Mar 19, 2021 | Rev. Rob Fuquay
In less than a month of announcing the death of former senior pastor, Dick Hamilton, I need to share the sad news regarding the death earlier this week of another pastor who served at St. Luke’s, David Owen. David was a compassionate, faithful, justice-seeking, grace-filled, minister of the Gospel. In 1982 (or thereabouts) the senior minister of St. Luke’s at that time, Dr. Carver McGriff, asked David to come to start a ministry of teaching, outreach, and connection. His Bible study classes were legendary. There were a number of single/divorced people in the church and community, and this was a time when many churches didn’t provide the most welcoming place for divorced and other single adults. David started a ministry that became known throughout the city and region. Hundreds met weekly in this community of grace and hospitality that provided hope and healing. Many couples in our church today met in this singles ministry!
David served several other Methodist churches, before and after St. Luke’s: Meridian Street, St. Mark’s Bloomington, and finally North UMC. David was a brilliant pulpiteer, even if his modesty caused him not to consider himself so. His sermons were a blend of honest transparency and biblical wisdom making him like a spiritual Sherpa guiding people up their mountains of life. In retirement, he was known for writing a regular blog, Owen at Random, in which he brought the Gospel to bear on politics, social upheaval, church errancies, and general life issues. He was also an accomplished painter in retirement, with an artist’s eye and a blog that advanced his creative impact. David and his wife, Dot, are examples for us all.
One of those persons who considered David an important spiritual mentor is Charlie Richardson. Charlie will be undertaking a project with David’s wife Dot, and former St. Luke’s member, Ron MacVittie, to pull together many of the writings of David Owen (even beyond David’s four books and two blogs) and make them accessible for future generations of clergy and laity. He has already gathered a 7-part sermon series David preached at North UMC on the essence of Christian living, preceded by two other sermons done to introduce the series in 2004—let Charlie (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you want a copy of the booklet they are putting together. These sermons are so relevant and helpful. David’s clarity is brilliant.
Judge Sarah Evans Barker shared these words in tribute:
David was an exquisite human being, one of God’s best. He had an artist’s mind and eye, a pastor’s heart, a spirit for justice and peace, and a soul enflamed by love. It’s hard to imagine a finer man than he was. I only knew him from a distance and by reputation; even so, I felt not just a connection, but a mutuality of purpose and a camaraderie, like somehow we were in the same struggle together. As he takes flight from this life and moves on into eternity, I will remain grateful for the extraordinary and inspiring ways that he enriched my life and those of all who knew him.
Dr. Linda McCoy who worked with David at St. Luke’s and shared an office with him offered this response to my request for comment:
I always described him as a brilliant man, very articulate. This is a huge loss for the world. He was a great colleague, and very perceptive. Those are some of my thoughts. I’m sorry you didn’t have the chance to work with him...a real gift to us all.
So for all those former St. Luke’s members now in heaven, they have another former pastor who joins them in worship from on high. Here’s to a great leader.
And now for a closing salutation, I haven’t been able to use in a while: See you Sunday!