After decades in the pulpit, Knoxville reverend retires

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- He's well known from behind the pulpit, and is now preparing to set his words to print as an author.

One of Knoxville's most respected clergy is retiring this week.

Reverend Bill Fowler of Church Street United Methodist Church is saying goodbye to his flock.

Alan Williams sat down with him and looked back at his long-time ministry.

It's been Rev. Fowler's sanctuary of comfort in more ways than one for the past 14 years.

Now, the 66-year-old is about to give his final sermon.

Rev. Fowler says, "There was a song growing up that we as young people used to sing, it went, give of yourself to the master, and if I can’t give my best because I’m losing a step or two, or because I fatigue more easily, I want to step aside, and let someone who can go with it, who can run."

He began his ministry 42 years ago as a calling from God, and an eventual prodding from his father.

It began at a church in Bluff City, Tenn. in 1973. That's when the learning curve from his congregation began.

Rev. Fowler says, “All I do is listen to them, and my goodness, their insight in the Lord, their insight on tradition, it’s been phenomenal. And then, as a pastor, I get to work with them in the high and holy moments like weddings."

There will be plenty of time to share with grandchildren. Recently, Rev. Fowler addressed Oxford University in England, and was honored by his alma mater, Martin Methodist College for their hall of distinction.

Sunday will be his last sermon, and a memorable one.

Rev. Fowler says, “My last one has to do with Abram, who has been asked to go to a far country, and to do in faith what the Lord says. So he’s leaving his home to the far country."

Bill Fowler may be retiring from God's pulpit, but he’s never far away from His word.

Rev. Andy Ferguson will be taking over in the following weeks. In the meantime, Rev. Fowler will retire to Roane County, and is set to begin writing books, some on the history of Church Street United Methodist.

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