Open main menu

Fred Lynn Lowery (born March 16, 1943) is the retired former senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana, whose Sunday sermons under the title The First Word were broadcast between 1983 and 2013 on KTBS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, and on several cable television outlets. The broadcasts reached a total weekly audience of 15 million.[1]

Fred Lynn Lowery
Born (1943-03-16) March 16, 1943 (age 76)
ResidenceBossier City, Louisiana
Alma materSamford University

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Luther Rice Seminary
OccupationSouthern Baptist clergyman:
Retired pastor, First Baptist Church of Bossier City, Louisiana
Years active1960 -
Spouse(s)Lisabeth Leigh Jones Lowery (married 1974)
ChildrenChristy Camille Lowery Faciane
Shelby Lynn Lowery Koch
Websitehttp://www.oneplace.com/ministries/the-first-word/read/
Previous sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Bossier City
Newer portion of First Baptist Church sanctuary built under the pastorate of Fred L. Lowery

Lowery announced on May 5, 2013, that he would retire that year from his ministry. On September 8, 2013, the Reverend Bradley Lynn Jurkovich (born 1973), known as Brad Jurkovich, formerly of the Victory Life Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas, succeeded Lowery as pastor at the Bossier City congregation. Jurkovich's Sunday morning sermon is now carried on The First Word.[2]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

A native of Montevallo in Shelby County in central Alabama, Lowery is the second of four children born to a late pastor, also named Fred L. Lowery, and the former Esther Burkhalter[1] (c. 1923-2013), who spent her later years in Hurst in Tarrant County, Texas. The senior Lowerys are interred at the Providence Baptist Church Cemetery in Montevallo. Lowery's maternal uncle, the late Clark Burkhalter, was also a pastor.[3] Lowery's brother, John Daniel Lowery of Aiken, South Carolina, a former automobile salesman, died in 2013 at the age of sixty-eight, less than four months prior to the passing of their mother.[4] His other siblings are Dr. Charles S. Lowery (born 1948), a motivational speaker, who with his wife, Penny, lives in Denton County, Texas, and Norma Jean "Jeannie" Metts (born 1941), wife of Dr. Harold Leroy "Roy" Metts (also born 1941), of Colleyville in Tarrant County, Texas.[3] Metts is a professor of Greek and New Testament at Criswell College in Dallas.[5]

Before he received the call to the ministry, Lowery wanted to be an airline pilot.[6] Lowery received his Bachelor of Arts from Samford University in Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, a Master of Theology degree in 1969 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice University, then in Jacksonville, Florida, and since relocated to Lithonia, Georgia. At SWBTS, Lowery was accepted into the honors program and was a teaching fellow in the fields of evangelism and church growth. After seminary, Lowery worked full-time in evangelism.[7]

Lowery and his wife, the former Lisabeth Leigh Jones (born 1951), married in 1974,[1] have two daughters, Christy Camille Lowery Faciane and husband, Ky, of Collierville, near Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee, and Shelby Lynn Lowery Koch (born 1977) and husband, Jon, of Austin, Texas.[3] Lowery previously lived in Avon Park in Highlands County in southern Florida and Inman in Spartanburg County in northwestern South Carolina.[8]

Pastor and authorEdit

In 1960 at the age of seventeen, Lowery was called as the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Aiken, South Carolina.[1] For a time after he completed seminary, Lowery was the pastor of First Baptist Church of North Spartanburg in Spartanburg, South Carolina.[7] He then moved to Pisgah Baptist Church in Spartanburg, where he expected to remain for his preaching career, but then came the call to First Baptist Bossier.[6]

Lowery came to First Baptist Bossier in 1983, when he was forty. The next year, a fire erupted in the baptistry and burned much of the church; temporary quarters were found, and rebuilding was completed in 1986. In 1997, additional land was acquired, and First Baptist Bossier thereafter added a 2,500-seat worship center, remodeled each building, and added a children's addition and a state-of-the-art preschool building called "Tiny Town".[9] On November 19, 1998, FBC raised $1.3 million in one day for its expansion program.[10] In 2009, he asked the members of the congregation to leave their shoes at the altar for the needy and demonstrate in a tangible way they were willing to break out of their routine to promote the cause of Christ. More than a thousand did so.[6]

First Baptist Bossier has more than seven thousand members. Lowery's website describes himself as having "a wonderful sense of humor, [who] goes straight to God's word and offers fresh insight as he communicates the truth of Christianity in practical ways. To him, life's bottom line is faith, family and friends."[11] The First Word broadcasts began in June 1983. The program airs at 7 a.m. Central Time Sundays. For a number of years, it has been the top-rated Sunday program in the tri-state area of northwestern Louisiana, east Texas, and southwestern Arkansas.[1]

In November 1989, Lowery was elected as the president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention at its 142nd annual meeting, which was held that year at Louisiana College in Pineville. He won the position by a four-vote margin, 723 to 719, over Dr. Sid Young (died 1999), the pastor from 1988 to 1991 of the First Baptist Church of Haynesville in northern Claiborne Parish. Lowery was the conservative candidate in the contest; most in the "moderate" faction supported Young. At the convention, Lowery stressed the needed for greater evangelism when he warned that "oil and politis have failed us." He also affirmed his pro-life credentials: "I stand strongly against abortion. I'm as pro-life as anyone could ever be. I would [also] oppose the lottery as an answer to our problems in the state."[12]

Lowery is also a former vice president and president of the Pastor's Conference, an influential position in the Southern Baptist Convention, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. According to Lowery, "We have a moral and spiritual crisis in America today. ... To me our choices are revival or judgment."[13] At the 1993 Pastor's Conference in Houston, when Lowery was the president, the speakers focused on II Chronicles 7:14"to encourage ... our pastors as they deal with hurting people. The path of our society is causing incredible problems in the lives of our people."[13]

