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Date of birth: Unknown
Education: Unknown
Organization(s): Churches of Christ
Bowser Christian Institute
Southwestern Christian College

Twentieth-century leader in black Churches of Christ. Although he and the noted evangelist Marshall Keeble were friends, their careers took opposite paths in response to racial prejudice. Keeble was an accommodationist, while Bowser overtly opposed the system of segregation and discrimination characteristic of both society and church. 

Bowser was raised a Methodist and received an excellent education at a Methodist school for blacks in Nashville. He studied Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and Latin. He suffered the loss of one arm when injured by a train. At 18 he was licensed to exhort in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, but quit preaching due to lack of support. An elderly minister in Nashville led him into the Stone-Campbell Movement, and he was baptized in the Gay Street Christian Church in 1897. 

Bowser soon joined other black leaders who began an a cappella Church of Christ in Nashville. Bowser founded The Christian Echo in 1902, one of the longest-running religious papers in the Movement. In 1907 he established his first school in the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Nashville, then in 1909 he established the Silver Point Christian Institute in Silver Point, Tennessee, which he operated until 1918. 

In 1920 wealthy Christian insurance man A. M. Burton purchased a building in Nashville to establish a school for blacks, with Bowser teaching the Bible. The school was named the Southern Practical Institute, and a white Christian, C. E. W. Dorris, was appointed superintendent, with Bowser serving as principal. The school failed, however, when Bowser refused to accept Dorris’s insistence that black students enter by the back door. 

Bowser began the Bowser Christian Institute in 1938 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and operated it until 1946. He operated other schools in Detroit, Michigan, and Fort Worth, Texas. This last effort led to the establishment of Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, in the fall of 1950. He is known as the father of Christian education among blacks in Churches of Christ. 

See also African Americans in the Movement; Southwestern Christian College 

BIBLIOGRAPHY R. Vernon Boyd, Undying Dedication: The Story of G. P. Bowser (1985) • George Phillip Bowser, Bowser’s Sermons: Sayings, Questions, Outlines, Lectures and Editorials, ed. Thelma M. Holt (1964) • J. S. Winston, “George Phillip Bowser: An Outstanding Pioneer, Educator, Preacher,” Christian Echo 84 (November 1992): 2. 


Foster, Douglas A.. The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (pp. 373-375). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition. 

This entry, written by R. Vernon Boyd, was originally published in The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (Edited by Douglas A. Foster, Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant, and D. Newell Williams; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), page 97. Republished with permission.