Exemplifying a great love for God’s people in and out of the pulpit has been a hallmark of the Rev. Clee Lowe’s ministry.
“Pastoral care has always been my primary calling in the ministry, having been a pastor previously,” said Lowe, the interim pastor at Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. “I have such a love for people, love for the sheep of God.”
It has become evident that the majority of the members of Greater Mount Carmel have come to love Lowe since he took over in March. Greater Mount Carmel will officially take off the interim tag and install Lowe as its senior pastor during a special service at 3 p.m. Sunday at the church, 1414 Sora St.
Lowe’s predecessor, the Rev. Fred Jeff Smith, of Shiloh Baptist Church, will deliver the installation message. The Rev. Jesse Bilberry, pastor of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church and moderator of the Fourth District Baptist Association, will serve as the program’s officiant.
“I’ve always believed that when it comes to pastoral ministry, preaching takes care of itself,” Lowe said. “But you’ve really got to nurture, build and cultivate relationships with people. That entails really truly taking care of the sheep.”
Lowe, 62, said God has given him a vision for the church to “win, build and send.”
“Winning souls — that is the evangelistic part,” he said. “To build — that is the discipleship. And to send is going to be the outreach into the community.”
Lowe’s eight-month interim position at Greater Mount Carmel followed a nine-month stint as interim pastor at Shiloh, where he had been an associate to the Rev. Charles T. Smith.
In 2012, Lowe was called to lead Shiloh after Smith announced plans to retire after 50 years. Lowe continued through Smith’s death on Sept. 11, 2012, and until Fred Jeff Smith was elected to replace his father earlier this year.
Lowe then was called on to step in for Smith at Greater Mount Carmel. He said he was happy in that position with no intentions to take over on a permanent basis.
“That was the furthest thing from my mind,” he said. “I was primed and all set to return to Shiloh as associate there … They (Greater Mount Carmel members) were on me to apply, and I prayed over it and I prayed over it and it was at the very, very end that I applied.”
He garnered 73 percent of the vote.
“That to me was a clear mandate that the members wanted me to serve as their undershepherd, as their pastor,” he said.
The new position represents a fresh start for a man who has survived three heart attacks and prostate cancer.
“God has helped me to overcome those health challenges,” he said. “I’m in a situation in a very good marriage with this church … So God has made it possible for me to lead this congregation.”
Born in Union County in Arkansas (El Dorado) and raised in Union Parish in Louisiana (Spearville), Lowe said he accepted his calling to the ministry in 1969. He said he was the first black football player at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.
He graduated from American Technological University in Killeen, Texas, and studied at the Louisiana Baptist University and Theological Seminary. He was also a commissioned officer in the Army.
Lowe first came to Baton Rouge in 2005, leaving a interim pastorship position in Chicago to become an assistant to the Rev. Charles T. Smith. He had become friends with Smith through the National Baptist Convention USA.
“Rev. Smith meant everything to me,” Lowe said. “He was a stabilizing force in my ministry. He taught me some things about human nature and the psychology of outstanding church members. Not only that, he taught me how … I should care for the sheep. He also taught me to be a giver and not a taker from the church.”
His life’s theme, Lowe said, is “To do God’s will and love God’s people.”
“That’s been my aim in life. It’s been that way for a long, long time,” he said.
Celebrating 150 years
Founded in 1893, Macedonia Baptist Church in Plaquemine has been a strong place and voice in the community, said the Rev. Shannon Warner.
The church, 58210 Plaquemine St., will hold its 150-year anniversary celebration at 3 p.m. Nov. 10.
“Macedonia has historically been a church with members who have had a lot of influence in the community. Some members have been in politics, education and areas of social awareness. The church emphasizes education,” Warner said.
Even today, about 70 percent of church members are college educated, he said.
The theme for the anniversary is “Redeeming the Times.” The guest speaker will be the Rev. Leo Cyrus, pastor of New Hope and Second Baptist churches of Baton Rouge.
“It’s a traditional church and we wanted to get someone who’s meaningful to our community (of Baton Rouge) and the Plaquemine community, as well as a person of the traditional Baptist community to come and bless us,” Warner said of Cyrus.
Warner, 41, took over as the church’s pastor 10 years ago.
“They really embraced me as a pastor,” he said. “The church has allowed me to grow and develop as a minister as it has with all of the people there. It’s a very close-knit church and all of us have grown over the years.”
Macedonia has a heavy middle-age to senior congregation with a blended worship style ranging from traditional to contemporary music, Warner said.
Inmate Michael Palmer tried to get the crowd as excited as he was.
“We come out here to do nothing but lift up the name of Jesus. I’m talking about the name of Jesus, the redeemer of all mankind. I’m talking about the one who died on a cross for my sins,” Palmer shouted.
Palmer was one of the lead singers for the Transformation Gospel Band, which was performing Sunday on a gospel stage as part of the rodeo weekend festivities at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
He opened his band’s gig by sharing a short testimony.
“I don’t know about you but He’s personal in my life,” Palmer said. “I’ve done some things that I know I wasn’t ready to face those situations but (Jesus) chose to die in my place … I belong to him. My life is not my own anymore. When I accepted him, I died. He rose inside of me. So when you see me, you see him. I have nothing to give but he has eternal life.”
The Transformation Gospel Band played songs, blending some rap with some traditional gospel.
The band even did a song with the music from Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” but with Christian-themed lyrics.
“It’s not what you think,” one band member said as the music started to play.
The song’s lyrics include:
“Today is the day that the Lord has made and today is the day for amazing grace.
Today I got sorrows I’m trying to trade in.
C’mon people time is wasten
It’s never too much to give God His praises.
And I don’t care if you call me crazy.
I’m a live my life for my Lord and Savior.
Like every member of Transformation.”
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.