Lowery has been a trustee of both Louisiana College and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans.[7]

With Charles Stanley of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, Lowery is the co-author of Making the Bible Clear (1980).[14] Lowery has written Starting Here, Starting Now: A Christian's Guide to Getting Unstuck (1986),[15]

Lowery's Covenant Marriage: Staying Together for Life[1] was published in 2002.[16] According to his website, a Covenant marriage is one designed by God who knows that an otherwise simple "contract, easily cancelled, would not sustain the pain of a flawed marriage. God knew that the inevitable hurts and hassles, storms and struggles, difficulties and disappointments would tear at the heart of a contractual agreement, and it would disintegrate into a thousand pieces scattered along a trail of hurt, horror and hell. ... Covenant marriage is ... a spiritual binding of the hearts and a mystical connection where two people become one in a relational covenant that is broken only by death."[11]

Other Lowery works are "Faith, Family, and Friends"[17] and Four Steps to Restoring Relationships.[18] Still other Lowery books are Home Improvement 101, Jogging Through The Bible,[1] Seven Habits of Highly Successful Marriages, and How to Be Happy and Stay Married.[7]

In addition to the television ministry, Lowery delivered daily radio broadcasts. Articles and devotionals can be accessed from his website.

In retirement, he will continued to host marriage seminars. He will be a guest preacher in other churches but not in the Shreveport-Bossier City area so as not to be seen as in competition with First Baptist Bossier.[6]

Political activityEdit

In 2012, Lowery invited the Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, to speak at First Baptist Bossier. Before Lowery's congregation, Santourm related his personal and emotional story of the loss of his newborn son, Gabriel and the trials of a physically-handicapped daughter, Bella.[19] On that same Sunday, Santorum delivered a similar address an hour later at the large Calvary Baptist Church in Shreveport. Days later, he handily won the Louisiana primary but still withdrew from the race early in April after defeat in Wisconsin.[20] Lowery called Santorum a politician "who really is a statesman, and he believes exactly what I believe about faith and family."[21]

On the occasion of Lowery's announcement of retirement, Louisiana State Representative Jeff R. Thompson of Bossier City introduced a unanimously-approved House resolution praising Lowery for his 30-year ministry at First Baptist Bossier. The resolution declares June 2, 2013 as "Fred Lowery Day" in Louisiana.[1]

First Baptist Bossier honored Lowery a final time on January 12, 2014, when in a service extending for more than two hours, the outgoing pastor presented his successor, Reverend Jurkovich, with a shepherd's crook. Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker presented Lowery, who in youth had aspirations of flying, with United States Air Force command pilot wings which Walker, a retired Air Force colonel had once worn. Speaking at the service was the Rev. Dr. Ronnie Floyd of the Southern Baptist Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas in Springdale, Arkansas, who had recommended Jurkovich to the search committee as Lowery's successor.[22] Not long afterwards, Floyd was named president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "House Resolution No. 141 by Representative Jeff R. Thompson of Bossier City, 2013". legis.la.gov. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "New Pastor Elect, September 8, 2013". oneplace.com. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Esther B. Lowery, July 22, 2013". Shelby County Reporter, Columbiana, Alabama. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  4. ^ "John Daniel Lowery (August 21, 1944 - April 3, 2013)". shellhousefuneralhome.com. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  5. ^ "H. Leroy Metts: Professor of Greek and New Testament". criswell.edu. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d "Sherry P. Shephard, "Fred Lowery retires after 30 years at First Baptist Bossier: 'The Lord has something out there and I will preach until I die'", January 7, 2014". Shreveport Times. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d "Lowery Featured Speaker for Oklahoma Baptist University Chapel Service, February 14, 2000". okbu.edu. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  8. ^ "Search Results for Lowery, Fred in LA". peoplesearch.com. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  9. ^ Jane Bokun, "Dr. Fred Lowery celebrates 50 years in ministry", The Shreveport Times, September 15, 2010
  10. ^ Fred L. Lowery, "30th Anniversary Dr. Lowery at First Bossier", First Word, June 2, 2013
  11. ^ a b "The First Word with Dr. Fred Lowery". oneplace.com. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Baptists elect Bossier pastor", Minden Press-Herald, November 15, 1989, p. 1
  13. ^ a b "Art Toalston, Pastors' Conference to focus on America's need for revival" (PDF). Baptist Press, March 31, 1993. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  14. ^ Fred L. Lowery and Charles Stanley, Making the Bible Clear, Love Publishing, 1980, 308 pp., ISBN 0-961079223
  15. ^ Starting Here, Starting Now: A Christian's Guide to Getting Unstuck. Love Publishing Company. 1986. ISBN 0939359006. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  16. ^ Covenant Marriage: Staying Together for Life. Howard Books. ISBN 1-58229-393-7. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  17. ^ Dr. Anil & Laura Nanda. The Shreveport Times, October 30, 2005. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  18. ^ Search Sermons, Backgrounds, and More. sermonsearch.com. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  19. ^ "Juana Summers, "Rick Santorum's faith journey takes center stage", March 20, 2012". politico.com. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  20. ^ "Santorum withdraws from Republican presidential race, April 10, 2012". therecord.com. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  21. ^ "Kristi Johnston, For believers, Santorum's the ticket". The Shreveport Times, March 19, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  22. ^ "John Andrew Prime, "Service marks leadership change at First Bossier: Packed sanctuary watches Fred Lowery pass the torch after 30 years"". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved January 13, 2014.