By Wiley Henry
MEMPHIS, TN — “I can say without reservation that we’re not closing down shop and looking to pack it in,” said Robert S. White II, sharing his thoughts and feelings about the ministry of Louise Dowdy Patterson and her legacy.
Mrs. Patterson, widow of the late Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson, died Nov. 20 at her home in Memphis. She was 84.
Mrs. Patterson and her husband co-founded Bountiful Blessings Ministries, Inc. in 1967 and Temple of Deliverance, the Cathedral of Bountiful Blessings in 1975. He was serving as COGIC’s presiding bishop and chief apostle when he died in 2007.
“I think the ministry and the message of Bishop G.E. Patterson remain relevant even in this day and time. That’s what Sister Patterson wanted to do after he passed,” said White, chief public policy officer with the Greater Memphis Chamber and BBM’s vice president.
White said he’s not at liberty to say what the future looks like for BBM after losing Mrs. Patterson, who was BBM’s president and CEO. Choosing not to be presumptuous, he said instead the board will convene “in the coming days.”
“There’s no doubt in our mind that there’s work for us to do,” said White, a former member of Temple of Deliverance, now pastored by Bishop Milton R. Hawkins, Bishop Patterson’s nephew.
“It’s (BBM) always been a ministry that was wrapped around the ministry of G.E. Patterson,” said White, who worships now at Citadel of Deliverance COGIC, where Bishop Linwood Dillard Jr. is pastor.
“We’re duty-bound to move forward,” said White, compelled to keep Mrs. Patterson’s ministry and legacy alive.
A licensed evangelist and former first lady of COGIC, Mrs. Patterson endeavored to expand her husband’s ministry. She served as general manager of WBBP 1480 AM radio station and president of Podium Records, both owned by BBM.
Mrs. Patterson also aired an enumerable cache of Bishop Patterson’s vintage sermons weekly via BBM’s TV ministry, which kept her husband at the forefront of televangelism.
When asked about her legacy, White said, “Honestly, I think her legacy would be one of grace. I think her legacy will be one of open arms, the way in which she accepted people, the way she loved all people.”
He added that Mrs. Patterson was “the perfect type” of first lady for Temple of Deliverance, a church that added people from various denominations to its membership after the doors opened and grew exponentially thereafter.
“Because it was never about who you were, where you were from, your pedigree, your family name. She was a great support and the perfect welcome wagon for a church like that.”
COGIC’s top tier reflected on Mrs. Patterson via social media: “‘Sister Lou,’ as she was affectionately called, will be remembered for her radiant beauty, impeccable style, seasoned wisdom and uncompromised faith. She was an undeniable class act, and for many, an icon and mentor among First Ladies.”
White added: “She was, I think, a wonderful example to pastors’ wives, bishops’ wives, and first ladies all across our denomination.”
Bishop Hawkins touted his aunt’s attributes and benevolent spirit: “Evangelist Patterson was known for her charitable deeds and numerous acts of kindness to others. She was an iconic figure in the body of Christ and will be remembered for her mentorship and grace.”
She was actively involved in several ministries as well, including the Bishop’s Wives Circle, the church’s volunteer department, clothes closet, the annual Senior Citizens Dinner, and The Total Woman Women’s Conference, which she founded to shed light on the national crisis in the African-American community.
Mrs. Patterson was too ill to attend COGIC’s 114th Holy Convocation during the week of Nov. 8. A groundswell of “saints” from all 50 states returned to Memphis for the first time since leaving for St. Louis in 2010.
“But when you talk about one of the most universally beloved figures in the national church, Sister Patterson was that [person],” said White, who joined Temple of Deliverance in the ‘90s with his father, mother and sister.
“We loved Bishop’s ministry, we loved church, [and] we loved Sister Louise Patterson,” he said.
A local memorial service for Mrs. Patterson was held Dec. 1 at Temple of Deliverance, followed by a national homegoing celebration at the church on Dec. 2.
The COGIC hierarchy paid homage to Mrs. Patterson, including Bishop J. Drew Sheard, COGIC’s presiding bishop and chief apostle.