Mark Leonard Lowrey, Jr. was called home by his Savior early morning on December 24, 2023. He was 78 years old. He spent the final week of his life at home with his family. Just like his father, who also died Christmas Eve morning, Mark’s final evening was spent with his family by his side as they enjoyed an early Christmas dinner.
Mark was born in 1945 to Mark Leonard Lowrey and Emelie Roberta Olson of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He was older brother to Bill, Emelie (Parker), Erik, and Perrin. After graduating from Hattiesburg High School, he received a B.S. in business and marketing at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) (1967). He served one tour with the U.S. Army in Vietnam before returning home to enroll at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. He graduated with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Christian Education (1971). While earning these degrees, Mark worked in Hattiesburg in campus ministry (Westminster Fellowship) alongside his wife, Priscilla (a former InterVarsity Fellowship campus staff member). In 1978 he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
Called to work full time in university student ministry, Mark founded Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) with the help of a few young men also involved in campus ministry. This grew from the early seeds in Mississippi and surrounding states (Coordinator 1977-83) to a nation-wide ministry of the PCA (National Coordinator 1983-1996). He spent the early years building the ministry, traveling extensively to support and train the campus ministers in their ministries, famously taking notes on napkins to capture ideas and illustrate vision. Every night he was away, he called Priscilla so they could talk over the day’s family affairs.
After 25 years at the helm of RUF, Mark joined Great Commission Publications, the official publishing house of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). Under his leadership as Director of Publications (1996-2020), the K-12 Sunday School curriculum was rewritten, including the “Show Me Jesus” curriculum. Mark carried GCP as Interim Executive Director (2020-2021) through the COVID-19 crisis, an event which closed many small publishing houses, and then as Executive Director (2021-2023). Through his tireless advocacy, GCP weathered the COVID-19 storm with minimal employee layoffs and slow return to profitability. GCP publishes the Trinity Hymnal.
Mark was interested and involved in civic pursuits. The son of the editor of the Hattiesburg American, Mark spent his first early-morning hours each day reading the news. One of his greatest interests was global, national, and local news. Mark’s love language was sharing articles of interest with family and friends. He enjoyed tracking the development of his local area and his hometown, and he always knew what changes were happening and why. In college he spent a summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern clerk in Congress. He was president of the student body the year USM was de-segregated; he and other student council members symbolically walked alongside the first African American students during their first days of class. As an adult, Mark voted in all local, state, and national elections. Whenever possible, he attended information sessions provided by local politicians and engaged the representatives in conversation afterwards. Believing in the power and responsibility to vote and simply be present, as a minister in the PCA, he also attended every General Assembly, except his final (50th) GA, and was involved in Presbytery (Mississippi Valley) as much as possible by distance. Although a great talker, Mark was wise with his words. He rarely shared his positional opinions publicly and believed that older leaders should allow each generation to grapple with key questions against scripture and their own consciences.
Mark loved those around him and strived to make their lives better in large and small ways. Although not a coffee drinker, he brought his wife coffee in bed every morning (and even baked fresh muffins for her early on!). Sometimes to their chagrin, Mark would answer a call from his children (and son-in-law) at any moment. Combining two loves – family and finding a deal – Mark constantly sought out opportunities and gifts for his family and those around him.
Mark is survived by his wife, Priscilla and his two children, Leonard and Elizabeth (and Matthew). Services will be held on January 6 at 2:00 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church (1438 Sheridan Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324) and on January 13 at 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS. In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting Great Commission Publications, Reformed University Fellowship, or Westminster Presbyterian Church (Atlanta, GA – PCA).