Walt Shepard is the pastor of Christ Coastal Church. He was born to Carolyn and Walt Shepard of Mississippi and Louisiana in 1946. His father was an architect and was called to the missionfield in the Belgian Congo (now the Dem. Republic of the Congo) in 1947. Walt was 14 months old when they moved there, and they stayed approximately 15 years. He learned Tshiluba, the local dialect, as a toddler, having been taken care of by a Congolese man, and then learned to speak English. His father used his architectural and engineering training to build mission homes, churches, clinics and hospitals. He later became the headmaster of a school for missionary children, which is where Walt attended through eighth grade. Walt LOVED Africa and when the rebel soldiers demanded independence from Belgium, the missionaries had to leave, with the hope that they would move back after a year. They never were able to, so it was a very hard adjustment for Walt to assimilate into the American teen culture.
After graduating in 1968, from Belmont University in Nashville, TN with a BA in Political Science, Walt had many jobs, the first one as a surveyor for a bridge building contractor, and then moving to New York to become a manager of operations for Pan Am at JFK Airport. From there he moved to Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans until he was 26, when God called him into the ministry after being dramatically rescued from a car wreck. He attended and graduated from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Ma. in 1975. He boarded in the home of Elisabeth Elliot Leitch after her husband Addison Leitch died of cancer in 1973. He grew in his faith and understanding of the Christian life through her influence, and then fell in love with her daughter Valerie. After pastoring as a single man for one year in southwest Louisiana, they were married in 1976.
He has pastored in the PCUSA in Louisiana and Mississippi, and then moved into the Presbyterian Church of America. From Mississippi, they moved with 5 children to California in 1987 and lived in Orange Co. until 1997. They had 3 more children in Ca. and then moved to South Carolina and Walt became an Associate Reformed Presbyterian pastor of the Harrison Bridge Rd. Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville for 7 years. Walt and Val had always hoped they could go to the foreign mission field, and when an opening came up for pastoring the International Protestant Church in Kinshasa of the Dem. Rep. of the Congo, they “jumped at” it. They took their 3 youngest children there in 2005 and came back in 2008. Walt was called to plant a church in Southport, NC, in August, 2009, which began in their living room and is now Christ Coastal Church meeting at Seaside Chapel.