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Cambria Heights church grows spiritually

The Rev. Robert Lowe of the Mount Moriah A.M.E. Church stood on the podium Sunday, arms extended and the palms of his hands turned face up as if reaching for the sky. He slowly rocked back and forth while answering Pastor Wanda Frazier-Parker of the Truth Tabernacle Church in North Carolina as she preached to the crowd.

“Amen,” Lowe said when Frazier-Parker told the congregation of more than 500 that the Cambria Heights church was not the same place she had been in five years ago. It was not because of building or community programs, but the “spirit in which you do what you do,” she screamed out.

The spirit Parker talked about travels through Lowe — the church’s leader for the past 15 years — to his congregation that has steadily grown since his arrival from a church in Niagara Falls, N.Y., where he was an assistant pastor.

Lowe walked around the church talking to and hugging members of his congregation and welcomed then into the church. As the service ended and Lowe broke into a gospel song, he gently touched the head of one of the church’s members. The woman fell to the ground as if the Lord’s energy had passed from Lowe to her.

It was expected that the 44-year-old Lowe would become a pastor and follow in his father’s footsteps. His father is what one might call a district manager for the African Methodist Episcopal Churches and is responsible for 25 churches in the Long Island/Queens area.

“I’ve been around the church all my life,” Lowe said. “I grew up in it. But, I pushed it away and wanted to be a normal teen adolescent. I told people that it was not for me.”

He said his calling came at age 18, and at 21 he answered the call and joined the church. So after finishing his degree in marketing and advertising at C.W. Post University, Lowe entered New Brunswick Seminary.

When Lowe was sent to the church at 116-20 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Cambria Heights 15 years ago 50 members attended services in a private home even though the church had been founded in 1960.

When the church moved into its current building in 1991 there were 200 members. Today the church has a membership of 1,500 people who come from Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island and as far away as New Jersey. Lowe said the church is planning for a September groundbreaking to add a new four-story structure which will have seating for 1,200 people.

Mount Moriah A.M.E. is also known for its gospel music, recording label and state-of-the-art recording studio.

“The label allows the church to monitor and control the quality of the recordings we release,” Lowe said. “We want to keep the label small and promote every one of our artists. Large labels can’t focus and singers get lost.”

Lowe said he hopes to produce three to five albums a year for national release featuring gospel singers from the choir of about 50 men and women as well as himself. The church also records both of its Sunday services for the members of the congregation.

“He is a man of vision in what he has done to lead this community,” said Shirley Matthews of Rochdale Village. “It is what you need to make it through the week. You need to be fed and you come back to get fed every Sunday.”

Daneen Carroll, who travels from Hempstead, L.I. for services, said Lowe has made an impact by bringing new ideas to both the church and community.

Standing outside after the services, Carroll and her friend, Charlene Poole-Rudder of St. Albans, said the service was “uplifting” and after each of Lowe’s services they feel “refreshed.”

“It was a leap of faith that we got this building, literally a miracle,” Lowe said “Step by step we went through the struggles and the faith and hard work of the people came through.”

He said he had always hoped for the success of the church, but he did not expect it. He said he had a vision of what he wanted and he took what he learned in college and incorporated it into the church.

“Your product is Jesus and you market him to the community,” Lowe said “He is the best thing.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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