Dr James Shera MBE passes, leaving rich legacy for Pakistani Christians

By CDI Staff |
James Masih Shera
James Masih Shera Facebook

Dr James Masih Shera MBE, a British-Pakistani Christian politician, educationist and former Mayor of Rugby in the United Kingdom, passed away on January 15 at the age of 76.

He was visiting his native Pakistan for the wedding of his brother’s grandson when he succumbed to a sudden illness. He is survived by his wife and son.

Born in a small rural village in Gujranwala District in Pakistan’s Punjab Province on March 6, 1946, Dr Shera had a remarkable journey that began when he secured a scholarship to study at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He hitch-hiked through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia before reaching Italy, where he caught a train to Belgium to start his studies, as per his interviews.

Dr Shera moved to the UK in 1970 and started working at Rugby station as a railway guard. After completing a post-graduate degree at the University of Warwick, he began teaching at the Newbold Middle School, later joining the county council education department where he worked until his retirement.

Dr Shera made history by becoming the first Pakistani to be elected Mayor of Rugby in 1988. He dedicated 40 years of his life to serving the borough of Rugby as a Labour councillor, a leader and a mentor.

Dr Shera was a scholar, a writer and a champion of interfaith and intercultural harmony. He received numerous awards and honours for his contributions to the British and Pakistani Christian communities, including the prestigious Sitara-e-Pakistan and the Hilal-e-Quaid-e-Azam awards from the President of Pakistan.

He was also bestowed with the title of MBE, the Freedom of the Borough of Rugby – the highest honour the borough council can bestow – and two honorary doctorates. He also had a road named after him in Rugby in recognition of his campaigns as chair of the council of fellows of Warwickshire College.


In a joint statement on the council's official website, Rugby Borough Council group leaders Cllr Derek Poole (Conservative), Cllr Michael Moran (Labour) and Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Liberal Democrats) said: "James Shera, or Jim as we came to know him, was greatly respected by councillors on all sides of the chamber and was also a good friend and mentor to many of his council colleagues.

“Jim's hard work and integrity were a constant throughout his 40 years of public service, and we're all truly saddened to hear of his passing.

"Our thoughts remain firmly with Jim's family and friends at this time."

In a statement to Christian Daily International, Dr Azad Marshall, the president bishop of the Church of Pakistan, lauded Dr Shera’s services for fostering interfaith and intercultural dialogue.

Bishop Marshall said that Dr Shera lived by the values of love, peace and justice.

“His legacy of service and leadership will live on and continue to inspire generations of Pakistani Christians. May God bless his soul,” he added.

Albert David MBE, a former member of Pakistan’s National Commission for Minorities, said Dr Shera’s services had profoundly impacted the Pakistani Christian community.

“Dr Shera played an important role in advocating for the rights of Pakistani Christians. He will be greatly missed!” he added.

The Rugby Borough Council intends to fly the borough flag at half-mast on the day of Dr Shera's funeral, which will be held in Rugby in some days, according to reports in the Rugby press.