The voice which called his wife, family and God’s souls to holiness stayed its reverberation on Friday, March 19, 2021.
Though moderately statuesque, Bishop Charles Elijah Dowdell, Jr., stood atop the heightened hill of hope, calling those in the valley, bereft of despair and degradation to dream again. This pristinely picturesque gentleman gleamed brightly on the majestic mountaintop, guiding the wayfaring stranger to fruited plains of peace and prosperity. His voice banging against the cliffs, carved clefts in the rock to hide the climber from the elements of this Earth.
Now, Bishop Dowdell’s voice bellows through the annals of eternity, still guiding us to our Heavenly Father with the admonition that, “Holiness is God’s first and final choice.”
God made choice of Bishop Dowdell before Charles, Sr., and Marie knew each other, however, it was their union which propelled their offspring into existence. Charles was the third child of his parents; he was preceded in death by his parents, (Charles, Sr., and Marie); sister, Eleanor; and brother, Roosevelt.
Bishop was educated in the public schools of Gary, Indiana where he met his “Dark & Lovely,” Shirley Ann Ford. No one could make his eye sparkle like she could, though he made her grit her teeth at times; he promised to always keep her smiling. After serving in the US Army, Charles was honorably discharged, settling in Syracuse, NY. Following the silky, yet rugged voice which called to her when they were teenagers, Shirley also relocated to Syracuse. The two were wed December 17, 1974, officiated by the late Superintendent Thornton Jones. Charles and Shirley, both saved and filled with the Holy Ghost under Superintendent Jones’s ministry, faithfully labored both professionally and spiritually in varying capacities. However, in 1979 they were led back to Indiana – Michigan City, the birthplace for Charles’s pastoral career. Minister Dowdell joined Hatchett Temple serving under then Elder, now Bishop Jerry Maynard and his aunt, the late Supervisor Beulah Hatchett. In 1982, Charles’s voice grew in rank, reach, and responsibility when he was appointed Pastor of Hatchett Temple Church of God in Christ.
After relocating to Michigan City, he continued ministering to those incarcerated, a ministry he began cultivating while living in Syracuse. His growing voice called many souls from dark and dreary doldrums to God’s marvelous light. His prophetic purpose to preach and bring deliverance to those bound by drug addiction, he a former addict, made him a ready witness and testament that “…something beautiful, something good…” was possible despite life’s limitations and libels.
Bishop Dowdell served the "Church of God in Christ" in varying capacities; his service is as follows:
Appointed President of the Young People’s Willing Workers (YPWW) of the First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of Indiana
District YPWW President of the RO Hatchett District
Appointed Superintendent by Bishop Donald L. Alford, Sr., to lead the Fresh Oil District of the Fourth Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of Indiana-North Central (4th Jurisdiction)
Appointed as an Administrative Assistant to Bishop Alford
Served as the Jurisdictional Finance Chairman – Indiana North Central
Member of the Bishop’s Jurisdictional Executive Board – Indiana North Central
Coordinator of the Regional Bishop’s Meeting - Midwest Civic engagement Board member for the Commission of the Social Status of African American Males Administrative Assistant Dowdell taught that service should be faithful, loving, and honest.
Bishop always kept a laser-like focus on making glad the heart of God. His mantra of “…power in a praying church” was born out of yielding himself to God’s pleasure and purpose, achieved only in fasting and prayer. Administrative Assistant Dowdell’s service was rewarded by Bishop Alford’s recommendation to Presiding Bishop Charles Blake and the General Board of the Church of God in Christ, Incorporated to be consecrated to the office of Bishop. In November 2017, Administrative Assistant Dowdell was consecrated to the office of Bishop. Bishop Dowdell’s consecration was historic, he was the first Auxiliary Bishop in the State of Indiana.
Bishop Dowdell’s righteous life is spoken in the hearts and minds of his soulmate, his wife of 46 years, Lady Shirley Dowdell, his children: Dallas, Joann of Arlington, TX; Terona (Kary, Sr.) of Indianapolis, IN; Donald (Sharon) of Killeen, TX; and Casherril (William) of Michigan City, IN; his grandchildren: Kevin, Tieyonnia, Ebonie, Taylor and Kary; and his great-grandchildren: Tishon, Tiana, and Jordan. Also, carrying his memory is his sister Margie Green of Gary, IN; nieces, nephews, cousins, the members of Greater Powerhouse Church of God in Christ, the Fresh Oil District, his Fourth Ecclesiastical Jurisdictional of Indiana – North Central family, and all who loved him.
Revelation 14:13 refers to a voice extolling and bestowing comfort to those who rest in God from their earthly labor. That same comfort is extended to those who remain; though we will no longer hear “Love ya’” at the end of a phone call, we do know with infallible, intransigent proof that “…everything, [I mean] everything is going to be alright!”
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