Reverend Nearly Collapses After Giving Sermon

Published March 17, 2009

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, who along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., founded one of the nation’s most enduring civil rights organizations, was released from the hospital Monday after nearly fainting follow his sermon at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

"I just got overheated," Lowery told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home. "The doctor did tell me to slow down, though. I'm going to slow down, but it's hard. Nobody respects my retirement, and I don't insist. You have to be grateful folks still want you around."

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer, said that Lowery had preached for about 40 minutes and was shaking hands afterward when he suffered a dizzy spell.

King also preached at Ebenezer, known as “America’s Freedom Church,” from 1960 to 1968.

Doctors at the church quickly examined Lowery before paramedics arrived, said Warnock, who accompanied the legendary civil rights leader to the hospital.

 Lowery founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) along with King, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Ella Baker, T. J. Jemison, Stanley Levison, Bayard Rustin, Fred Shuttlesworth and C. K. Steele. Lowery, affectionately known as the "Dean of the Civil Rights Movement."

Though he is officially retired from preaching, the 88-year-old Lowery gave the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration in January.

Written by BET.com Staff

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