Posted on : Thursday February 17, 2011

Rockville, Maryland– On February 14, 2011, Rev. Robert D. Crowley, Pastor Emeritus of Montrose Baptist Church, went home to the Lord at the age of 80 years old surrounded by family.  He had been declining in health for several years and passed away at home after an extended illness.  He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Elizabeth “Libby” Crowley, his daughter Kathleen Coley and her husband, Ken; and daughter Christine Elizabeth Crowley; and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. In compliance with Pastor Crowley’s wishes, Dr. Ken Fentress, the current senior pastor at Montrose Baptist Church, will be officiating a funeral service in celebration of his life and ministry on Thursday, February 17th.

Pastor Crowley was a faithful husband, father, and pastor.  He led a tremendous life of gospel ministry over 44 years. The son of the first radio preacher in the Washington D.C. area, the late Dale Crowley, Sr., Pastor Crowley had a larger-than-life personality matched only by his great love for his family and the congregations he served.  After serving 5 years as Senior Pastor at Upper Seneca Baptist Church in Cedar Grove, Maryland (1951-1956), he served 39 years (1956-1995) as Senior Pastor of Montrose Baptist Church until his retirement.  In addition to being a respected preacher, he was a superb leader who did weekly visitations.

Pastor Crowley was an innovative and visionary leader.  He kept a motto hanging in his office, “Keep your eye on the goal”.  Indeed, his ministry was quite focused.  He led Montrose Baptist Church to do missions work in Brazil and Romania, building chapels for congregations.  In the mid 1970s, at a time when few churches were considering Christian education and building schools, Pastor Crowley led Montrose to establish a daycare, Montrose Christian Child Development Center, and a fully accredited K-12 school, Montrose Christian School.  Countless families have been (and continue to be) reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through these vital ministries of Montrose Baptist Church.

Dr. Ken Coley who is professor of education and leadership at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, served as the Principal of Montrose Christian School and is also married to Pastor Crowley’s daughter, Kathleen states, “After having taught at SEBTS for the last 15 years(1996-2011), looking back on the 15yrs I served with him at Montrose, everything taught in class or chapel during my current tenure at SEBTS that I had already been demonstrated in the previous 15 years while serving with him.”

Upon retirement Pastor Crowley and his wife focused their energies on Summit Lake Camp and Middle Creek Bible Conference, ministries they founded in 1969 and 1983 (respectively).  Summit Lake Camp was an innovative camp in its founding: it was among the first integrated camps where children of all races came to play games and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  In a time when Washington D.C. and the nation were struggling through racial issues and riots in the streets, Pastor Crowley had the vision and the wisdom to bring the gospel of God’s peace to children and families of many different races.

Pastor Crowley was  a respected churchman both locally and nationally.  Locally, he gave moral leadership in the community by opposing pornography and gay rights legislation. He was active at all levels of the Southern Baptist Convention.  He served on the SBC Annuity Board in the 1970s.  Then, in what he considered one of his most important responsibilities and honors, he served on the Board of Trustees at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC for 10 years (1985-1995).  He was chairman of the Board for two years during his tenure of service.  At SEBTS, Pastor Crowley helped to lead an historic theological turnaround of the seminary at a time when few would have had the courage to endure such challenges.  Dr. Coley notes that, “In many observers’ minds, there has never been an example in the history of church institutions where an institution went left and then was brought back right.  Plenty began conservative then strayed, but no one can recall one that came back.  That’s what happened at Southeastern.”

Pastor Robert D. Crowley made a deep and abiding impact for the Kingdom of Christ.  Countless souls have been eternally transformed by his faithful ministry.  May the fruit of his ministry continue to be seen for generations into the future.

Well done, faithful servant! Enjoy your Master’s happiness! –Matthew 25:21

Viewings will be on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 from

3:00 pm-5:00 pm and 7:00 pm-9:00 pm at the funeral home:

Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home

300 W. Montgomery Ave

Rockville, MD 20850-2805

The Funeral will be on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 11:00 am at:

Montrose Baptist Church

5100 Randolph Road

Rockville, MD 20852