PLANT CITY – Dr. Brian Stowe said he hadn’t even heard of Plant City until a search committee from First Baptist Church came calling.
He soon realized it was nothing short of divine intervention.
“The call of God,” Stowe explains when asked how he became the new senior pastor of one of Plant City’s largest churches.
Stowe was unanimously approved Oct. 13 by members of the church congregation after he preached two morning sermons. The members in favor of hiring the 45-year-old minister were asked to stand after he left the sanctuary following the 11 a.m. sermon. Everyone in the audience rose to their feet.
“We’re really looking forward to coming here. I feel very humbled and very honored,” he said.
Stowe said he likes strawberries, but never had heard of Plant City – the nation’s winter strawberry capital – until he was approached about taking the pulpit here. His first sermon as senior pastor is Dec. 8 at the church, 503 N. Palmer St.
For the last 16 years, he’s been senior pastor at Maysville Baptist Church in Maysville, Ga., northeast of Atlanta. He called his departure from there bittersweet.
“We had a lot of good experiences and a lot of good memories but the Lord has opened up a new door for us,” he said.
He and his wife of 21 years, Bonnie, have four children, Sarah, 16, Hannah, 14, Andrew, 9, and Elizabeth, 2. They have already found a home in Plant City.
He takes the place of the Rev. Michael S. Lewis, who left in January to take a job with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Missions Board.
Stowe has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and master’s and doctor of divinity degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
His wife has a bachelor’s in early childhood education from the University of Georgia. She home-schools their children.
Stowe previously was associate youth minister at First Baptist Dallas and pastor of Fremont Hills Baptist Church in Nixa, Mo.
During his tenure at Maysville Baptist, the church membership grew from 150 to more than 800. First Baptist has about 3,700 members.
According to information distributed by First Baptist, here’s a profile of the family:
Stowe enjoys golf, spending time with his family and is a Georgia Tech fan. His favorite biblical verse is Philippians 3:10 and his favorite biblical character is Nehemiah.
His wife enjoys cooking, teaching, reading, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
Sarah is in the 11th grade and her interests include playing the piano, participating in dramas, reading, singing, the beach, taking part in mission trips and family time.
Hannah is a ninth-grader and enjoys taking part in dramas and special youth group presentations at church, amusement parks, including thrill rides, and serving in ministries.
Andrew, who is in the fourth grade, likes baseball, piano, swimming and participating in children’s choir. He loves helping others.
Elizabeth is described as a “very busy 2-year-old that loves to talk, climb, make messes and generally keeps everyone hopping.” She likes keeping up with her siblings and loves her family and is generous with her hugs.