The distinction and pageantry of the national memorial service for COGIC Evangelist Louise Dowdy Patterson was reminiscent of that afforded her late husband, Presiding Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson.
With Downtown Memphis draping Temple of Deliverance Church of God and Christ on G.E. Patterson Ave., celebrants filed in respectful of the occasion and Mrs. Patterson’s life and legacy.
Evangelist Patterson, 84, died on the evening of Nov. 20. Many of the 25,000 Church of God in Christ saints (as they are described) who attended the 114th Holy Convocation in Memphis had just returned home when they received word.
As the national memorial service (Dec. 2) unfolded, a procession of ecumenical bishops and corporate church leaders – called by name – walked to the open casket, each pausing for a personal farewell. The service was live-streamed to myriad parts of the world on multiple virtual platforms. So was the local service the previous day.
COGIC Presiding Bishop J. Drew Sheard delivered a brief and dramatic eulogy, extolling both his relationship with “Mother” Patterson and a scriptural message.
“There was always a special place in my heart for her because when I was in trouble, she came to my rescue,” said Sheard, who pastors Greater Emmanuel Institutional COGIC in Detroit.
“…Not only was Mother Patterson a friend to me, but a mother to me in every sense.… When she would call, I would say, ‘Weezy, is that you?’ And she would answer, ‘This must be Drew.’”
Sheard read from Hebrews 11:6:
“But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
The denomination leader said sin has created a world of tribulations and trouble.
“We as saints live in a world where we are not comfortable,” said Sheard. “For we realize there has to be something better than this.… This present world has been marred by sin. Sin has converted the world into a region of woe and the shadow of death. So there has to be something better than this.…
“We are failing our young, mistreating our seniors, and saying to those in between, ‘Make it the best way you can.’ Surely, there has to be something better than this.…”
Sheard then drew upon the words of Paul in Hebrews 4:9:
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.…”
“I believe, I’m convinced, I have no doubt that there is a better place. Don’t worry about Mother Patterson,” said Sheard. “She has gone to that better place. She did her part here. She was a good soldier, and she made plans to go to a better place…
“… Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.…”
A national homegoing service is generally reserved for the presiding bishop and the General Board of Bishops.
“We asked for a national homegoing celebration to honor Lady Patterson,” said Bishop David Allen Hall, a member of the General Board of Bishops and pastor of Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis
“She was a wonderful complement to her husband’s ministry as Presiding Bishop Patterson led the church. Always kind and gracious, it was just fitting and right that a national service be held in her honor.”
Evangelist Patterson was born to Alma Louise and Arthur Dowdy on Jan. 27, 1938, in Memphis. Educated in Memphis City Schools, she graduated, from Booker T. Washington High School.
Her professional career began in the offices of Union Protective Life Insurance Company, where she was introduced to a young preacher, Elder Gilbert Earl Patterson. They married on May 27, 1967.
Eight years later, Elder Patterson founded Bountiful Blessings Deliverance Church Inc., which initially evolved into two, separate, entities: Bountiful Blessings Inc. and Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ.
Evangelist Patterson founded the Total Woman Women’s Conference, which drew women from across the country for a time of encouragement and empowerment. The popular conferences inspired women to become active and intentional agents of change in their communities.
Her generous philanthropy was widely known but not often talked about. She recalled from any thought of letting others know what good works she had done, said Hall.
Bobby White, chief public policy officer with the Greater Memphis Chamber, was a spiritual son of the Pattersons. He served alongside Evangelist Patterson as vice-president of Bountiful Blessings Ministries and the WBBP (1480-AM) radio station, where Mrs. Patterson served as general manager.
White marveled on Facebook: “Mother Louise Patterson, bringing people together. … It’s like a huge family reunion.” Photos of friends embracing outside of the church accompanied his post.
The remembrances of Mrs. Patterson, a highly sought evangelist with a thriving ministry, included her often repeated words of encouragement to women:
“If God has you on hold, don’t hang up.”
Memorial Park Cemetery was the place of interment.