Courtney Meadows, currently 19 and preaching since the age of six, was finally able to answer his calling when he was installed as pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in White Hall, Ala., during a recent and well-attended Sunday service.
"I can honestly say, there has never been a time when I couldn't imagine myself preaching," Meadows told the Montgomery Advertiser. "I always make this statement: If I'm not preaching, life is not worth living for me, because I know that's what I've been called to do."
Meadows couldn't help but smile, and the congregation laugh with him, when the presiding bishop mentioned during his installation service the New Testament requirement for a church leader to be the husband of one wife and manage his children — "when the time comes," the bishop added.
Despite his age, the 19-year-old minister has been described as an "old soul" for his spiritual insight, a "blessing" and an "exceptional leader." Meadows, according to his mother, started asking questions about God when he was three years old, preached his first sermon at the age of six, became a licensed minister at age nine, and was finally ordained when he turned 18.
The "highly requested and gifted preacher and speaker," as noted on his website, will have his mother become acting first lady of First Missionary Baptist Church. She told the local paper, "He's always been an extraordinary child. Just different. He really loved to go to church and worship God."
The Rev. L.L. Brown Sr., who has led the White Hall church for more than 40 years, said of Meadows, "I've met a lot of preachers, but he stands out to me."
"I thank God for this young man," the reverend added.
Meadows' mentor and pastor of the past seven years, the Rev. Ezekiel Pettway Sr. of Maggie Street Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, called it a blessing to be "used by God at such a young age." He added that he "always knew there was greatness" in the teen minister.
The teen pastor, who has excelled at public speaking throughout his academic career, is studying marketing full time at the University of Montevallo, where he is president of the Student Government Association.
Meadows travels regularly to speak at various churches in Alabama as well as across the nation, recently making a stop at Riva Tims' Majestic Life Church in Orlando, Fla. In addition to his speaking engagements, new pastoral role and serving as leader of his university's student government, the young minister is also the National Youth Director for the The Southern Youth Leadership Development Institute.
"Although anointed by God while in the womb of his mother, Pastor Meadows affirmed his call to the Evangelistic Ministry at age six and has since devoted his life to empowering mankind through the gospel of the Kingdom of God," reads the teen's biography.
During his installation ceremony, Meadows thanked the First Missionary Baptist Church congregation for "taking a risk" on him as their new pastor. The church's former pastor, Meadows' mentor as well as the church's board of deacons and trustees were expected to help guide the young minister.
Meadows' story might bring to mind that of another young preacher who attracted national attention when he was featured on ABC News in 2012. Ezekiel Stoddard, 12 years old and ordained as minister at his parents' independent Fullness of Time Church in Capitol Heights, Md., has spoken clearly of the moment he believes he was called by God to preach the Gospel.
"When I was about 7-years-old God spoke to me. He was saying, 'Son, I want you to do my will. I want you to preach the Gospel,'" Stoddard has said. "I can't describe what the voice sounded like but it was the voice from God because when that Man comes by and tells you to write a sermon, an eight-page sermon? He'll give you everything."
Read "Md. Boy Ordained as Pastor, Claims God Called Him to Preach" for more about Stoddard.
A video of Meadows' pastoral installation can be viewed at the Montgomery Advertiser, or below:
Watch a video of Meadows preaching a 2012 sermon at an event called "College Connection":