Burning Passion to Preach
Rev. William Sowell, who retired his fireman’s helmet in 2013, knows what it’s like to put his life on the line for something he believes in. Sound familiar? It’s a theme repeated throughout his favorite book, the Bible.
Pastor Sowell’s calling is to help people. That’s what he enjoyed most about his nearly 30 years as a firefighter in Galveston, and what he loves now about his role as the third pastor of Galilee UMC in Texas City.
“There is no value in life without giving of yourself,” he says. “I need to always be there for someone.”
No matter his role, trust and faith are important to him. “I never felt fear when fighting fires,” he explains, “because as long as I had a relationship with God, I knew he’d keep me safe in his hands.”
Rev. Sowell learned about faith at a young age when he visited an older preacher in his neighborhood who told him a story from the Bible every day and then challenged him to share those Biblical truths with others.
The older pastor was planting the seeds of ministry in young William Sowell’s life. As a young man, he became a youth leader, and then at age 26 he started preaching in the Apostolic Church.
When Rev. Sowell began preaching, he also answered the call to serve in the fire department. William became head of several crews, acting captain at various fire stations in Galveston County, and vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters’ local union. Rev. Sowell’s “higher calling” was always near during his years as a firefighter. He frequently counseled members of the department to help them overcome the challenges they faced, such as dealing with fear.
“I believe God used me as an instrument to help others work through difficult times,” he says.
Though Pastor Sowell believes both of his roles are calls to service, he knows the Lord’s plan now is for him to be the pastor at Galilee UMC. It is a position he takes seriously. He is looking forward to leading his new congregation with compassion, grace, and loving acceptance. It is the same way he approaches his role as husband to his wife, Laurie, and as father to his seven children, four of whom are adopted.
“I try to speak in a positive way and bring light and encouragement where I can,” he explains.
A graduate of Prairie View A&M University with a major in psychology, William is a voracious reader. He credits the principles he learned in the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves, for bringing a positive change to Galilee UMC.
His favorite aspect about the Methodist Church is its missional spirit. “They don’t just talk about it,” he said, “They be about it.”