Rev. Dr. Gloria Fowler is just weeks into serving as new Director of Congregational Transformation and New Church Development for the Louisiana Conference.
“I am excited to finally be in Louisiana to start this important work,” said Dr. Fowler, an ordained elder. “Bishop Harvey and the cabinet have discerned that it is time to focus on revitalizing our congregations, so that our churches may truly live out the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. I am blessed to be here to help make that vision a reality!”
Over the past five years, Dr. Fowler has been instrumental in growing and leading congregational transformation in the North Texas Conference. During her time there, she has helped nearly 100 churches, of all sizes and backgrounds, experience an increase in effectiveness. “It is my hope that regardless of size, ministry context, ethnicity, and so on, I would be able to help equip churches to become more effective at ministry in their unique context, as I was able to do in my previous position. This will be done through a transformation process that will be put together soon to train and equip congregations, enabling them to gain traction to reach their mission fields and become fruitful and vibrant congregations.”
Dr. Fowler will be developing and coordinating a thorough process of evaluating, equipping and coaching congregations in intentional and comprehensive transformation for the purpose of reaching new people. She will also help identify, evaluate and train potential church planters to establish new faith communities.
Fowler, a Korean-American, was born and raised in Korea until her elementary years, where she attended a boarding school away from her parents. It was there that Fowler received her call to ministry. Later, she would come to the United States to attend college and eventually pursue her calling in the United Methodist Church.
“As a Korean-American, I have experienced a variety of cultures and ministry settings. First, I spent my childhood in Korea, as well as in a multiethnic context in India,” said Fowler. “As a young minister, I served in fast-growing, thriving Korean-American churches, one of them being the second largest worshipping congregation in the conference. Later, I served in cross-cultural appointments in ethnically diverse neighborhoods in North Texas. More recently, working in my current role at the conference level in North Texas, I have recruited church planters and helped start new churches using different models; and I have led revitalization work in all kinds of situation and circumstances.”
Fowler plans to incorporate the culture and context of Louisiana, which is “very different from North Texas.” “I am excited for the challenge, because I have United Methodists in this wonderful conference as ministry partners, to develop the process and find the answers together. I believe that if we are willing to do hard work as a church, with accountability built into the process and resources to help churches along, we will have many testimonies of turnaround and stories of transformation.”
At the end of the five-year period that Fowler led congregational formation work in the North Texas Conference, 100 churches had gone through a “Healthy Church Initiative” process. “Through this, they were able to rediscover their purpose in their particular mission field, become more equipped and effective at making disciples of Jesus Christ, and better meet the needs of the community in their own unique ways. I am excited that I get to build up a similar process here in the Louisiana conference.”
Because Fowler is at the beginning stages of her work, she does not yet have concrete plans to share. “My goal, for the next few months, is to get to know the state of Louisiana and the culture of the Louisiana Annual Conference as quickly as I can, in order to better put together a process that can help our churches in our unique contexts. I hope you can help me in this process by reaching out to me and sharing your needs and your situations with me. Right now, I am in conversation with the bishop and the cabinet to discern this process. I will be reaching out to many of you, also, so I can listen to your needs, hopes and dreams for our churches, as we move forward.”