times of prayer.”

Though Farella Shaka’s days on earth are over, Jewett told students and faculty to be encouraged by her memory.

“Farella Shaka was a Christian. Not in name only. She was our friend. She showed us how to live as Christians. She showed us how to die as Christians,” he said.

As the memorial service faded to a close, faculty member Rebecca Norberg sang the old words that resounded of the legacy of a life concluded, and a commissioning for lives yet to be lived.

“So Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trumpet will sound, and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul.”