Johnathan Stowe will lead his first congregation

Johnathan Stowe, with his wife and daughter

Johnathan Stowe will lead his  first congregation
August 04
10:36 2022

On Aug. 14th, Pastor Johnathan Stowe will deliver his first sermon as pastor-elect of Westside Missionary Baptist Church in Robbins, North Carolina. Stowe has been around the ministry since being born, but his calling came later as others saw it in him before he did himself.

“My father is a bishop, so I grew up in the church. If you go all the way back to my mother, they say my mother was shouting with me in the womb, so that’s what they always said,” Stowe said about growing up in church. “Growing up in church, I always was a part of the ministry with my dad, with the choir, Sunday school, or whatever department.

“As I kind of grew up and got married, it was around 2012 when I first mentioned to my mom and wife that I felt like I was called to the ministry. Under my pastor now, Cory Graves, he actually approached me about the ministry before I mentioned anything to him, so it’s almost like he saw it in me.”

Stowe gave his initial sermon in 2013 and immediately felt that the ministry was the right calling for him. He says many people told him that they knew he would become a pastor, but for him it was his personal relationship with God that really spoke to him.

“He started speaking to me and telling me that I had a heart for His people, so when I finally listened to the voice of God, that’s when things kind of moved in that direction,” Stowe said about his walk in the faith. “I’ve always been in the church for the most part, but that was around that time when I actually answered that call.”

Initially Stowe had no desire to become a senior pastor of a church. His goal was simply to have a better connection with God.

“A lot of people who weren’t physically in the church would call me pastor and I would tell them that I am not a pastor,” he said. “It never really was on my brain to lead God’s people as a pastor at that time. I just wanted to learn more about God, learn more about myself and be a servant to God’s people.”

Stowe took that relationship with God wherever he was. As an employee of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools as a math teacher and basketball coach, he says his faith helped him in both roles.

“A minister is really a servant. That’s what I ended up doing at Carver in academics and athletics,” he went on to say. “I looked at that as a ministry when I ended up going to Carver because I had taught at GTCC for six years before then. I remember praying to God asking him to increase my territory and then my job was discontinued at GTCC and I ended up at Carver and the rest is history.”

Stowe’s uncle, Pastor Leon Oglesby, was the senior pastor at Westside Missionary for over 15 years prior to him passing away last year. Stowe and his family would routinely visit the church and he would minister to the congregation.  

“His wife, my aunt, and his children asked me to preach a sermon for his eulogy during his service,” he stated. “After that they had called me to come down and help guide them through that process of not having a pastor. I went down there a couple of Sundays and after a while they opened the position and then me and my wife prayed about it and I applied, and it went from there.”

During the interview process, Stowe spent many Sundays at Westside preaching and leading the Sunday school, which allowed him the opportunity to get to know the people of the congregation and form a great rapport with them. 

“Me and my wife would talk about it and I would tell her on the ride down there that this really feels like home,” he said. “Every time we would ride down there, it just became easier. The church we come from, White Oak Grove in Greensboro, is 45 minutes away, so it’s only 15 minutes longer for the commute.

“Every time we would go, me and my wife would talk, listen to music, or have bonding time. Every time we went down there, it was a good service and we got a good feel for the people.”

Stowe says he really wants to upgrade the church’s virtual ministry. Being a rural congregation, they don’t have Wi-Fi. Another goal of his is to immediately connect with the youth because that was one of his callings at White Oak. Music is another passion for Stowe as well.

Working in the school system gives Stowe a unique perspective when dealing with the youth in the church. He feels he knows how to connect with them at their level and hopes that helps in bringing them back to the church.

There were no expectations for Stowe when it came to the senior pastor position. He just felt he would be a good fit and left the rest in God’s hands.

“Honestly, I was shocked. There were other candidates. Even though I had a positive outlook and felt I had connected myself with the church family, I was just really anxious about what would happen, but when it did, I was just shocked,” Stowe said about his feelings when he was named senior pastor at Westside.

“It was a sigh of relief and we just praised. My mom started praising and I was with all my family at a wedding when I found out. I told everybody and everyone was just happy and rejoicing. It was just a feeling of knowing that God had ordained over the years and it finally came to fruition.”

Stowe was very appreciative of his time and lessons learned while he was a member of White Oak Grove. He says when he was married to his wife in 2010, they were attending his father’s church, but he and his wife felt they needed a new beginning with another congregation. They visited several churches around the Triad area and White Oak was the best fit for them.  

“After we got married, we decided to make a married couple decision,” he said. “We tried to find our own church that we would have together, so we ended up visiting and visiting and we went over to Greensboro and visited White Oak Grove a few Sundays and we ended up joining.

“I ended up getting to know some people there, singing in the choir and singing on the praise team. That’s where it started and then my pastor approached me about the calling on my life, which startled me a little bit because I never really told anybody. So, when he mentioned that, that’s when everything started coming together and he started grooming me for this exact moment right now. He always had a saying that he doesn’t have associate ministers just to pat him on the back or say ‘amen pastor,’ but he really tries to groom us and allow us to go out and compel men to come to Christ the same way that he does every Sunday.”

According to Stowe, oftentimes his ministry would branch over into his life in the school system. He says there were many times a kid or a co-worker would ask him to pray for them or ask him about scripture. He feels being in the ministry helped form his faith and that God put him there for a reason.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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