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Gov. Moore brings history and hope to Fowler UMC

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By Melissa Lauber

In January, Governor Wes Moore was sworn in as the first Black governor of Maryland and became the third Black governor in the United States. In February, he preached at Fowler United Methodist Church in Annapolis, a small African-American church founded in 1871.

Speaking from history’s great podium and faith’s humble pulpit, Moore proclaimed a message of grace and hope that harkened back to his great-grandfather and his grandfather, who both served as preachers.

 “The Lord doesn’t promise us simple, he promises us salvation,” Moore said, citing Romans 5:3: that in our suffering, comes perseverance, from perseverance comes character and from character springs hope, “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”

Moore was invited to Fowler UMC by Pastor Jerome Jones, who leads that congregation and Wilson Memorial UMC. Members from both congregations gathered for the last Sunday in Black History Month to hear the new governor in a service created by Vanessa Jones.

“The best views come out of the hardest climbs,” said Jones. The governor took one of the hardest climbs, and he climbed for all of us, said the pastor as he welcomed those present to holy ground. The Rev. Tony Love, assistant to Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula Delaware Conferences, prayed for “this day of miracles and mysteries” as he gave thanks in Jesus’ name for the new governor and the future that lies ahead for Maryland and its people.

“While I understand the difference between church and state, I am thankful that I am a child of God. I know who woke me up this morning,” Moore responded. “I know who has written the script.”

 Moore’s script is an impressive and dramatic one. His father died when he was 3-years-old and he was raised by his grandparents before returning to Maryland at age 14. He was the first Black Rhodes Scholar in the history of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; served as an officer in the Army in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division; worked as a White House Fellow; wrote the New York Times bestseller, “The Other Wes Moore;” and led the Robin Hood Foundation where during his four years as CEO, the foundation distributed more than $600 million toward lifting families out of poverty.

During his remarks, Moore acknowledged his grandfather, who was the first black minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. When people would ask his grandfather what that was like, he would reply, “It’s humbling, but let’s be clear, that wasn’t the assignment.”

Moore feels the same way about many of his firsts. His assignment as Maryland’s governor, and the foundation on which the state will march forward, he said, is service.

During Black History Month, “while we’re honoring Moses, let’s make sure we’re not forgetting the Joshua’s among us. You’re the Joshua’s – the ones who have the baton in their hands, Moore said. “While we have the baton in our hands, let us run as hard as we can run.”

He praised the members of Fowler and Wilson Memorial UMCs for their work providing water and solar panels for a community in Zimbabwe, and for offering meals to people who were homeless and living in the woods near the church.

The Rev. Sarah Schlieckert, superintendent of the Annapolis District, shared with Moore how one of the defining traits of United Methodists is their willingness to always be growing in both personal and social holiness. “We are living into who we are called to be,” she said, and pledged that United Methodists will be enthusiastic partners in the governor’s focus on service.

Amid soul-stirring music, an altar call, and fervent prayer, the governor and the congregations worshipped. Moore told the people how when he shipped off to Afghanistan, his grandfather gave him a small Bible, which he kept in the pocket of his flak vest. Inscribed in the front of the book were four words, Moore said, “Have faith, not fear.”

He encouraged those present to join him on a collective journey into a shared future. “Let us march forward,” he said. “That’s the message. That’s the lesson. That’s the assignment.” And he closed with the prayer of a song: “Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won.”

See a video of the service See more photos from the event

Rev. Dr. Johnsie W. Cogman Feb 27, 2023 11:37am

This is AWESOME! #marchingforward

Joan Fowler Vigil Feb 27, 2023 8:08pm

The founder of Fowler church was Joseph Oscar Fowler. He developed the church after developing Mt. Harmony United Methodist Church in Owings, Md. I am a descendant of Joseph Oscar Fowler's brother, William C. Fowler and I can take you to the grave of their mother, father and William. I grew up in the area and gave tours for the Calvert County Historical Society from 2000 until the pandemic. My Fowler family research was done before computers and continued after was invented. My son has continued the research and researched many resources including the archives in Annapolis. Contact me it you would like more information at I received this information from another son, Rev. Rafe Vigil also a United Methodist minister.

Rebecca J Wright Feb 27, 2023 8:55pm

I am so glad that I took the time ot read this article, I bought the book, "The Other Wes Moore" for our church library. I am just humbled by the fact and timing to help our children learn how our leaders made it!

Anonymous Feb 28, 2023 10:48am

What a blessing Gov. Moore is for Maryland. It's great that he graced the congregations with the message of "faith, not fear."

David Bitters Mar 3, 2023 1:51pm

What a rich and inspirational history! Thanks so much for uplifting us all.