When I refer to Carroll Owen as an “old and dear friend,” it’s not just a phrase or words to be taken lightly.
Carroll Owen has been a friend and mentor to me since 1988. And, it would be hard to deny that he is old. Carroll celebrated his 100th birthday in November.
Ironically, my path crossed with Carroll the year he retired from the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (now Tennessee Baptist Mission Board) and the year I joined the staff as associate editor of the Baptist and Reflector. Carroll’s retirement was one of my first features with the paper.
That same year he married another dear friend (never refer to a woman as old), Barbara Fly, and over the years we have shared many Mexican meals together.
Carroll could accurately be described as “one in a million.” Actually, it’s one in several million. According to GenealogyInTime Magazine, he is one in 0.0173 percent who reaches that milestone.
Though he would not refer to himself this way, Carroll is an American war hero and a statesman in Baptist circles.
With the 81st anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor this week, it is appropriate to note that Carroll is a World War II Army veteran who saw overseas combat in the European Theatre of Operations with the 406th Regiment, 102nd Infantry Division. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Combat Infantry Badge.
His service to the Lord is just as impressive. He served as a pastor in Tennessee and Illinois from 1952-79 when he joined the staff of the TBC Executive Board as director of convention ministries where he served until his retirement.
In that role, Carroll was instrumental in the formation of mission partnerships that continue today.
He is a past president of both the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Tennessee Baptist Pastors Conference. He served on the Executive Board and as a trustee of Union University and Baptist hospitals in Nashville and Memphis. He also served on boards of trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board).
Those positions did not define him as a Baptist statesman. He is a statesman because of his unwavering love for God and the local churches where he served. He was admired and respected by Baptists all across Tennessee and throughout the SBC during his ministry and still is today by those who knew him who are still around.
I have heard the term “pastor’s heart” numerous times over the years. Carroll Owen could be the poster child for someone with a pastor’s heart. He is kind and compassionate beyond measure.
My life has been blessed because of Carroll and Barbara Owen. Happy birthday, friend. Our world and our denomination need more men like you! B&R