Faith in Focus

Faith in Focus: Lewis marks 50 years as pastor at First Cosmopolitan Baptist Church

CorrespondentNovember 9, 2013 

Rev. Dr. Willie B. Lewis


Shortly after becoming pastor at Fayetteville Street Baptist Church 50 years ago, Rev. Dr. Willie B. Lewis found himself faced with a large challenge. The city of Raleigh was purchasing the church’s land near what is now Memorial Auditorium, and the church was forced to find a new location. He rallied the church to change direction, which included moving to its current location on Cross Link Road and changing its name to First Cosmopolitan Baptist Church.

“He did what he has done the entire time he has been our pastor – leading us to realize that we can accomplish something larger than we think we can,” said Geraldine Burroughs, who has been a member of the church for all of her 79 years.

But that was just the first of many changes that Lewis guided the congregation through. First Cosmopolitan Baptist Church has doubled in size and focused its efforts on global missions because of Lewis’ influence. Lewis went on many mission trips, including to the Holy Land, Africa and Korea. He also encouraged church members to go on missions, and the church financially supported organizations assisting missionary projects.

“He really showed us that there was more to evangelism and Christianity than what we could do right here in Raleigh,” Burroughs said. “We learned that we had to move outside our walls to go into both our local community and the global community.”

Lewis spent much time mentoring younger pastors and giving them opportunities to grow. “If you ask anyone who knows him, they will say that he is happy to share his pulpit with other pastors and takes time to share his knowledge as well,” Burroughs said. “He has really been a great influence on many other pastors, including helping several become ordained at our church.”

Lewis’ contribution over the past half-decade has meant so much to his church that the congregation has spent the past year honoring his 50th anniversary as a pastor with monthly guest preachers. On Sunday, Nov. 17, at the 11 a.m. service at First Cosmopolitan Baptist Church, the congregation will hold the final service honoring his commitment and dedication to the church.

“I have loved saving souls and marrying people through the years,” said Lewis, 85, of Raleigh. “I got the pleasure of seeing children born and then become active members of our church as they grew. It has been my favorite part of being a pastor and a great source of satisfaction.”

Louisburg United Methodist Church fall bazaar

Louisburg United Methodist Church is holding its fall bazaar from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at the church, 402 N. Main St., Louisburg. A country buffet breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Items for sale include baked goods, LUMC peanuts and homemade jams, jellies and relishes. Activities also include a flea market and children’s craft booth. Santa Claus will arrive at 9:30 a.m. for photos, and an auction will begin at 11 a.m. Hot dogs and Brunswick stew will be served for lunch. For more information, call 919-496-3736 or visit

Operation Christmas Child national collection week

Churches around the Triangle are collecting shoeboxes as part of Operation Christmas Child for Samaritan’s Purse. The organization sends shoeboxes containing school supplies, toys and hygiene products along with a note of encouragement to children overseas, especially those in countries affected by disasters, wars and poverty. Shoeboxes will be collected from Monday, Nov. 18, to Monday, Nov. 25. For more information and to find drop-off locations, visit

Food Bank outreach

Providence Baptist Church invites fourth- and fifth-graders to learn more about the Food Bank of North Carolina from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at the church. Close-toed shoes are required, and registration is requested. To register, contact Tana Poole at or 919-326-3000.

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