Future Pastor Will Use Life’s Challenges to Share God’s Love

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Meet Theneshia Bowen! She is a second-year, second-career student pursuing a Master of Divinity degree and ordination in The United Methodist Church. This self-proclaimed overachiever is a proud mother of four, newly published children’s book author, and student pastor at Hampton UMC. Bowen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the Stony Brook State University of New York and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University.

Thanks to the generosity of individual donors, she received two separate scholarships from the Georgia United Methodist Foundation. Bowen also received matching support from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The North Georgia Conference, Candler School of Theology, McKendree UMC, and the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Bowen immigrated to the United States when she was 13 years old. During her lifetime, she has struggled with racism, health challenges, and divorce.

McKendree UMC played a pivotal role in helping her develop a personal relationship with God. “My kids loved McKendree and would beg me to go back. Once they had my kids, they had my heart,” Bowen said. “After I started Disciple I class, I realized I had been ignoring God’s call to ministry for years. McKendree shifted my view on Christians and Christianity.”

Bowen left a career she loved as an educator of autistic children to attend Candler. The journey from educator to pastor has not been an easy one.

“I consider myself a quadruple minority. I am an immigrant, black, a woman, and mother of young children,” Bowen stated. “When I come home from Candler, I need to put dinner on the table and help with homework. Although I struggle with balancing being a mom and not feeling guilty, I want to remind other moms that if God calls you to a purpose, He will always support you. The only way for me to be happy and fulfilled is to listen to what God tells me to do.

I would not be in seminary without these scholarships, which cover fees, books, transportation, food, and everything else needed to survive! Even during this pandemic, these scholarships have given me peace of mind. It’s very reassuring and humbling to know that there are others out there–people I don’t even know–who are supporting my call to ministry. Although life has not been easy, the challenges I have faced have made me stronger. I am hoping these experiences will help me relate to more people and show them God’s love. I have so many dreams for ministry! I am praying God will guide my steps to the places where I can be of most service.”

If you would like to establish a scholarship endowment to support United Methodist students like Theneshia Bowen, please contact Dr. Rick Lanford, Regional Vice President (South Georgia), at 478-256-7130 or rlanford@gumf.org, or Nancy Young, Vice President of Development (North Georgia), at 678-708-6601 or nyoung@gumf.org