Andrew Fowler

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Andrew Fowler (February 23, 1910 - January 4, 2003 in Inman, South Carolina) was a 20th-century African-American pastor.

Childhood[edit]

Early life and family[edit]

Andrew Fowler was born on February 23, 1910 in Inman, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, the oldest of six children of John Calvin Fowler and Ina (née Nesbitt) Fowler of Spartanburg County. John Fowler worked at various professions; he most enjoyed being a track man for the railroad. Ina Fowler worked in the homes of postmasters, doctors, professors, bankers, and ministers, and occasionally picked cotton and peas.

Andrew Fowler spoke of his childhood as "a happy situation." He enjoyed a close relationship with his parents. His father enjoyed fellowship with his family, and would often sing and tell stories to his children; he simultaneously made clear his expectations that they be honorable and honest, counseled them about the salvation of their souls, and was happy when they became members of the church. Fowler wrote that many of the greatest moments in his life were those in which he saw his father on his knees talking with God." Fowler's mother believed that "marriage was an institution of God," and that motherhood "was a holy calling," and devoted her time to helping her children with their lessons, and teaching them songs, prayers, frugality, industry, and religion. Both parents emphasized religion, requiring Sunday school and regular church attendance. Additionally, Fowler's paternal grandmother, whose mother had been a slave, was an important influence in Fowler's life, as she passed on stories of slavery to the children.

Early work and education[edit]

Fowler sought employment from a young age. Fowler's first job was to assist a white farmer in putting down fertilizer for cotton, for which he was paid 75 cents per day. In the fall, Fowler picked cotton, in the summer, berries.

Fowler entered school about a year after securing his first job. Fowler "lived to go to school," and when the semester or term was over, would "long for school again." The school attendance of the Negro children was confined to two sessions of three months each. The first session began in December and ended in February; the second session began in July and ended in September. Fowler worked hard to stay ahead of his class, and "cried like a baby" when he failed. When he would fail in spelling, he "cried uncontrollably," and after the crying was over, he set out "to win" his place back. Fowler later wrote that he developed "Stick-to-it-tiveness" early in life.

Fowler succeeded in school, aided by an excellent memory. He often assisted the older children with their reading. He earned an early promotion to the fourth grade; however, his father insisted that he "forget about school and get a regular job."

Early spiritual life[edit]

Fowler decided that he wanted to become a preacher by the age of seven. When family friends and fellow church members mentioned who was sick, poor, orphaned, or bereaved, Fowler dreamed of the day when he "could help those who could not help themselves." Fowler converted and was baptized in the Inman, SC Zion Hill Baptist Church, his family's church, at the age of twelve. Over the next six years, served as a Sunday School teacher, Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday School, and president of the Baptist Young Peoples Union, and was ordained a deacon. Fowler spent these formative years under the tutelage of pastor Rev. W.M. Lipscomb, whom he later described as "a great gospel preacher."

Higher education[edit]

Tuskegee Institute[edit]

At the encouragement of the principal of the Negro school, Fowler took and passed the senior class final examination test, which allowed him to graduate. The president of the bank in which Fowler worked introduced him to Mr. Acie Thompson, who was acquainted with the president of Tuskegee Institute (now known as Tuskegee University), Dr. Robert Russa Moton. Fowler arrived at Tuskegee Institute in 1929, with $105 in savings. At that time, Tuskegee was representative of "industry, research, morality, religion, and wholesome traditions"; Fowler was therefore assured the privilege to study academic subjects, but was also required to study a trade.

Fowler later wrote that the faculty and teachers at Tuskegee were "qualified, devoted, and dedicated to the causes of the school and to the students." Over his years there, Fowler met numerous members of the faculty, including Dr. Moton, George Washington Carver, and Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.

By his second year at Tuskegee, Fowler had made a name for himself around campus because of his academic achievements. He always felt that "the compliments, coupled with the desire, drive, and passion to learn" inspired him with a determination to "push on." Fowler remained committed to his religious life, singing hymns in both the morning and vespers Chapel services.

Fowler received his high school diploma in plumbing in 1933, graduating as the highest ranking male student academically. He later wrote that his high school years allowed him to developed "wholesome study habits" which proved to be helpful in his college studies.

Fowler entered college at the Tuskegee Institute in 1933, majoring in History and minoring in Sociology. He was interested in history because he knew it would be helpful in his study of church history and religion. He graduated from the Tuskegee Institute with Bachelor of Science degree in May 1937.

Howard University[edit]

Fowler commenced study at the School of Religion of Howard University in September, 1937. Fowler found his teachers "capable and dedicated"; they included notables such as Benjamin Elijah Mays, Dean of the School of Religion, and Howard Thurman, Dean of the Chapel. Fowler graduated from Howard in June 1940 with a Bachelor's of Divinity degree. During his first degree at Howard, Dr. Mays secured Fowler an apprenticeship at the Shiloh Baptist Church, under the leadership of the Rev. Earl L. Harrison. Fowler found a friend and mentor in Rev. Harrison, who (after two weeks), allowed him to bring forth a short message one night in a prayer meeting; Fowler used Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever." for a text. At Shiloh, Fowler taught a Sunday School class and took part in Christian Endeavor. Fowler later received a Master of Arts degree in Religious Education from Howard University in 1943, while serving as pastor.

