Highlighting Black History: Meet the first African American Pastor of Jimmy Carter’s church in Plains

Black History Month

PLAINS, Ga. (WRBL) – Pastor Tony Lowden is the first African American pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church, in Plains, Ga. where his congregation includes everyone from neighbors to a former U.S. President.

Pastor Lowden learned he’d be the new interim pastor in a missed call turned voicemail from the church’s most famous member, President Jimmy Carter.

In the voicemail from the 39th United States President, Carter can be heard saying, “Tony, this is Jimmy Carter. I just wanted to tell you how much we appreciated you coming yesterday, and we highly enjoyed you.”

In that same voicemail, President Carter asked Lowden to become the interim pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church.

Pastor Lowden recalls the moment as pure shock.

“Never in wildest dreams. I’m just a little boy from the hood of North Philly, one of the worst ghettos in America,” said Lowden.

Now in Plains, Lowden faces different challenges, including leading a church in a global pandemic and leading a church in a divisive political season.

“This is a time we should show compassion. This is a time where we show that hate cannot be in the same place that Christ is. So, if Christ is in us,  I can’t go to church on Sunday and be hating my neighbor who’s sitting next to me or at a church down the road from me,” said Lowden.

Even with all of the disaster, defeat, and destruction, Lowden is confident the nation will see this season through.

“We have to get to a point where we still have to proclaim that there’s still hope and that He’s still in charge, as long as you have faith you can hang on to that and that’s why I’m never going to give up,” says Lowden.

Pastor Lowden tells News 3 that even now, when he visits with the Carters on certain Saturdays of the month, they each will ask how members of their church are doing and who they can pray for.

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