The “Live Out Luke” Endowment Fund was established in memory of William Luke McDowell, son of Rev. C.F. McDowell, III and Rev. Martha McDowell. Luke passed away suddenly in 2016 at age 20. At that time, his mother served as north central regional director for North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM). Because Luke had always shown love for seniors, memorial gifts were directed to NCBAM and held until a dedicated outreach was established to honor Luke’s legacy.
Even though it wasn’t called “Camp BAM” at the time, the outreach began during Martha McDowell’s NCBAM tenure. She often brought youth groups together for ministry weeks to help the aging.
McDowell’s successor, Samantha Allred, adopted the intergenerational ministry. With experience as a camp counselor and a children’s minister, Allred began planning for Camp BAM two years ago. And in a “wink from God,” as McDowell states, she
brought youth from her church and community to take part in the first “Camp BAM” on June 24-28.
On the last day of Camp BAM, McDowell was joined by her sons, Addison and Ches, to present a check to Baptist Children’s Homes President/CEO, Dr. Michael C. Blackwell, to help Camp BAM in perpetuity. The family spoke of Luke’s joyous spirit and how throughout life he had connected with older adults. They shared that at age 14, Luke stood at the conclusion of the Sunday morning worship service as his father issued the invitation and then exited the sanctuary. Martha recalled: “That was sacred space and my boys had been told not to move during the invitations. I remember thinking, ‘Luke better be getting saved again, or he is in big trouble.’ But then I watched him walk past his father and out a side door.
“Luke came back pushing a walker which he took to an elderly man sitting just behind where he had been sitting. The man used the walker to walk to the altar and join the church. Later, Luke explained that he told the man to tap him on the shoulder anytime he needed his walker. That was our Luke.”
The inaugural camp was also attended by First Baptist Church Concord. The two groups completed 19 projects serving 45 individuals.
The McDowell family sees Camp BAM as furthering Luke’s legacy. “My boys are my legacy and I’m very proud of them, but I’m Luke’s legacy now, too. ‘LOL’ was chosen after Luke’s death when his teenage cousin suggested we all “Live Out Luke” by demonstrating Jesus’ love to others in unexpected, needed ways.”
Contributions to the “Live Out Luke” Endowment Fund are tax-deductible and may be made payable to the NC Baptist Foundation at 201 Convention Drive, Cary, NC 27511.
By Carol Layton, NCBAM Director of Communications and Administration