Marriage and family[edit]

Fowler met Henriette Roberta Hatter while serving his apprenticeship at the Shiloh Baptist Church, of which Hatter was a member. They determined their compatibility over a series of meaningful conversations. Fowler and Hatter married on June 27, 1944. They had four children: Andretta InaRoberta, Andrew Hatter, Henrietta Ellen, and John Thomas. Like their parents, the four Fowler children "were reared in a home that instilled in them love of learning, as evidenced by each having earned multiple degrees, in addition to firsthand exposure to the joy that comes with living a life that is the outgrowth of spiritual enlightenment." Fowler credited much of his success to the support and love of his wife and family.

Religious career[edit]

Fowler was ordained a Baptist preacher at this home church, Zion Hill Baptist in Inman, South Carolina by his childhood pastor, Rev. Lipscomb in August 1940. In early March 1941, while working as an elevator operator, Fowler received a telephone call from Rev. J. Clark Griffin, the Pastor of the Capital View Baptist Church, informing him that the church had elected Fowler as a replacement pastor, as Griffin had accepted an army chaplaincy. Although the initial appointment was for a 1-year position, Fowler would serve as pastor at Capital View for over sixty years.

Within five years of his appointment as pastor, Fowler disbursed all of Capital View's debts. He spearheaded the construction and extension of the current Capital View building, and led the church to contribute annually to denominational schools and affiliate with numerous local organizations, including the National Urban League, the Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home Association, the DC chapter of the Tuberculosis Association, the local branch of the NAACP, and the Mayor's Emergency Committee on Health.

Fowler developed a friendship with Dr. William Henry Jernigan, then President of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention and founder of the Washington Baptist Theological Seminary. The Seminary's purpose was "to train Christian ministers and religious workers the history and doctrines of the Baptist denomination." Fowler became an instructor at the seminary in 1947 and president of the school in 1976.

Fowler received recognition for his contributions in the religious spectrum over the course of his lifetime, and continued to maintain professional affiliation with several religious organizations. In 1960, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree by the Lynchburg Seminary and College "for his outstanding work as a denomination leader, teacher, builder, civic leader, missionary, and pastor."

Political work[edit]

Fowler committed himself to a number of social causes, particularly civil rights. He spent six years as Commissioner of DC General Hospital. As a member of the board of the National Fraternal Council of Churches, founder and Executive Secretary of the Committee of 100 Ministers, and director of the Washington Bureau, NFCNC, Fowler launched a nationwide crusade to save "America's Public Schools," labored to improve the social services system, lobbied to make jobs available to Negroes who could not be hired at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the armed forces, public transportation, etc. Over the course of his political life, Fowler advised six US presidents (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter).

Fowler wrote that "morality cannot be legislated, but society should discipline itself." However, he opposed same-sex marriage, legislation to ease penalties against marijuana sale, and proposals for legalized gambling in the District. He felt the latter proposals knew would "increase crime, deteriorate character, and dull the moral sense.

Death[edit]

Fowler never expressed a desire to retire, as he viewed his fight as for the cause of humanity and the kingdom of God. He died on January 4, 2003.

References[edit]

  • Beckwith, Irene M. "Dr. A. Fowler feted by fellow ministers." The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, June 8, 1974, Religious News Section.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 5.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 15.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 15.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 5.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 6.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 7.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 7.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 12.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 14.
  • Dole, Kenneth. "Rev. Fowler Sought Church Career at 7." The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, May 8, 1958, Washington Churchman Section.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 17.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 18.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 19.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 21.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 29.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 30.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 32.
  • Fowler, Andrew. "Notes on My Fifty Years in Washington, DC and Background." Dec. 1987: 33.
  • Beckwith, Irene M. "Capital View is a haven for downcast people." The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, March 11, 1966, Religious News Section.
  • Andrew Fowler. Funeral Program. January 10, 2003, the Fowler Family Collection.
  • Henrietta HBeckwith, Irene M. "Dr. A. Fowler feted by fellow ministers." The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, June 8, 1974, Religious News Section.
  • Beckwith, Irene M. "Dr. A. Fowler feted by fellow ministers." The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, June 8, 1974, Religious News Section.
  • Andrew Fowler. Funeral Program. January 10, 2003, the Fowler Family Collection.
  • Henrietta Hatter-Fowler. Funeral Program. December 31, 2004, the Fowler Family Collection.
  • "NFCC mobilizes campaign to 'Save America's Schools.'" The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, October 1, 1983, Religious News Section.
  • "He speaks softly, but his voice really carries." The Washington Star Newspaper. December 14, 1977, District Profile Section.
  • West, Diana. "Pulpit prophet recalls old times." The Washington Times, March 9, 1987, Religious News Section.