If the name “Rev. Alice Fowler” sounds familiar, it may be because she was the preacher for the Sunday morning worship service at Annual Conference Session in 2015. It will soon be a name you hear more often: Fowler will be the newest member of the Missouri Conference Cabinet this June.
Fowler, currently pastor of Trinity UMC in Bloomfield, will be the next Southwest District Superintendent.
“Rev. Fowler has offered excellent pastoral leadership in her ministry among us in Missouri, loves the local church, and has earned the respect and support of her clergy colleagues,” Bishop Farr said. “We look forward to adding Alice’s voice and insight to the Cabinet, and I know the Southwest District will be in capable hands.”
Fowler is the daughter of a Methodist pastor and experienced some big moves growing up, the biggest being for education rather than appointments. She was born in South Dakota, moved to Kentucky when her father attended Asbury Theological Seminary, and moved to New Jersey when her father continued his education at Princeton. She spent most of her youth in Nebraska, graduating from high school in Milford, Nebraska, and earning a Bachelor’s of Science in music education from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.
A career in ministry wasn’t on her radar at that point – she was planning on a career in teaching music in elementary school. She moved back to Kentucky, this time for her husband to attend seminary at Asbury.
When he finished and they moved back to Nebraska, rather than returning to teaching she focused on raising their three children and helping with the church in various clergy spouse roles, like teaching Sunday school classes, directing kids club and playing the piano.
When her children were grown she assumed she would go back to teaching and was accepted into a graduate school program to take a couple of additional classes that she needed. But as time drew close, it didn’t feel like the right course. Her husband asked, “If you could study anything, what would it be?”
“I answered ‘Theology’,” she said. “The question clarified in my mind where my heart was.” She took her first class and loved it. But she still clung to her resistance to becoming a pastor.
“I thought, a Master of Divinity is versatile. Perhaps I could teach or write,” she said.
It was her turn at Asbury, but rather than moving there again she participated in their distance-learning program, where most of her classes were completed at home, interspersed with intensive, short-duration classroom experiences at Asbury. She did this on her own, not informing the Conference or Board of Ordained Ministry.
But her district superintendent found out. When Rev. Harold Foster died, Fowler was asked if she would start serving as a supply preacher at Van Buren UMC. She said no.
“Then my 80 year-old father said he would help me out by filling in once a month, and that kind of shamed me into doing it,” she said.
That preaching supply request soon led to a part-time appointment. Once she finally found herself in the pulpit, her reluctance fell away.
“Serving Van Buren was a very affirming experience for me,” she said. “I felt my call stronger and stronger.”
Following Van Buren, she was appointed to Trinity in Bloomfield, also in the Southeast District. Despite her reluctance to enter pastoral ministry, the experience of living it has been very rewarding.
“I have loved seeing people get a hold of faith and experience a new life in Christ,” she said. “It is a privilege to walk with them through their highest highs and their lowest lows in life.”
Serving the local church isn’t always easy, but she has found it is always fulfilling. And she’s is looking forward to serving as a district superintendent.
“I’m excited to see what opportunities I will have to help churches make disciples of Jesus Christ,” she said.