Black History Month

Article: One, Two, Three

REV. ALBERT FRANKLYN OWENS served as the first pastor of Franklin Street Baptist Church and was born a slave. Rev Owens was the editor of the Baptist Leader and pastor at Mobile. was born in Wilcox county, Ala., January 1, 1854. Early in life he left Alabama for Louisiana. in which state he was led to exercise faith in the Son of God and was baptized into Little Mt. Zion Church by the Rev. G. Stemley. of Avoyelles Parish. In April, 1873. he was licensed to enter upon the work of the gospel ministry. At the call of the Third Baptist Church. Mobile. Ala., he was ordained to the functions of the ministerial office by the Common Street Baptist Church. New Orleans. 13., May 28, 1877, by a council of which Rev. Marsena Stone, D. D., of Ohio, was chairman, and Rev. A. M. Newman was secretary. His longest and hitherto most prosperous pastorate has been with the church who called for his ordination. and whom he led to the purchase of their neat brick edifice on St. Anthony Street.

Beginning with them in the spring of 1887, he left them for Uniontown, September, 1890, in excel- lent quarters and free from debt. This he did at such patient self sacrifice as may be found in only a very few men of his age. In 1873 he entered Leland University, New Orleans, where he remained four years, pursuing the classical and theological courses under Drs. Gregory and Stone. While in Louisiana he was engaged in teaching school and was intimately associated with the general Baptist work, being at one time editor of their state organ, the Baptist Messenger. In 1884-85 he was editor of the Baptist Pioneer, located at Selma, Ala., and has served as general superintendent of missions for the State of Alabama. For many years he has been on the Board of Trustees of Selma University, and in recognition of his solid worth and general information he is now the bearer of our denominational standard.

Rev. Owens is a typical, Christian gentleman. No other man among us has a library so select, so varied and so valuable as he has, nor has any man in Alabama a clearer evidence of literary talent and literary relish. He is a many-sided man, and the beauty of his solid personal qualities is greatly enhanced by his indigenous vivacity, unstinted hospitality, and perennial benevolence. In the hovels of the poor and in the times of the sources of disease, no man among us is more welcome than he, neither is there one of his brethren whose duty renders more heedless of danger or blind to person al privations and material losses. Whether he builds houses of worship, preaches, lectures, teaches, writes–whatever may be the engagement of the hour, that engagement focuses the whole man. The following incidents will show something of the style of his mind: On one occasion when severely tried in administering discipline, and when he had allowed his feelings of indignation to run too high, he was so distressed that for many nights sleep almost entirely forsook him. The writer overheard him on this occasion, saying, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” 

Upon another occasion in the midst of a session of the Convention, and as one of the policemen of the town walked in and was seated, he arose and remarked: “Brother president, I see in our assembly a policeman of the city in which we are convened. I think this a fit time to give notice to any who may feel inclined to be unruly that they must observe good order or I’ll have them arrested.” This came in just at a condition of the meeting when a bit of humor was just the thing most needed.

The St. Anthony Street Church, Mobile, is a tangible memorial of his energy, self-sacrifice and patient industry. Beside the pastorate of the St. Anthony Street Church (the Third Baptist), he has served in the pastorate of the Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, and in the pastorate of the church at Uniontown.

His speeches are characterized by originality, clearness, force and dignity. He is still a growing man–growing in worth of manhood and in the confidence and love of the denomination; and should his health and life continue, the historian who will write of a brighter day than this–a day not far in the future–will point with pride to this man of rare gifts, giving more space than is here ac- corded him. With special pleasure the writer records the name of Albert P. Owens, D. D., high upon the roll of his personal friends.

And this short notice of a worthy man can hardly close at a point of greater beauty than in an humble tribute to his other self, Mrs. Mary Mims Owens (once Mrs. Taylor), whom he wedded in 1882, and who is held in high esteem as a leader in church and educational circles.

Article: One, Two