He was born in Montgomery, Alabama. From Montgomery, he enlisted into the United States Army and after basic training was shipped to Korea. Upon returning to the States, he returned to St. James Baptist Church (his home church) and was licensed to preach the Gospel in 1958. In 1959, he was assigned to the duty station at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia and while serving there he joined the Beulah Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. He is the devoted husband of retired attorney, Rev. Constance W. Watson and loving father to four children (Columbus Jr., Tracey, Calvin and Trudie) and one grandchild, Cameron. He attended Howard University, the University of Maryland, the Alexandria Episcopal Seminary and is the recipient of two honorary Doctor of Divinity Degrees. Over the years, he has been honored with numerous awards and certificates of recognition – too many to name.
As pastor and undershepherd, this humble yet remarkable man was a noted scholar and leader, preacher/teacher, motivator, public speaker, community spokesman, visionary, and lover of God’s people, especially the children. Some still call him “Doc,” our “Modern-day Barnabas,” “Mentor and Father” of young preachers, and “Counselor” for statesmen. Because of the motto by which he lives, i.e. “If one comes I teach; if none come I study,” he is as much a student as he is a teacher and; hence, is also known by others as the “Book Man,” a “Black History Scholar,” and the “Champion of Education.” Many licensed and ordained under his leadership as well those he adopted as sons and daughters in the ministry are impacting countless numbers across the country and abroad. Though he has amassed many sayings over the years, all who are mentored by him know and practice these two scriptures: “…(S)tir up the gift…which is in thee.” II Timothy1:6 and “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16.
During his tenure and with the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, Rev. Watson led the church in several renovations and additions, land acquisitions, and re-vamped the organizational structure and financial systems of the church. He also initiated and formulated many ministries and programs to meet the needs of God’s sheep. To name a few, he promulgated the first Constitution of the Beulah Baptist Church, formed the first Church Council, began two Sunday morning services (to include a special blessing over the children), reorganized the Sunday School Ministry; organized the Ministry of Worship, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Missions and Outreach, Ministry of Administration, Property and Finance; the Building Fund, the Transportation Ministry, and the Lift Ministry. At various times during his ministry, the Music Ministry consisted of the Senior Choir, the Friendly Gospel Chorus, the Men’s Chorus, the Female Ensemble, the Young Adult Choir, the Youth Choir, the Children’s Choir, the Praise Team, Praise and Worship Leaders, the Mass Choir (formerly known as the Combined Choirs), the Intercessory Prayer Ministry (formerly the Prayer Warrior Ministry), the Prayer Partner Ministry, the Prayer Group Leaders Ministry, and the New Members Orientation Ministry. He also re-organized the Men’s Fellowship Ministry with a focus on the Save our Boys (S.O.B.) and Missing Fathers (M.F.) programs, the Family Fellowship Ministry, Annual Men’s Day, Annual Women’s Day, Children’s Day, the Youth Ministry, Children’s Church; Vacation Bible School, Spiritual Growth Night (Bible Study), Advanced Bible Study (formerly known as Christian Maturity), the Ministers Class, Leadership Training and The Sower (the Church Newsletter). Additional ministry programs included the Adopt-A-School Ministry, Report Card Review, the Tutorial Ministry, College Ministry, the Book Club Ministry, Public Speaking Ministry (Adults and Youth), the Drama Ministry, Liturgical Dance and Mime Ministry, the Sound and Media Ministry, the Annual Church Picnic, the Annual Homecoming Celebration, Spring Revival, special services to honor mothers, fathers, senior citizens and the graduates. Note: Some of ministries and/or programs are now defunct or have been combined to better enhance the ministry.
Just as he was a faithful servant to his church, he was a committed servant to his community and to wherever God would send him. Pastor Watson is a living testimony that if you “stir up your gift,” it will make room for you and bring you before great men.
Reverend Dr. Columbus Watson was a great and mighty Pastor – a man who blessed us for 58 years – who willingly and obediently fed his flock with knowledge and understanding. Truly, our he shall never be forgotten but forever remembered as one of God’s best.