Retirement is always a bittersweet time. While you look forward to relaxed time spent with family, you also say goodbye to those you’ve worked with. For Donald and Willard Bowen, that means parting with many parishioners they have cared for through their combined 108 years of ministry.
The Bowen boys grew up on Waterview Farm near Naylor’s Beach. And except for the typical sibling rivalry, their similar, easy-going natures meant they got along well both then and now.
Throughout their childhood, their family attended Welcome Grove Baptist where Willard is currently pastor and will retire at the end of the year. Prior to that Willard was pastor at Oak Grove Baptist for 33 years.
With so much history at Welcome Grove, Willard still remembers what he told the congregation when he first became pastor there 10 years ago. “If you forget what you know about me, I’ll forget what I know about you, and we’ll start from square one,” he said with a laugh.
Even though Willard ended up at the church they started from, it was older brother Donald who was called to the ministry first, while a student at Virginia Tech. Younger brother Willard was not surprised.
“Our family has always been church-centered, so we’re never surprised at what God does,” he said.
Donald would go on to spend nearly half of his 62-year-calling at Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria but was delighted to come back home to Warsaw and Cobham Park Baptist Church before he steps away from the pulpit.
“It’s was wonderful coming back and it’s been a privilege to see lives changed through God,” Donald said.
So what changes have the Bowen brothers seen in themselves during that time?
For the full article pick up a copy of this weeks Northern Neck Newspaper 10/31/18